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Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Mile Wide but an Inch Deep

A Mile Wide but an Inch Deep

Why Hilary Clinton will not and should not be the Democratic nominee for President

We’ve all heard the national polls, seen the news reports, read the blogs – it’s a forgone conclusion: Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President. In a crowded field she polls at commanding lead of over 40% nationally, compared to distant second Senator Obama in the high 20’s, and with all the money she is raising she shows no signs of letting anyone catch her. It’s all bogus.

First let me just address the money. Yes, candidates need to raise lots of it to win, and yes, typically the candidate who has raised the most money wins the race, leading to the conventional wisdom that money wins an election. Post hoc ergo promter hoc. It’s not that the candidate who raises the most money will win; it’s that the candidate with the best shot at winning will raise the most money. People, PACs, bundlers and corporations donate money to candidates in an effort to make people of power beholden to them, they simply want to bet on the winning horse.

Consider that independently wealthy people often try to win elections by grossly outspending their opponents with funds from their personal bank accounts; Steve Forbes and Ross Perot come to mind. Despite virtually unlimited spending power up against a comparatively measly war chest, they both, and countless like them, got their teeth soundly kicked in. Get over the money; yes it’s important, just not nearly as much as everyone seems to think. Now for the polls.

National polls are 100% irrelevant until after the primary season ends because we don’t choose our nominee nationally, we do so in as state-by-state system. The only polls that matter right now are the ones in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Iowa matters about 10 times more.

Since 2000 there has been a palpable fervor among the Democratic base for a new leader, the future, for a human face ready to put them back in power, the 04 election, the 06 midterms and the disappointment from mediocre results, have combined with continued frustration from the Bush administration to further seep blood into the water. Right now that face is Hilary. Four years ago it was Howard Dean. Dean, like Clinton was out to a commanding lead in the national polls, he raised record amounts of money and seemed a sure-fire lock for the nomination, but in Iowa, the race was much closer; John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark and John Kerry were all polling close to Dean. He finished a distant third. Since most people had no real attachments to Howard Dean, they simply switched loyalties to the new face of hope, John Kerry, and his Iowa victory served to sling shot his seemingly struggling campaign to a cake walk as he become the eventual nominee. (This is not to say that whoever wins Iowa will sweep to the general. The combined momentum of Iowa and New Hampshire really locked it for Kerry. Being from Massachusetts he had a notable advantage in New Hampshire that no Democrat has this time around. Also, Dean was the leading money raiser and spender to that point, John Kerry quickly overtook him once he became the party favorite)

Four years later, Iowa is a virtual three way tie between John Edwards, Barrack Obama and of course Hilary Clinton, with Bill Richardson polling respectably close. What does that mean? It means that if Iowa were to caucus tomorrow anyone of those four could end up in first, second, third or fourth place making New Hampshire and the nomination up for grabs. In most polls Obama is first and John Edwards is second in Iowa, and with all the hype and the bar set so high for Hilary, anything less than first, even a second place finish, will knock her off her pedestal.

The conventional wisdom on Hilary is that people either love her or hate her, but this is not true. Most people either hate her or are fairly ambivalent toward her. This may sound crazy, but how do you feel about her? Not her husband, not her sex, but Hilary Clinton, the substance? How many people do you know that have read and loved her books? Did you? She has been able to maintain the numbers she has with smoke and mirrors, because of peoples desire for hope and she is a brilliant political mind, but she flounders so much in genuine appeal because she is a terrible political presence.

Prior to her term as Senator her only political position had been as first lady. Her major ambition in that role was healthcare, a piece of legislation her husband gift wrapped for her, a major cornerstone of his campaign, somewhere around 75% of the country supported it, with a blue congress and seven years to get it done. The result? A train wreck of historic proportions.

As Senator she has consistently enjoyed very large approval ratings, and in 2006 was reelected in a landslide. Every vote she has cast, every speech has given has been focus grouped and taste tested to the minutest detail. Not to make sure it’s popular enough to win support, but to make sure it is bland enough to not lose anyone, or force her to take an actual stance on anything. She has been a major political player in the spot light for fifteen years; tell me, where does she stand on the issues? Campaigns are supposed to be about ideas, what are Hilary’s ideas? I know she’s for winning, and against other people winning, but beyond that is anyone’s guess.

She is always championing her experience and leadership, but she has no legislative victories, only failures. She is a major player in the Senate and spent eight years as first lady and has nothing to show for it but a couple electoral victories. It is a terrible résumé, one of unwavering utter failure and demonstrated demonstrable inept incompetence. Her style of politics is exactly why people hate the political process, and exactly why she does not deserve and will not get my vote.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Click it or Ticket? Shove it.

Click it or Ticket your Ass

Seatbelts are a great idea, they save countless lives everyday. For every story about how a seatbelt killed someone, or of someone who survived because they were unbelted there are 10,000 more where the belt was life saving. Every scientific study done says that you’re safer belted, and while I’m sure you and your mother think you’re very smart, if you think you’re safer unbelted, 50+ years of scientific research all points to you not knowing what the hell you’re talking about. Then there are the people who say they want to be able to jump out of the way in a crash, if you had time to jump, you would have time to not hit the thing you’re about to smash into and p.s. where the fuck are you going to jump? The whole car is going to crash, were you planning on jumping out the window? You’re not that athletic, and even if you were you would get hit by another car passing by.

They say that 75% of people wear their seatbelt while 25% break the law and don’t, I’m saying if it weren’t the law and just a good idea, 75% of people would wear them and 25% would opt not to. It’s a bogus law. People do not choose whether or not they’re going to put their belt on based on the law, either they’re going to listen to the experts, or they’re smarter than the experts and the law isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, it’s a “my body my choice” kind of thing .

If you choose not to wear your belt, the only life you are endangering is your own. A fine for such an offense is a tax on stupidity and personal freedom. Plus, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. If the states are really serious about saving lives they should take steps to protect people from others, by cracking down hard on DUIs, increasing the regulation on auto-manufactures and safety inspections, requiring hands free cell phones and banning texting while driving, taking better care of the roads and adding more street lights. These types of laws, regulation and programs would save the lives of innocent people who simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Passing these kinds of laws is not easy, they cost money and affect many people, versus the seatbelt laws that don’t affect most people, and the people that are affected aren’t in much of a position to complain. What will have more of an impact, fewer drunk drivers, safer roads, cars and driving conditions, or fining people that are too stubborn for their own good? Saving lives is a great goal, but if you say that you’re serious about something, people are going to assume that you’re serious about it, that purposeful, meaningful steps are being taken, hard choices being made, those are lofty, noble aims that ought to be achieved and commended. Instead we get pandering.

Wear your belt; it could save your life. While you’re at it, check the pressure in your tires, use a designated driver, and keep your hands free while you’re on the phone, that could save your life and someone else’s too.