Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Hero and the Queen of Darkness - A Fairy Tale for Our Time

UPDATED: 31-December-08

Long had the House of Clinton practiced the ancient arts, honed their dark craft and schooled in the political weirding way. Long had the Lord King Clinton ruled over the Land of the Dems and held the people entranced under a spell of power and guile.

“Behold your Queen”
King Clinton exclaimed “For I am passing my power to her and she shall rule over you as did I. Accept her and love her as you loved me.” And the Dems were afraid and did bow before them.

The children of the Dems flocked to the hero Obama and said “You must free us from this curse!” and so he went forth to battle the Queen of the Hill. And it came to pass that the great hero broke the spell and set free the serfs of Iowa and Carolina. The peasants pledged fealty to the hero and said “We will be your army, and we will be called the Obamites.”

And the scribes and town criers sang his praises and told of his great deeds and of his victory and prophesied the death of the dark Queen until the day came that she cried out in anguish and defeat. But the King unleashed powerful wizards of special interest and once again cast his spell on the people of the Hampshires and Nevada and Lo! The people saw the Queen was not dead.

And the King and Queen forged an alliance with the mysterious undead armies of Michigan and Florida and marched across the land to battle the Obamites. So the hero Obama sought counsel from the old wise men of Camelot and asked “How do I kill this witch queen?” And they said,We will help you but heed our warning - Do not gaze upon her visage for she will turn you to stone.” That very day, in the hall of power the Queen found and reached for the hero and he turned away lest he be turned to stone, and she exclaimed - "I reached out to him and I am still reaching out." And the people wondered if he was weak in spirit. And now the battle has been joined again and rages across the land, and none dare predict the final outcome.

None except the Soothsayer DWSUWF - he who rushes in (where wise men fear to tread) with a vision of the future, revealed as in a dream:

The armies will meet in the land of of the West, before the Mountains of Color in a place called Denver. The King and Queen of the Hill have chosen the ground for the battle and lay in wait for the hero. The army of the Obamites will push back the forces of the House of Clinton, but their victory will be an illusion. The old King will call to the heavens and the God-Delegates of super power will fall upon the Obamites with a fury. Betrayed by the delegates who were not bound, ambushed by the delegates who have no seat, the hero will be brought down. When the battle is done, the Queen of the Hill will stand victorious astride her vanquished foe, bloodied, bruised, pantsuit ripped, with sharpened heel buried deep in the hero Obama’s lifeless chest. But in her moment of triumph, she will look across the land and see that all is not well in the land of the Dems.

A multitude of Obamites with malice in their eyes and hatred in their hearts will surround the Queen of the Hill and fill the air with cries, lamentations, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth for the fallen idol. And the dark Queen, the greatest savant of the great House of Clinton Political Mentats and Sorcerers will triangulate the complex political calculus and understand the need for Obamite acolytes to carry her on the long road ahead. Kneeling she will breathe life into the fallen hero and say “Rise Obama!, for you will walk with me to the promised land as my second - and bring your naive unwashed hordes with you. I will teach you the political weirding way.” And there will be great wonder and rejoicing in the land of the Dems.

x-posted at Donklephant.

On the occasion of this post being included in the prestigious JonSwift Best Blog Posts of 2008, (as selected by the bloggers themselves). We offer this updated Director's Cut Alternate Ending which somewhat more accurately reflects events as they - you know - actually unfolded in this universe:
The army of the Obamites pushed the forces of the House of Clinton until their backs were pressed against the Mountains of Color in the land of Denver. Yet the King and Queen fought with a fury and bloodied the Obamites and caused them to fear that the hero would fall. The old King called to the heavens and beseeched the God-Delegates of super power to fall upon the Obamites and smite them.

The Hero Obama then called to the trapped king and queen -"Behold the power of the Chicago Weirding way!" He turned to his left where the Iman of Rahm open his mouth and from his throat a great Fog of Inevitability obscured the battlefield and the vision of the God-Delegates. Then he motioned to his right and the dark wizard Axe of the Rod cast a spell and behold the sky opened up and the manna of power fell as rain upon the Obamites and strengthened their spirit. Again he cast a spell toward the sky and summoned the corporate telecom demon-gods led by the great beast ATT. The hero Obama burned an offering of immunity and protection to the telecom gods and they showered manna and power upon the Obamites. And the Obamite army grew in power and number fed by the black magick of the corporate gods.

The God-Delegates looked upon the battle and were unmoved by the entreaties of the Clintonians. Lo they said onto to the King and Queen "WTF???" And the Clintons beheld the power of the hero Obama and were finally afraid.

The hero Obama raised both arms and the gates of hell opened beneath his feet and from the ground emerged hordes of boot-licking, butt-sniffing poodle-pundits of the press. The yapping yellow demon dogs of journalism fell upon the Clintons until their ankles were chewed as to the bone and they toppled to the ground. And so it came to pass that the Land of the Dems was finally freed from the spell of the Clinton King and Queen.

