The Nominee

AP, CNN, and NBC News have declared Barack Obama the winner of the Democratic nomination. At the moment the South Dakota polls closed he was projected to win more than enough delegates for victory.

Gwyneth Paltrow Models Mini-Dress and Endorses Obama

From Harper’s Bazaar:

“I don’t feel there’s any lip service with [Obama]. I don’t feel like he’s one of those jaded politicos who say one thing and are talking out of both sides of their mouth. I also feel we’ve done such damage to our reputation – and as someone who lives outside America for half the year, I overhear things that I wish I didn’t overhear. A lot of people in the West think that we’re not very sensitive to the rest of the world, and I think that having a president called Barack Hussein Obama in 2008 says that we are part of the world, and we don’t want to make unilateral decisions about the fate of all of us. I just pray to God that he wins.”

Kerry Challenger Fails To Qualify For Ballot

On today, the day that Barack Obama clinches the Democratic nomination, I had been thinking back to 2004 and John Kerry’s (much quicker) victory for the nomination. While there really has not been much doubt for a while that Obama would win the presidential nomination this year and that John Kerry would be reelected to another Senate term, by coincidence events today also make the odds in Kerry’s favor even greater. The Boston Globe reports:

In a major embarrassment to Republican leaders in Massachusetts and in the US Senate, Jim Ogonowski, the party’s anointed candidate to challenge Democratic Senator John F. Kerry, failed by a razor-thin margin today to qualify for the GOP primary ballot.

With Ogonowski’s stunning blunder, the only GOP name on the primary ballot will be Jeff Beatty, a little-known security expert from Harwich.

According to Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office, Ogonowski’s campaign delivered just 9,970 certified voter signatures to its election division today just before the final deadline, 30 short of the 10,000 he needed.

His only options now are to seek relief in the courts by saying some local officials lost his signatures, as he claimed late today, or to mount a write-in campaign for the September primary.

Clinton Rules

Even though the nomination race is effectively over, we are faced with the effects of Clinton-logic on the nation. Many Clinton supporters are threatening to vote for John McCain because they have fallen for Clinton’s fallacious claims, such as that she leads the popular vote, and her erroneous application of calls to count all the votes to the situation in Michigan and Florida.

Besides the harm Clinton rules might do to the Democratic Party this fall, there is the danger that they might be applied in areas beyond politics. We see the results in this statement from Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars:

I wanted to say a few words about the Michigan Solution. No, not that travesty of justice. I’m talking about a fair, common-sense resolution of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some in the media are declaring the series over because the Boston Celtics have won four of the six games played so far. But I don’t understand why, with a series this close and hotly contested, anyone would want to shut it down before we play a seventh game and have all the results in. As anybody who follows the NBA knows, a seven-game series would be good for the league, and the added competition would make the eventual victor, whomever it might be, a stronger opponent against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

It’s no great surprise that some are trying to push us out of this series. From the beginning, it’s been clear that the media and league elites have been looking for an exciting new face, instead of a team, like ours, that has proven its mettle by making it to the Conference Finals six* years in a row. We saw it in the Western Conference as well, where officials and news outlets made clear they were sick to death of the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs and behaved like cheerleaders for the media-darling Lakers. Heck, they almost managed to persuade fans that a hokey, small-town act like the New Orleans Hornets was a legitimate contender. It is safe to say that this has been the most rigged coverage in modern sports history.

But back to the series in question. Yes, Boston has won four games and Detroit only two. But it’s hard to imagine a more arbitrary and undemocratic way to determine this series’s outcome than “games won.” It is, after all, a bedrock value of the game of basketball that all points must be counted. But how can that be the case when every point beyond the winning point is ignored? There are literally dozens of layups, jumpers, free throws, and (yes, even) dunks that our opponents want to say don’t count for anything at all. We call on the NBA to do the right thing and fully count all of the baskets that were made throughout the course of this series.

Once you abandon the artificial four-games-to-two framework that the media has tried to impose on the series, a very different picture emerges, with the Celtics leading by a mere 549 points to 539. Yes that’s right, the margin between the two teams is less than one percent—a tie, for all intents and purposes. This is probably the closest Conference Finals in NBA history, though I will thank you not to check on that.

How do we determine a winner in a series so historically close? First off, let’s look at these so-called “free” throws, which are anything but. Who decides when these are to be awarded? Hard-working working-people like you and me? No, it’s the officials, the league bosses, the elites. So no counting the free throws–unless and until (and I sincerely hope you guys are listening) the refs start breaking our way again. (By the way, you guys do know that Celts star Paul Pierce was involved in a stabbing a few years back, right? I only mention it because Phil Jackson is obviously going to bring it up in the Finals.)

