March 27, 2008

Fraud in Texas? "It looks like there was data entry error. You ended up being coded as BOTH a Hillary Clinton and a Barack Obama delegate."

Yesterday, I blogged about how the Obama campaign sent my son a postcard urging him to vote for Obama at the Texas county convention. He's a delegate representing the people who caucused for Clinton at one of the district caucuses in Austin, Texas. Today, someone whose email address indicates his name is Matthew Berg sent this email to me and my son Chris:
Hello Chris (and Ann),

I am a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Texas. I saw this post (via Marc Ambinder), and was surprised, because I thought we were only contacting Obama delegates. That's what we've been in my part of TX, anyway.

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2008/03/in-texas-obama-campaign-tries-to-win.html

So I checked the voter file (screenshot attached), and it looks like there was data entry error. You ended up being coded as BOTH a Hillary Clinton and a Barack Obama delegate. Apparently both the Texas Democratic Party and the Travis County Party added your data, and it looks like one of them made a mistake. I think the postcards are being sent to anyone coded as an Obama delegate, which (mistakenly) includes you. I deleted the Obama delegate code, so you shouldn't get mistakenly bothered again.

Anyway, have fun at your convention.

Thanks,

Matt
Yeah, have fun, kids. Play at your little democracy thing. Meanwhile — you, you pesky little blogger-connected county delegate — you won't be seeing any of our mailings anymore. We've stricken your name from our list. And if anyone else shows up and complains about Obama mailings to Clinton delegates, we can fix their double-coding too. Now, go off and don't worry anymore.

Do you trust the caucus process?

UPDATE: Chris emails:
I just asked some of the other delegates if they've gotten material from the Obama campaign. The only one to respond was a Clinton delegate, who said he's also received fliers from Obama, and is just surprised that he's gotten material from Obama but not from Clinton. Now I don't think it was a mistake. I think they just tried to make it look like one after the fact.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have email from an Obama county convention delegate saying he's gotten email from the Clinton campaign. (I recognize the email as something Chris got — an invitation to a conference call tonight with Bill Clinton.)

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Romano at Newsweek wrote about this post:
Apparently, Obama has mailed these postcards to all Texas county delegates, not just his own. This is precisely what the Clintonites did in Iowa. If you'll remember, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer told me at the time that the Iowa Democratic Party had provided the campaign with an incomplete list of delegate affiliations, meaning that "the point of the call is to identify our delegates." But a quick check with the IDP revealed that "80 percent" of the county delegates were, in fact, linked to their chosen candidates on the lists sent to the campaigns--including at least one Obama supporter, Lance Jenkins, who specifically reported receiving the Clinton robocall.

That means that both Obama and Clinton are, in effect, asking their rival's delegates for support.

Now, don't get me wrong. Both the Clinton call (which included a "press 1 if you support Hillary" option) and the Obama postcard are serving another purpose--roll call and reminder, respectively. What's more, wooing delegates at the county level--or, for that matter, the national level--is part of the game (although both campaigns have forsworn the practice, at least nationally); campaigns are supposed to make sure that the maximum number of supporters show up at each level (county, district, state). And there's almost no chance that such subtle seduction would work to any significant degree. I mean, anyone swayed by a robocall or a postcard--especially the hardcore supporters chosen to serve as delegates--doesn't deserve to vote in the first place.

But these under-the-radar "outreach efforts"--which essentially say, "By the way, vote for me"--are worth remembering. Because if neither Obama nor Clinton clinches the nomination by the end of primary season in June, they'll be forced to spend the summer jockeying for any possible advantage--and this is exactly the sort of passive, grey-area poaching that you can expect to see.
That got a response from the Obama campaign:
According to Obama spokesman Bill Burton, the post card in question was mistakenly sent to a Clinton delegate--not, as I previously believed, to the entire list of Texas county delegates, regardless of affiliation. "The Texas Democratic Party gave us a list of delegates that indicated him as an Obama delegate--which is why he got the errant post card," he says. "The suggestion that we have a passive strategy of trying to flip Clinton's pledged delegates by sending one postcard to one guy is pretty ludicrous on its face." If that's what happened, I absolutely agree. I'm double-checking with the Texas Democratic Party to confirm that the delegate in question was listed as a Clinton supporter and find out whether others also received the mailing. I'll post another update when I hear back.
And here's how Christopher responded to all that:
Andrew Romano,

I wanted to respond to your post about the the post card I was sent by the Obama campaign. Bill Burton's explanation is, I think, inaccurate. Here is the list published by the Travis County Democrats online, which clearly indicates that I am a Clinton delegate:

http://www.westaustindemocrats.org/Delegates.aspx?P=235

I am the Hillary Convention Captain in my precinct, so I was actually sent that list a while ago, I believe as soon as it was released to the campaigns, so that I could check my precinct's list for accuracy. There were some spelling errors on that list originally, but my entry was always correct, and I was always listed as a Clinton delegate there.

