Archive for October 31st, 2008|Daily archive page

Palin a drag on McCain, going rogue & planning for 2012

This blog’s criticisms of Sarah Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate are well-known to its readers,so I won’t swell the record here with those points again.  For them, see here, here, and here.  Suffice it to say, her selection by McCain played a role in the decisions of a number of conservatives who have endorsed Obama, myself included—and add Reagan advisor Ken Adelman to the list too—along with decisions by many other solid Republicans who won’t be supporting the GOP ticket, including my Congressman and Colin Powell.  Her addition to the ticket was pretty clearly a cynically executed political maneuver by John McCain, not one that put country first.

"Wait, what do you mean when you say that you're 'looking out for #1'?  Do you mean me...or yourself?"

McCain: "Wait, what do you mean when you say that you're 'looking out for #1'? Do you mean me...or yourself?"

Now he appears to be paying the price for the decision.  A recent poll shows that voter’s biggest concern with the Republican ticket is Palin’s perceived lack of qualifications.  Another poll indicates that 59% of voters think that she is not qualified to be Vice President.  If accurate, then at most 41% of Americans think that she is qualified (it’s probably lower due to respondants who gave no opinion).  That indicates to me that probably almost everyone who’s not voting for McCain finds her unqualified.

Now, with McCain’s slim chances of pulling off a victory declining each day, one of his campaign aides has said that Palin is “going rogue.”  She has been critisizing McCain’s campaign, saying they should have kept competing in Michigan and should stop using “irritating” robocalls to reach voters, even as the campaign was defending their use.  A second campaign insider said that Palin seemed to be looking out for her own interests more than those of the campaign.

She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. … She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.

Possibly the words of displaced insiders on a campaign that’s behind big with just days to go.  There is a history of tension between the #1 and #2 people on a ticket and their respective staffs.

Hopefully, Palin will still be seeing plenty of this flag after January 20th, and not just because it's a pretty good one

Hopefully, Palin will still be seeing plenty of this flag after January 20th, and not just because it's a pretty good one.

But these are also possibly real insights from people who are positioned to know what’s going on behind the scenes.  Palin does appear to be positioning herself for a run in 2012 “if” she and McCain don’t win on Tuesday; when asked if she’d just return to Alaska if Obama wins she said “Absolutely not. I think that if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we’ve taken … I’m not doing this for naught.”  She has also publicly broken with McCain over a federal marriage amendment, something that McCain opposes (he wants states to decide) but that Palin’s most likely constituency, social conservatives, absolutely love.  These are not things that garner the type of attention that a guy needing a huge upset, come-from-behind victory needs to have in the week before the election.

She is clearly now a liability, not the asset she seemed to be in the days after her selection.  A number of sources are now speculating about what might have been if McCain had selected another running mate.  The guy that I would have liked to see, Tom Ridge, recently said in an interview that “I think the dynamics would be different in Pennsylvania [if I were the Vice Presidential nominee]. … I think we’d be foolish not to admit it publicly.”  Ridge, the campaign’s national co-chairman, admitted that McCain “had several good choices and I was one of them.”  (He later backpedaled saying he was “taken out of context” and that “Governor Palin will make a great Vice President” and, oh yeah, they’re going to win Pennsylvania too.)

Ridge was a popular Governor of Pennsylvania and has at least twenty times as much experience as Palin, most of it “executive experience.”  McCain would be extremely competetive in Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) right now if he’d picked Ridge, and would probably be ahead in Florida (27 votes) and Ohio (20 votes) as well. The biggest reason that he wasn’t picked is that social conservatives in the party would probably have objected to someone who is pro-choice being on the ticket.

I hereby propose an amnesty for any and all conservatives and Republicans who have previously endorsed or supported Sarah Palin’s selection as the GOP vice presidential nominee.  Simply admit that she is, after further consideration, not the best possible pick and that you wish that McCain had selected someone else.  Do this by midnight Monday and no questions will be asked.  This doesn’t even require you to vote against McCain, just admit that Palin is not helping the ticket and shouldn’t have been selected.  You can do so in a reply to this post if you’d like.  And, whoever wins on Tuesday, let’s try to pull back together to keep our party from getting screwed up for next time, okay?

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2008 World Chess Championship concludes

The World Chess Championship match between India’s Viswanathan Anand and Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik has concluded in Bonn, Germany with defending champion Anand retaining the title.

