INdiana Systemic Thinking

February 24, 2008

Dems Still Hopeful Bayh Will Be on Ticket

A few months ago, I posted that I thought Senator Evan Bayh made huge political mistake by endorsing Hillary Clinton. My take was/is he wanted the VP slot so bad he would violate a cardinal rule of politics by showing his hand too early. Well, turns the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is now wondering aloud what the consequences of his early endorsement will mean. Sylvia Smith goes way out of her was to rationalize and justify why Bayh should be on an Obama ticket. I’m not going to post any quotes, because the story is so far from being anything close to political reality that it would be a waste of space here.

However, I will use the space to say this. Folks, get over it. Bayh isn’t going to be anywhere near a Presidential ticket. Obama needs someone older…way older than Bayh, and someone who can deliver some hefty electoral college votes from a very swing state. Bayh isn’t the guy. While he may be well known in Indiana, no-one knows who he is outside our borders. Argue with that all you want, but it’s the political truth. Add to it that he has never done anything memorable legislatively, he continues to enrich himself through his wife’s woefully unqualified “employment” as a professional board member, and the fact he has never had a real job, and he will never pass a national vetting.

So, can we please go back to sticking our heads in the sand on Bayh?

February 17, 2008

Chelsea Clinton: Having It Both Ways

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette carried this Associated Press story about Chelsea Clinton. The purpose of the story was (I guess) to update everyone on what Chelsea is doing for her mother’s campaign.

However, I was a little miffed by the end of the report. Since when is it OK to run around, giving speeches for a candidate, and then refuse to answer questions from the press?

According to the story:

While pressing her mother’s case, she still has refused to talk on-the-record to reporters. She politely smiles when reporters ask questions.In Iowa, she even refused to answer questions from a 9-year-old Scholastic News reporter.

“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute,” Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.

She must be doing something right, because the campaign gave a plum assignment this weekend: three days of campaigning in Hawaii, where Democrats hold caucuses Tuesday.

Seems to me the press is treating Chelsea with a little favoritism here.  I mean can you think of anyone, and I mean anyone else who could get away with this.  C’mon Chelsea, if you want to play with the big boys and be taken seriously, your going to have to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Oh, and to the press who continue to gripe about this…  Let me give you a suggestion.  Stop covering her if she won’t take your questions!

February 13, 2008

Health Blog Roundup: Step-dads, Chelsea Clinton, Statins Make Women Stupid, etc…

Here are some of the posts I found interesting this morning from the list of national health blogs I keep track of:

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Do statins “make women stupid“?

Blue Cross of California wants doctors to help them cancel patient policies.

Dr. Grohol’s World of Psychology:

Making sense of suicide and drugs.

On the Radar:

Chelsea Clinton hates her health insurance.

Hidden Agenda in CDHPs

From MSNBC:

It’s tough being a step-dad!

February 3, 2008

Public Perceptions of Presidential Candidates

The other day my wife and I were discussing how one particular candidate would never be elected President.  Our premise was public perception of this candidate’s personality was so negative the candidate could never garner a majority of the country’s votes.  Of course public perception of any candidate is probably wrong, but it appears to be important to voters none the less.  Take Ronald Reagan for example.  I think his public perception was of a kindly grandfather type who, even if he had to tell you “no”, he did it in a way that made you feel he was doing it to help you…sorta a grampa knows best approach.  If you disagree, that’s fine, it’s my perception and I’m sticking to it.  Which is really the problem.  People stick to their perceptions despite lots of evidence (and candidate spin) to the contrary.  That’s why I was really interested in this article from the Associated Press, via WTHR.  The article reports the results of a poll on the public’s perceptions of candidates and how those perceptions may change over time.   I’m not that interested in the change over time part, but, in summary, here is the public perception as it stands right now. 

Hillary Clinton – People often cite the words “female” and “feminist” when asked about her.  She is viewed as “strong, decisive and experienced but is not seen as likable, honest or refreshing.” 

“The most volunteered description of Clinton was her gender and the thought that she’s a feminist. Close behind were feelings that she is dishonest and not likable-voiced mostly by Republicans-followed by strength and mention of her husband, former President Clinton. “

Barak Obama – “Inexperience” is the word most use to describe him.  However, most view “him as refreshing, compassionate and attractive. ”

 “People mention inexperience most often, followed by those saying he is inspiring and favors change, and by people citing his race. Some said he is Muslim, an Internet-fed rumor that Obama’s campaign has labored to dispel. “

Mitt Romney – The word most used to describe him is “Morman”.

