Obama Expands Lead in Polls But Clinton Believes the Voters Don’t Count


For the first time Obama has a statistically significant lead in the Gallup Tracking Poll, leading 49% to 42% with a three point margin of error. In the Rasmussen Tracking Poll, Obama leads 47% to 43%. In the head to head comparisons to John McCain, Obama leads John McCain 46% to 43% while McCain leads Clinton 49% to 43%.

The Houston Chronicle has endorsed Obama. After noting some of the areas where their positions are the same (and ignoring those where they differ), the Chronicle says:

However, there is a decisive difference. Obama vows to reach out to independents and Republicans with a message of inclusion and cooperation. He offers a historic opportunity to elevate national political dialogue to a higher ground. Those who insist on vitriol and obstructionism would be marginalized.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has also endorsed Obama:

Our recommendation in Wisconsin’s primary on Tuesday for the Democratic nomination is Barack Obama. That’s our recommendation because change and experience are crucial to moving this country forward after what will be eight years of an administration careening from mistake to catastrophe to disaster and back again.

The Illinois senator is best-equipped to deliver that change, and his relatively shorter time in Washington is more asset than handicap.

The Obama campaign has been derisively and incorrectly described as more rock tour than political campaign and his supporters as more starry-eyed groupies than thoughtful voters.

If detractors in either party want to continue characterizing the Obama campaign this way, they will have seriously underestimated both the electorate’s hunger for meaningful change in how the nation is governed and the candidate himself.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board on Wednesday, the first-term senator proved himself adept at detail and vision. They are not mutually exclusive.

Newspaper endorsements do not mean very much. Ideally the nomination would be decided by the voters, but the Clinton campaign does not believe the voters mean very much either. The campaign is repeating their intention to take this all the way to the convention and try to get a majority of votes on the credentials committee if they don’t have a majority of votes for the nomination. Frequently I argue that the right wing is engaging in distortions and hyperbole in their attacks on Democrats, but this time I agree with Gaius whose headline says: Clinton Campaign: Screw Democracy. If we have a McCain versus Clinton general election under these circumstances, we may also both agree on voting for John McCain.
While Clinton has no qualms about discussing her intent to steal the nomination, making it highly unlikely I will ever vote for her, Nancy Pelosi insists that Michigan and Florida should not settle the nomination. Considering Obama’s current lead, if the party stands behind her in keeping Clinton from stealing the nomination, Obama should be the winner.

Election Irregularities in New York Primary

It looks like irregularities in the New York primary might have denied Obama some votes. The New York Times reports:

Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.

City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.

In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.

The history of New York elections has been punctuated by episodes of confusion, incompetence and even occasional corruption. And election officials and lawyers for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton agree that it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by weary inspectors rushing on election night to transcribe columns of numbers that are delivered first to the police and then to the news media.

That said, in a presidential campaign in which every vote at the Democratic National Convention may count, a swing of even a couple of hundred votes in New York might help Mr. Obama gain a few additional delegates.

City election officials said they were convinced that there was nothing sinister to account for the inaccurate initial counts, and The Times’s review found a handful of election districts in the city where Mrs. Clinton received zero votes in the initial results.

While this very well could be a result of human error rather than anything intentional, the results could have an impact on the nomination race.

Republican Bloggers Look In Wrong Direction When Warning of Theocracy

The hypocrisy of Republicans is just amazing. Most of the time they complain about the evils of secular liberals. Therefore you would think they would be happy if a Democrat speaks of religion. Ed Morrissey claims that a theocracy is coming under Obama because Michelle Obama made a vague reference to religion in a speech. She said (emphasis from Morrissey):

That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

This is hardly a threat of a theocracy. This threat is particularly absurd in light of the number of times Obama has defended separation of church and state–a fundamental concept of the founding fathers which many Republicans deny. In contrast John McCain has erroneously claimed that the United States was formed as a Christian nation.

I most recently quoted Obama on separation of church and state yesterday:

For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves.

It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it. Given this fact, I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism.

I’ve also quoted Obama on separation of church and state many other times, such as after the CNN/You Tube Debate:

OBAMA: I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don’t think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.

OBAMA: But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state, and I think that we’ve got to translate…


By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that’s why we have such a thriving religious life.

But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy’s functioning, will continue to function. That’s what the founding fathers intended.

When speaking about faith based programs, Obama has stated, “I am much more concerned with maintaining the line between church and state.”

