Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gary Johnson Rings Out '11 for the Libertarian Party

If a libertarian falls in the forest, will anyone hear the sound? On Wednesday former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson sought to find out:

"I am here today to announce that I am leaving the Republican Party and will seek the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States."
Here is his 11-point libertarian agenda:

(1) I want to end deficit spending and cut federal spending by 43%.

(2) I want to enact the Fair Tax to stimulate real economic growth and job creation.

(3) I want to end the manipulation of our money by the Federal Reserve.

(4) I support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control.

(5) I oppose expensive foreign wars in places like Libya and Afghanistan where our national interest is not clear.

(6) I want to cut the over-regulation of our families, our businesses and our lives.

(7) I support a woman's right to choose.

(8) I support marriage equality for gay Americans, as required by the Constitution.

(9) I support the legalization of marijuana, which will save us billions and do no harm.

(10) I demand a government free of special interest influence, crony capitalism and corruption.

(11) I support returning strict adherence to Constitutional principles to our government.

Of his agenda, Gary Johnson says:

"Sadly, neither the Republicans nor Democrats will offer this agenda to the American people. The Republicans talk about cutting spending and taxes but insist on government regulating our personal lives. The Democrats support more liberal social policies but they will tax and spend and borrow us into bankruptcy. America needs a third way."
Conventional wisdom is that a libertarian candidacy won't matter. However, the grand old pooh-bahs of Virginia are concerned enough to require citizens who vote in their state's Republican presidential primary to sign this loyalty oath:

"I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican party for president."
That's a blank check with the amount to be filled in later.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Season in Harvard Square

Pictures from the days leading up to Christmas in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Bonny's near Fresh Pond

Salvation Army bell ringers at the Harvard Coop

Harvard Square Business Association feeds the multitudes latkes

Joe Kessler and the Klezwoods dedicate this one to the Arab Spring

Outside the William Brattle House

Cardullo's window display

Harvard Coop window display

Poinsettias at the Brattle Square Florist

Harvard Square Theater on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do Ask, Do Tell, and Let Me Watch on YouTube

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta plants a homecoming kiss on Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell after three months at sea. The scuttlebut is that other sailors may have helped this along by buying tickets for Marissa in their ship's first kiss raffle. So much for concerns about unit cohesion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bob Slate Stationer Reopens in Harvard Square

When Bob Slate closed last March it looked like Harvard Square had forever lost another one of its iconic retail institutions.

Bob Slate is back in a new, smaller store on the second floor of the Hadley Building at 30 Brattle Street in the heart of Harvard Square.

The new owner, Laura Donohue, has been working with the previous owners to recreate the Bob Slate experience. While the inventory is necessarily less varied in the smaller space, she does carry many of the gifts and supplies you could only get at Bob Slate.

Laura was director of finance and operations at Harvard Business School Publishing and graduated from Harvard in 1985. "I have been a customer for 30 years, starting in my freshman year at Harvard," Donohue says. I have too, although I doubt for old times' sake she will cash my checks made out for extra cash the way the old Bob Slate did thirty years ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mitt Romney Video Roundup

Some videos from the Romney campaign:

Mitt Romney on David Letterman:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dawn of a New Day in Iraq

Early yesterday morning under cover of night, the last convoy of U.S. troops crossed the border into Kuwait. The last unit out reportedly was the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division under the command of Colonel Doug Crissman.

And so it ends, not with a bang but with a wimper, and this email from President Obama's reelection campign:

Early this morning, the last of our troops left Iraq.

As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news.

Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose.

Thank you.

Our country has been at war with or in Iraq since August 2, 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. For the U.S., the war went through four phases: the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the no-fly zone enforcement from 1991 to 2002, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the counterinsurgency campaign from 2003 to 2011.

The price has been high both in terms of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded and in terms of a wrecked U.S. economy. The dividends, if there are any, will come down the road and be difficult to measure. That makes it all the more important that we salute our troops for seeing this through to the end. And I hope this is the end.

Can Iraq get along without us? Let us hope so. There has been human civilization in the fertile crescent for 12,000 years.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ron Paul Video Roundup

Some for, some against, some old, some new.

I Sense a Disturbance in the Force

Around 60 protesters were out in Boston demonstrating against the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act when they got a drive by from a most intimidating paddy wagon. It just "lumbered slowly by" sending the unequivocal message to keep the protest civil or be carted off to jail.

Just what is the Civil Disturbance Unit? "At the direction of the Patrol Operations Division Commander, the Civil Disturbance Unit is responsible for augmenting the Patrol Force in effectively addressing any riot and/or civil protest."

Here are the riot police that go with the bus. Such a big bus for only 10 riot police.

For such big disturbance in the force, we can only wonder if the big transit police bus cost as much as a Death Star.

Ron Paul Counts Coup In Sioux City Debate Round

Ron Paul won the first Iowa debate round last week and following last night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa has won the second round this week. On Facebook he added more net new followers (14,401) than all other Republican candidates combined (13,949).

CandidateSun 12/11 NoonFri 12/16 NoonPickup
Ron Paul621,225635,62614,401
Mitt Romney1,213,4681,220,6437,175
Newt Gingrich212,027216,9054,878
Rick Santorum35,03636,4841,448
Rick Perry175,399176,8291,430
Jon Huntsman27,72828,9661,238
Michele Bachmann459,050460,043993
Gary Johnson145,181145,446265
Herman Cain394,473390,995-3,478

That tap on Mitt Romney's shoulder is not the Republican Party picking him as its standard bearer. It's Ron Paul counting coup.