But Obama - Hero of The People - Ally of the Chicago Feudal Lords - Acolyte of the Telecom Gods - was generous in victory. "You have fought well my queen. Stand by me, and I will heal your financial wounds and give you domain over the vassals of State." And the queen was grateful, and walked with him and said "Tell me more about the Chicago weirding way." And they walked and laughed together and were entertained by the Chicago court jester Blago of Witch as they lay claim to the throne in the the Great White House of power.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union: "Georgy Boy" Edition

UPDATED: 29-Jan-08
Last year, I wondered what DWSUWF could possibly add to the coverage of the State of the Union when so many other bloggers would be covering the same ground. The answer came from Bob Woodward. I asked Bob in an on-line Washington Post forum whether the SOTU had any real relevance, and he responded it was "mostly theater" (and yes I now feel we are on a first name basis) . Genius. That was the answer. What better way to frame the SOTU, media and blog reactions then than within the lyrics of a show tune? Last year it was "Comedy Tonight" from the play and movie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This year we have selected the The Seekers 1966 hit "Georgy Girl Boy" from the soundtrack of the movie with the same name [Note: The gender has been modified in this song to fit your blog context]. The game is to find links and references to the lines of the song. I'll post the lyrics before the speech begins, and then update the lyrics with links to live-bloggers, references, analysis and reviews over the next day or so.

We already know two topics that will figure prominently in the President's speech.
  1. Stimulus - GWB will be using the forum to call on Congress to pass the Economic stimulus bill. This bill is the bipartisan initiative to borrow an additional 150 billion dollars from the Chinese (which will add to the debt burden our children will shoulder) in order to fight the perceived threat of a recession which does not exist yet and probably never will happen with or without the stimulus bill. But it does have bipartisan support from our Congressional representatives who are up for reelection and are falling all over themselves to send checks home to voters in a an election year. So - done deal.
  2. FISA - GWB will blame the Democrats for not yet renewing the hastily modified and ill considered version of the FISA Surveillance Bill that simultaneously expanded the power of the government to eavesdrop on Americans, while setting the precedent that it is acceptable for Telecom companies to violate the rule of law when asked by the executive branch to do so.
This is a one-two punch that will mange to offend both my libertarian Democrat and libertarian Republican sensibilities. The fact is, both the Stimulus bill and the FISA extension with Telecom Immunity should be stopped. Principled Republicans could stop the Stimulus bill (if you can find them). Libertarians and Independents should help them. Principled Democrats could stop the FISA bill as it is presently constituted (Chris Dodd being one and for that we owe him our thanks). Libertarians and independents should help them. And they say gridlock is a bad thing.

With that, I offer the 2008 final George W. Bush State of the Union DWSUWF Theme Song:

Georgy Girl Boy
By The Seekers

Hey there, Georgy boy
Swingin' down the street so fancy-free
Nobody you meet could ever see
The loneliness there
Inside you

Hey there, Georgy boy
Why do all the boys just pass you by?
Could it be you just don't try
Or is it the clothes you wear?

You're always window-shopping
But never stopping to buy
So, shed those dowdy feathers and fly
A little bit

Hey there, Georgy boy
There's another Georgy deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide
And, oh, what a change there'd be
The world would see
A new Georgy boy

Hey there, Georgy boy
Dreamin' of the someone you could be
Life is a reality
You can't always run away

Don't be so scared of changing
And rearranging yourself
It's time for jumping down from the shelf
A little bit

Hey there, Georgy boy
There's another Georgy deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide
And, oh, what a change there'd be
The world would see
A new Georgy boy

Hey there, Georgy boy
Wake up, Georgy boy
Come on, Georgy boy
Wake up, Georgy boy

UPDATED: 29-Jan-08 - Added links, corrected typos.

Divided and Balanced™ Now that is fair.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Divided government and ch-ch-ch-changes

Hat tip to RC for pointing me to this great column in The Badger Herald by Jason Smathers. Jason is is a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in history and journalism. Coincidently, the title of the piece is "Divided we stand, united we fall?":
"... despite its name, divided government is the only path for meaningful progress, especially given how “change” has ravaged this country at times. In the last 50 years, divided government has been relatively common. During the ‘50s, a combination of the Democratic Legislature and Republican executive resulted in an end to the Korean War, incredibly low rates of inflation and only minimal flare-ups in the Cold War. When united government resurfaced, it led to high inflation, expansive foreign policy disasters — Vietnam, of course — and a rebellious counterculture that derailed the legitimacy of the President Lyndon Johnson and cut the “Great Society” short. It took divided government, along with a secretive Nixon administration, to restore order and reduce a national crisis to a cultural hangover. It may not have looked pretty the way it happened — especially when the president and secretary of state aren’t exactly choirboys — but it did stop the bleeding before a second unified government under the Carter administration lost the plot again. The same sort of stability occurred during the Clinton presidency — low inflation, low unemployment, economic prosperity along with relative peace in terms of foreign policy. However, the pitfalls of unified government revealed themselves again during the six years of Republican control..
In that sense, a Republican president may not be the worst decision for America at this point. Sen. John McCain may now be pandering to the conservative base, but if he decides to once again take up the banner of Goldwater Republicans, he could provide a perfect complement to a visibly frustrated Democratic congress. Skepticism of Mr. Obama’s “post-partisan” politics is partially developed out of a sinister second meaning appropriated by bandwagon “agents of change” — pushing an agenda through a unified government with little to no opposition. It’s not partisan because there is only one side. Yes, they could get a lot done. They could also do a lot of damage. "
Jason has gone a long way to restoring my faith in the younger generation. There is hope.