“Nearly half of those polled could not say anything when asked to describe McCain’s chief rival, Mitt Romney, including more than a third of Republicans-surprisingly large numbers this late in a campaign on which the former Massachusetts governor has spent $40 million of his own money to get his name and message before the voters. ”

“Among those familiar with Romney, most cited was his Mormon faith and a sense he is not authentic, including many who said he changes his mind on issues-a frequent charge leveled by his opponents.

John McCain – “Military service” and “old” are the two most cited terms regarding McCain.  However, he is “widely seen as experienced, strong, honest and decisive”.

Mike Huckabee – Is “best known for his religion. The ordained Baptist minister discusses his faith frequently while campaigning”.

So what do you think?  I think the results of the poll are pretty much in line with my perceptions of the candidates.

January 22, 2008

Mid-day Musings: Dems Debate, Lobotomies, Etc.

Last night I was flipping channels between the Democratic debate and a PBS documentary on lobotomies.  Seriously, I was, I’m not just making that up for some punch line.

First, the debate.  Because I was switching channels, I obviously didn’t get to see the whole thing.  BUT WOW!  Can Hillary and Barak be more hateful toward each other?  On one hand it was entertaining to watch…sort of like a schoolyard fight, but on the other hand, has the Democratic party really sunk so low that two out of the three top contenders have to interrupt each other so much that they can’t even carry on a civilized conversation?  Someone needs to remind these two it was a debate, not an argument.  There is a distinction there.  The first is an exchange of ideas with mutual respect where, at the end, two people can agree to disagree.  The second, well, looked a lot like what we had last night.  Oh, and John Edwards didn’t come put looking too good either.  He appeared to agree with whoever had the best “gotcha” or the most applause.  All the time though, never getting his hands dirty.  If I continue with the schoolyard fight analogy, he is the kid in the back, yelling the loudest, but never putting himself out there to either throw a punch or take one in the gut.  Some would say that is smart, but where I went to school we had a rather unflattering name for people who did that.

Next up, Lobotomies.  Wow, what an interesting, if not gut wrenching show from PBS’s American Experience.  Everything anyone wanted to know about the procedure was presented in detail.  I have to admit, at times, I was glad to flip over to the debate as descriptions, pictures, and video were presented about the procedure.  It’s one thing to academically study something from the psychiatric past, but another to have it so blatantly explained.  I’d recommend watching it if your in the field, although ever being confronted with someone who had one is rare nowadays (they aren’t performed anymore).  Luckily, if you follow this link, PBS is promising to allow the show to be viewed online in a few days.

January 7, 2008

Mistaken Presidential Candidates Snub Michigan

According to a story in the South Bend Tribune, no write-in votes will be counted in the January 15 Michigan Primary.  Candidates had until Friday to file a form indicating they would accept the votes.  None did.

Republicans didn’t need to as they are all on the ballot.  However, Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden are not, as they took their names off the Michigan ballot to appease Iowa and New Hampshire.  Those states were less than pleased about Michigan attempting to usurp their early status in the primary process.  Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Christopher Dodd are still on the ballot.

All this is important because if one is not on the ballot, a supporter may vote for another candidate, thus giving the other candidate delegates at the national convention.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer on Friday urged Democrats to vote in their own primary and to vote for “Uncommitted” if they didn’t have a favorite on the ballot.

“For the supporters of … John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, I recommend that you vote uncommitted. If you vote uncommitted, and “Uncommitted” receives sufficient votes, delegates will be sent to the national convention who will be free to vote for whichever candidate they like, including one of those four,” Brewer said in a video posted on YouTube.

In addition;

The Michigan AFL-CIO, which has not endorsed a candidate, said in a Friday release that Obama and Edwards may have made a tactical error by not competing in Michigan’s primary.

“The organization has reminded its affiliates that it was the decision of the Obama and Edwards campaigns to remove themselves from Michigan’s ballot. Both campaigns may now regret this decision,” the union organization said.