This hardly sounds like someone who is threatening theocracy, while the Republicans have given many reasons to have such concerns. Conservative challenges to abortion rights, funding of stem cell research, intrusion in end of life decisions in the Terri Schiavo case, and opposition to the rights of homosexuals are the most prominent examples in recent years of Republicans basing public policy decisions on their religious views. Republicans have also attempted to set by legislation the moment when a fetus can feel pain regardless of the medical facts.

In education there have been the attempts to sneak in teaching on creationism (even if called intelligent design) and limit teaching of evolution. However it is not only biology that faces attacks. Religious fundamentalists attack established science on cosmology when they disagree about the origins of the universe, and object to geology when they disagree over the age of the earth. Many believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. The Bush administration has even backed religious fundamentalists who object to the geological age of the Grand Canyon, preferring the view that it was created in the biblical flood. Many Republicans insist upon teaching abstinence-based sex education in place of effective sex education.

If Morrissey is really concerned about theocracy he needs to look at his own party instead.

Update: Ed Morrissey responds:

Ron at Liberal Values implies that I’m a hypocrite. Ron’s a good guy, but he’s wrong. People rely on their values to formulate policy, and religious values are just as legitimate as others for that purpose. People who claim to know the status of my soul and promise that they can fix it through government intervention — on either side of the aisle — explicitly have crossed a line, not to mention exhibited arrogance in diagnosing the status of my soul.

Personally I would have left out any mention of the status of one’s soul from a political speech, preferring the Arnold Vinick policy on mixing politics and religion. However this does not mean that Obama intends to fix anyone’s soul through government intervention, which is made quite clear in Obama’s many statements on separation of church and state.

Clinton Supporters Make Me Feel Down


When the usual crowd of female Clinton supporters, who clearly support Clinton due to her gender and ignore any meaningful comparisons of the candidates, imagine sexism as an issue in the campaign I’m not surprised. The real sexism here is actually coming from some pro-Clinton sites which rely upon identity politics and regularly bash men to provide an argument to vote for Clinton. It is more surprising when male bloggers such as Big Tent Democrat fall for their claims.

Obama was responding to the many dishonest attacks made by Clinton (which I’ve discussed at length in other posts such as here). He said, “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.”

Obama is trying to be diplomatic and downplay the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign here, but some portray this as sexist. It takes quite a leap of the imagination to think that “feeling down” is a reference to pre-menstrual tension, stresses of menopause, or in some other way sexist.

It should not come as a surprise that many people seeing a physician, regardless of specialty, have depression either as an underlying component of their medical complaints or sometimes as a consequence of their illness. I see many people who are depressed every day. Many others might not have clinical depression but still feel sad as a consequence of every day stresses, or the stresses of their illness. Sometimes people outright say they feel depressed, but generally they use a number of English phrases. I hear people of both sexes say they feel down many times a week. This has no correlation to either the sex of the patient or menstrual cycles.

It really discredits legitimate feminist goals and makes legitimate complaints of sexism sound less meaningful, when Clinton supporters become this creative in fabricating charges of sexism. The tendency of Clinton, or in this case Clinton supporters, to dwell on non-issues also strengthens the argument that after Clinton’s arguments based upon inevitability and her non-existent greater experience have failed, there really is no good reason to back Clinton.

Update: I’ve received some additional feed back on this post which makes a good point. I’ve assumed that Obama was referring to Clinton being emotionally down based upon some of the complaints I’ve seen elsewhere about this comment. It is also possible Obama might not have been speaking of emotions at all. He could have been referring to Clinton being down in the race, down in the delegate count, or down in the polls.

Bob Kerrey Opposes Changing the Rules In The Middle of The Game

Bob Kerrey might have endorsed Clinton, but that doesn’t mean he’ll go along with her strategy to try to steal the nomination:

“You don’t change the rules in the middle of the game. Period,” said former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, The New School’s president, when asked if the delegates from the Florida and Michigan primaries should be represented at the Democratic National Convention in August. Scoopy ran into Kerrey on Sunday at Chelsea Piers, where Kerrey had taken his young son and a friend bowling.

“No new vote and no new caucuses, either. Just stick to the rules that they agreed to,” Kerrey said firmly.

