Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A "Hostile Takeover" of Centrism in CA-11?

David Sirota has a thoughtful analysis of the Lieberman/Lamont Senatorial race in Connecticut posted today on Daily Kos. His emphasis is on the political designations we assign to politicians today and how the semantics of the terms “moderate/centrist” and “liberal/extremist” have been co-opted by the Washington Establishment. I encourage you to read the entire post. If you’re anything like me and focused on the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo, you might easily find yourself mentally substituting “Filson” and “McNerney” for “Lieberman” and “Lamont.”

As Sirota has documented in his new book, Hostile Takeover,
Washington's definition of "centrism" is not just about promoting those who capitulate to Republicans, but more broadly, those who genuflect to the Establishment and support the hostile takeover of our government.

No matter how far out on the fringe of public opinion you may be, you are billed as a "centrist, a "moderate" or "in the mainstream" in our nation's capital if you serve as a mouthpiece for powerful interests who bathe politicians in cash, lend your support to these interests' pet causes, perpetuate their dishonest agendas, and keep telling the public that the Establishment's goals are the public's goals - even when polls clearly shows they are not. This paradigm is everywhere. Lieberman keeps getting fawned over as a "moderate"; out-of-touch, war-mongering Beltway pundits are being lauded as supposedly tough "moderates"; and corporate-funded think tanks pushing extremist economic and foreign policy agendas are applauded by pundits as "moderate" saviors. The propaganda is ubiquitous - and it goes the other way, too.

That's right, in Washington, you are labeled "liberal," "extremist" or "outside the mainstream" if you actually challenge power, debunk dishonest agendas with facts, and remind the public that the Beltway is deliberately ignoring what the vast majority of Americans want from their government. Moveon still gets slandered as supposedly out of the mainstream for its opposition to the war - even though polls show the public is just as vehemently opposed to the war. The netroots is constantly harangued by Beltway pundits as ultra "liberal" - even though the positions it supports in trying to get the Democratic Party to actually stand up for ordinary citizens is right in the center of public opinion data.

Washington, in short, deliberately tries to marginalize forces of change by slandering those forces as outside the "center." That propaganda system, not surprisingly, selects for people who refuse to challenge power. This explains why we have so many unspectacular, mealy-mouthed, power-fearing politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress (and also why there are more outspoken voices in statehouses where this propaganda system is less pronounced). But it also explains why there is so much anger at Washington brewing throughout the country. After so many years of Washington lying to people about what the "center" supposedly is, Americans are waking up. As a 2005 poll by the Feldman Group showed that a whopping 72 percent of Americans now "believe that elected officials in Washington do not see the nation's problems and opportunities in the same way they do."

That anger represents electoral opportunity for the political candidates like Ned Lamont and others who actually look at the data, reject the Beltway's B.S. and stand up for ordinary citizens. To be sure, doing that takes guts. Big Money interests have made an art out of eviscerating those who challenge them. [Emphasis added]
Gee, does this sound familiar to anyone? From day one, Steve Filson has trumpeted his “moderate/centrist” political stance, boasting of his ties to corporate diva Ellen Tauscher. Indeed, rather than introducing himself to local Democrats before announcing his candidacy, Filson flew back to Washington so that he could be vetted by Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, and the DLC/DCCC powers-that-be. Once the Beltway elite had given their stamp of approval, Filson swooped into town, cloaked in Congressional endorsements and proclaiming himself as the only “electable” candidate in the race because (a) his “moderate/centrist” political stance was the only position that would sell to the conservative voters of CA-11; and (b) he had the big-money support that would follow from being endorsed by the Washington Establishment.

As Filson’s story went, Jerry McNerney was a “fine man,” but (a) his “liberal/extremist” politics would never play in CA-11, with its 7% edge in Republican registration; and (b) he couldn’t raise the quantities of money from Washington PACs and lobbyists that would be necessary to win in a race against Pombo.

All these many months later, it’s refreshing to see Filson’s narrative exposed for the empty shell that it is.


Blogger JennyBlue said...