A volunteer wrote to me and was quoted in the post you linked to, and his explanation was that I was double-coded as both an Obama and a Clinton supporter in the list they used. The Travis County Democrats list had me only as a Clinton supporter, so if I really was double-coded, it seems like it was the Obama campaign that added the extra code, intentional or not.

I actually thought it could have been a mistake, so I e-mailed a couple of the Clinton delegates in my precinct, and asked if they had received materials from Obama. One of those two Clinton delegates said, "I have received mailings form the Obama campaign...Suprised I haven't received anything from the Clinton campaign." The other delegate I wrote to hasn't responded, but she doesn't e-mail as much. In any event, I don't think this was sent to just "one guy."

Thanks for writing about this.

-Christopher Cohen
Chris later adds that the other Clinton delegate he wrote to emailed him:
[She] said that she, too, had received post cards and e-mails. Were all three of us accidentally double-coded or written in as Obama delegates? I personally doubt it.
Me too.

ADDED: Romano does some investigating, and I respond to him here.

79 comments:

PatCA said...

It appears that the Messiah is cheating! Scratch a tin god...

Hoosier Daddy said...

I deleted the Obama delegate code, so you shouldn't get mistakenly bothered again.

Anyway, have fun at your convention.


My God. Could he possibly been any more 11th grade in that response? Then again, that appears to be the maturity level of his supporters.

What a tool.

M. Simon said...

Every vote counts.

It is a Democrat rule. Except for FL and MI.

Well I'm having fun. Of course I'm a Republican.

MadisonMan said...

Well, that explains it!

I have to say, sometimes the best response is none at all. If this is a one-time thing, what possible good comes from highlighting it again? Better to file away the knowledge and if someone asks, just say it was a mistake and it was taken care of.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Oh and I don't ever want to hear another word about the stolen 2000 election.

Ever.

Just sayin.

MadisonMan said...

The stolen 2000 election.

Emily said...

While I agree that the caucus system is pretty wonky, I don't see why you'd be so irked about Obama staffers admitting to and correcting a mistake. How dare they, uh, fix the situation and apologize.

What?

former law student said...

That mischievous M. Pollie is to blame. Probably an Obama operative in the Rove tradition. Possibly hates America and wants God to smite Whitey as well, like the rest of Obama's associates, as detailed by commenters on this blog.

Windbag said...

Texas politics sure has declined since LBJ's time.

Smilin' Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Balfegor said...

While I agree that the caucus system is pretty wonky, I don't see why you'd be so irked about Obama staffers admitting to and correcting a mistake. How dare they, uh, fix the situation and apologize.

I think the concern is that Obama's men may have slipped in a bunch of Clinton caucus supporters into the Obama totals. This isn't the first hint of dirty practice by Obama in Texas caucuses either -- we also heard reports of Obama's men keeping Clinton supporters out of the caucus meeting places, to suppress their vote.

Texas politics sure has declined since LBJ's time.

I think a lot of people had kind of assumed the dirty tricks would be on Clinton's side -- and I say that as someone who's a (now somewhat lukewarm) Clinton supporter. Obama's supposed to have all those dotty college students working for him, and you wouldn't expect those types to be able to plot their way out of a paper bag. Dirty tricks are a little unexpected. But then, he does come from Chicago. And he won his first election by having everyone else thrown off the ballot.

Richard Dolan said...

Well, that was a short break from the Dem campaign.

The scandal here isn't so much that the O! campaign is cheating (although they may be) but that the whole caucus shtick in Texas was designed so irrationally and the people running it (I use the term loosely) were so incompetent that a screw-up like this is the least of the problems. Given the choice between incompetence and malevolence as the explanation here, I think the edge has to go to incompetence.

Windbag said...

But then, he does come from Chicago.

Imagine the fun we'd have if Chicago were located in Texas.

Duncan said...

Oh my goodness, the person self-identifies as a volunteer, and your first instinct is to attack him? I've worked with many volunteers, in politics and other venues, and I can't imagine being offended by one of them telling me to have fun! Perhaps that doesn't display the sophistication of a law professor, but I think it certainly displays the good nature of someone who works for free on behalf of a cause he believes in. The volunteer was probably thrilled that he had the opportunity to correct a mistake for his campaign, and good-natured enough to be cheerful in an e-mail to a Clinton supporter.