It is really not hard to understand why divided government works better. Use any mechanism the way it was designed to be used, it works better. A car is designed to run on roads, try to use it as a boat, and you don't get where you intended to go. We have a system of government built on the concept of checks, balances and separation of power. The constitution was designed with a specific architecture to ensure that (as James Madison said in the Federalist Papers) "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." Divided Government reinforces the foundation of our Federal Government. It works the way it was designed to work by the founders - messy, slow, and contentious. Single party government bypasses and undermines the checks and balances, restrains oversight, invariably increases opportunity for corruption, bad decision making, with consistent disastrous results.

On the subject of "CHANGE" I found this YouTube video amusing, and an excellent supplement to my earlier post - Keep the Change - A Resource for Bloggers. Enjoy:

Divided Change and Balanced Change.™ Now that is fair change.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gaming the California Republican Primary - A modest suggestion for Democrats in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Meet Emanuel Lasker, world chess champion at the turn of the 19th century. Contemporary chess grand-masters believed Lasker made moves to intentionally complicate the board without a specific plan of attack, but instead to confuse his opponent and increasing the likelihood of his opponent making a mistake. Some of his opponents (like Richard Reti) even believed he would deliberately make bad moves to psychologically undermine an opponent's play. Lasker reigned as champion for 27 years, the longest tenure of any recognized world chess champion in history.

A few Democrats in three congressional districts in California have an opportunity to make a Lasker move, complicate the political chess board, and deal a psychological blow to Republicans that will have ramifications through the GOP convention and into the general election. As few as 18,000 San Francisco Bay Area Democrats could nullify over half a million Duncan Hunter, Brian Billbray, and Orange County Southern California registered Republicans at the Republican convention. Now wouldn't that be fun?

The Tactical Move
The tactic would require about 2% of registered Democrats in California Congressional districts 8, 9 and 13 (San Francisco, Oakland, Silicon Valley) to re-register as Republicans by Tuesday January 22 (tomorrow) and vote for Ron Paul in the primary (about 6,000 voters per district).

I offer this suggestion with full knowledge of the racist Ron Paul newsletter flap. I am not a Ron Paul apologist. I don't think he is a racist, but clearly, he was perfectly willing to profit politically and financially by having race baiting polemics published under his name. This is inexcusable and disqualifies him to be President. But guess what? He never was going to be President and he was never going to win the Republican nomination. Those were not and are not reasons to support him. I have explained my reasons before (essentially to shove a libertarian cattle prod up the Republican posterior), but for any Democrats willing to consider an opportunity to game the Republican primary, you don't need to listen to me or my rationale. Listen to the most progressive weekly paper in the most progressive major city in the country, the San Francisco Bay Area Guardian, who endorsed Ron Paul for the California Republican primary with this spot-on editorial:
"... Paul compounds these ills in the one area in which he departs from the libertarians: he doesn't support federal abortion rights. He's been associated with some statements that are racially insensitive (to say the least). He clearly shouldn't be president. But he won't — Paul isn't going to win the nomination. So it's worthwhile endorsing him as a protest vote for two reasons. His presence on the ballot serves to show up ...some of the hypocrisies of the rest of the GOP field — and he is absolutely correct and insightful on one of the most important issues of the day: the war. Paul is alone among the Republican candidates for president in sounding the alarm that our country is pursuing a dangerous, shortsighted, hypocritical, expensive, and ultimately doomed strategy of trying to dominate the world militarily. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and thinks the US should pull out immediately. It's immensely valuable to have someone like that in the GOP debates, speaking to the conservative half of our country about why this policy violates the principles they claim to hold dear. Paul is absolutely correct that if we stopped trying to police the world, ended the war on drugs, and quit negotiating trade deals that favor multinational corporations over American families and workers, we would be a far more free and prosperous nation."
Gaming the Republican Primary
The Republican California primary is not a winner take all proposition. Each congressional district is a separate primary, with three delegates to the Republican convention up for grabs in each district. Consider this chart:

This chart shows the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian vote count in California Districts 8,9, and 13 in the 2006 mid-terms (numbers linked to Wikipedia source for chart data). Midterms and primaries tend to get similar participation from registered voters (about 50%), so this is a reasonable proxy for the vote count we can expect in the February 5th primary. My assumption is that with four or five Republicans still in the primary, it will only require about 35% of the total Republican vote to secure the delegates for Paul. Further assuming that Paul will get the same 6% of the combined Republican/Libertarian vote we've seen in other competitive primaries, we can calculate how many Democratic votes it would take to throw those delegates to Paul.

Why do it?
One reason, is that 18,000 Dems could send as many delegates to the Republican convention as Red Orange County district 48, Duncan Hunters Imperial Valley district 52, and Brian Billbray's North San Diego district 50, representing over 600,000 registered Republicans.