While I heartily agree with the sentiment of the article about Lieberman, whose politics are anything but progressive, I find the lumping of Filson and Lieberman into the same category, not only noxious, but wholly specious. Lieberman and Filson aren’t anything alike. Lieberman has supported the war from the beginning and continues to support, not only the war, but the president, and the current disastrous policies. Further, Lieberman has voted with the Republicans and against Democratic values for a long time. Conversely, on his website, Filson clearly indicates that he denounces current right-wing-policy and would seek to improve the situation in Iraq and in many other areas. He has progressive (dare I say, extreme) views on the environment, education, and healthcare. Values Lieberman doesn’t share. No where does Filson come off as war-monger; in my humble opinion anyway. You seem to be arguing that simply because Filson is more centrist and "elect-able" than McNearney, his bid for Congress is "hollow" and he himself as traitorous as Lieberman. You are simply making a false analogy. Being “centrist” and “elect-able” are not dirty words. Clinton was/is centrist, Obama is elect-able; both of whom are supported by the DCCC. Lieberman, in my opinion is big elephant, painted blue. I am all for an “extreme, progressive” wing of the Democratic Party, I’m pretty extreme myself, but I am not for vilifying someone who takes a realistic, left-center stance that is more elect-able in a right leaning district. Also, having kept up on this blog for awhile, I’ll ask a question I’ve seen a number of people ask: Is this site “say not to POMBO” or “say no to Filson/DCCC.” Yes, the DCCC has its head up its ass in a lot of cases, but I am not willing to bite off my nose to spite my face. Just because the DCCC supports a candidate doesn’t make them a Lieberman, and it’s fallacious to suggest that. If you like McNearny as a candidate and truly believe he can take down Pombo, vote for him. But don’t knock Filson for putting his hat into the ring and pointing out the valid argument that a more centrist veteran has an edge in your district. It’s just the facts Ma’am.

For the record, I am not connected to the Filson Campaign other than as a contributor ($100 donation). I am a graduate student at SDSU who is watching contested races all over the state this year. As I vote for Busby on Tuesday, I urge everyone to get out and vote too!

4:08 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

jennyblue –
I think you have done a great job of demonstrating the insidious nature of the language from the Washington Establishment that David Sirota was talking about.

You say, “You seem to be arguing that simply because Filson is more centrist and ‘elect-able’ than McNearney [sic], his bid for Congress is ‘hollow.’" Then you go on to repeat again and again the meme that Filson is “centrist” and “electable.”

First, I was merely echoing David Sirota, who points out that the defining characteristic of those who call themselves “moderate/centrists” seems to be a willingness to accept large amounts of money from special interests and then put the welfare of those special interests above that of their constituents. It’s not just the Republicans. It’s not just Lieberman. Look at Ellen Tauscher, Steve Filson’s mentor and role model. Look at Steny Hoyer. Look at the DLC and the Blue Dog Democrats.

Second, I would NEVER argue that Filson is either “centrist” or “electable.” That is your description of him. The simple fact that Filson has declared himself to be centrist and electable does not make him either of those things. If, as you say, you have truly “kept up on this blog for awhile,” you should know by now that the “moderate/centrist” label which you so blithely ascribe to Steve Filson is based on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING more than his assertion that he is a “moderate/centrist.” Likewise, the labeling of Jerry McNerney as a “liberal/extremist” has been carefully nurtured by the Filson campaign and exists solely as a figment of their imagination. Yet this fiction has been enormously useful to Filson in snagging supporters such as yourself who genuinely and wholeheartedly believe that a “liberal/extremist” can never win in CA-11, thereby supposedly making “centrist” Filson the “electable” candidate. This is the wordplay and these are the fear tactics that the DC Establishment has used to keep voters from selecting candidates who would challenge the status quo in Washington.

Thanks for providing such a terrific example of how this scheme works!

6:44 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger JennyBlue said...


I am not saying that McNearney can't win, I simply think someone who doesn't appear (and appearances mean a lot in politics) as far on the left as he does is as elect-able as someone who appears to be more central (i.e. Filson). I didn't call McNearney extreme or Filson centrist (hence the quotes around those terms), just that is was the perception of most, and hence the perception of likely voters. Further, one has to admit that Steve Filson is more centrist based on professed platform than McNearney. Compared to Pombo, Filson is a radical, liberal leftist (none of which I would consider dirty words either). The fact remains, that when you compare Filson and McNearney, you see Filson slightly closer to the center, relative to McNearney, not in absolute terms. When you look at Filson relative to Lieberman and Pombo, Filson might as well be as far left as they come. I wasn't arguing that Filson hasn't married himself to the DCCC or that the DCCC shouldn’t be bitch-slapped every once in while, simply that this marriage doesn't, by rote, make Filson villainous or “bought by special interest”, as seems to be the suggestion. Money is how people are elected; if you can’t raise money, you can’t win, no matter how deep your grass roots are; sad, but true. I look to what Steve Filson says he is going to do, most of which is damn good. Again, I’m not saying that McNearney can’t win, just that Steve Filson’s professed platform (i.e. policies) are more in line with D-11 voters, hence he is more elect-able (i.e. closer to voter view-point).