The fabled Newt Gingrich surge is over. He's down to third place in this round.

Michele Bachmann joins Rick Perry in the surprisingly still has a pulse category. Rick Santorum has moved up to fourth place, and he'll be happy to hold that spot on Iowa caucus night.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prettiest Face on Facebook, Biggest Twit on Twitter

While Mitt Romney is the prettiest face on Facebook, Newt Gingrich is the biggest twit on Twitter. That may just sum up the Republican race.

CandidateFollowers on FacebookFollowers on Twitter
Mitt Romney1,219,951200,419
Newt Gingrich216,6031,379,077

Here are the full bimonthly Twitter counts, maybe Newt isn't the biggest twit after all:

CandidateFollowers on 6/15/2011Followers on 8/15/2011Followers on 10/15/2011Followers on 12/15/2011
Barack Obama8,628,2739,654,44610,576,75711,544,286
Newt Gingrich1,324,9041,327,0131,334,8481,379,077
Mitt Romney51,58071,882134,459200,419
Michele Bachmann52,10075,731104,362122,084
Rick Perry44,43862,89596,509108,645
Ron Paul54,45561,76370,77887,471
Jon Huntsman70411,87541,10761,399
Rick Santorum10,52917,42432,05946,597
Gary Johnson--14,11316,857
Donald Trump615,671686,929802,054911,203
Sarah Palin561,050632,179677,857702,418
Mike Bloomberg99,413132,520174,137199,761
Mike Huckabee165,040183,523185,516187,861
Herman Cain43,54258,164118,117172,087
Jim DeMint95,266110,421112,931115,256
Paul Ryan59,09472,07381,20389,628
Chris Christie42,04150,83268,65777,892
Bobby Jindal59,59861,53064,19666,787
Tim Pawlenty40,98148,99255,50862,272
Thaddeus McCotter-19,72627,47733,416
Jeb Bush14,93717,26319,86421,874
Total Republican Followers3,335,3433,702,7354,215,7524,663,004

Not much change in order since October. Herman Cain is out and Mike Bloomberg moved up a notch among the not running.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Is Gay Bash a Republican Month

The confrontrations between gay activists and Republican candidates for President are starting to add up.

Michele Bachmann, December 4 (sweetheart!)

Rick Perry, December 11

Mitt Romney, December 12 (actually this one is quite polite)

Not that this is anything new.

Newt Gingrich, May 18

Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt Not Keeping up with the Gingrich-Joneses

"I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others."
Thrice-married Newt Gingrich has a problem. He hopes to pick up conservative family values voters, despite the troubling two divorces. He aims to solve it by making a campaign promise. The promise quoted above was included in a letter to Bob Vander Plaats and his Iowa organization The FAMiLY LEADER.

That's got to be a first in campaign promises, at least at the U.S. President level. Newt doubles down by promising both to be faithful to his current wife Callista and not to mess with anyone else's spouse.

That respect for marital bonds would not include his half-sister Candace Gingrich and her wife Rebecca Jones. Newt promises he will amend the Constitution to define marriage as the "union of one man and one woman." That's a vindictive half-brother-in-law for you, not wanting to keep up with the Gingrich-Joneses.

A lot of people will find other contradictions here. In the same letter, Newt says he will defend the unborn and defend the right of the people to rule themselves. However, his promises to defend the unborn extend mainly to taxpayer funding of abortion, so that adds up to libertarian.

Here's the whole letter:

To Bob Vander Plaats and the Executive Board of The FAMiLY LEADER:

I appreciate the opportunity to affirm my strong support of the mission of the FAMiLY LEADER by solemnly vowing to defend and strengthen the family through the following actions I would take as President of the United States.

Defending Marriage. As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted under my leadership as Speaker of the House, and ensure compliance with its provisions, especially in the military. I will also aggressively defend the constitutionality of DOMA in federal and state courts. I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman. I will support all efforts to reform promptly any uneconomic or anti-marriage aspects of welfare and tax policy. I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.

Defending the Unborn. I believe that life begins at conception. On day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan's Mexico City policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions overseas. I will also work with Congress to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood so that no taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions but rather transfer the money so it is used to promote adoption and other pro-family policies, and enact legislation that provides greater protections for the unborn.

Defending Religious Liberty. As President, I will vigorously defend the First Amendment's rights of religious liberty and freedom of speech against anyone who would try to stifle the free expression of believers. I will also promote legislation that protects the right to conscience for healthcare workers so they are not compelled to perform abortions and other procedures that violate their religious teachings.

Defending Against Debt. As President, I will undertake vigorous policies to maximize capital investment and job creation, along with common sense entitlement reforms, to dramatically turn around the nation's fiscal situation. Building upon the same principles I championed during my four years as Speaker, when we reduced the national debt by over $400 billion and dramatically reduced the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, we will reduce the enormous burden upon American families of the public debt and unfunded liabilities.