If you take out free throws, Boston’s ten-point margin in the series is whittled down to a single-digit, all-but-meaningless nine points. But this is still misleading. Let’s be honest: We all know that some baskets count for more than others. (Yes, I know I was arguing for equal representation two seconds ago. What are you, Encyclopedia Brown? Chill out and try to stay current.) Take layups, for example: If you wander naively into the Finals thinking you’re going to win with layups, well don’t come crying to me when Kobe Bryant swats that lameass shit right back in your face. I know. I’ve been there.

So let’s get right down to it: Big shots matter. It makes no difference when they happen, or who’s leading at the time, or whether you’re likely to make them against the Lakers, or any of that complicated nonsense. And we all know that the only real big shot is a three-pointer. So sure, Boston won more games than us, and scored more points, and made more baskets, and hit more free throws, and never tried to rewrite the rules after the fact. But we dominated them in three-point shooting, hitting 29 long ones to their 26 over the course of the series. Take this into account and it becomes apparent that we are by far the strongest competitor the Eastern Conference can field against the Lakers.

We again ask the league to consider all these facts and come to a fair solution. I’ll be holding a press conference at the Palace tonight, to which I’m inviting all Pistons season-ticket holders. I may announce our intention to drop out of the Eastern Conference Finals. Or I may not. But know one thing: If the media and league elites put the Celtics up against LA, they will lose, and we’ll be the first to say I told you so.

Obama To Clinch Nomination

History is being made today.

Nothing is official until the convention meets, but for all practical purposes Barack Obama will clinch the Democratic nomination today in a sensational upset over Hillary Clinton, whose nomination at one point was considered inevitable by many. In the absence of an official victory point until the convention, the closest we might come is the pronouncements of the news media. AP now reports:

Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.Campaigning on an insistent call for change, Obama outlasted former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic race that sparked record turnout in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial divisions within the party.

The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.

The 46-year-old first-term senator will face Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the fall campaign to become the 44th president.

This came after a morning with multiple announcements of superdelegates endorsing Obama, with several others planning to back him today or tomorrow morning.

An even better indication of victory than being proclaimed the nominee by the media would be the concession of Hillary Clinton. There have been contradictory news report so far today. Terry McAuliffe gave the impression on The Today Show that Clinton would concede should Obama  reach 2,118 delegates. Earlier today AP also reported that Clinton will concede but her campaign has later denied this report. I would not be at all surprised if even Hillary Clinton is uncertain as to what course she will take over the next day.

There have been some signs that Clinton plans to continue. The Washington Post reports:

Clinton sent mixed signals about her plans throughout the day Monday. As her campaign recalled field staffers to New York, one adviser indicated that she would suspend, but not end, her campaign within days. But the candidate herself said she will continue to argue to the group of party insiders who will hold sway over the final outcome that her strong showing in recent contests demonstrates that she would be the more electable candidate in November.

“Tomorrow is the last day of the primaries and the beginning of a new phase in the campaign,” Clinton said in Yankton, S.D., before she prepared to depart for a Tuesday-night rally in New York. “After South Dakota and Montana vote, I will lead in the popular vote and Senator Obama will lead in the delegate count. The voters will have voted, and so the decision will fall to the delegates empowered to vote at the Democratic convention. I will be spending the coming days making my case to those delegates.”

She could continue to try to get superdelegates to change their minds, but so far her weak claims of being more electable and false claim that she has won the popular vote are not convincing very many people. The superdelegates include people who have been active in politics for a long time. While Clinton’s rhetoric might convince a handful of bloggers and her low-information supporters that she is more electable or that she is leading in the popular vote, the superdelegates are not going to be fooled by such lines. We have seen the vast majority of superdelegates to commit since Super Tuesday back Obama, and that trend will continue with those who have waited until the end of the primaries. It’s over, regardless of whether the shady lady sings.

Hillary’s Brother Might Vote For Bob Barr

We’ve seen a lot of Clinton supporters swear they will vote for John McCain should Obama win the nomination. Among the Clinton supporters who threaten not to vote for Obama are Hillary’s brother, Tony Rodham. (Hat tip to Freedom Democrats). However he might not vote for McCain:

“I didn’t say that. It could be Bob Barr,” he said, referring to the Libertarian presidential candidate who, as a House member from Georgia, was a prime player in the impeachment of Rodham’s brother-in-law, Bill Clinton).

