Free Markets, Free People

RNC


Dems want to create 2008 model for mid-terms, GOP will nationalize them

The consensus among election experts is the 2010 midterm elections are most likely to see Democrats lose seats in both the House and Senate.  The question, of course, is how many?  And, will they lose enough seats for the Republicans to take control of the House and/or Senate?

Dealing with the Senate first, the answer is “no”.  The most likely number of seats picked up by the GOP is 7.  That would give them 48 and a very strong minority.  That may end up being better, in this case, than a majority.  Certainly 48 will give them the power to stop just about anything in the Senate, and, if they so desire, pass legislation only with their amendments attached.

In the House, Republicans need 39 seats to take control.  They’ll most likely pick up between 32 and 39.  Even if they don’t hit that magic 39, they’ll have a much stronger minority that will have to be reckoned with by Pelosi and company to get anything done there.

You know it’s going to be bad for Democrats, because Joe Biden is sure it won’t be.

What that all means is even if the GOP doesn’t have control of Congress after the midterms (and many argue – to include myself – that perhaps they’re better off not having control), they will have a considerably stronger hand then now in the national legislature.

Which brings us to the emerging campaign strategies of each party.  On the GOP side, it appears that Republicans want to “nationalize” the elections.  I.e. they want to make the midterms a referendum on the Obama administration.  You’ll be seeing they tying everything back to the first 2 years of the Obama presidency, the economy, the oil spill and the out-of-control spending.  I don’t think it will be hard to sell.

Given the precedent set under the Bush administration when Democrats successfully made all elections referendums on the presidency, it has become accepted by voters that party equals president and they act in concert.  Hence the way you punish the president and his party is to turn out members of Congress that represent that party – or variations on that theme.

Given that, the Democrats will obviously attempt to counter the GOPs strategy by keeping things “local” if possible.  How well that will work, given the tumultuous two years of the Obama presidency and the fact it is Congress under Democratic leadership which has passed deeply unpopular legislation, is anyone’s guess.  Mine is it won’t work very well.  Votes for health care and stimulus, for instance, will be key “national” topics with which GOP candidates will hit incumbent Democrats.

Which then leaves Democrats trying to fashion a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy which they hope will re-create their 2008 electoral victory

To avoid such losses, the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters.

They’re talking turnout here, not percentages – for instance, African-Americans have always voted in the 90% area for Democrats.  The percentage they need in this election is 90% of African-Americans showing up at the polls.  Same with Hispanic and young voters.

And that is the job the DNC plans on giving Obama in the lead up to the November vote.

The likelihood of that happening, however, is not especially good.  We’ve been chronicling the “enthusiasm gap” for months.  The far left is let down.  Independent voters  are disenchanted and the right is very enthusiastic about “change” again. 

Funding is also drying up for Democrats.  The latest big donors to drop Democrats are from Wall Street – a traditional well-spring of funding for the party.

The bottom line here is the stars seem to be lining up for the GOP in the midterms, barring any unforeseen event which might mitigate their advantage.  The question will be have you had enough of hope and change as a billboard in NE Minnesota presently asks.  Conventional wisdom says the answer will be a pretty resounding “yes”.  The only question is how much they want to change the status quo.

We’ll see.

~McQ


Michael Steele – shut up and raise money

As I’ve mentioned in past criticism of Michael Steele, his job isn’t to go around making controversial statements, his job is to quietly raise money for the RNC.

Apparently, the money raising isn’t going that well, but the controversial statements – abundant.

Steele’s latest:

In his comments caught on camera at a fundraiser in Connecticut, Steele said Afghanistan was “a war of Obama’s choosing” and “not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” He also questioned Obama’s strategy. “If he’s such a student of history,” Steele said, “has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”

He also called the relief of Gen. McChrystal “comical”. 

I’m not sure what Steele is thinking when he says Afghanistan is a “war of Obama’s choosing”.  We’ve been on the ground in that country since 2001.  Nor do I understand what is meant by “not something the US had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in”.  Again, we’ve been in country since 2001 and we’ve been prosecuting a war there.  Perhaps not to the extent that some would prefer, but to claim it isn’t something “actively prosecuted” is nonsense.  Pure, utter nonsense.

Now I’m pretty sure what he meant by a “war of Obama’s choosing” is Obama thought Afghanistan was a much more important war than Iraq.  But that’s not how it came out, did it?  Instead it make Steele look dumber than a box of rocks.

Lastly, the history lesson – it implies you don’t try because history teaches us those who have done so, have failed.  Well, yeah, but their aim wasn’t nation building, it was conquest.  Speaking of students of history, you’d think Steele might see that as a significant difference.

He’s right, there are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.  Dozens.   But, in the end, do they support the endstate goal of a country that can self-sufficiently govern itself, protect itself and not allow terrorist organizations a foothold there?