Defending the Right of the People to Rule Themselves. Today, as federal courts have intervened in sectors of American life never before imaginable, including the intervention in the definition of marriage as well as when unborn life can be protected under the Constitution, the public has increasingly come to view them as an usurpative device for unelected rulers. This abuse of power and loss of public confidence amounts to a constitutional crisis. I believe the executive and legislative branches each have an independent responsibility to interpret the Constitution, and in those rare circumstances when they believe the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have engaged in a serious constitutional error, they can choose among an array of constitutional powers to check and balance the courts. As President, I will nominate for federal judgeships, including justices of the Supreme Court, only those individuals who are committed to an originalist understanding of the Constitution. Judges with an originalist understanding will subordinate themselves to the meaning of the Constitution as it was intended by the framers, and not substitute their own judgments about its meaning. The inherent judicial self-restraint that comes from an originalist approach to the Constitution offers the best long-term assurance that federal judges will not exceed their powers and trample on individual liberties. I will also work with Congress to use the Constitutional means available to reassert the right of the elected branches of government to defend their understanding of the meaning of the Constitution, including limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide on certain issues, when they believe the federal courts have engaged in a serious constitutional error.


Newt Gingrich

Should I have left Candace out of this for privacy reasons? Did I further disrepect her by referring to her as a "half-sister" rather than "sister"? As her Facebook page says, "Candace appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday 7th December 2011 to talk about her half-brother Newt Gingrich."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ron Paul Wins First Iowa Debate Round, Rick Perry Rises from the Dead

The everywhere-touted Newt Gingrich surge lasted exactly one debate round, according to our highly scientific and incontrovertible method of measuring support on Facebook. Yes, Newt won the 11/23 to 12/4 round in which Herman Cain withdrew from the race but has fallen now to second in the 12/4 to 12/11 round.

CandidateSun 12/4 NoonSun 12/11 NoonPickup
Ron Paul608,760621,22512,465
Newt Gingrich202,200212,0279,827
Mitt Romney1,205,2211,213,4688,247
Rick Perry171,469175,3993,930
Jon Huntsman26,44127,7281,287
Rick Santorum33,80235,0361,234
Gary Johnson144,921145,181260
Michele Bachmann458,950459,050100
Herman Cain397,352394,473-2,879

We'll see if Ron Paul can hold onto first through the second Iowa debate on December 15 in Sioux City.

And what about Rick Perry? We were ready to leave him for dead after the last round or two, but he scored a solid fourth.

Rick Santorum is experiencing his own mini-surge, coming closer to besting Jon Huntsman than he has in the last several rounds.

Michele Bachmann held her own on television, landing a double sucker punch with her Newt Romney line on health care individual mandates. But on Facebook, alas, she actually lost 16 followers during the broadcast. Rick Santorum calling her a loser probably didn't help.

By the way, didn't Santorum lose his last Senate race in the state of Pennsylvania which the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate will desparately want to win. Yes, Santorum lost by a landslide vote of 59% to 41%. If he's still that unpopular in his home state of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum wouldn't even be a good pick for Vice President.

Perry-Brown Would Be the Perfect Brokeback Ticket

4,733,197 people have tuned in over the last 4 days ago to listen to Rick Perry deliver this message:

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I'm Rick Perry and I approve this message.
I half agree. Why shouldn't the kids be able to sing Joy to the World, O Come all Ye Faithful, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, "Away in the Manger, Oh Holy Night, or Little Drummer Boy at the third-grade Christmas pageant.

Nonetheless many chose to interpret Rick Perry's not as pro-religious but anti-gay. And then they pointed out the similarlity of Rick Perry's light brown coat to the one worn by Heath Ledger in the breakthrough gay love story Brokeback Mountain.

A lot of people have been saying the Rck Perry and Heath Ledger coats are identical. They are very similar but not identical. Just queer eye the detail work.

But you can't go Brokeback with just one guy, you need two. So if Rick Perry is wearing the light brown coat who is wearing the dark brown coat? How about U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Scott Brown:

Perry-Brown would certainly be a handsome ticket that would make the GOP proud.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury Like Donald Trump Scorned

Donald Trump announced he wanted to host a debate for all the Republican candidates in Iowa on December 27, just a week before the Iowa Caucus.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said yes. Two is the minimum you need for a debate, right? And Newt has already shown himself is willing to debate anyone, anytme. So far so good.

Then the Nos starting rolling in.

Jon Huntsman - "This is exactly what is wrong with politics. It’s show business over substance."

Ron Paul - "I didn't know he had the ability to lay on hands and anoint people."

Mitt Romney, to the Donald's particular surprise, and Rick Perry begged off on being just too busy campaigning.

However, the thin-skinned putative billionaire saved his digs for Michele Bachmann:

"She came up to see me four times. She would call me and ask me for advice. She said if she wins, she would like to think about me for the vice presidency. Most importantly, I did a two-hour phone call for her with her people. ... And after all that, she announced she was not going to do the debate. It's called loyalty. How do you do that? It's amazing to me."
Can you believe the gall of the pushy broad flirting so brazenly with The Donald and then faking a headache on her own future VP selection and putting the Trump debate on men-o-pause. We will be deprived of what surely would have been an uniquely riveting bit of television.

Update 12/11/2011: Michele Bachmann was asked about saying No to Donald Trump on one of the Sunday shows this morning. "He's a big boy," she said. Ouch.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Barney Frank Doesn't Live Here Anymore

I wondered what exactly it was about the redistricted 4th district that scared Barney Frank into retirement, so I looked at the voting in the January 2010 special election for U.S. Senate between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley.

The 4th district was stripped of the Democratic stronghold of New Bedford, leaving only 25% of the district population in the reliable Democratic cites of Newton, Brookline, and part of Fall River. Turns out Scott Brown carried the cities and towns in the new 4th district by 26,314 votes.

