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March 10, 2008


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It doesn't hurt that the Illinois Republican Party bench consists mainly of diseased golfers.

On another thread I'm told (a) Mr. Foster becomes a new Obama superdelegate when he is sworn in, probably in April, and (b) he's one of at least four science Ph.D.'s in the House, along with Rush Holt (D-NJ), John Olver (D-MA, my own rep and a former UMass professor), and some Republican.

There is a Republican with a Ph.D. in science? Must be an older fellow.

Right you are. The one I found is Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), born 1934, Ph.D. in Physics 1960, taught at Calvin College until entering politics in the mid-70's. Mentioned unfavorably in Chris Mooney's book, which is where I found him through Google:


Before anyone asks, Calvin College is rather liberal for an evangelical college. But not, I think, when Ehlers taught there.

Yeah, it's pretty slick news -- if anybody else in the party were listening, maybe they'd grow some spine.

I'm not holding my breath, though.

My uncle-in-law is an elected judge in one of the suburban Chicago counties. He's also very, very Republican.

He has had occasion to meet Obama on a few occasions... and concluded that Obama is the real deal, a very capable guy and worthy of his support.

My dad is a rural Indiana Republican (remember, even our Democrats are other people's Republicans!) and thinks Hillary would be far worse for the country than Dubya -- but will be voting for Obama, should he get the nomination.

(He can't actually explain why he thinks Hillary would be worse than the Worst President Ever -- but he sure does think so. Textbook case of propaganda, if you ask me.)

so $5,500/hour


but then I've never been in the market for "it"

Oh ho, Sir Francis! Sudden alteration of the terms of the discussion.

But yeah, that figure kinda grabbed my attention too. ???!

From what I can figure out from the paperwork at The Smoking Gun, he had an account with the agency, with a balance of $2721.41. At the end of the evening "Kristen" collected $4300, but this might be the $1500 discussed earlier to bring his balance to $4300. Like a tab, but not.

There's a timetable too. Spitzer hired K for 4 hours; she arrived at ~ 9:36 PM, and left ~ 12:02 AM.

So it's not $5500/hr. My god, you can probably get a sex change operation for less than that.

The details are fascinating. "Kristen" on Spitzer: "I don't think he's difficult. I mean it's just kind of like... whatever... I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I am not a... moron, you know what I mean."

The reliance on Amtrak for "Kristen" to arrive from NYC to DC on time is kind of amusing. (At least it wasn't the chicken bus.) But what makes this all extra special classy is the date: the day before Valentine's.

This is all kind of horrible. Yeah, I understand, hypocrisy and all that. (He shouldn't've used an agency. I mean, /obviously/ an agency is hooked into organized crime. It /is/ organized crime.) Plus, he wasn't under investigation --- he just happened to get unlucky with his choice of agencies. So there's no witch-hunt aspect either.

But I can't shake the feeling that this is none of my business, and I'd kinda, well, prefer not to know.

Then again, if I were a political enemy of Spitzer, I'd be cackling to myself even as I felt sort of dirty about it.

But still. I mean, not my business. Right?

I think you spoke too soon. The Feds were looking into his affairs because of his many "suspicious money transfers". Hence the FBI's Public Corruption Squad. I don't think the FBI is usually worried about call girls taking the Acela, even if they do cross state boundaries.

Also, there's the hypocrisy angle. Spitzer once gloated about breaking up what he called a glorified prostitution ring. It would be a greater hypocrisy, of course, if Spitzer were the secret master of Enron or something, but there's a certain type of crusader who's driven by concealed self-hatred.

Really, though, I don't much care about this vis-a-vis Spitzer. (You know my opinion about the general run of NY State Democratic politicians.) The details would still be interesting even if purely anonymous, just as the way _The Tearoom Trade_ will still be interesting even when Senator Craig becomes a footnote.

How much money do you need to transfer to get the FBI's attention??? I mean, why didn't he just pay cash? Sure, it's a pain in the ass, but you'd think. Like, he's not rich enough to do this on a regular basis, is he?