Don't forget to vote.


8:20 PM, May 30, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Ah yes…The simplistic and trite "beltway versus the grassroots" meme makes its reappearance on SNTP…

Sirota's whole shtick is to build-up straw men representing his favorite targets--typically the DLC, the "Beltway," mainstream Democrats, or just about anyone who happens to disagree with him--and then proclaim that "populism" is the solution. It's stunning how easily his claims fail to stand up to scrutiny (See Ed Kilgore here and here and Matthew Yglesias here). I could also note that Sirota himself is an inside the Beltway type, given his past gigs with Bernie Sanders and the Center for American Progress, his current gig with In These Times, not to mention his regular appearances in the MSM (gasp!). With his background, would one think that he could offer up a little more than his overly simplistic explanations for why politics works the way it does in DC.

As for "centrist" or "moderate" politics being tantamount to "genuflecting to the Establishment," the idiocy of that statement speaks for itself. Does it occur to Sirota (or anyone who subscribes to his drivel) that centrists or moderates might actually think critically about politics and support causes or policies that cross partisan lines based on merits and not partisanship? Or that some of the most popular politicians in American could be labeled centrist or moderate (e.g., Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.)? Or that there's large segment of the American electorate that would identify with the "centrist" or "moderate" labels?

Finally, let me note that the American electorate is more conservative than Sirota and his ilk acknowledge. Voting generally correlates with one's participation in the economy (i.e., a family, a career, a home, a retirement, a financial portfolio, etc.). The Republicans have successfully captured a majority of this "vital center." If the objective is for the Democrats to win it back, then the Sirota approach will surely do the opposite.

9:07 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

jennyblue –
I admire your passion for politics and your progressive ideals; I hope you’ll be active in either phone banking or canvassing for Francine Busby in the next week. And I’m honestly not trying to be mean about this, but I think you are Exhibit 1 in my argument about the pernicious campaign of innuendo that Steve Filson has been waging against Jerry McNerney.

"I am not saying that McNearney [sic] can't win, I simply think someone who doesn't appear (and appearances mean a lot in politics) as far on the left as he does is as elect-able as someone who appears to be more central (i.e. Filson)."

Once again, you are relying strictly on the Filson campaign's meme that Filson is "central" and McNerney is "far on the left." These assertions have no grounding in the truth. Barring the constant repetition of these memes by the Filson campaign, there would be no perception or appearance that McNerney was ”far on the left or that Filson was ”more central.”

“One has to admit that Steve Filson is more centrist based on professed platform than McNearney. [sic]”

At a time when over 60% of Americans feel that we were wrong to get involved in a war in Iraq and we should find a way to get out, when even diehard Republican Pombo donors in Stockton sat on their hands last week while Dick Cheney defended the Iraq War, Steve Filson claimed in an interview last week that he doesn’t know if the Bush Administration lied about the reasons for going to war. I’m sorry, that’s not centrist, even in a Republican-leaning district; it’s just loopy. Further, it is Filson who has professed his support for gun control and full GLBT rights, not McNerney.

And if you honestly believe, based on those stances, that "Steve Filson’s professed platform (i.e. policies) are more in line with D-11 voters, hence he is more elect-able (i.e. closer to voter view-point)," then you know even less about CA-11 than you know about the candidates and their actual platforms.

And don’t worry, I’ll be voting next Tuesday.

9:53 PM, May 30, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo Jenny.

Rocky here. Don't be blue, it ain't all bad. All dis Dem vs Dem stuff is very distoibing to Rocky too. Some of dese people on dis blot use funny names, and some don't get dat duh idea is to get it goin Repug vs Repug, which is why Rocky like duh Fightin Repug, cuz in some ways I tink he's one of us.

Yo Ricky: Dis could be the foist intelligent comment you've made since Rocky discovered dis here blot about a month ago and promptly got himself appointed to duh Inner Circle. Unlike you.

But any ways, congradulations. Or should Rocky presume Mr cf and Pretty Goil put you on notice to take the high road on dis here blot or else dey gonna get Pretty Boy to give you duh boot?

But like, well Rocky tired of dis Centrist vs Too Extreme arrrrgh-ument. Dere ain't nuttin new dere, like dey say about Oakland, even tho Rocky don't tink dats true. Cuz Rocky like Oakland.

But this tired old DCCCCCCC vs duh GrassssssRoots arrgh-ument just makes Rocky wanna catch some ZZZZZZZZZZZZs. Youse know what I mean?