Barack Obama’s Libertarian Support

Barack Obama is a strong civil libertarian, a strong supporter of separation of church and state, and has economic views which are influenced by the University of Chicago. As I discussed last month, Daniel Koffler has even labeled Obama a left-libertarian. I believe that Obama’s beliefs don’t fully fit this label, but there are many reasons for libertarians to support Obama.

Obama has received the support of many libertarians such as Publius. While I would anticipate support for Obama among left libertarians, I was a bit surprised to see a somewhat favorable post about him at Lew Rockwell’s site. As would be expected for a libertarian writer, there are definite objections to many of Obama’s policies, but the author also does acknowledge that “Obama does offer a few market-friendly programs.”

On the other side of the coin, Obama does offer a few market-friendly programs, such as increased child care and education tax credits (which Paul also supports), exempt payroll taxes from the first $6,500 of earned income, exempt seniors making under $50,000 from income taxes, supports clean coal (most democrats despise hydrocarbon energy production in general), supports carbon sequestration (more market-friendly than carbon regulation), limits agricultural subsidies to farms earning under $250,000 a year, will reinstate PAYGO, has pledged to get all troops out of Iraq within 16 months, opposes war with Iran, and supports the Genocide Intervention Network, which uses private money and nonstate social action to stymie genocide.

So, is Obama a left-libertarian? No. Obama’s platform is more akin to “Soft Paternalism“, a gentler, less threatening approach to controlling people’s lives (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Libertarian Paternalism).

In the grand scheme of things, Obama is far less statist than Hillary (socialism at home, hegemony abroad) and McCain (fascism at home, endless warfare abroad). If Obama wins the democratic nomination, I suspect he’ll run with Bill Richardson (who likes market solutions on pragmatic grounds as well), as he can help shore up Obama’s dismal support among Hispanics, which could cost him Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada (19 electoral college votes). Don’t get me wrong: in a hypothetical match up in the fall between Obama and McCain, I’ll either abstain from voting or write in Paul’s name. But for the electorate as a whole, Obama would be the more liberty-minded choice over the statist, warmongering, ill-tempered and possibly unstable John McCain.

This is hardly what one would call an endorsement, but this is still a far more favorable review of Obama’s policies than I would have expected from this site. Choosing Bill Richardson as running mate would also please many libertarians. I have suspected that Obama would not run with Richardson due to his connections to the Clintons and as there might be pressure for more balance than having two minorities on the ticket. However if Richardson could bring in more Hispanic votes this might be a consideration.

Obama Defends Gun Rights With Restrictions

Barack Obama has shown a commendable tendency to stick to his principles regardless of the audience. Obama has argued his position on fuel economy in Detroit and has argued for merit pay for teachers before a potentially hostile teacher’s organization. Today, when it might be politically safest before Democrats to support restrictions on gun rights, Obama continues to defend Constitutional liberties while supporting some restrictions.
It would especially be easy for an Illinois politician to back restrictions on guns after the recent shootings, but Obama has never resorted to taking the easy position. AP reports:

Barack Obama said Friday that the country must do “whatever it takes” to eradicate gun violence following a campus shooting in his home state, but he believes in an individual’s right to bear arms.

Obama said he spoke to Northern Illinois University’s president Friday morning by phone and offered whatever help his Senate office could provide in the investigation and improving campus security. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke about the Illinois shooting to reporters while campaigning in neighboring Wisconsin.

The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.

“I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it’s subject to commonsense regulation” like background checks, he said during a news conference.

He said he would support federal legislation based on a California law that would facilitate immediate tracing of bullets used in a crime. He said even though the California law was passed over the strong objection of the National Rifle Association, he thinks it’s the type of law that gun owners and crime victims can get behind.

Five people, including the shooter, were killed during Thursday’s ambush inside a lecture hall. Authorities said the two guns used were purchased legally less then a week ago.

“Today we offer them our thoughts and prayers, but we also have to offer them our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities,” Obama said. “That is our duty as Americans.”

Although Obama supports gun control, while campaigning in gun-friendly Idaho earlier this month, he said he does not intend to take away people’s guns.

At his news conference, he voiced support for the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next month.

“The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can’t initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang bangers and random shootings on the street isn’t born out by our Constitution,” Obama said.

Campaigning in Ohio, Obama’s rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton echoed Obama’s comments.

“Obviously we have to first and foremost do everything we can to take reasonable steps to keep our children safe,” she said. “And while safeguarding and respecting our Second Amendment rights, we have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, gang members and people with mental health problems.”