Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The race for elected superdelegates

There's an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal today, which points out Obama's on track to overtake Clinton in the superdelegate count. What I thought was interesting was the chart accompanying the article, which breaks down the superdelegates by type. You see, there are many flavors of superdelegates—those who have been elected and got their superdelegate vote that way and the various other democratic officials and "party people."

According to the chart, the current superdelegate situation breaks down like this (though I'm not sure whether this includes Obama's two House endorsements today):

  • DNC Members: 118
  • House Members 75
  • Senators 18
  • Governors 14
  • Party Leaders 3
  • Add-ons 8

  • DNC Members: 143
  • House Members 77
  • Senators 13
  • Governors 11
  • Party Leaders 10
  • Add-ons 4

What's I find fascinating is that Obama, who currently holds a lead in the popular vote (and you can spare me the whining about Florida and Michigan) already holds a lead among the superdelegates who are democratically elected. The only thing keeping Clinton in the lead for now are the members of the Democratic party who either no longer hold office or who have only been elected to positions within the party itself.

In other words, when you add up the senators, congressman and governors—the people who have been elected by a mix of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents, etc.—then Barack Obama's in the lead.

Is this a meaningful measurement? I don't know. But I do think it speaks to Obama's electability when more of those who are actually dependent upon their constituents' good will are willing to get behind him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tomorrow's hindsight today

Our "volunteer" armed forces are increasing the use of the "stop-loss" policy and allowing more criminals to join.

What could go wrong?

Blind squirrel finds nut

Ralph Peters comments on the Times piece on military analysts being fed Pentagon talking points.
Officers who trade on their former service and knowingly deceive the American people to increase their chances of winning defense contracts for the firms they represent disgrace the uniforms they wore. Period.

Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel and a good man I'll vouch for, pointed out in the Times article that it was sometimes enough just for the Pentagon's cynical commissars to make retirees feel important, to give them a sense that they were still players. For other talking heads, pleasing the Pentagon is strictly mercenary.

Does a retired general or admiral with a pension of over $100k a year really need to sell himself as a huckster for the wares of Daddy Warbucks? Isn't that 5,500-square-foot house enough, General? Do you really need the 9,000-square-foot house?

As I've argued in past columns, whenever any military retiree appears as a TV talking head, the crawl at the bottom of the screen should list his corporate affiliations. Viewers need to know who's really paying the "expert's" bills, since a retired officer cashing checks from a corporation profiting from Iraq or Afghanistan is hardly an objective observer - even if he thinks he is.

And any talking head who relies on Pentagon talking points should have to disclose it. Besides, any analyst who needs Pentagon coaching is worthless - the way you get real information is by going out to see things first-hand (not on Pentagon-organized junkets, either), or through trusted friends and acquaintances in uniform.
I would add that any general who has opposed Jim Webb's modernization of the G.I. Bill while spewing DoD talking points for the purposes of gaining business contacts should be shunned.