Rocky out. Whose in? And whose on foist? Yo $.02 - are you in or on foist?

10:21 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Rick --
David Sirota has been responding to comments to his diary at Daily Kos. Perhaps you should make your points directly to him.

No? I didn't think so.

11:14 PM, May 30, 2006  
Anonymous bgibb said...

Never mind the frequent suggestion that anyone whose views fall somewhere in what is currently considered the middle is often denigrated as a panderer or a sell-out, a result of our unfortunate two party system creating a legion of true believers on each side who argue that if anybody’s views step slightly out of line with theirs, slightly toward the hated enemy they so like to demonize, they’ve capitulated to the baser tendencies of American politics. What we have here at its core is a desire to have it both ways, or perhaps one way but you can’t quite decide which one: babaloo, you insist that the notion that Filson is more toward the center than McNerney is a mere fabrication of the Filson campaign, and yet McNerney sends out mailers professing Filson’s love for war and nukes. So, apparently, you all want to insist that either Filson is pretty much just the mirror image of McNerney, only less sincere in his stance, or that he is far, far to the right. Anywhere but the middle, correct? And why, may I ask? Perhaps it’s because, while you seethe at the term (and make some good points about it, I will add), Filson is fundamentally more electable, more likely to beat Pombo and you don’t like the idea of that benefiting him against McNerney. I understand that, but your convoluted manner of attacking it falls flat.

4:00 AM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous bubba said...

Further, it is Filson who has professed his support for gun control and full GLBT rights, not McNerney.

Filson supports gay marriage?

Can anyone in the Filson camp explain how these positions (gun control and GLBT) are "electable" in CA-11?

It would appear that, on social litmus-test issues (that people of faith care about), McNerney is actually to the right of Filson.

So, other than being a veteran, how again is Filson more "electable" than McNerney?

Seems like the candidates are pretty similar, on balance. I'd be happy to vote for either of them.

5:30 AM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...


You do an excellent job of begging the question.

The whole point of Babaloo's post is that it is particularly inappropriate to discuss politicians labelled "moderate" or "centrist" as if they occupy the center of a continuous and bi-polar ideological spectrum. The fact that Filson has generally socially liberal tendencies coupled with some (to my mind bizarre) right-wing positions does not mean that he occupies the center of any meaningful ideological spectrum. The argument Sirota is making is that the fact that someone like Filson does not challenge the powers that be almost guarantees that Filson will be labelled "moderate" or "centrist" no matter how extreme or unpopular his policies are. And conversely, someone like McNerney will be labelled "extremist" no matter how mainstream his positions are. The whole point, then, is that these labels are used by those in power to confer legitimacy or illegitimacy, not to meaningfully describe the relationship between the ideology of a politician to the electorate.

Furthermore, let us suppose we can place Filson in the center of an ideological spectrum between two poles. It does not follow that his position is more popular than those that exist at the poles. So centrism hardly implies electability.

In the war between those who like hot coffee and those who like ice-coffee, nobody is going to rally to the flag of the champion of lukewarm coffee, centrist as he might be.

9:28 AM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo Matt.

Rocky here. Wit all do respect, Rocky don't see Gibby Boy beggin fer no more questions. He can't answer duh ones already out dere, at least in part cuz he hangin around wit ButtaWipeO too much and gettin contaminated wit his negative view of duh woild.

I tink maybe Gibby Boy tired of everyone being focussed on all dese meaningless labels, like Rocky is to tell you duh trute. To youse yer coffee analogy, maybe us Dems are like coffee drinkers and sum of us like Starbucks and sum of us like Peets (not to be confusticated wit Duh Fightin Repuglican). Sum of us like it hot, and some of us like it cold. Sum of us like it wit milk, sum of us like it wit sugar, and sum of us like it wit both.

Now Rocky sees duh Repugs as tea drinkers. Dere's no way Rocky, bein a Peets coffee drinker, is gonna go to a Starbucks. But he will if he has to - he soitanly ain't gonna go drink a cuppa tea, you know what I mean? So who duh hell cares in duh end if sum Dems like it hot? Or cold? Or sweet? Or even wit friggin chemicals if you ain't got no milk?

Should we all be killin each udder on dis blot arguin about stupid stuff like my coffee is better or holier den yers? Rocky finds dis news dat Filson support sum, well you know, woo-woo marriages is good news cuz Rocky tink you gotta right to stick it where duh sun don't shine as long as duh darkness is OK wit it bein dere. You know what I mean?


Rocky out.