Another rationale was outlined by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos when he promoted a similar strategy asking Democrats to vote for Romney in the Michigan Republican Primary:
Lets have some fun in Michigan
"... because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us... So why are we doing this? Because we can. Because it'll be fun. And because we've suffered Republican meddling, stealing, and disenfranchisement in our elections for far too long."
Mitt for Michigan II
"We want an unsettled field with Republicans fragmented and fighting. We want the theocons (Huckabee), the neocons (McCain), and the corportate cons (Romney) to maintain viable top-tier candidates in the race for as long as possible, since it fuels their civil war. Heck, if we truly hit the jackpot, we might even get a brokered GOP convention. To summarize, this isn't a vote for Romney. It's a vote for "clusterf*ck."
Throwing these 9 California Republican delegates to Paul will increase the odds of a brokered convention, and ensure entertaining and amusing television at the Republican convention. Nothing will throw more confusion into a brokered Republican convention than Ron Paul with a basket of delegates. It would take less than 2% of the Registered Democrats in those districts (3%-5% of actual voters) to make it happen. BTW, a similar dynamic exists in other Bay Area districts 6,12,14, 15 and 16 but would require closer to 10,000 or 10% of the voting Democrats (5% of the Registered Democrats) to vote for Paul. Adding those districts would produce 24 delegates total.

Now, if you are a Democrat in one of those districts and a believer that Obama, Clinton, Edwards or Kucinich is the only candidate that should lead the Democratic party, then by all means, vote your heart and your party. But if you, like many Democrats, think that any of leading Democratic candidates will make a fine President, your vote will go a great deal further to making that happen, by voting as a Republican for Ron Paul in the California primary in those districts. You can always become a Democrat again immediately after the primary. I won't tell. In any case, I can assure you that Barack Obama is going to win the Democratic primary in those three districts whether you vote or not. Trust me on this.

My motivation?
I was a registered Democrat for 25 years before registering Republican to vote for Paul in the primary. Readers of this blog know of my fondness for divided government. Problem being, I no longer believe that any leading Republican candidate can beat any leading Democratic candidate in November. The Republican party is in the process of ripping itself apart. The only slim chance to head off single party control, may be to help accelerate the Republican Party self-immolation, by throwing some gasoline on the fire and getting behind whatever emerges from the ashes.

Just sayin...

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Flotsam (Late Edition)

Cleaning up some of the flotsam that washed ashore on the small beach serving as a metaphor for our little island of rationality in the great blogospheric ocean.

ITEM - More Microsoft Windows Productivity
I have posted nothing new in a week. It has, unfortunately, been yet another week of technology trouble. My Dell laptop will not boot, it just displays the wallpaper and freezes. Yes, I can get it to boot in safe mode, and Yes, I've tried restoring from previous set-points, and Yes, I've tried booting the "last good boot" and it still behaves the same. So I am punishing the Dell by ignoring it and working on a turn of the millennium vintage Pentium III Sony Vaio Desktop. I'll try to get a couple of posts out this weekend, and will not touch the Dell again until I get over this impulse to see how closely it will mimic the aerodynamic properties of a Frisbee thrown off our 15th floor balcony.

ITEM - Presidential Candidate Stack Ranking version 3.1
As promised, the DWSUWF Presidential Candidate Stack Ranking has been trimmed to six entries in the sidebar, and probably should be taken down to four. It does not matter whether it's Romney or McCain, Clinton or Obama winning in South Carolina and Nevada. This Stack Rank will remain intact until at least the Florida primary. It has been upgraded to version 3.1 since Richardson has dropped out and Gore moved up since the last ranking. The reality is that spots 5 and 6 are placeholders, as I struggle with including any of the remaining candidates from either party on the list after level 4. I've also dropped the Unity08 designation to the potential Bloomberg run since they went belly up, and have been subsumed by Bloomberg's ambition.
1) Ron Paul (R)
2) Barack Obama (D)
3) Chuck Hagel (R)/Mike Bloomberg (I)
4) Hillary Clinton (D)
5) Fred Thompson (R)
6) Al Gore (D)

A reminder - the DWSUWF stack ranking is a preference not a prediction. This list represents the top ten six candidates DWSUWF would like to see as President, stack ranked in order of preference. Imposed on this list are two constraints: alternating political party affiliation, and a divided government outcome in 2008.
ITEM - Just WTF are we anyway?
DWSUWF notes that some political bloggers have segregated their blogrolls into categories, and said bloggers do not seem to agree in which category DWSUWF belongs. Some think we lean left, some think we lean right. Libertarian blogs tolerate us. Centrist blogs like Donklephant, The Moderate Voice, and PoliGazette generally think DWSUWF is one of them. But Blanca Debree cannot decide whether DWSUWF is in her EVIL-DOER or GOOD-DOER category so she puts us in the Maybe Evil Doer /Maybe Good Doer category. DWSUWF approves.