City or Town Population Brown (R) Coakley (D) Margin
North Attleborough 28,712 7,778 3,018 4,760
Franklin 31,635 8,828 4,470 4,358
Attleboro 43,593 8,598 4,819 3,779
Mansfield 23,184 5,909 3,045 2,864
Easton 23,112 5,931 3,350 2,581
Wrentham 10,955 3,880 1,414 2,466
Foxborough 16,865 4,821 2,465 2,356
Taunton 55,874 8,925 6,586 2,339
Norton 19,031 4,424 2,209 2,215
Lakeville 10,602 3,248 1,259 1,989
Norfolk 11,227 3,308 1,394 1,914
Milford 27,999 5,432 3,561 1,871
Medway 12,752 3,641 2,044 1,597
Medfield 12,024 3,842 2,276 1,566
Rehoboth 11,608 3,080 1,538 1,542
Hopkinton 14,925 4,123 2,600 1,523
Plainville 8,264 2,469 971 1,498
Bellingham* 12,638 3,165 1,686 1,479
Seekonk 13,722 3,133 1,911 1,222
Raynham* 7,719 2,061 973 1,088
Millis 7,891 2,430 1,383 1,047
Freetown 8,870 2,220 1,189 1,031
Dighton 7,086 1,770 829 941
Berkley 6,411 1,614 746 868
Swansea 15,865 3,297 2,449 848
Dover 5,589 1,888 1,058 830
Hopedale 5,911 1,619 997 622
Somerset 18,165 3,706 3,553 153
Wellesley 27,982 5,922 5,934 -12
Needham 28,886 6,894 7,654 -760
Sharon 17,612 3,536 4,461 -925
Fall River* 36,927 3,112 4,297 -1,185
Brookline 58,732 5,217 15,264 -10,047
Newton 85,146 11,352 23,456 -12,104
Total 727,514 151,174 124,860 26,314

* In order to square the Constitutional requirement of one man, one vote, with other less noble objectives in the redistricting process, the 4th District was assigned 77% of Bellingham, 58% of Raynham, and 42% of Fall River.

The redistricting scissors were also applied to Cambridge, where 52,234 residents were carved out for Ed Markey's 5th district and 52,928 left for Mike Capuano's 7th district. I suspect that state legislators working at the behest of Boston Mayor Tom Menino are trying to reclaim the 7th district for Boston from Somerville's Mike Capuano.

The new 7th is designed to be a majority minority district with 57% of district population nonwhite or hispanic. That means minority community activists will want to run a candidate to challenge Capuano in the Democratic primary. With 66% of the 7th district population in Boston and only 10% in Somerville, that could mean early retirement for Mike Capuano.

But what were the Democratic state legislators thinking when they drew the 4th? Certainly the right Democrat could win. The danger is that rare breed of Scott Brown Republican who could draw independent voters. That may be what the legislature wants. It surely hasn't escaped their notice that the new Republican Congress hasn't been returning Barney Frank's calls or emails.

Periodic complete loss of clout is a major liability for our all-Democrat U.S. House delegation - in times like these the state could sure use a go-to-guy in the U.S. House Republican caucus.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingrich Wins the Huck-a-bee as Cain Goes Out on Infidelity

I'm not sure we can call last night's candidate forum hosted by Mike Huckabee on Fox a debate, but it certainly brought the race back to a dull normal after the spectacular cancellation of The Herman Cain Show. That's too bad, I kind of liked that show.

But Herman Cain's misfortune has turned into Newt Gingrich's good fortune, as he wins his first debate round on Facebook. The great irony is that the man who stayed with his wife has to cede to the man who has twice confirmed his failings by divorcing to marry the object of his infidelity.

CandidateWed 11/23 NoonSun 12/4 NoonPickup
Newt Gingrich184,096202,20018,104
Mitt Romney1,191,5401,205,22113,681
Ron Paul596,853608,76011,907
Herman Cain392,326397,3525,026
Jon Huntsman24,80026,4411,641
Rick Santorum32,77833,8021,024
Gary Johnson144,584144,921337
Rick Perry171,496171,469-27
Michele Bachmann459,164458,950-214

If I'm not ready to take Newt Gingrich seriously, his support growth is certainly staying on pace, but I think he needs to pick it up a couple of more notches. He is leading the pack but not breaking away from the pack the way Herman Cain did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

George Step-on-all-of-us Grinds His Heel into Herman Cain

When George Stephanopoulos interviews Ginger White, who says she had an affair with Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, the irony of the great defender of Bill Clinton's sexual foibles asking the questions about someone else is just too much:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Some journalistic curiosities:

(1) Ginger White admits that Herman Cain was telling the truth when he said they didn't have a 13-year affair. That goes right past George.

(2) Ginger White shows phone records of recent calls and text messages from Herman Cain. Why doesn't George ask to see the text messages themselves?

(3) Ginger White says that Herman Cain gave her money over the last 2 1/2 years but asked for nothing in return. George fails to ask her when she got the last gift, how much it was, or how much in total she received.

(4) Ginger White says Herman Cain took her on several trips, including to the Mike Tyson v. Evander Holyfield fight in Las Vegas. George fails to ask her whether that was the first fight on November 9, 1996 or the rematch on June 28, 1997.

(5) When Ginger White says she has never been evicted, I think she means she moved out after receiving the eviction notices that have been reported in the press, but George doesn't ask.