January 4, 2008

Bayh (Probably) Screwed Up

One of the things most impressive to the Blogmeister about U.S. Sen. Even Bayh is his political craftiness.  Being the highest elected Democrat from this predominately red state is no small feat, no matter who your father is.  Granted, having Birch Bayh as your dad does get you a lot of political mileage, but once in office, the goodwill will evaporate quickly if one starts doing unpopular things or sticking your neck out too far.  While it is arguable how much Bayh did while Governor, and in his current position, one thing most agree on, whether R or D, is he didn’t screw anything up.

It was surprising then, when early on in the Iowa campaign, Sen. Bayh threw his unquestionable support behind fellow Sen. Hillary Clinton.   When I say unquestionable, he left no wiggle room or doubt.  She was his candidate.  Maybe he really believes she is the one, but probably more likely, he felt he was on the short list for the Vice Presidential slot, should she be the Democratic party’s candidate and supporting her early helped position him.  It is no secret he has been looking to move up since…well, his entire life.  However, it appears he let his ambition get the better of him.  In doing so, he violated one of the cardinal rules of politics:  Don’t show your cards until you have to.

Bayh showed his cards way too early in expressing his support for Clinton.  The benefit of this:  If she wins the nomination, he looks like a loyal supporter and increases his chances of the V.P. slot.  The negative, if she doesn’t get the nod, no one else will touch him for the same reason.  He thought she was the anointed, he played the odds, and he probably lost.  Now he’s left looking like he bet on the wrong horse and exercised poor judgment.

Today he was in Indianapolis and WTHR reported he said the following:

“Senator Obama has represented hope and change. That is a good thing. I think Senator Clinton represents change as well. The question is who has the experience and the ability to bring about change. That is an ongoing dialog we are going to have with the American people,” said Bayh.

Many political insiders think Bayh would be a promising potential vice-presidential pick for Clinton.

“A lot of Indiana politicians got behind Hillary Clinton, most notably Evan Bayh,” said Indianapolis Star political analyst Matt Tully. “The chances of Evan Bayh being on the ticket as a vice presidential nominee really rely on Hillary Clinton getting the nomination, so that’s really important for Indiana Democrats.”

Of course we are still really early in this process and things can change.  One caucus or primary does not a nominee make, but the margin by which Clinton lost casts doubt on her ability to pull this one out.  If she does pull this one out, Bayh will look like the smartest guy in the room.  However, if she doesn’t, which appears more likely, he looks like a political novice for throwing his support to her so early.

Predicting the Iowa Caucus… Who Called It Right?

So last night the Blogmeister gets home from work, sits down for dinner and starts watching the returns from the Iowa Caucuses.  While doing this I had an idea.  I wondered which blogs in Indiana predicted the results the most correctly.  I devised a system to determine this and set about gathering my data while watching the returns.

Now some may ask, how can you do that?  You might miss something important.  Well, unlike other primaries, in other election cycles, it has been difficult for me to get behind any particular candidate.  I find I dislike them all.  In thinking about this, I find my dislike is related to the lack of any unique reason to like any of them.

Here is what I mean;

Republicans:  Platform=”blah, blah, blah, Christian right, blah, blah, blah, Get Osama, blah, blah, blah, illegal immigration, blah, blah, blah, Democrats are bad.  They even all dress alike.  Would someone please tell these guys they can wear a different color tie than RED!

Democrats:  Platform=”blah, blah, blah, Universal Health Care (without any plan), blah, blah, blah, time for a change, blah, blah, blah, bring home the troops (without any plan), blah, blah, blah, Republicans are bad.  As far as the way they dress, at least not all of them wear ties, but they do all wear pants.

I was even so underwhelmed by the whole thing, I found myself over at dictionary.com trying to find out why the plural of caucus isn’t cauci, but I never did find out.  By the way, the American Heritage Dictionary states one can use “caucuses” or “caucusses”.  Good to know if that Jeopardy thing works out.

Anyway, I digress.

 So I go through all the blogs listed in the Indiana section of a popular blog watching site.  Since I thought I would find a plethora of predictions among all the bloggers in Indiana, I was surprised to find only one made predictions.  Therefore, I didn’t need to go through all the mathematical gymnastics to determine a winner.   Underwhelmed again.  Well at least the folks over at Frugal Hoosiers came very, very close.

P.S.  I discovered HoosierAccess did predictions as well.  However, they didn’t predict the Democrats.  So, even if they called the Republicans right, they are only at 50%.  Sorry guys, go big or stay home.

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