I question your commitment to your vow of cruel neutrality. . . mistakes like this happen all the time -- can you imagine that there aren't data entry errors being made on the part of county and state workers confronted with more caucus votes than ever before? I feel sorry for the poor volunteer who has to see his words mocked, while you present no evidence that he might be misrepresenting the situation.

Independent George said...

I'm with Emily - I honestly don't see what you find so objectionable about that email.

Lindsay said...

Why so cynical? It reads to me like a typical apology/explanation email you might receive from a young volunteer. Do you have any reason to doubt the data entry error? Or the sincerity of the apology?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I don't see why you'd be so irked about Obama staffers admitting to and correcting a mistake. How dare they, uh, fix the situation and apologize.

I don't think she's irked but I think the snippy response was rather immature don't you think?

terrance said...

Hoosier Daddy said...

My God. Could he possibly been any more 11th grade in that response? Then again, that appears to be the maturity level of his supporters.

Brilliant generalization. Would you agree that the Obama camp should hire the recently available Kelvin Sampson to handle their recruiting? I hear he is great with phone and text messages.

terrance said...

Hoosier Daddy said...

My God. Could he possibly been any more 11th grade in that response? Then again, that appears to be the maturity level of his supporters.

Brilliant generalization. Would you agree that the Obama camp should hire the recently available Kelvin Sampson to handle their recruiting? I hear he is great with phone and text messages.

terrance said...

Hoosier Daddy said...

My God. Could he possibly been any more 11th grade in that response? Then again, that appears to be the maturity level of his supporters.

Brilliant generalization. Would you agree that the Obama camp should hire the recently available Kelvin Sampson to handle their recruiting? I hear he is great with phone and text messages.

space said...

If there was truly "fraud in Texas", it was a result of a bungle in the Travis County office, not the Obama campaign.

My feeling is that Clinton supporters have become disgruntled at her diminished prospects, thus making it easier to infer snippiness in Mr. Berg's simple response. He deleted the computer code, so you wouldn't get bothered. He wasn't trying to poach your son's vote, and I thought that his comment of "have fun" was genuine, meaning, literally "enjoy your time". What's the beef?

Oh, that's right, Clinton supporters resent Obama. Would a Clinton staffer have even bothered to respond, or would they have tried to convince an Obama delegate to change their vote?

Der Hahn said...

Do I trust a process where anyone who wants to self-identify as a valid participant gets to indicate a preference for a candidate, and their preferences are tabulated in secret by officials with a partisan interest in the outcome?

Oh, you were talking about a *caucus*, not an election?

Chip Ahoy said...

Politics, brings out the very finest in people, dun'nit?

The building I live in is shaped like a U, all the balconies inside the U face each other, its the most unattractive feature of the building because it forfeits any privacy. My apartment is dead center. One resident has their windows covered with Obama posters. My first thought when I noticed them was most unlovely. Not because I'm against Obama but because the only people who can see them are other residents. He or she is essentially saying to us, "Hey look, I'm voting for Obama," real loud and repeatedly as if any of us could possibly care or be influenced. Now is that idiotic or what? Plus, it indicates they haven't read their lease agreement which explicitly prohibits such nonsense. My impulse is to throw something messy at their windows, because I have prickish impulses that must constantly be suppressed. That's the other thing that's stupid -- knowing there are pricks like me out there but provoking us anyway.

gophermomeh said...

Props to the volunteer for trying to clear things up. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Thank you, Mother Teresa.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Would you agree that the Obama camp should hire the recently available Kelvin Sampson to handle their recruiting? I hear he is great with phone and text messages.

Ironically enough, depspite being a lifelong Hoosier, I don't follow basketball enough (actually not at all) to get the implication.

Simon said...

"Anyway, have fun at your convention."

Matt is conceding that Obama is going to lose??

muddimo said...

Wow! I just had to create a Google account so that I could comment. I enjoy this blog but Prof. Althouse's response to Matt was rude and a major mischaracterization of his polite and friendly email. I think that an apology is warranted.

SteveR said...

In LBJ's day, only dead voters would have been coded into two categories, making detection much more difficult.

Synova said...

Firstly... democracy isn't a holy calling. Sorry. Nor are it's agents without human flaw.

This really does go back to 2000 and Florida and the stupid idea that voting itself isn't one huge human mess and MOST IMPORTANTLY that it can't BE one huge human mess and still be legitimate.

Democrats, or Republicans or any other party can select their delegates by auguring chicken entrails and it would be legitimate. There is no standard of virgin purity that needs to be met for groups that want to call themselves a political party in order for them to select the candidate they will put on the ticket. Smoky back room, whatever.