Ginger White is charged with exaggerating her relationship with Herman Cain, and as much as admits that. How much is truth, how much is exaggeration? Don't look to George Stephanopoulos for answers, or even for questions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gold for Cain and Silver for Gingrich at the Neocon Town Hall

This latest Repulican debate on national security issues was a strange episode, with CNN host Wolf Blitzer hurling questions from various odd fellows at the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Perhaps the oddest of those fellows was the once influential Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and former head of the World Bank, now reduced to the roll of question from the audience at the neocon town hall.

Looking at the Facebook support numbers, as we always do here, we score this as the fifth win in a row for Herman Cain with second place going to Newt Gingrich.

CandidateSun 11/13 NoonWed 11/23 NoonPickup
Herman Cain371,583392,32620,743
Newt Gingrich168,048184,09616,048
Mitt Romney1,176,6261,191,54014,914
Ron Paul583,074596,85313,779
Jon Huntsman22,89724,8001,903
Gary Johnson143,063144,5841,521
Rick Santorum31,95832,778820
Rick Perry170,943171,496553
Michele Bachmann459,154459,16410

Newt Gingrich has become the man to watch, but looking at overall support he's still got a way to go to cross the Biden Line let alone overtake the support leaders in the Republican field

If Newt Gingrich stays on his current pace, he doesn't cross the Biden Line until 2/9/2012, and he doesn't catch up to Herman Cain until 3/31/2012, Ron Paul until 8/6/2012, and Mitt Romney until 8/11/2013. That assumes that the other candidates stand still, and they are continuing to build support. Newt's best hope may be that the election is held on Twitter.

Speaking of standing still, that's essentially been the case for Michele Bachmann all fall. Perhaps Rick Perry and Rick Santorum should go into that category too, as they can't even beat Gary Johnson, they guy who is not even being invited to the debates.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Republican Field May Have Finally Found Its Equilibrium

The Republican field may have finally found its equilibrium, judging from support on Facebook. Beyond Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry trading places and a continuing Herman Cain surge into a solid 4th place, there has not been much change in position in the last 2 months.

CandidateFriends on 1/16/2011Friends on 3/16/2011Friends on 5/16/2011Friends on 7/16/2011Friends on 9/16/2011Friends on 11/16/2011
Barack Obama17,822,15218,632,33120,413,24522,038,06723,133,52224,076,264
Joe Biden271,971274,670282,433299,388304,953308,062
Mitt Romney751,391814,705899,0551,041,4541,110,9381,182,511
Ron Paul307,493307,495356,452419,099510,540588,239
Michele Bachmann150,467187,433258,370422,366462,345459,318
Herman Cain42,28955,72090,146149,820176,534381,105
Newt Gingrich100,489113,269131,779142,281148,009172,841
Rick Perry51,45552,18052,85470,425160,305171,194
Gary Johnson-110,466114,000129,275134,036143,460
Rick Santorum12,21113,25216,22123,48227,86032,215
Jon Huntsman-1,5552,2809,34717,83223,476
Sarah Palin2,606,5862,777,5092,957,6273,191,7113,238,0663,254,960
Mike Huckabee522,079541,409586,020
Donald Trump146,866184,512272,108300,401318,603330,822
Scott Brown--237,462239,086239,053239,094
Bobby Jindal121,977122,353125,614
Rand Paul-105,001117,287137,580146,080150,434
Jim DeMint127,177129,848133,363143,436148,845149,053
Tim Pawlenty69,98573,13586,907
Paul Ryan50,90856,49671,923
Allen West--64,05767,33074,56876,237
John Thune74,75474,83775,21175,44275,24475,222
Scott Walker-61,52763,12964,62166,08367,763
Chris Christie29,38833,99036,53642,56346,67152,405
Mitch Daniels39,41344,52849,90850,61451,17551,548
Mike Pence45,92347,71248,54248,89348,94949,065
Mike Bloomberg29,86230,34431,31632,87936,99538,175
Haley Barbour16,85417,45918,16818,60418,77519,006
Thaddeus McCotter--9,90911,81212,55212,581
Peter King--11,23211,52511,65211,766
Jimmy McMillan-8,3628,6759,1419,98810,676
Roy Moore--708,2358,2948,321
Buddy Roemer-5701,4961,8064,5907,024
John Bolton5,1705,6586,0566,3546,8266,991
Jeb Bush4,8415,0275,3005,5565,7455,803
Fred Karger6818261,4582,1173,3985,355
Rudy Giuliani1,8912,1942,5353,2114,2894,545
Andy Martin--560570573583
Jonathon Sharkey--159170352414
Jon Greenspon581584583583--
Total Democratic Friends18,094,123
Total Republican Friends5,310,731

Obama-Biden fell just short of adding 1 million followers in the last two months, as their pace continues to slow. Perhaps potential supporters have been occupied elsewhere. Still they added 945,851 supporters versus 477,902 for all the Republicans in and out of the race combined.

It was time to scratch all those who never declared or have dropped out. Sarah Palin does stand out with a solid base of support for the future, while Donald Trump has a wet raccoon. The neocon favorite John Bolton and the dynastic Jeb Bush can't even clear the Jimmy McMillan Rent Is Too Damn High line.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cain Wins Again in SC, Gingrich Surges Fourth

All anyone is talking about this week is the new surge by Newt Gingrich. But looking at the support numbers after the debate in South Carolina last night, Newt is definitely surging but still hasn't gotten out of fourth place in adding new support on Facebook, sixth place overall.