For the vast majority of them – no.

It becomes evident that even the tone-deaf Michael Steele has figured he stepped on it big time when a statement like this is issued on his behalf:

Steele later issued a statement saying he supports the president’s strategy in Afghanistan. “The stakes are too high for us to accept anything less but success in Afghanistan,” he said.

Of course the DNC didn’t waste anytime in cashing in on the bonanza of stupid Steele had provided:

“The American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Republican Party thinks recent events related to the war are ‘comical’ and that he is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan,” the DNC communications director, Brad Woodhouse, said in a statement. “It’s simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences.”

Unfortunately the GOP can’t argue with a single word or thought within the statement.  In fact, they’d have issued exactly the same sort of statement had it been the chairman of the DNC saying such nonsense.

William Kristol and Liz Cheney are among a chorus of Republicans calling for Steele to resign after the remarks.  Perhaps it is time for the GOP and RNC to hire a less controversial chair whose orientation is more on raising much needed funds  and less on making dumb statements that embarrass the party and have a tendency to hurt fund raising efforts.

~McQ


Incompetence is color-blind

I am so sick of this.

Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said he won’t resign despite calls for him to step down amid reports of the group’s excessive spending, adding that he and other African-American leaders such as President Obama have a slimmer margin of error because of their race.

You know, I thought (hoped?) Michael Steele was a promising pick for the GOP’s National Committee Chair. But since he’s been in charge, in a position in which his primary job is to quietly raise money for the party, he’s been anything but quiet or effective. He’s been outspoken and gaffe prone. And indications are (bondage club expenses? Clothing purchases by staffers written off as “meals” and ‘tips”?) his administration hasn’t been the greatest either.

In anyone else it’s a sign of incompetence. Michael Steele chooses to make it a matter of race.

“My view on politics is much more grassroots oriented, it’s not old boy network oriented, so I tend to, you know, come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more street-wise, if you will. That’s rubbed some feathers the wrong way,” Steele told “GMA’s” George Stephanopoulos.

Yeah, see, that’s not the point, Mr. Steele – you’re a party fund raiser. Your job isn’t to sound off and rub feathers the wrong way. Who is the chair of the DNC and why don’t we hear him sounding off as you do?

And, btw, perhaps it isn’t just the fact that Steele is, at times, intemperate in his speech (he blurts before he thinks and then spends days backing off his blurts) but is ruining the reputation of the organization just at the time it needs strong leadership focused on fund raising for the upcoming midterm elections. Instead the GOP gets this:

Steele is under fire by his own party members for what some people consider lavish spending — $17,000 for private jet travel, $13,000 for limousines and car services and $9,000 for a trip to the Beverly Hills hotel. But the most controversial revelation was that RNC staffers spent nearly $2,000 at Voyeur West Hollywood, a sex-themed nightclub in Los Angeles. The employee who authorized the expense was fired, but then the RNC shot itself in the foot again later, sending a fundraising letter that mistakenly directed donors to call a phone-sex number.

Steele said the spending issue is being blown up “larger than it needs to be.”

“The reality of it is, when I first heard about this behavior going on, I was very angry, and we dealt with it. We got to the bottom of it,” Steele said. “We have been putting great controls in place for the last few months, as a matter of fact, on some of our financing.”

Leaders set the tone. If a leader is austere and requires the organization to be austere in its spending, then that’s normally what is done. If the example is otherwise, staffers usually reflect that as well. The fact that he claims he’s been surprised by this says he’s not monitored what is going on in his own organization.  Organizations do what leaders monitor. Most who’ve ever been in charge of any type of organization would deem the present situation to be an indication of incompetence.

And, as I said in the title, incompetence is color-blind. Steele was entrusted with a job and he’s failed to live up to the expectations of that job. That has nothing to do with skin color or “margins of error”.

~McQ


How Out Of Touch Is The GOP?

Maybe a better question is “how far out of touch is the RNC” since Dede Scozzafava was their candidate?

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign for the 23rd Congressional District and releasing all her supporters.

[...]

Ms. Scozzafava told the Watertown Daily Times that Siena Research Institute poll numbers show her too far behind to catch up – and she lacks enough money to spend on advertising in the last three days to make a difference. Mr. Owens has support from 36 percent of likely voters in the poll, with Mr. Hoffman garnering 35 percent support. Ms. Scozzafava has support from 20 percent of those polled.