Our national election has to follow established rules but it TOO is a humongous human mess. Our robot overlords have yet to come to power and so we're stuck with people.

The real crime is in taking this human messiness, refusing to admit that something like Florida in 2000 could have come down either way on *error alone*, and honest error at that, and undermine confidence in the democratic process... a human chaotic process by necessity and design.

Granted, our public school Civics education has been dumbed down to something akin to "Democracy Good, Majority Rule Good" which is a sorry shame but if people can not understand (or will not understand) the way our government is designed to NOT respond to the will of the majority, on purpose, and for good reason... The Constitution is the most obvious example!... then what are we to do?

The "democratic" process becomes so important that people simple CAN NOT stand to lose.

It's like getting stuck in a third world country where the "democratic" process just means who gets the power to oppress whom and so winning becomes as important as life itself.

Do we really *want* that? Do we want what we're looking at now with the Democrats where it's all life-and-death? Or do we want what we've got with the Republicans where no one really likes the guy but so what?

erniecu73 said...

It appears that Matt's friends have also found this page. The Obamites have come in force!

Robert said...

I agree with Duncan. I don't see anything sinister or snippy about this message. "The man whose e-mail indicates his name is Matthew Berg," is probably very young and his e-mail seems good natured.

Simon said...

Muddimo, out of curiosity, which candidate do you prefer (or perhaps dislike least) - Obama or Clinton?

submandave said...

"I honestly don't see what you find so objectionable about that email"

The thing about the e-mail that made me uneasy was the off-handed and casual way the Obama worker seemed to deal with it.

"Ho-hum. Some Clinton folks got on the Obama rolls, but I'll be sure and delete you name so you don't get bothered again, since I know you'll talk about it and your mom is a rather well-read blogger that can make some stink for my candidate." Is this incident part of a bigger problem? How many other peopel were entered by more than one party entity, and were they properly entered.

To my eyes, there was either clear intent to double list or the whole process is such a goat-rope that noone can be sure of anything coming out of it. Neither speaks well of the Texas Democrat party.

Simon said...

space said...
"My feeling is that Clinton supporters have become disgruntled at her diminished prospects, thus making it easier to infer snippiness in Mr. Berg's simple response."

The obvious response is "Clinton's diminished prospects?!" but more to the point - how does that have any explanatory power when the person inferring snippiness isn't a Clinton supporter (indeed, voted against Clinton in the primary)?

JohnTaylor88 said...

The obvious response is "Clinton's diminished prospects?!"

Why is that an obvious response?

Simon said...

Because it seems obvious to me, John, that after the last few weeks, Obama's chances of being the nominee have dropped significantly, and his chances of ever being President have dropped of the face of the Earth. The two are interlinked, of course - his DOA in the fall status is precisely why the superdelegates - unless they are quite unbelievably stupid - are going to back Clinton. It's those who are emotionally invested in Obama, not in Clinton, who are becoming desperate.

John K. said...

Synova said: "It's like getting stuck in a third world country where the 'democratic' process just means who gets the power to oppress whom and so winning becomes as important as life itself.
Do we really *want* that? Do we want what we're looking at now with the Democrats where it's all life-and-death? Or do we want what we've got with the Republicans where no one really likes the guy but so what?"

Well said, except you don't think the Republicans are going to treat the general election as a matter of life-and-death just as much as the Democrats are now treating their nomination process? Politics should ordinarily be the most boring and trivial thing in the world, but as things now stand there's so much to lose that rightly belongs to you and so much to gain that rightly belongs to others, i.e. so much has been made subject to democracy that democracy has no business concerning itself with, that everyone feels the need to jump in the middle and fight like bloody hell. And we really think anything resembling justice is supposed to result from this process?

John K. said...

"The two are interlinked, of course - his DOA in the fall status is precisely why the superdelegates - unless they are quite unbelievably stupid - are going to back Clinton."

That sounds like a tremendous bit of wishful thinking by a McCain supporter, because unless the American people are unbelievably stupid and really can't wait to have a sexual predator and rapist back in the White House, McCain has a far better chance of beating Clinton and his doormat-in-chief in the general election than he does of beating Obama.

TMink said...

I do not appreciate the caucus process, it is not cloe enough to one man one vote for me.

Having said that, I trust the Texas caucus process and the upcoming Democratic convention to give the election to McCain.

I am not very happy about that.

Trey

JBlog said...

"Data entry errors? Possible voter fraud?

No that can't possibly be -- there are no Republicans involved.