I don't see the concealed self-hatred here; more like just overzealous self-promotion and a disregard for personal risk. Of course, there isn't enough evidence, and you (and Doug) already know that I'm rather less prone to psychoanalyze others than you are. Probably because I don't understand what makes me tick, let alone what drives other people.

Anyway, candidate #1 for America's First Jewish President just went down in flames. I find that mildly annoying. Not quite as annoying as watching McCain raise money while the Democrats fight it out. Nor anywhere near as annoying as watching Bill Clinton push Obama into the corner of /having/ to reject the vice-presidency in order to preserve and thus making a Clinton victory in November rather less likely should she somehow pull out the nomination.

But annoying nonetheless.

Apparently, several cash transactions of just less than $10K. This is stuff you learn in Dealer 110 (not 101). It's a form of money laundering.

I am disappointed, not least because I would expect an Attorney General with his reputation to be a bit more knowledgeable in the mechanics of *financial* vice.

So wait, did Geraldine Ferraro basically just call Obama the real racist? Because ... dang. Maybe tommorrow she'll go on Fox and top it all off by calling him a "race hustler."

Ferraro is a 72-year-old white ethnic from Queens. It's dogwhistle to the Gloria Stivic demographic.

The idea that a black man's path to political success in this country isn't still under enormous constraints is risible -- what percent of the white vote in Mississippi is Obama getting from *Democrats*? -- and I wish that people would laugh, loudly, when they encountered BS like this.

(But Obama's kind of a monster, isn't he. a handsome, urbane, brilliant, virile and unattainable monster who is a sexy black man. I wonder if we're seeing the Democratic version of the Red State "Forty-Year-Old Virgins For W Forever" movement.)

Generationally, Ms. Ferraro (1932) is closer to Caroll O'Connor (1924) and Jean Stapleton (1923) than to Sally Struthers (1948) and Rob Reiner (1947). But yeah, the remark probably appeals to the Glorias out there.

My mother-in-law is close to Ms. Ferraro in age and also surmounted discrimination to go to law school -- since sexism was the primary factor in her professional life I can understand her seeing it as primary in this race (she's for Hillary). But I hope she would reject Ms. Ferraro's whining -- I haven't discussed it with her yet.

I think that Ferraro's reaction stems more from white ethnic resentment than from feminism.

The go-to books here are Jim Sleeper,The Closest of Strangers, and Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism. Ronald Formisano, Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s, is also very good.

The attitudes seem paleolithic now, because the forces driving them have either changed out of recognition or simply disappeared. But Ferraro's insanity seems very much based in the white ethnic resentment that over-romanticized the old neighborhood before the black people showed up and ruined everything with the help of the government.

It doesn't make sense. But I think the ludicrous idea that America makes it easy for blacks at the expense of working-class white ethnics drives Ferraro much more than anything having to do with women.

I could be wrong, of course.

There's evidence in the primary results that ethnic white resentment still plays. It's the "nice" line again. It's skewed towards older people, but they disproportionately vote, the U.S. not having adopted the Logan's Run amendment yet.

What is remarkable to me is how the resentment has faded in the North Central. There were important happenings -- Harold Washington breaking Fast Eddie Vrdolyak's back in Chicago comes to mind, and it's not a coincidence that Obama's David Axelrod worked on Washington's '87 campaign -- but it's too widespread, across too many groups, to be attributed to any single recent event.

... and again I manage to beat even the political junkie bloggers:


Zod grows weary. Where is Zod's coffee?

Well, one of the posters on a Will Bunch post from last week (http://www.attytood.com/2008/03/hillarys_secret_weapon_1.html ) also made the Archie Bunker reference.

To comment on the substance of the link that I just posted-- I think that Bunch's basic thesis is correct: the effect of(Penna. governor) Ed Rendell's endorsement of Hillary is over-rated, but the effect of (recently-elected Philadelphia mayor) Michael Nutter is under-rated.