CandidateThu 11/10 NoonSun 11/13 NoonPickup
Herman Cain362,749371,5838,834
Mitt Romney1,171,5321,176,6265,094
Ron Paul578,427583,0744,647
Newt Gingrich163,762168,0484,286
Rick Perry170,178170,943765
Jon Huntsman22,41822,897479
Gary Johnson142,816143,063247
Rick Santorum31,81931,958139
Michele Bachmann459,167459,154-13

You don't need to take the Newt Gingrich surge too seriously until he's added the almost 140,000 supporters he needs to cross the Biden Line. At his current pace, that won't happen until February 19, 2012. That's if he can maintain his current pace of adding supporters, he really needs to double it.

Herman Cain continues to run the table, with his fourth win in a row. Foreign policy is supposed to be his weak suit, but apparently he has been studying up.

The big loser at the South Carolina debate was CBS. They televised the first 60 minutes of the 90 minute debate, then preempted the last 30 minutes for its regularly scheduled show NCIS. The abrupt cutoff of live TV coverage sent the political junkies to the website for the live stream, but at least for me it streamed with such fits and starts as to be unwatchable.

"And that's the way it is?" Walter Cronkite might ask.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Herman Cain Support Swells as He Wins the Michigan Debate

The Republican Presidential debate show was back on CNBC in Michigan after a three week hiatus following the Vegas episode. And if you thought the last week was going to be a bye week for Herman Cain, you'd be wrong.

Herman Cain continues to rack up new supporters on Facebook. If anything the Cain wave has swelled in the last 10 days. It now is coming down to a three way race for new support between Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul.

CandidateWed 10/19 NoonThu 11/10 NoonPickup
Herman Cain289,490362,74973,259
Mitt Romney1,137,7601,171,53233,772
Ron Paul552,264578,42726,163
Newt Gingrich154,081163,7629,681
Gary Johnson139,921142,8162,895
Rick Perry167,513170,1782,665
Jon Huntsman20,62822,4181,790
Rick Santorum30,55031,8191,269
Michele Bachmann459,979459,167-812

Rick Perry committed the big gaffe in last night's debate. It will be interesting to see what happens with his support in the next week going into the next debate in Iowa on C-Span on Saturday, November 19. Perry support may go into Bachmann territory.

Update: There is a debate this Saturday, November 12 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. So a whole week won't be necessary to test the Perry weakness.

Did Cambridge Voters Just Favor Charter School Ideas Over Public Schools?

The municipal election results are in for Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In the city council race, after you sort out all the noise, Minka vanBeuzekom is replacing incumbent Sam Seidel. Leland Cheung, the newcomer and first Asian-American councilor elected two years ago, has become the highest vote getter.

On the school committee, Mervan Osborne defeated incumbent Nancy Tauber.

Nancy has been on the School Committee for four years and always pointed to her classroom experience as a teacher in Newton and her commitment to public school education.

Mervan is a teacher at Beacon Academy, a charter school in Boston that takes students from around the metro area for a bridge year between eighth and ninth grade. Before that he was a teacher at the private school Buckingham Browne & Nichols. And he is also on the board of directors at Concord Academy.

In other words, Cambridge voters just traded a public school teacher for a charter/private school teacher. That could be a sea change.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This is What Democracy Does Not Look Like in Cambridge, Massachusetts

We've just had another municipal election here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Elsewhere it's one man, one vote. Here it's you may fill in as many choices as you please, only one vote per candidate, only one vote per column, and do not use red to mark ballot. We end up with ballots that look like an SAT test from hell.

Voting in the city of Cambridge is more complicated than it needs to be. Cambridge uses a system of proportional representation that means you are asked to rank all the candidates in the city council race against each other (same for school committee). If you want, you can vote for all of the candidates by ranking every last one of them in your order of preference #1, #2, #3, etc.

When it came time to count the ballots for the 9 seats on the city council, here were the #1 votes for each candidate:

Candidate#1 VotesResult
Leland Cheung1974Elected on 1st count
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.1654Elected on 1st count
David P. Maher1636Elected on 1st count
Henrietta Davis1407Elected on 9th count
E. Denise Simmons1224Elected on 13th count
Marjorie C. Decker1092Elected on 14th count
Craig A. Kelley1075Elected on 13th count
Minka Y. vanBeuzekom1011Elected on 14th count
Kenneth E. Reeves979Elected on 14th count
Larry W. Ward816Defeated on 13th count
Sam Seidel768Defeated on 12th count
Matthew P. Nelson523Defeated on 11th count
Charles J. Marquardt488Defeated on 10th count
Thomas Stohlman, Jr.336Defeated on 9th count
James M. Williamson171Defeated on 8th count
Gary W. Mello128Defeated on 7th count
Jamake Pascual57Defeated on 5th count
Gregg J. Moree54Defeated on 6th count

As the results column hints, it doesn’t stop with #1 votes under the proportional system. The “extra” votes from winning candidates over what was needed to win and “throwaway” votes for losing candidates get reallocated based on the #2, #3, #4 etc. preferences. For example, 434 #1 votes for Leland Cheung were redistributed to the other candidates based on the #2 votes on those ballots. Supposedly, these were selected randomly from among all the ballots cast for him.