UPDATED - 20-January-2008 - Updated Links

ITEM - Carnivalingus
Some recent fine collections of high quality blogging punditry:ITEM - Carnival Reminder
The next CODGOV edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government Vîcênsimus - Special California Primary Post-Mortem Edition, which we have elected to post on or about Wednesday, Feburary 6. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. If the words "divided government" or "gridlock" are not in your post, you should probably not submit to this carnival.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Announcing: Disunity08

UPDATED: 16-January-2008

We won’t have Unity08 to kick around anymore. Since they won’t need their cool graphics and logos, DWSUWF (being the environmentally sensitive sort) has been rummaging through the detritus to recycle what we can. Unity08 was always more a slick, professional PR and marketing effort as opposed to the the grass roots political movement they pretended to be, so they’ve got some pretty nice stuff. The hot air expelled and greenhouse gas burned in the short life of Unity08 probably raised the temperature of the globe by a degree or two. It is incumbent on us to recycle and make use of what we can from these Unity08 waste products.

The first indication of the impending Unity08 demise was the story by Elizabeth Benjamin writing in the New York Daily News Politics blog, saying that "Unity08 to jump on Bloomberg Bandwagon":
"A source familiar with the Bloomberg for president movement says the bipartisan Unity08 effort is poised to shut down its Web site, reconstitute as a Draft Bloomberg site and launch its own 50-state signature-gathering operation on behalf of the supposedly reluctant would-be independent presidential candidate."
I checked out the site and found, buried deep in a forum comment thread, one mention of the story:
In this thread, a Unity08 member expresses concern about the NY Daily News story. Understandable, since the raison d’etre for Unity08 was to have the members/delegates select and nominate a centrist, non-partisan ticket. The notion that Unity08 might support Bloomberg appeared to skip a few steps, specifically - asking the members if they want to support Mike Bloomberg. Even though the site shutdown was only hours away, for whatever reason, Bob Roth, VP Marketing, Unity08 saw fit to mislead this member by implying the story was false, while actually only “correcting” one aspect of it - the connection to Bloomberg. Ha! Ha! Good one, Bob!

It seems obvious now, that from the beginning Unity08 was indeed a Mike Bloomberg stalking horse, funded and staffed by Bloomberg loyalists. They couldn’t pull off the Bloomberg run within the Unity08 structure, so they closed up shop to make room for the imminent Bloomberg Independent candidacy, redirecting management and money resources to the impending campaign. The Unity08 tombstone is enlightening:

“And, of course, waiting in the wings should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy in the person of the Mayor of New York (and indeed we have lost two of our leaders, Doug Bailey and Jerry Rafshoon, to a committee :forming to draft Mayor Bloomberg should the circumstances seem right)… But we’re not closing our doors. We believe it is important to see our case against the FEC through (both for Unity08 and any similar movement in the future) and be ready to gear up if (when) we win our case and political circumstances warrant later this spring. Unity is in the air right now, and Mayor Bloomberg seems poised to run on his own (and the fact is that two independent candidacies wouldn’t work) if the parties leave the sensible center open - but all this could change in a matter of weeks.”

[UPDATE: 12-January-08 The above is a quote from the Unity08 announcement as it was orginally posted. In the revised version, the mention of Baily and Rafshoon going to the Bloomberg campaign has been excised.]

Unity08 had over 120,000 members and raised over a million dollars. Not as much as they wanted, but nothing to scoff at. Actually, I liked the idea of a Hagel/Bloomberg Unity08 candidacy, which is why, although dubious, I signed up as a “delegate”. I feel bad for those who put their heart and soul into the effort, as they have been treated rather shabbily by the organization. The whole thing smells so manipulative, so contrived and betrays such cynical contempt for the Unity08 supporters that I would find it difficult to support Bloomberg now.

But Unity08 is dead, and let us not speak ill of the dead. Let us instead reflect on the short life of Unity08, with a retrospective of DWSUWF's greatest Unity08 hits.

Unity08 was created with much fanfare and a big publicity splash in June of 2006, in the same timeframe that DWSUWF published our first blog post. We'll admit to a little popularity envy, as Unity08 was embraced by pundits, bloggers and columnists at a time the infant DWSUWF readership was leveling out in the high single digits.

Our first post focused on Unity08 was October 16, 2006, where we announced the formation of "Disunity '06", comparing and contrasting the differences in our approach to the 2006 midterm elections and the problem of a dangerous single party Republican government that was spinning wildly out of control:
"Now in my simpleminded view, the solution here is not to find ways to hold a civil discourse with the party in power to politely register dissatisfaction with the path they have taken. My view is that very first step in solving these problems, is to rip some the power away from the single party on watch when the problems were created, and give that power to the opposition party. This is a fairly simple solution that can be implemented on November 7 of this year... If the Democrats achieve a majority in both the House and Senate in 2006, vote for a Republican president in 2008. If the Republicans maintain a majority in the House and Senate in 2006, vote for a Democratic President in 2008... Disunity06 - No contributions. No infrastructure. No political party. No delegates. No convention. No leaders. No candidates. Just common sense, and Just Vote Divided."
By November 3, 2006 - just a week before the midterms, it became clear that "Disunity06 kicks Unity08 butt":
"It is just so painfully obvious that the "unity" in Unity08 will last exactly as long as they support no actual candidates, have no platform, and have no opinion on any actual issues, and will not last one minute longer... Lets just call this post a place-holder for me to link with a giant "I told you so" post a year or two from now. I do have one serious question for any Unitoids that may read this - If a divided Republican/Democrat ticket in '08 is a good thing, why wouldn't a divided Republican/Democrat government in '06 be equally good?... Unity08 is promoting a meaningless petition in '06, while voters embracing the idea of divided government may be the very reason that the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives next week. There is a lesson here for Unity08. It is not too late for Unity08 to become relevant in '06."
Umm - I told you so.