Now I have no idea if that means Mr. Hoffman will win (if the 20% Ms. Scozzafava had were really GOP supporters then he should win in a walk – but given Scozzafava’s more liberal leanings on many issues such as card check that’s a toss up), but what this indicates is the rank-and-file GOP voters aren’t at all satisfied with the RNC’s strategy or choices (as an aside, the fact that Scozzavafa hasn’t enough money left to spend on advertising says, at least, that the RNC knows it was supporting a loser). It seems to me to be a pretty in-your-face repudiation of this “big tent” theory of theirs which says “we’ll compromise our principles to boost our numbers”. Instead they seem to favor the “here’s our tent, if you like what we stand for, you’re welcome to come in” approach.

It’ll be interesting to see how the RNC and the establishment GOP types react to this mini-revolution. Given their tone-deafness of the past, they’ll ignore it and pay the consequences in 2010. But I see that as a very, very interesting turn of events.

~McQ


GOP Tech: Clueless Losers

Today, the GOP released a request for proposal for a new web site.  This is the RFP (PDF).  I have read it all the way through.  It’s quite a document.  It’s an especially interesting read for someone like me, who responds to RFPs for web development for a living. I say “interesting” because it’s a masterpiece of confusion and idiocy.

<sarcasm>

I assume it was written by someone who has heard of this new thing called “com-poo-tors”, and who doesn’t actually have one, but has been told that they’ll be very big in the future.

Let’s take a little closer look at this document, shall we?

Integrate outside products through common API’s, widgets, or iframes (examples: Kimbia fundraising, Voter Vault, Widgetbox, Ning).

As far as I know, there is no common API for those applications.  Each has it’s own API, I’m sure.  They may be accessible through a common technology, i.e., any ODBC compliant data/programming model like PHP or .NET will probably be able to access them in some way.  But there’s not going to be anything common about it.  I also love the use of the term “widgets”.  Because every tech person knows what a “widget” is.  It’s such a specific term.

But the best part is asking for the use of the IFRAME tag.  I guess that’s OK.  As long as you won’t be wanting to use the XHTML Strict doctype, or anything.  Or you’ve never heard of the OBJECT tag.

Flash interfaces can often make mundane tasks exciting, and having Flash developers who understand user behavior will make the site more user-friendly.

Well, that’s a perfectly uncontroversial statement.  If there’s one thing that everybdy in the web-based tech community agrees on, it’s how wonderful Flash is.  because it makes things, you know, move.  And it’s so easy to optimize for search engines!

An ideal client will have a CMS that is already built out and ready to plug into the system, so the only programming time will be building the outward facing presence.

“No limitations on design”?  Oh.  OK.  There’ll be no limitations on cost, then.Because, as everyone knows, every CMS system uses the exact database schema that the RNC uses, so there will need to be no data import, or customized programming to access the RNC’s content data.  All you have to do is install the CMS, and, like magic, the only work you’ll have to do is set up a really nice theme. And how convenient that Flash will require no custom ActionScript programming to integrate into the CMS.

The really helpful thing about the RFP is that there are no indications of what database backend the RNC uses, no information about the database size or schema, no indication of the server technology they’d like to use, or, actually, any technical details at all.  But, when you throw all that stuff in, the RFP gets so, you know, long, and boring.

But long and boring is one thing this document is not.  In fact, it’s only two pages long.  Once you start throwing that sort of stuff in, you end up with a hideous and stuffy nightmare of an RFP like this.

But, one thing the RNC does want:  They want to know what it’ll cost them.

All costs of the project will be delivered with proposal.

Well, it’s a good thing the RFP is so chock full of the kinds of detailed information that will allow a contractor to make accurate time/cost estimates.  But, I kid.  In actuality, the RNC has made costing this proposal childishly simple, with the addition of this:

No limitations on design; the RNC will be in on the entire process and will ensure everything is to our exact specifications.

“No limitations on design”?  Oh.  OK.  There’ll be no limitations on cost, then.  Your web site will cost $.  Or, whatever amount causes you to stop saying, “I’m done fiddling with it now.”  It’s up to you.

I’ll be billing every two weeks, thanks.

</sarcasm>

Surely this is all some sort of elaborate joke.  Perhaps on Monday the RNC will tell us that they were just having us on.  Then, once we’ve all had a good laugh, they’ll release the real RFP.

Because whatever this document is, it’s not an RFP.  At best, this is some sort of marketing-related  statement of intent.  It’s nothing more than a series of barely-related bullet points that say:

  • We want a cool web site.
  • We want neat external applications to run on it.
  • Flash is fun.
  • We want it to be easy to use, ’cause we ain’t got us much of that compooter learnin’.
  • Make it pretty.

This the new, high-tech-savvy GOP?  This is the kind of in-depth attention to leveraging technology that the refurbished, Michel Steele RNC has planned?

This is a travesty.  And it’s sad.  Especially since the opening paragraph states:

This RFP and the ambitious goals behind it result from the help of the RNC Tech Summit and the 7,000 grassroots volunteers who participated both online and in-person.

Wow.  That must have been an über-effective tech summit.

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