11:10 AM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger JennyBlue said...

Exactly Rocky. Whether you prefer Mcnerney or Filson, everyone would like to see a Democratic majority, so attacking either candidate seems sorely counter-productive. It's insane to label McNerney as too extreme and crazy to label Filson as a hollow sell-out. Both clearly have agendas vastly superior to Pombo.

Matt--I have spent a great deal of time on Filson's website and aside from his stance on the war, not one of his policies is "far right," further I think stating that the war was mis-managed from the start and is still being mis-managed (message from Filson's site) is hardly "far right." Can you site a specific Filson policy you find "far right." I'm not saying that most Americans don't want us out of Iraq yesterday (I'm sure they do), but simply because Filson has a different perspective on the war than a majority of Americans doesn't make him far-right, even on that issue.

Jenny, feeling blue.

7:42 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

I've always found these overwrought comparisons of Filson v. McNerney being akin to the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party to be amusing to say the least. These two guys share a lot of personal similarities (e.g. family men, college educated professionals, political neophytes, Bay Area CA-11 residents, etc.) and probably agree on 80-90% of the issues.

The one major difference between the two is that Filson says he will "let the Generals decide" whether the U.S. stays in Iraq (i.e., continue the status quo) whereas McNerney favors a timed withdrawal similar to what John Murtha has proposed. Of course, what both neglect to mention is that should either win, the victor would be a freshman congressman at the bottom of the totem pole and would end up voting the party line on the issue if it comes to vote. In reality, their differences about Iraq are moot.

So, at the margin, the main difference between Filson and McNerney is who is better positioned to challenge Pombo in the general election.

8:55 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Rick --
”Of course, what both [Filson and McNerney] neglect to mention is that should either win, the victor would be a freshman congressman at the bottom of the totem pole and would end up voting the party line…”

Well, perhaps you’re in a position to know that Filson would be willing to abandon his principles and vote the Party line. But I’m pretty sure that McNerney would be voting his conscience. I think you just demonstrated Sirota’s point far more ably than I ever could have.

Oh, and here’s another difference between the two Democratic candidates. A recent Contra Costa Times article stated that as of 3/31, a whopping 57% of Filson’s campaign donations had come from just five industry sources. By comparison, 54% of McNerney’s donations had come from individuals contributing under $200.

So there are two pretty significant differences between the candidates right there. Gee, do you think they might be connected?

11:11 PM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

FWIW this ticket splitter (I voted Bush/Obama - I can't abide theocons) would have prefered Lieberman over Bush in '04. Pity I didn't have that opportunity.

6:04 AM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Let me say this about what I see re:left right politics in America these days.

The right grumbles about the RINOS, but accepts them as part of the party. Thus they have control of Congress.

The left has purges. Thus they are out in the wilderness.

The left needs a bigger tent. Which means accepting differences on the question of the war. You have to look at what can win in a given district rather than party purity.

Suppose Lieberman's challenger insures a Republican win in CT? Then where are you? One less Senator on your side. That is no way to come out of the wilderness.

BTW I give similar advice to my Republican friends.

You need every D you can get to win back control of Congress. Including DINOS.

If the only way to win a particular district or state is to back a pro-war Democrat then that is what you should do. If winning is your goal. If party purity is your goal then please by all means ignore my advice.

I understand Kos represents your point of view. He has a pretty poor win/loss record.

6:26 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M Simon. Apparently you haven't heard of the Club for Growth... they have spent money on "purges" against moderate GOPers around the country. Your arguement holds little water. Moderate Repubs in the House are a dying breed. Dems have a far bigger tent.

11:36 AM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger JennyBlue said...


Do you know what percentage of Filson's contributions come from individuals giving less than two hundred dollars? Also, how much of McNerney's come from "industry?" This information is essential because when making any comparison it is essential to make comparisons between LIKE TERMS, if interpretability is to be possible (Baron and Kenny, 1987). To point out only the negative statistic about Filson and the positive about McNerney, doesn’t give your reader all the information, making true interpretation impossible (and it isn’t particularly honest). While I appreciate your passion for McNerney, an argument that is intellectually dishonest only harms an argument. While rhetorically compelling, the comparison made is substantively flawed because two different things are being compared.



2:00 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Filson's 57% from the top five industry sources versus McNerney's 54% from individual donors contributing less than $200 is both honest and relevant. One candidate is getting the majority of his campaign funding from just five industry sources; the other candidate is getting the majority of his money from individual small donors. Frankly, it's not that hard to understand.