A bit of history:
Philadelphia's mayor is elected to 4-year terms (the terms are, for some reason, out-of-sync with most other election cycles). All mayors have been Democrats for the last fifty years. The last few were Wilson Goode (the city's first African-American mayor, possibly best-known for bombing his own city from the air), Ed Rendell (white, current Penna. governor, known for providing post-game analysis of Philadelphia Eagles football games on TV), John Street (African-American again, the guy who was invited to W's first State of the Union), and now Nutter.

Street's administration, particularly in his second term, was noted by corruption scandals-- when he was accused of favoritism to political allies in giving out city contracts, his administration's response was basically, "well, duh".

There were basically four serious candidates in the democratic primary to succeed Street: Chaka Fattah (African-American U.S. congressman whose wife is the anchor of our NBC TV affiliate), Bob Brady (white U.S. congressman, backed by union types), Tom Knox (white businessman) and Nutter (former city councilman who had been known primarily for opposing the Street administration and for pushing through the restaurant/bar smoking ban (God bless him)). Fattah was the presumptive front-runner, but campaigned as if he was basically entitled to the nomination. Brady had no constituency outside of the Mummers. Knox spent bucketloads of his own money, and Nutter aired a charming ad with his kid, stresssed his reformer credentials, and won the nomination (significantly, with a large proportion of the white vote). He then won the general election in one of the most oddly civil elections in the city's history-- his Republican opponent knew that he had no chance in hell of winning, but both candidates went through the motions of debating and campaigning in order to keep the reform issues (on which they basically both agreed) in the public eye.

Nutter's endorsement of Clinton (and I believe that it really is a heart-felt endorsement on his part rather than horse-trading) is likely to have the greatest impact on white, middle-to-upper class, educated people in Philly and the suburbs (who were the core of his support).

I've heard that Obama made a major misstep when he supported Fattah for the mayorship instead of Nutter. On the other hand, the first hit I find from Google on Obama and Fattah has B. Clinton supporting Fattah as well. Interesting.

I saw a rather good analysis of Pennsylvania the other day which I've unfortunately been able to find again.

Summary: it's Clinton country, with a long border with her home state, lots of white ethnics, "Alabama" counties in the center and west, and an oldish electorate. Obama will be doing well if he breaks 40%, and Clinton can reasonably expect to clear +25 delegates.

This might deserve an own post, though.

Doug M.

It might have been Al Giordano's piece at The Field that Andrew Sullivan linked to.

I think the most important pieces of information with regards to Pennsylvania are, it's a closed primary, and Democratic registration ends very soon. Given the preexisting situation, this is an automatic +10% or so for Clinton.

Also, delegate allocation is by congressional district, and most of the ones with an odd number of delegates are expected to favor Clinton. Superimpose this on the demographics, and you get a nice delegate lead.

I would say 40% is expected, 45% would be doing well.

There are two lines of narrative I expect to see shortly, one from the Obama campaign managing expectations, and the other about Clinton's rightward tack and superdelegates. Five weeks.

I agree with Doug that Pennsylvania deserves its own post. Who will write it?

Some more information that yiz need to know about Pennsylvania:

- Very Catholic (above 50% according to Wikipedia; who knows what the reliable statistic really is). Even our Democrats tend to be pro-life. _Planned Parenthood v. Casey_? The Casey was our (Democratic) governor, whose administration was trying to sustain the state's abortion restriction law. His (Democratic, pro-choice) son, Bob Casey Jr., is the guy who beat Santorum by running an "I'm a Democrat, but I can out-Pape you and you're a Bushie" campaign.

* The Quakers are still here, particularly in the southeastern part of the state. I'd say they'd break for Obama since they tend to be so anti-war.

* Vanishingly few Hispanics.

I'm thinking Hillary by at least 56%/44%.

Maybe more later; work calls.

* Lotsa old people, particularly in the middle part of the state.

In reference to Bob Casey Jr, I meant "pro-life".

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