That means the 979 votes for Ken Reeves weren’t actually what got him elected. It was all the #2, #3, #4, … #18 choices that got reallocated to him during the 14 successive ballot counts that put him over the top. That worked out to 35 votes from Leland Cheung, 18 votes from Timothy Toomey, 13 votes from David Maher, 2 votes from Jamake Pascual, 4 votes from Gregg Moree, 9 votes from Gary Mello, 8 votes from James Williamson, 16 votes from Thomas Stohlman, 21 votes from Charles Marquardt, 53 votes from Matthew Nelson, 107 votes from Sam Seidel, and 275 votes from Larry Ward.

That’s perfectly democratic, right? And perfectly opaque. It seems especially egregious that Ken Reeves’s election required redistributing 275 votes from Larry Ward, as he’s the candidate with the next highest vote total that Ken Reeves defeated. How does the “winner” getting to count votes for the “loser” make the election democratic?

The ballot could be made a lot simpler with no change to this year’s results by eliminating all but #1 votes. The 9 candidates with the most votes win, period. That would mean the ballot columns for #2, #3, #4, … #18 etc. could simply be eliminated, which would be 94% simpler. Yes, there might be some years where the 9th place finisher would actually rank 10th or 11th and out of the money after all the #2, #3, #2, #3, #4, … #18 preferences are reallocated. But, really, should someone’s #18 preference be able to cancel out someone else’s #1 preference? There is, after all, another election in two years.

The real failure of the Cambridge election system is in participation. Only 15,393 ballots were cast in the city council race and only 14,939 were cast in the school committee race. This in a city with 105,162 residents. That means each of the nine city councilors theoretically represents 11,685 people, between 80% to 90% of whom either can’t or didn’t vote. Of course, that could be because the great majority of us are happy with the job our city government is doing. Still.

That's how it goes in the People's Republic of Cambridge. The election results are in, and once again the people haven’t spoken.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Did Gloria Allred Sex Up Herman Cain's Alleged Two-Handed Move?

Did lawyer Gloria Allred sex up her client Sharon Bialek's accusation against Herman Cain?

Count 1 is Allred's introduction of her client:
"Instead of receiving help from Mr. Cain, he decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package."
That introduces both the politically controversial stimulus legislation that was passed at the beginning of the Obama administration and the image of an erect penis.

Count 2 goes to the details of what happened in the front seat of that parked car, as read from the statement that Gloria Allred no doubt help write:

"He suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked."
Look at the choice of words. Herman Cain is alleged not merely to have put a hand on the woman's leg but "under my skirt" and to have "reached for my genitals". And he is alleged not merely to have put his arm around the woman and to have drawn her towards him but to have "grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch."

The classic front seat of the car move is for the man in the driver's seat to turn towards the woman in the passenger's seat, put his right arm around her shoulders and his left hand on her hand or her knee, then draw her in for a kiss. If the kiss is not rejected, he might move the free hand from her knee to her breast.

But who goes directly for the genitals? Is that even possible using the two-handed move way the accuser has described?

With one hand, let's say the left hand, he touches the woman's leg (if he gets skin and not cloth that is technically "under the skirt"). With the other hand, the right hand, he pulls the woman's head toward his lap which is of course blocked by his own outstretched left arm that is supposedly fiddling toward her genitals. That is quite a two-handed move.

Let's say he instead uses his right hand to grope her genital region and his left hand to grab her head. Again his right arm is in the way of bringing her head down into his lap. Find a willing partner and go practice in your car. This can't be done leading from the left or the right.

Count 3 is the strange sequence of events. First the accuser checks into her hotel, finding she has been upgraded from a standard room to a suite. Then she goes to dinner with Cain, where Cain asks her how she likes her hotel suite upgrade. Then, en route back to the hotel after dinner, Cain detours to the office where he parks and makes his move.

The clear suggestion is that Cain booked a suite for her because he meant to have sex with her there. Certainly that seems a more plausible and discreet venue for a tryst than the front seat of a parked car in front of his office building where any one of his 150 employees who happened to be working late might spot him.

The parked car in front of the office does set the scene for her to introduce the quid pro quo element, with the alleged exchange that broke off Cain's sexual advance:

She said: "Why are you doing this? You know I have a boyfriend!"

He said: "You want a job, don't you?"
That is the most damning part of the accusation. I have a great memory but a conversation 14 years ago? I might remember the subject of the conversation but exact words? In fact, about that time in the late 1990s I got a phoned death threat on my answering machine meant for someone else that I took seriously enough to report to the police. I would have to go back to the police report or the audio tape to tell you exactly the caller said.

On count 1, Gloria Allred is clearly guilty of sexing up her client's story. On count 2, the jury is still out but it looks to me that the classic front seat move has been sexed up by adding some titillating language describing a maneuver that just isn't possible to pull off. On count 3, something doesn't quite ring true but whether that can be attributed to Gloria Allred's lawyering, the accuser's poor ear for good fiction, or truth being more improbable than fiction I can't say.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

High-Tech Lynchings 0, Uppity Blacks 2

Politico stirred up a hornet's nest with a report last Sunday on sexual harassment charges against Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Seven days in, the story has been more about the story of the story than about the story itself. To render any kind of independent judgment on Herman Cain's fitness for office one would want to know the details of what Cain is alleged to have done. While that has been the subject of rumor and speculation, the full details have not come out.