It doesn't change anything, but since you clamor for more data... The Contra Costa Times article (actually an amalgam of an article and subsequent correction) that I'm quoting from puts Filson's contributions from individual donors under $200 at approximately 10%. The same article puts McNerney's donations from the top five industry sources at 21%.

5:45 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous rocky Balboa said...

Yo babaloo.

Rocky here. Now you ain't treatin Jenny, whose already blue, wit very much respect. Go back and read duh nasty tone in yer comments to dis nice goil who's tryin to loin by postin honest questions. Whaddya tryin to do, toin her into a red?

You know Rocky ain't always duh brighest eye in duh socket neither, but he always try to be fair and treat udders wit respect til dey don't deserve none no more like ButtaWipeO and ButtaPombO.

Wit all do respect, you owe Jenny an apogie.

Rocky out. Yo Jenny. Me and Adrian both like you; dis blot sumtimes just bring out duh woist in people. But deres some good people here too, guys like Mr VPO, Mr $.02, Mr cf and Nick and goils named Delta, Pretty Goil and you. Dis guy Kevin Keefe post good questions, but he don't seem to have no good answers. Most of duh udders don't get dat dis is not supposed to be a Dem vs Dem site, its a get ridda ButtaPombO site. And McCloskey could be anudder Dem fer alls we know pursuing a Trojan Condom strategy, but he's got duh best right hook of 'em all, so us real Dems should just leave him alone if not actually support him cuz he's doin alot of duh heavy liftin fer us. Dats about all I loined on dis blot so far.

9:23 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Rocky --
"To point out only the negative statistic about Filson and the positive about McNerney, doesn’t give your reader all the information, making true interpretation impossible (and it isn’t particularly honest). While I appreciate your passion for McNerney, an argument that is intellectually dishonest only harms an argument."

So that's respectful.

"Frankly, it's not that hard to understand."

And that's disrespectful.

Go figure.

10:03 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Well, perhaps you’re in a position to know that Filson would be willing to abandon his principles and vote the Party line. But I’m pretty sure that McNerney would be voting his conscience.

You’ve certainly bared your true colors on this post and comment thread. First you approvingly refer to David Sirota’s discredited Marxist-esqe take on the American political system, and then assert that a Congressman McNerney would vote his conscience on highly political matters, as if he lived in a vacuum. A quaint notion for sure.

One of the reasons I don't give much credence to the campaign platforms of each candidate is because the workings of Congress don't lend themselves to ardent idealistic promises made on the campaign trail. As Sam Rayburn used to explain to new members of Congress, "To get along, you’ve got to go along." As with truth in war, voting one's conscience is the first casualty of being elected to Congress.

10:21 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo babaloo.

Rocky here. I don't tink Jenny is a frigging math major, and I tink she got all confusticated.

But dat sed, yer right dat she didn't eggsactly treat you wit respect neither. How about a mutual apologie so we can keep dis blot - I mean make dis blot - a more civilianized place?

Rocky out. What you tink Jenny goil? Adrian is shakin her head yes on dis one, and bein dat she's the woman she usually got it better figgered out den Rocky.

10:27 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Rick --
I'm not sure you're doing your candidate any favors here with this kind of talk: "One of the reasons I don't give much credence to the campaign platforms of each candidate is because the workings of Congress don't lend themselves to ardent idealistic promises made on the campaign trail. As Sam Rayburn used to explain to new members of Congress, 'To get along, you’ve got to go along.' As with truth in war, voting one's conscience is the first casualty of being elected to Congress."

But if you and Mr. Filson think that is what will inspire Democratic voters in the district next Tuesday, more power to you.

11:37 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger JennyBlue said...

No Rocky, I stand by my stance. Giving only the negative for one and the positive for the other isn't particularly honest. I don't think pointing that out is disrespectful at all. I like you too Rocky; you're entertaining and informative to no end; I appreciate the props.


I never claimed it wasn't relevant, just that if one is to argue from a reasoned position, one should give all the information and let the reader decide for themselves. I also don't think you were particularly disrespectful, just a bit hostile in tone (is that possible on a blog?). You are simply passionate about seeing McNerney elected. Though I disagree with your view-point, I can understand where you're coming from.

So, we have 57% from industry for Filson and 21% from industry from Mcnerney. That is honest comparison. Thank you. So...what does that 57% to 21% tell us exactly? Filson is clearly better at getting money from industry than he is getting it from Joe and Jane average. Mcnerney is clearly better at getting money from the little guy relative to Industry. A reverse in ability so it would seem…and thus a reverse in the underlying interests of the candidate?