Unless....(begins spinning intricate conspiracy theory.)"

FSXploration said...

Using a question mark in a headline is the essence of yellow journalism.

Fraud in Texas? Because your son got a postcard?

Hmmm: I can think of many headlines where this might be useful.

Is Hillary A Killer? (She voted for war)

Hillary A Lesbian? (Many say yes!)

Wow, this journalism stuff is pretty easy to just make up out of whole cloth!

Althouse For Hillary? (Daily posts raise question marks about Obama!)

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

At first, I thought it was likely a mistake. I just talked to another Clinton delegate in my precinct, and he says he's been getting Obama materials, too.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

...in other words, I no longer believe that it was an accident.

Norman Rogers said...

Anne, you're brilliant as always for telling us about this.

As a lifelong Republican, I can remember when I was first exposed to the dreaded Caucus system in the state of Iowa when I was helping my old friend Pete du Pont run for the Presidency back in 1988. If you run afoul of their arcane rules, they can exclude your voice and marginalize you.

We saw first hand how some of the Dole people were acting--like thugs and bullies, sir! Like thugs and bullies. (This is why I sat out the 1996 election, as did many real conservatives: Dole was always surrounded by these low people.)

Mr. Althouse Cohen, you get after these people and you make them explain why they did this and you tell them there are numerous Republicans who remember the vicious thug tactics of the Iowa Caucuses.

I, myself was forced to sit on a metal folding chair during a pre-Caucus event when perfectly good straight-backed chairs were available. Those bastards had no souls.

Synova said...

"Well said, except you don't think the Republicans are going to treat the general election as a matter of life-and-death just as much as the Democrats are now treating their nomination process?"

Yes, probably they will.

But maybe it will help if some of us speak up for a system designed to accommodate human failings.

former law student said...

Hold firm, Christopher! Don't let that seductive postcard sway you to the dark side.

But I'm going to say that it's possible that a Clinton delegate was marked down as an Obama delegate and vice versa. So sending Obama cards to everybody is reasonable: you remind your backers no matter how they were listed, without twisting the arms of your opponents' delegates. Similarly Clinton should be able to notify all the delegates without penalty.

Simon said...

John K. said...
"That sounds like a tremendous bit of wishful thinking by a McCain supporter, because unless the American people are unbelievably stupid and really can't wait to have a sexual predator and rapist back in the White House, McCain has a far better chance of beating Clinton and his doormat-in-chief in the general election than he does of beating Obama."

(1) I'm not a "McCain supporter"; he's the candidate, duly selected by our party's process for selecting nominees. I believe participants in that process are bound to honor the result even if doesn't select our preferred candidate.

(2) I think we'll beat anyone they put up. I'd prefer it was Clinton because I'd rather risk losing to someone who's likable and vaguely competent to do the job than someone who isn't.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hold firm, Christopher! Don't let that seductive postcard sway you to the dark side.

Is that some kind of racial slur?*

*For those who don't have the codebook

(dark side=Darth Vader=evil=Obama=dark)

John K. said...

Synova said: "But maybe it will help if some of us speak up for a system designed to accommodate human failings."

I think it will help more if more of us recognize and point out that the system is designed not just to accommodate but to reward human failings -- especially human greed and arrogance.

Chip Ahoy said...

Partly because it's capitalized, and partly because sometimes I'm careless, originally read that as Freud in Texas, and thought in that instant, "Oh goody, some psychoanalyzing gunna happen regarding one of my favoritest states."

Behold! It is happening. All these party-related posts are little more than a Rorcharch test, a chance for preconceptions and predeterminations to rise to the surface. Well that, and keeping up with the latest shenanigans. Yes, the author was probably young and enthusiastic, that's precisely what is meant by the "have fun, kids. Play at your little democracy thing" remark. I have no doubt it was not a mistake. A mistake of omission would be far more likely, and even that kind of mistake I would doubt. The reason why I doubt mistakes is because you're all maniacs, with a tendency to project evil onto others because it's the way your own maniacal thinking runs.

Daryl said...

There's a very simple way to resolve this:

1 - Obama's campaign should search their records and identify the total number of double-counted delegates

2 - Any other Clinton delegates who received Obama mailings (or vice versa) should come forward.

Any discrepancies between (1) and (2) will inform us of whether they've been naughty or nice.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Clinton likable??!!

I think Simon must be suffering from traumatic stress syndrome as a result of that sniping incident in Bosnia.

Emily said...

The reason why I doubt mistakes is because you're all maniacs, with a tendency to project evil onto others because it's the way your own maniacal thinking runs.