On February 22, 2007 we offered a history lesson in "Unity08 and fellow travellers Tony Snow and David Gregory promote Un-American activities" where we concluded:
"One is tempted to suggest that unity, political civility, and polite debate is downright Un-American... It seems pretty obvious to me, that if we want more participation by the American voting populace, we want more, not less, political polarization. And conversely, a unified, politically correct, socially acceptable and boring form of partisan discourse, will inevitably result in less participation in the political process. What to do ? I suggest we just don't pay attention to those Un-American unifiers. Instead, I submit for your consideration - Divided We Stand United We Fall Rule #1: Polarized Partisan Politics Promotes Popular Participation."
There were a few other posts where the Unity08 efforts were noted, but over the last few months it became clear the blogosphere was not big enough for both a Unity08 and Bloomberg independent run. Particularly if the Unity08 members might somehow manage to accidentally not nominate Michael Bloomberg.

Finally, no eulogy of Unity08 would be complete without noting the work of Ahab Jim at the Irregular Times obsessively stalking this extinct white whale. Here we see an un-retouched photo of Jim throwing a few pointed questions at the Unity08 management early last year.

Unity08 is Dead.

Long Live Disunity08.

UPDATE: 16-January-2008
This post was cross-posted at Donklephant, where it caught the attention of Bob Roth and he responded in the comments. In the interest of fairness and completeness I will paste that comment exchange here. I have edited only the portion of Bob's comments that were directed to another commenter, and his full comments can be found at the Donklephant link:

  1. Bob Roth Says:
    January 14th, 2008 at 10:38 am e

    MW, the truth of the matter, if you are interested, is that the closure of Unity08 was not a process of tranfering, redirecting, re-allocating, re-structuring, re-constituting, or re-organizing into a pro-Bloomberg effort. No member information or money was moved from one organization to the other. They are completely separate organizations.

    My comment to the members in the Unity08 forum was the result of their having been a false rumor started that day. We were operating on a time line to close the virtual doors of the organization which we advanced due to the nature of the press report. I felt that I owed it to the membership to tell them what I could since these particular members had worked avidly with me on the movement.

  2. mw Says:
    January 14th, 2008 at 2:06 pm e

    Thanks for stopping by to provide that clarification. Much appreciated. Clearly any linkage between Unity08 and the Bloomberg effort is speculative and purely circumstantial. There just seems to be an awful lot of those convenient circumstances in evidence, most notable the founders of Unity08 now in the Draft Bloomberg camp.

    So just out of curiosity Bob, since Unity08 no longer needs a V.P. of Marketing

    - where are you going?

  3. Bob Roth Says:
    January 15th, 2008 at 4:04 pm e

    MW, I’ve decided to retire to my home state to spend some time with family while also helping out some friends get a few different projects off the ground. As I am sure you might find if you read several political blogs, one of those projects happens to be the movement...

    I don’t consider what is being written necessarily a “backlash.” I see that there are many I-told-ya-so’s out there, but what I have found in the world of politics is that there are a lot of name-callers and few action-takers. I can leave Unity08 with my head held high because I worked the insane hours and slept at the office to try and make a difference and thereby improve our country. You can argue whether it was right or wrong, but I took action.

    Finally, you make an assumption that there was money in the bank when it was all said and done… we had ballot access efforts, direct mail in the works, an office of staff, new site technology built… and we stretched a million and a half dollars in donations over an amazingly long time period equal to about a year and a half. I don’t know about you, but the startups that I have worked for have had a much higher burn rate than that.

    Good luck to you all!


The Bob Roth chronicles continue at the Irregular Times where Ahab Jim covers the Baily / Rafshoon press conference announcing the new Draft Bloomberg initiative. He also did a little digging into the interesting history of the domain, apparently secured by Unity08 in June, 2007. Bob Roth explains it all in the comments:
While I was at Unity08, we registered hundreds of domain names for all of the possible well-known candidates that had yet to enter the 2008 race, but could possibly do so. happened to be one of them. The DBC purchased this asset from Unity08 as a temporary URL until (the current URL) had propagated. is now redirecting to

Comment by Bob Roth — 1/16/2008 @ 9:58 am
Curiouser and curiouser.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ronny - We hardly knew ye.

Friends, Americans, Libertarians, lend me your eyes. I come to bury Ron Paul, not to praise him. The good politicians do live after them, the not-so-good should be interred with their bones.

The one-two punch of the New Republic article with amplified "Ron Paul Newsletter" quotes, Paul's tepid response, combined with his underachieving performance in New Hampshire has knocked Ron Paul to the mat and down for the count.

Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish nets out "Ron Paul's New Hampshire Defeat":
"If Paul cannot win or even beat Giuliani in New Hampshire, his most promising state, then what hope does he have? His ads sucked... But the freedom movement he helped galvanize is much more than one man. And if we enter a second Clinton era, we will need it as much as ever."
Justin Gardner at Donklephant asks "Is the Revolution Over?":
" ...he’ll start losing supporters after today because of the combination of his loss and that story, but that muckraking probably only lost him a few hundred people tops in the Granite State. Still not enough to think he could have climbed to 4th. And folks, when you finish with 8% of the vote in the state with the biggest concentration of independents, well, it’s time to rethink whether or not you should be in the race. New Hampshire is tailor made for a Libertarian message, and it just didn’t resonate last night."
Shaun Mullen at The Moderate Voice thinks "It’s Time For Ron Paul to Go Bye-Bye":
"...everyone’s favorite GOP oddball – that is except within the Republican Party itself – tanked in the Iowa caucus, finishing a distant fifth and besting only Mr. 9/11, who had skipped the state altogether. Then one of the archeologists digging into Paul’s quixotic background struck a mother lode with the discovery that his campaign newsletters in the early 1990s were filled with bigoted statements... A particular peeve of mine is national candidates who stand zero chance of being elected but stay in a race. While Paul stands for some things that I agree with in the abstract, he couldn’t get elected dog catcher and knows it."
Dave Weigel at Reason explains "Why Ron lost" but also summarizes what Ron Paul begat:
"Throughout the evening, I heard a common theme: that the freedom movement has to be bigger than one congressman with a past that keeps climbing up out of the mud to drag him down. Days before the votes came in I hung around outside Murphy's Taproom, the de facto Ron Paul bar in Manchester, and heard college kids and just-out-of college types excitedly talking about what would happen when... Paul didn't win. "Dr. Paul wouldn't want us to give up if we lose this election," said Drew Rushford, excitedly talking with two other out-of-state supporters. "If we give up, then we never supported him at all." So Lew Moore was right -- The Paul party was as exuberant as most victory parties. We just don't know yet what they're celebrating, and neither do they."
These writers are prone to be sympathetic to Ron Paul. As am I. New Hampshire was the high water mark for Dr. Paul, for all the reasons they mention. Bottom line, Ron Paul is a fatally flawed candidate. Now, I am a Paul supporter, I sent him some money, I may send him some more, and I am certainly going to vote for him in the California primary. I'd like to see Paul stick it out through super Tuesday - if only to see whether his constituency can be organized into something that can be politically effective in the post-Ron Paul era (which started last night). Along those lines, I have a suggestion for Dave Weigel and other Ron Paul supporters about "what they're celebrating", and what the Freedom movement can do while looking for the right candidate to support.

It is entirely reasonable to suppose that the 8%-10% of the vote that Paul garners accurately represents the libertarian swing vote in the US. It is not large enough to elect a libertarian president, and only large enough to be a spoiler as a 3rd party. However, since we have a highly polarized, roughly balanced partisan electorate, It is large enough to determine the direction of American politics, if it can be organized to swing as a group between R’s and D’s.

Paul's numbers are consistent with what David Boaz and Cato determined to be the (small l) libertarian swing vote. The open question is whether these libertarian “cats" can be herded. It is the same question that Ryan Sager was asking before the 2006 mid-terms - How do you organize "hot-tub libertarians"? If either major party was interested enough in attracting these voters, they could pander to them like any other interest group and potentially win the 2008 Presidential election as a result. Of course that means they would have to embrace some libertarian policies (more freedom, more peace, less intervention, smaller government) . Absent credible policy pandering by Republicans or Democrats, and absent a candidate to rally around, the organizing principle would have to be something extremely simple, clear, easy to communicate, easily rationalized and proven to keep the country moving in a libertarian direction, or at least restraining the headlong rush to statism. I have outlined before what that organizing principle could be, the only organizing principle that meets the criteria - Voting for Divided Government. As I have said here before-

If the libertarian swing vote galvanized by Ron Paul can be organized to Vote by Objective...
"Ultimately, I see this voting tactic as highly effective, but short-term and self-limiting. Maintaining divided government has real benefits in terms of governance, and the primary benefit of successfully implementing this voting tactic is to move the country toward the objectives outlined in this post. As a side benefit, it could serve to establish the moderate libertarian center as a self-aware, broadly recognized and organized voting block. Objectively, divided government only slows the growth of the state, with no evidence that it can actually begin to reduce it. One way to describe the situation is that the "Divided Government vote" stands down when the "Moderate/Centrist/Libertarian vote" stands up. Ultimately, if the divided government constituency is co-opted and eroded because Democrats and/or Republicans are wrestling with each other to prove who are the better, more effective moderate/libertarians, and can prove this to a skeptical, rational, empirical moderate/libertarian swing vote ... well then our job here is done."
Then the freedom movement may finally find the cure to Political Impotence and Electile Dysfunction":
"Shaping an election outcome one time can be dismissed as a rogue political wave. Shaping two consecutive federal elections is a sea change that cannot be ignored. If the libertarian "divided government vote" is shown to swing the 2008 presidential election as it did the Congressional outcome in 2006, then libertarians will no longer be inchoate, their message no longer diffused, and their political clout no longer flaccid. As long as the bulk of the electorate remain polarized and balanced, even a small percentage libertarian swing vote organized around divided government will be enough for libertarians to display the biggest swinging political "hammer" in town."
Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Keep the change - A blogger's resource.