Not so fast though. That would only be true if Filson and McNerney were garnering the same financial support, which they aren’t. Again, we aren’t comparing like terms. We are comparing two war chests with very different amounts in them. In statistics, it is essential to have similar sample size (i.e. dollars) fro meaningful comparisons to be made.

What would be even more telling would be to know in absolute terms how MUCH Filson gotten has from under $200 donors and how much McNerney received from under $200 donors. Pointing out the Filson is better at getting industry money doesn't tell us how good he is at getting money from the every day Jane and Joe like you and me, RELATIVE TO MCNERNEY.

Its possible that even though Filson's small contributions are around 10%, this statistic may be skewed, in that he has simply gotten a crapload of cash from industry. If Filson has a lot more money than McNerney (all sources seem to agree that he does), Filson may have as much or more money from under $200 donors than Mcnerney (in absolute terms). For example, if McNerney and Filson both have 10,000 from under 200s, but Filson also has 90,000 from Industry, he isn’t bad getting money from the little guy, just way better a getting it from industry (industry tends to give more, by the way, further skewing the statistic). If I run for office and get $1 from my best friend, would it be fair for me to tout that 100% of my war chest comes from small donors. No. Comparing these two men in terms of simple percentages isn’t fair. I would need to see how much each has gotten from the little guy to make a judgment.

On the other hand, getting a lot of money from Big Industry might make one wonder if that candidate would feel beholden to those BIG interests. I would venture that was Ms. Babaloo's point to begin with; Filson gets most of his money from industry, so MUST bought by them. With that logic, 21% (McNerney) is an awfully large chunk as well. So maybe McNerney would be 21% beholden and Filson would be 57% beholden? My point is, both are taking money from whomever they can. I don't see McNerney returning that industry money. Clearly Filson can get BIG money, I don’t think that makes him, be definition, bought and sold, as McNerney does the same thing, if to a lesser degree.

In fact, the exact same statistics when phrased differently tell a dramatically different story. Might I be just as valid saying – Filson and McNerney both get donations from the small and medium sized donors, but Filson ALSO has the benefit of drawing from industry contributors; by far the most generous. It’s all a matter of perspective.


3:31 PM, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo Jenny.

Rocky here. Jeezus - maybe you IS a math major! Actually, Rocky confess dat he ain't no math major, and he ain't no good wit computers neither, and everytime Rocky tinks he got dis blot figgered out it toins out I dunno nuttin about nuttin neither. I mean do you really tink dere's trolls on dis ting, or is dat just duh latest Repug ting to keep us all scared especially duh kids who shouldn't be messin around at adult-only sites like dis?

But anyways, what I really wanna say is dat what you just sed make more sense den what babaloo sed.

Lemme see if I got dis right now. Take Mr $.02 fer example. If he put in 2 cents to both McNerney and Pretty Boy, and dats all dey get, den dey both equally good at raisin dough from duh little guys if youse leave aside fer duh moment dat Mr $.02 is a cheapskate. But den say Pretty Boy go out and get a buck from Mr VPO, who I dunno, maybe like he owns a friggin oil well or sumtin. Now, duh point you is makin is dat Rocky's guy McNerney and yer guy Filson both STILL equally good at raisin money from duh little guys, but Pretty Boy better at raking in duh corporate dough from Mr VPO's oilwell. Dat's a friggin brilliant analysis Jenny! You don't need to be so blue wit a mind like dat!

So babaloo - or Mr .02, cuz you is often duh brains on matters like dis - can either of youse shed sum light on dis aspect cuz I tink Jenny make sum good points, but on account of duh fact dat dis is outside of Rocky's area of exstriptease I wanna be sure.

Rocky out. Yo Mr VPO. Now Rocky ain't serious about you ownin a friggin oil well, it was just sumtin I was usin as an exemplar.

4:51 PM, June 02, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

It might be far more useful to the discussion here if you at least made some attempt to research campaign finance numbers before you started your elaborate and highly speculative analysis of what they conceivably might show if you only knew what they were.

And look, I know the Filsonistas like to think that I have some personal and irrational hatred for Steve Filson and some deep love for Jerry McNerney. That's just not true. What is true is that at every opportunity over the last nine months, Filson has failed to engage with the local Democratic community. I would like nothing more than to find Steve Filson to be an impressive candidate, but it just hasn't happened, and I consider that to be his failing, not mine.

Be that as it may, I resent your implications that I would intentionally tamper with or skew the numbers to present them in a somehow false or unflattering light. The numbers are what they are, and though I know you would like to think otherwise, I take my instruction from them rather than vice versa.