I don't suspect people of evil, I suspect them of stupid mistakes. Myself included.

I think a lot of what people see as heaping conspiracies are just a (understandable) reactions to the sheer quantity of ineptitude that us humans show. Take 9/11 Truthers, for instance. They can't handle the idea that our government failed on such a spectacular level, so they go with the vast, intelligence-requiring conspiracy theories instead.

garage mahal said...

Relaaaaaaaaaax. Obama's campaign is just thorough! They're pure and special gut-level "grassroots" supporters who send in their modest $2.00 donations who make up 100% of Obama's Movement. All Hillary has are filthy surrogates and operatives working for them with a few information-limited icky blue collar racist hicks and a few old ladies supporting them.

And Hillary on the other hand is the one trying to POACH DELEGATES, I hear this every day on Daily Kos and Keith Olbermann.

Simon said...

mtrobertsattorney said...
"Clinton likable??!!"

As compared with Obama, I would have to say so. This is of course all an exercise in the relative.

Trevor Jackson said...

Am I the only one who's just begun to suspect Norman Rogers is a caricature?

I fell for the Atlantic salmon and the cracks on beer last week, but Pete du Pont? Folding chairs?

Your mask is slipping, sir.

erniecu73 said...

"Hoosier Daddy said...
Hold firm, Christopher! Don't let that seductive postcard sway you to the dark side.

Is that some kind of racial slur?*

*For those who don't have the codebook

(dark side=Darth Vader=evil=Obama=dark)"

SERIOUSLY??

gophermomeh said...

So, go vote the way you want to vote. In this situation, it's the only thing you control - the rest doesn't really matter.

dpent said...

Man I didn't even know there was code book for all the racial play on words - hope this does not come back to haunt me.

P.S. for those who went ahead and bought the code book, can I say "haunt" without being labled a ghost hater?

John K. said...

Simon says: "(2) I think we'll beat anyone they put up. I'd prefer it was Clinton because I'd rather risk losing to someone who's likable and vaguely competent to do the job than someone who isn't."

Maybe I'll have to hold my nose and vote for Obama after all, as an act of self-defense against the greater evil. But no, I won't, because Obama appears only marginally better than the other two, and it's possible (though not likely) he's worse, and it's more important to me to cast my "vote" with the silent majority who recognize (consciously or unconsciously) the futility, absurdity, and illegitimacy of the process and who stay home on election day. But really, the thought of either Billary or McCain in the White House makes me nauseous. Come to think of it, so does the thought of Obama in the White House, though not as acutely as the other two. I've gotta stop thinking about people in the White House.

That may sound pretty nihilistic, but there's plenty of people in the country who think Obama will be bad for America, there's plenty who think McCain will be bad for America, and there's plenty who think Billary will be bad for America. Can so many people be wrong? I think they're all right.

Ger said...

Why believe it was a simple data entry error committed by volunteer poll workers?

We all know the case of the Forbidden Postcard is far more likely to have been a vast conspiracy involving a second or third gunman and shots from the grassy knoll. After all, this is Texas.

space said...

Christopher, why does the fact that another Clinton delegate received an erroneous Obama postcard signal widespread fraud?

My first thought is that a group of convention delegates in your precinct got coded improperly. It's not fraud unless it's intentional, and even if you get two postcards, you can still go into the state convention and cast your vote for the candidate you support - in this case, Clinton.

space said...

Simon said...

...how does that have any explanatory power when the person inferring snippiness isn't a Clinton supporter (indeed, voted against Clinton in the primary)?...


Ok, my point is this: Clinton, her campaign, and, in many cases, her fervent supporters have changed the tone of this campaign. Because her preferred mode of attack is snippy comments - "he wouldn't have been my pastor", "that's change you can Xerox", etc. etc. - her supporters expect that to come from the other side.

I think when you scratch the surface of this particular issue, you will see a fumbling precinct volunteer, faulty data, and a Clinton supporter on their last nerve with Obama, who has already made up their mind about him, and this election. Don't get all Rovian and try to turn that around on his campaign, especially when they actually took the time to address it.

Steven B said...

Questions Surround Obama's Candidacy:

http://questionbarackobama.blogspot.com

muddimo said...

Simon said...
Muddimo, out of curiosity, which candidate do you prefer (or perhaps dislike least) - Obama or Clinton?

I will definitely be voting for McCain. Not that I'm a huge McCain fan but I shudder at the thought of Obama or Clinton as president. I have secretly cheered for Obama as he has prevailed against Clinton (basically, he's more likeable and genuine) but I would sooner vote for Clinton. Obama is so far left that he has left the solar system. Clinton would be almost intolerable but I doubt that Hugo Chavez would be invited to stay in the Lincoln bedroom.