The pieces that Kramnik and Anand used were probably a lot nicer than these

Anand, who had previously played Garry Kasparov for the championship, was the incumbent by virtue of having won last years round robin tournament in Mexico City.  Kramnik was the World Champion heading into that tournament after having defeated Bulgaria’s Vaselin Topalov in 2006 in the mutch-anticipated title reunification match.  Kramnik and Anand played two games against each other in Mexico City; both ended in draws.

I think it’s dubious to win the championship in a tournament like that; to be the champion you need to beat the champion.  But the anomaly was the result of the way Kasparov and Nigel Short managed their 1993 World Championship Match, which they held apart from the auspices of FIDE, the World Chess Federation.  From then until the 2006 Kramnik-Topalov match, there were two people with claims to be World Chess Champion: the one who won the FIDE tournaments and the one who could trace his claim through victories over the previous title holder.  (It got somewhat complicated.)

Anand defeated Kramnik 6.5 points to 4.5 points in a best of twelve match.  Anand won three games, Kramnik won one, and the other seven were drawn.  One point is awarded for a win, 1/2 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.  There are tie-breaker procedures in the event of a 6-6 tie after twelve games.

Anyway, the title is now happily reunified and will have to be won and defended in matches between the champion and challenger.  The 2009 championship will be between Anand and the winner of a match between 2005 FIDE champion Vaselin Topalov and Chess World Cup 2007 Winner Gata Kamsky, a naturalized American citizen.  Beginning in 2011, the championship will be contested every 2 years with a challenger determined through a series of tournaments, a system that I think should be fair and robust.

Obama targetting Arizona

Arizona's flag is quite good.  But don't worry, I'm sure there'll soon be news from a state with a sucky flag.

Arizona has a good flag. But don't worry, I'm sure there'll be news from a state with a lame one soon.

CNN indicates that Barack Obama is going to air ads in John McCain’s home state of Arizona.  They say that Arizona would be a key swing state if not for the fact that McCain is from there; the Republican only leads 49–45 with 6 percent undecided.  McCain’s residency and his long representation of the state in the Congress is probably worth at least 4 points; the state would probably be looking bluish, like neighboring New Mexico and Colorado if the GOP had nominated someone else.

Intrade speculators think it is 4.35 times more likely that McCain will win Arizona than that Obama will do so.  However, they may not have had time to factor in Obama’s latest decision into the pricing.  In any event, Obama’s only goal probably isn’t to win Arizona’s 10 electoral votes, though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind them.  He’ll probably consider the expenditure worth it if it simply creates the impression that McCain is embattled and struggling even to win his home turf.  Hmm.  It seems to be working.

Readers may recall that Democrat Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee in 2000; had he won it, he’d have been president.

South African chair malfunctions in the YouTube age

By now probably millions of people have seen the viral video of South African MP Nhlanhla Nene, chairman of the portfolio committee of finance, having a chair collapse under him while giving an interview on live TV.  Before I try to make a serious point about the incident, for the record, here is the admittedly comedic video clip:

Now that you’ve seen the video, take a look at Nene’s Wikipedia article.  Earlier today I contributed to the article but since then I’ve been thinking about it further.  Excluding citations and headings, the article currently has 467 words; 366 of them—78% of the content—is dedicated to describing the furniture  malfunction of which he was the victim.  The article didn’t even exist until the video and news of the chair collapse started spreading via the internet; few people cared that this man even existed until a chair that he just happened to be sitting on broke while he was on television. Apparently, that is what defines notability in the YouTube age.

How pleasant that so many of the flags recently featured on this blog are so good; South Africa's is awesome--it's the exception that proves the rule about having no more than four colors

How pleasant that so many of the flags recently featured on this blog are so good. South Africa's is awesome; it's the exception that proves the rule about having no more than four colors.

Presumably, Mr. Nene has dedicated his life to trying to better his community and his troubled nation.  I can only say presumably because Wikipedia gives few details on his political career in the 22% of the article devoted to his life in the pre-chair collapse era.  All anyone cares about is that the gentleman had a chair break underneath him.

Well, the article does accurately describe the chair incident, in a NPOV way, with proper citations.  But I feel kind of bad now for contributing to it.  That 26-second video can’t represent 78% of the man’s life; that’d leave just 7.333 seconds to everything else he’s ever done.  Therefore, in the next few days I’m going to try to learn more about Mr. Nene and, hopefully, make his article more balanced and a better reflection of his life and work.  Sure, let’s laugh with him about this little accident, but let’s keep it in perspective; this guy isn’t a dolt or a failure just because of this event, which was outside of his control.