Bear in mind that these numbers are from a 5/18 Contra Costa Times article, represent totals through the 3/31 reporting period, and have been rounded off.

Filson raised a total of approximately $300,000. 10% of that is $30,000 in individual donations of less than $200. McNerney finished the first quarter having raised a total of approximately $165,000. 54% of that, or $90,000 came from individual donations of less than $200.

Now, I just realized there is a slight mistake in the calculations I've been using. If you'll recall, I mentioned that the information was an amalgam from a Contra Costa Times article and a subsequent published correction to that article. That correction has, in fact, skewed the percentages that I previously identified for the top five industry sources.

Accordingly, Filson, raised $154,000 or 51% of his total fundraising from these five top industry sources (and bear in mind that because of the Times mistake, the individual percentages listed below are 10% too high):

Political Committees: 16.9%
Unions 16.5%
Legal, lobbying services 9.2%
Travel 8.1%
Finance, insurance 6.1%

McNerney, by comparison, received $16,000 from the top five industry sources to contribute to his campaign. The Times mistake in reporting McNerney's numbers was much more significant. In fact, what I reported as 21% from the top five industry sources, should actually be 10%. Likewise, each of the following individual percentages reported by the Times is 54% too high:

Unions 14.9%
Health care 1.9%
Manufacturing 1.7%
Professional, scientific, technical services 1.3%
Information 0.9%

Since I know these numbers don't play into your tidy preconceptions, I can only anticipate that you will accuse me of changing them around to suit some nefarious pro-McNerney purpose. So let me explain the nature of the Contra Costa Times' mistake. When they originally published the total amounts raised by the candidates, they apparently neglected to include individual donations of less than $200. So their initial article listed McNerney as having raised a total of $77,000 and Filson of having raised a total of $270,000. A few days later, they printed a correction, making note of the fact that the under $200 donations had been omitted from their chart. The corrected totals at that point showed McNerney with $167,000 and Filson with $300,000.

But I just now realized that the percentages that they printed were based on the original and erroneous totals. That is the math that I have recalculated.

So to recap, since first you didn't like the categories I was comparing and then you didn't like the percentages I was comparing:

Filson, top five industry sources:

McNerney, top five industry sources:

Filson, individual donors contributing less than $200:

McNerney, individual donors contributing less than $200:

And I respectfully submit that the numbers continue to tell the same story that they have told all along. You simply have to be willing to listen to them.

6:10 PM, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous rick said...

But if you and Mr. Filson think that is what will inspire Democratic voters in the district next Tuesday, more power to you.

Well "babaloo," you've certainly mastered the art of the snark attack comparisons between Filson and McNerney. I've presented a lot of points that demonstrate where your reasoning is flawed. Your knee jerk reliance on non sequitur speaks for itself.

I'm very much looking forward to Tuesday. May the most electable candidate win...

9:23 PM, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo Babaloo.

Rocky here. Now you is bein rude, if you ask Rocky cuz Rocky ain't got no pre-misconceptions at all which den you immediately go and accuse him of. All Rocky and Jenny wuz wunderin wuz what duh actual numbers were, we weren't tryin to twist 'em one way or duh udder esp since Rocky's guy is McNerney and Jenny's alright even if she does want Pretty Boy.

So tanks fer providin 'em, but you don't need to be so friggin nasty about deliverin 'em, if you ask Rocky. Instead of recommendin udders to be goin around smokin Mariana, maybe you oughta go smoke sum yerself.

Its a good ting Rocky know many good people in favor of McNerney, cuz you are to McNerney what ButtaWipeO is to Pretty Boy.

8:38 AM, June 03, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

Rick said: I'm very much looking forward to Tuesday. May the most electable candidate win...

Two words which have been bandied about on this list have no real meaning yet large emotional appeal. One is 'electable' as in 'Filson is the electable candidate' and the other is 'grassroots' as in 'McNerney is the grassroots candidate.' I'd like to know what 'electable' means and how any citizen is more or less electable than any other. Is it like a coat one can put on or take off? Is it a haircut, or a mustsache? I've always believed that this is America, and anyone can grow up to be President. While I'm not that simplistic nor idealistic, the idea does have some truth to it.

Grassroots, of course, is in a different category. I suppose that lately, the fact that much of McNerney's financial support is from donations of less than $200 puts some meaning to the term. If this is what it means, then fine.

By next Wednesday, I suppose both terms will have more meaning. As Rick has said, I, too, am looking forward to having the primary done.

11:26 AM, June 03, 2006  

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