On the one hand, voting for Barr would be preferable to voting for McCain. On the other hand, the fact that Barr was involved in the impeachment of Bill Clinton is only one reason it is surprising that Rodham would consider voting for Barr. It is hard to see why a backer of Hillary Clinton, who is among the worst candidates on issues related to civil liberties and checks on government power, would prefer Barr over McCain, whose views are far closer to Clinton’s.

Will Wilkinson on Liberaltarianism

If you think of libertarianism in terms of the prominent political candidates this year, it looks like there is basically a choice between conservatives who are at very least friendly to racists and white supremacists (Ron Paul) and conservatives who reject white supremacists (Bob Barr). While there are some areas of common agreement on civil liberties and opposition to the Iraq war, for the most part the social conservatism of both makes their views quite distinct from liberalism.

If you think of libertarianism in terms of the prominent political candidates this year, you are also missing a considerable amount of libertarian thought which is much closer to liberalism, especially if we remember the origins of liberal thought. Several libertarians and liberals have written of a fusion of these views, with some reviewed in previous posts.Will Wilkinson has written a brief summary of liberaltarianism.

Wilkinson dispenses with some of the major libertarian disputes, such as those between the anarcho-capitalists who agreed with Murray Rothbard and the proponents of limited government who agreed with Ayn Rand and others. He notes:

Sadly, “libertarianism” has become identified rather strongly with this ideology — an ideology some of the thinkers most strongly identified with libertarianism, like Hayek and Friedman, never shared.

Wilkinson sees libertarianism as more in the tradition of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, James M. Buchanan, resulting in differences of opinion with some other libertarians:

If I tell most highly-educated people that these are the thinkers whose views of desirable institutions are most like mine, they might infer that I am some kind of rabid libertarian ideologue. But when I actually defend something like the arguments for an economic safety net each of these giants of libertarian thought actually set forth, lots of libertarians accuse me of not really being libertarian at all. And many liberals act surprised, as if I’m being saucily iconoclastic by wandering so far off the reservation. I can tell them that Hayek was actually in favor of a guaranteed minimum income and that Friedman basically invented the idea behind the EITC, but they’ll still think I’m some kind of congenial squish. But what I am is a market liberal just like Hayek, Friedman, and Buchanan — the same intellectual role models who make me a rabid libertarian ideologue. So, which is it?

Frankly, “liberaltarianism” and “progressive fusionism” don’t really amount to much beyond what Hayek, Friedman, and Buchanan thought anyway. So the fusionism here isn’t really a fusion of anything. It’s just seeing our way back to a pre-existing economically literate political liberalism.

When Paul supporters are not propounding some bizarre conspiracy theory or providing arguments to justify racism and anti-Semitism, they can often be recognized for their cries that any government program is evil and their ridiculous accusations that those who don’t agree with them are socialists. Wilkinson sees the absurdity in such arguments:

The death of socialism as a viable competitor to the liberal-capitalist welfare state makes continued slippery-slope-to-socialism thinking look densely anachronistic. Other liberal welfare states, like the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, etc., have moved in a rather more market-liberal direction, becoming rather less of a soft-socialist middle-ground between the American model and full-on economic socialism. The question these days is whether the U.S. will have the good sense to adopt more rational market-based old-age pension policies, like Sweden or Australia, or lower corporate tax rates to a level more in line with the rest of the wealthy world. Slightly higher personal tax rates and slightly more redistribution is a possibility, but a slide into socialism just isn’t on the table. In this context, the negative income tax looks much less like a dangerous concession to the world-historical forces of evil.

The libertarians who have not allowed justifiable opposition to Communism warp their minds are increasingly seeing the mistake of aligning with the conservatives:

Meanwhile, with the obsolescence of the anti-communist alliance with conservatives, many libertarians have sloughed off much of their previously tactically useful sympathy for socially conservative initiatives. Freed to be full-on social liberals, many libertarians are left sensing a much deeper cultural affinity for the left than the right. And this leads naturally to seeing more clearly their ideological affinities with welfare liberals. And then you read thinkers like Hayek, Friedman, and Buchanan, and you think: Oh, yes. This is extremely sensible. And now that the welfare-liberal elite has become rather more economically literate and is no longer sighing over five year plans, there is no reason to think they cannot find this sensible, too.

So that’s where I’m at. An old-fashioned market liberal who thinks Hayek, Friedman, and Buchanan get it right, and who thinks Rawlsian welfare liberals should be able to recognize themselves in these thinkers.