Synova said...

"I think it will help more if more of us recognize and point out that the system is designed not just to accommodate but to reward human failings -- especially human greed and arrogance."

Sure.

Because trying to get people to *not* behave according to their own interests is foolish, no matter how lofty and wonderful it sounds. Socialism is wonderful, caring for your fellow person is fabulous, but when you take that mindset and apply it to government policy it becomes corrupted because human beings are who they are and they will and do use the system, whatever it is, to satisfy their own greed and arrogance.

Working *with* those attributes works better than trying to work against them.

Our system of government was designed to allow those things in the private sector. It wasn't meant to do it in the public sector. How much of the accommodation of greed and arrogance in government "servants" can be attributed to expanding the scope of government "for the common good?"

I think an awful lot of it can.

Smaller government would necessarily leave less room for exactly the sort of self enrichment that offends but what is the answer suggested by many? More programs and bigger government to make things more fair... to make them less about greed and self interest...

It doesn't work that way.

blake said...

It's easy enough to check the guy's story--if it's legit. If it's not, it will be harder.

What is that a screenshot of? Obama HQ's database? The Dems? The county's? Does the county keep track of the delegates?

The most reasonable set-up wouldn't allow a person to be designated as a delegate for two different candidates. (Most of the counties in CA, e.g., have a single slot that you can put the party code into. You couldn't be designated as two different parties. San Francisco kept everything in Access, though, so all bets were off. There were a lot of sex code possibilities, too, rather than just "M", "F" and "U".)

But if it was done at O's HQ, then it wouldn't show up elsewhere. That's your smoking gun.

(If anyone cares.)

Simon said...

space said...
"Because [Clinton's] preferred mode of attack is snippy comments ... her supporters expect that to come from the other side."

Well, having no dog in that fight, I'll stipulate that, arguendo. But that doesn't get you the full nine yards. I take it that the "Clinton supporter on their last nerve with Obama, who has already made up their mind about him, and this election" is Chris. But it's Ann's assesment, not Chris', that your comment was criticizing (and, indeed, must have been: your comment was at 11:47 AM; my reply to you, which you quote, was posted at 12:44 PM; Chris' comments didn't come until much later, at 1:33 PM). So, it seems to me that if you're resting your argument on your feeling for the expectations of Clinton supporters, you might have a case against Chris (who's a Hillary supporter), but not against Ann (who isn't).

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

blake: The Travis County Democrats have a list online of all the delegates and who they support. You can go into it and check, and it clearly lists me as a Clinton delegate, and I don't see anyone listed as both. So, that seems to indicate that that coding was done in the Obama campaign, not by the Democratic Party.

Rick said...

Um... Why does Obama have to steal a caucus anyway? The Clinton people have already stipulated that her supporters aren't capable of standing for a couple of hours, so they know he wins these fair and square.

How did the Obama people even know who to lock out at these caucuses anyway? Did they have "Bill & Hillary" tatooed to their foreheads?

As for MI and FL, the Clintons - yes, plural - should have been working for a revote right from the beginning if they were really "concerned" about "disenfranchisement." They didn't because they didn't think they needed the votes. Hillary even said "it is pretty clear these votes won't count."

Speaking about disenfranchisement, I find it sickening that the Clintons, after they realized they wouldn't win legitimately, decided that the Michigan vote should stand since they won it "fairly." Michigan has more than twice as many eligible voters as South Carolina, and yet the "turnout" for the Michigan "primary" was only a few thousand more than in the legitimate contest in South Carolina. If the Clintons really cared about ALL the voters in Michigan, they would never have pretended that the Michigan "Primary" was legitimate.

Norman Rogers said...

I fell for the Atlantic salmon and the cracks on beer last week, but Pete du Pont? Folding chairs?

I'm sorry--I should have explained.

When we were organizing on behalf of Pete for the pre-Caucus event in 1987, the bullies from the Dole campaign relegated us to the cheap seats, which were the folding metal chairs and the Dole people had reserved the straight back chairs with the padded seats. You do know who Pete du Pont is, do you not? Former Governor of Delaware? One of the finest Republicans who ever served? He's been a friend of mine since 1971 or so. A great fellow, a wonderful conservative and a man who was ahead of his time. I would have done anything to help get him elected.