What we do know is that two women who worked with Herman Cain when he was CEO at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s left the association with severance/settlement packages of $35,000 and $45,000. And that a least one of those two women objects, as you would expect she would, to Herman Cain describing the charges as baseless and false.

It may end there, with that woman saying through her lawyer that she doesn't want to revisit or discuss this matter further and the other woman not returning phone calls from the press. But not before a lot of people drew parallels to the sexual harassment charges made against Clarence Thomas when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. The Clarence Thomas hearings were a national embarassment, but he was ultimately confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Three points in favor of Herman Cain:

(1) Cain has left his wife out of this, rather than trotting her up to the press statement podium or interview couch for the ritual televised show of support.

(2) Cain hasn't run his campaign on a moral high horse. He has been consistent to a principle he expressed back in 2007 before the last election:

"People are too hung up on people's baggage. Everybody has baggage! Let it go! This country is starved for leadership."
(3) Cain's supporters are not running for the exits. I show him with 289,490 Facebook supporters on 10/19 and 333,762 today. That number has been building all week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is It Ciao Baby Cucina for Herman Cain?

Some details are emerging on the Herman Cain sexual harassment story, as reported by PJ Media:

According to the female source, Mr. Cain and the woman had been with a large group for a long evening of food and drink at the Ciao Baby Cucina, a restaurant near NRA headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. This was a normal routine, as the trade association worked with the food and beverage industry. Afterwards, Mr. Cain allegedly took the woman by taxi to his apartment, where she spent the night and woke up.

The female source told PJ Media that she witnessed the woman and Herman Cain break away from the large group as part of a smaller group.

Neither source has direct knowledge of what occurred at Mr. Cain's residence, but several days after the alleged incident, the female source witnessed the woman returning to her workplace "distraught." "She was very upset."

One source told PJ Media: "Some people didn’t believe [the accuser]" at the time she made the allegation. The female source recalls the woman continued working at the NRA for several weeks after the encounter; the male source recalls the woman continued working there for a few months.

Both sources claim that during this period following the incident while the woman was still employed, the NRA’s human resources office held many "closed door meetings" that included her. The woman's parents retained legal counsel and arranged an undisclosed financial settlement. The New York Times has reported that a settlement was made with a female employee that constituted $35,000, or one year's salary.
We still need more facts and a timeline of the three complaints as this meager information could go four directions: (a) Date rape. (b) Regrets on a one-nght stand. (c) Nothing actually happened beyond sleeping off a night of over-drinking at Cain's pad possibly accompanied by partial memory loss. All we really know from this report is that the young staffer became too upset to continue working with Cain. (d) Office gossipers filling in a few fleeting observations with lots of innuendo.

A timeline of where this incident fits into the complaints by the two other accusers is important. Even if nothing happened beyond giving a young coworker a ride home, in the poisoned aftermath of office gossip other women who worked for him may well have begun to attribute ulterior motives to every little innocent thing Cain said or did.

In the vernacular this is called "shitting where you eat". In the parlance of sexual harassment lawsuts it's called creating a hostile work environment. Even if it's just gossip and innuendo, one can see why an employer would settle. And if it's not just gossip and innuendo ...

On the other hand, can the facts of this story be shifting because one or more or perhaps all of the participants and witnesses were blotto at the time and don't really remember what exactly happened?

No woman is going to want to come forward and say:
"I got drunk and woke up in my boss's apartment, I didn't want to go back to work. I talked to my mom and she talked to my dad and my dad hired a lawyer, and the lawyer said I had to go back to the office so that we could get the most out of my severance pay claim. Now I've got a great career and family and would just as soon forget the whole thing. But don't call me a liar. What happened, happened."
And Herman Cain, what is he supposed to say if that is the truth of it? After all, a gentleman should never tell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Many Lines Has Herman Cain Crossed?

We announced Saturday that Herman Cain had crossed the Biden Line. Now the question is whether he crossed another line, and subjected two female employees who worked for him at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s to unlawful sexual harassment.

The exact details and how much substance there was to the reported complaints have not been established. Herman Cain says they were false and baseless complaints. But it is a fact that the two women complained and were paid money by the Association as part of their separation agreements.

Another fact. You can't serve as President let alone get elected without stuff like this getting out. Now at least one of the women involved says she would like to come forward, provided the confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement is waived.

My guess is that Herman Cain is not party to the confidentiality agreements, in which case it's not really his beef whether the accusers talk or not. If he was a party to the agreements, that raises some questions about the accuracy of his public statements.

It would also raise the question of whether Herman Cain has already broken confidentiality by describing the accusations as baseless and false. You can't be sued for slander for an opinion, but you also can't expect the two accusers from the 1990s to stand silent while they are effectively called liars. They may well both be liars, but they are entitled to their own good opinion of themselves, as is Herman Cain.

Besides, don't we all want to know what the two women claimed that Herman Cain did to sexually harass them? And whether these women are young or old, pretty or ugly, skinny or fat, white or black, liberal or conservative, sane or crazy? Of course we do, and we're not party to any confidentiality agreement.

Let's remember that no one besides Herman Cain has any affirmative obligation to tell us their side of the story. If the National Restaurant Association won't release the confidentiality clause, or the two women lack the fiber to risk breaking it, or they come forward and offer no comment, we may never know any more than we know now. But we can always wonder.

But wondering goes both ways. We can wonder what Herman Cain did. And we can wonder why someone who was supposedly harmed by him would not come forward with Herman Cain running for President.