This post will be a change of pace as we await the results of the New Hampshire primary. One thing is certain, the more things change the more they remain the same and clearly, a change is gonna come. The sea change represented by change agents like Obama, Huckabee, Romney, Clinton, McCain and Edwards is going to change the game. There is no changing channels, but you may change your mind, as the leadership of both parties change hands in this changing political climate.

Bloggers will be short changed as columnists, pundits, and politicians compete for the limited supply of phrases containing the word "change" for the needed blog post titles in the next 24 hours. But leopards can't change their spots, and unless you are a lead blogger, the view never changes. As a service to my fellow bloggers, at this time of critical change, I offer this incomplete list of phrases, clichés, and song lyrics containing the word "change". I have a linked a few posts, columns and headlines that have already grabbed a change phrase, but there simply will not be enough to go around. I do not want to ration these, so everyone is going to have to share. If anyone has any spare change clichés, or loose change links to contribute, please share them in the comments or send me an e-mail [ mw at dividedwestandunitedwefall dot com], and I will update the list. Together we can get through this and change the paradigm. Look, I'd like to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I leave it up to you.


  • A leopard doesn't change its spots.
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes.
  • A change will do me (you) good.
  • Time changes all things.
  • Change is in the air.

Song Lyrics
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes - David Bowie
  • The Times they are a'changing - Bob Dylan
  • Nothing can change the shape of things to come. - Max Frost
  • A change is gonna come - Sam Cooke
  • I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you. - Ten Years After

Divided Change and Balanced Change.™ Now that is fair change.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Divided Government, Markets and the Iowa Results

This blog features opinion, analysis and scholarship on the documented benefits of divided federal government (restrained growth of spending, better legislation, greater oversight, fewer wars, and overall better governance). In that context, we also note the general view often expressed by financial pundits and market analysts that the stock market prefers divided government.

Among our past observations was an October 2006 post featuring a video of CNBC economist and commentator Larry Kudlow explaining that the market surge leading into the 2006 midterms was due to investors anticipating a Democratic victory and a divided government result. His perspective was reinforced at the time by Rich Miller at Bloomberg and Michael Sivy at CNN Money. In a post from June 2007, eight months after the American electorate in their collective wisdom saw fit to install divided government in Washington DC, I noted that Investors still love divided government. That post featured author, Forbes columnist and financial manager Ken Fisher. who outlined the investor case for gridlock and divided government in "Thanks for not Legislating". His thesis certainly seems validated in 2007, the first and only year of divided government in the last seven. Despite worries about a credit crisis, sub-prime mortgages and a falling dollar, the market had an up year:

2007 Market Results
DOW +6.4%
S&P 500 +3.5%
NASDAQ +9.8%

In that June post I also made this observation:
This may be counter-intuitive but is certainly true: While a single party controlled Republican government may be better for business and investors than a single party controlled Democratic government, neither is as good for business as any configuration of divided government (President, Senate, House not all one party).
Now the other shoe may be dropping. The stock market is a "discounter" of all known information affecting the market including the impact of politics. That simply means that if information that will affect stock prices is known to investors, then the distilled belief of all investors can be found in the current market price.

Brett Arends,
writing in the Wall Street Journal Op/Ed page last Friday, suspects that recent market action may be discounting a single party unified Democratic party government in 2009.
Iowa's Message to Investors
"They say Wall Street sets prices by anticipating events, and there's no better example of that than the investor who were busy Friday factoring the results of the Iowa caucuses into their outlook... The Iowa results sent tremors under the political establishment. They may eventually shake up the world of finance too... Sen. Obama, with his broad appeal to many independents, would probably be a stronger candidate in a general election than Sen. Clinton. Meanwhile the Republicans are in disarray. And Mitt Romney, who could be formidable in a general election, has suffered a serious setback in trying to get there. So the chances have risen that Washington could see single party rule again, with Democrats in charge at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue... Wall Street doesn't tend to like single-party government too much. It prefers gridlock to activism. Periods of divided government have tended, on average, to coincide with better stock market returns than periods of single-party rule, although there are circumstantial reasons too."
Frankly, this far out from the election, I am skeptical about attributing any short term market moves and in particular last week's post-Iowa caucus / new year sell-off to investors anticipating a single party Democratic government result in November.

Still, it is clear that the perception of investors/gamblers who participate in the Prediction Markets changed dramatically in the last week. Investors and financial pundits tend to put more stock in political betting markets than political polls. The prediction markets represent real people betting their own money on their beliefs. There are real consequences to an individual expressing an opinion by betting on a political futures contract while, by contrast, there is no consequence to your average citizen expressing an opinion or even lying to a pollster. The InTrade contracts representing Clinton and Obama's chances to win the Democratic nomination flipped dramatically after Iowa:

One month chart showing Clinton drop from a 70% probability of securing the nomination to under 35% after Iowa, while ...

Obama jumped from a 20% probability to close to 65% in the same time frame...

... and the Dow Jones Index fell over the same time period.

These are very big moves in a very short period of time. Perhaps investors are trying to digest what an Obama presidency and a unifed single party Democratic government will mean for 2009.