If I may quote Wikipedia--this will knock your socks off:

As described by Celia Cohen in her book, Only in Delaware, du Pont, “wanted to reform Social Security by offering recipients private savings options in exchange for a corresponding reduction in government benefits. He proposed phasing out government subsidies for farmers. He said he would wean welfare clients off their benefits and get them into the workforce, even if government had to provide entry level jobs to get them started. He suggested students be subjected to mandatory, random drug tests with those who flunked losing their drivers licenses.” [1] These ideas were unusual enough that they left plenty of opportunity to paint du Pont as a novice and an oddity. In one of the debates future U.S. President George H.W. Bush made gentle fun of du Pont’s first name, and called it “nutty to fool around with the Social Security system.” After finishing next to last in the New Hampshire primary, du Pont left the race.

That's the kind of bullying I was speaking of.

I don't understand the question--I like Atlantic Salmon. I don't particularly care if it is farm raised or not. It all tastes pretty good to me. Somehow I'm not allowed to like Atlantic salmon?

You must have me confused with someone who cares what people think. I write what I want and I don't much care what others think. To each their own, I suppose.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

The founder of the Du Pont family fortune was Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours who immigrated to the United States in 1799. He was an early proponent of the French Revolution who was horrified by the violence and excesses of the mob. He moved to the United States and established a gunpowder and munitions factory that was the basis of the fabulous fortune of the Du Ponts. He was well known as a free thinker who was far ahead of his time. He invented felching and was know to invite his coachman into the marital bed as a display of his egalitarian spirit. As the alderman of his district, he instituted a flat tax on the prostitutes and barmaids who were required to pay 2 shillings per week if they had less than a 36 D cup. He was a breast man.
(Robber Barons, Aristocrats and Chinless WASPs I Have Admired, Norman Rogers, Simon & Schuster, 1989)

Kim said...

Has anyone who's commented about this worked as a campaign volunteer, poll watcher etc.? If you have, you know it's very common to have data entry mistakes with campaign lists littered with errors such as wrong party registrations. At the polls too, people complaining they ought to be registered or their info is wrong, which is why you end up with so many provisional ballots.

A delegate data entry error shouldn't surprise anyone whose been on the ground level of a few elections. It'd have to be more than a few isolated incidents to think it'd be intentional...and what kind of delegate gets convinced to switch candidates by a postcard anyways?

And the volunteer? My bet is enthusiastic college student (dime a dozen on a campaign) who decided to do something more creative than "have a nice day."

Trevor Jackson said...

I'm not confused at all, Norman. Thanks for the helpful clarification. Carry on, sir.

Kausar Khan said...

Is it electronic data entry error or cheating by human? Oh God! Says by Data Entry

blake said...

Chris,

There are two things to check out, then: Travis County Dems corrected the error on a (heh) tip from the Obama campaign--and they would probably remember, if not record, this; or the Texas State Dem got the data wrong (easily verified).

There's weirdness here, too, at a technical level: Why would they use two separate files to make their database? Logically, you'd take the state file and process that rather than run through the 254 files you'd get from each individual county. (And if it's like California, those files be idiosyncratic, greatly increasing the burden.) The only reasons to do both is if you believed that one list was incomplete or to use one file to validate the other--to catch the kind of "error" they're claiming.

What's more, the big state file was almost certainly created by putting together the reports sent in by each county.

So, no, none of this makes sense as an "error" to me.

My guess (based on too many years on the outskirts of political campaigns) is that the Obama campaign saw your record (young male) and figured you might be swayed--or decided that the recorded preference was wrong (cf. Florida 2000, old people for Gore, soldiers for Bush).

blake said...

Kim,

I did data processing for political campaigns off-and-on for over 16 years. You are right that there is considerable sloppiness, especially the further away one is from the Secretary of State.

But if the error occurred somewhere other than Obama HQ, then it will turn up somewhere other than Obama HQ.

I'm not suggesting, by the way, that Obama sent the word down from on high that this should be done. But these sorts of shenanigans are common. (Some of the less common ones, say, misdirecting people from their polling places, are felonies.)

But consider this: This has been a remarkable campaign and I have to believe that a good percentage of the Dems are on the fence. Maybe all the press on Wright turned you off O, so you switched to H, but then you heard his speech and went back to O, but then you heard about Chelsea telling someone it was none of their business, so you flipped to H, but then she told her war stories...

Maybe the people who are delegates don't flip-flop that much. But the rules seem vague and emotions are high. High-powered political campaigners will get away with anything they can--because they're either true believers or pros being paid to deliver victory.

shyladare said...

I agree with most when I say it was a simple error and I applaud Obama staffers for their response. I honestly don't think the Hillary campaign would have even bothered.

I'm a delegate and have yet to encounter any such problems as the constant ones your son seems to be facing. Methinks Travis County isn't really up to par.