Fuzzy Math

Over at DailyKos, a poster links to my column from yesterday arguing that John McCain should defend President Bush’s record of keeping America safe from terrorist attacks.

DemFromCT summarizes my article:

McCain’s a fool for running away from George Bush because Bush kept America safe. George Bush is tough as nails and a goddamn frickin’ genius. And 23% of the public, a bare majority, agree with me.

I’ll let my piece speak for itself, but I do want to draw your attention to the hilarious commenters, who fail to understand the sarcasm of their fellow progressive DemFromCT, and literally think I argued that 23% represented a majority.

Some of the comments include:

“You gotta love the truly delusional. I especially enjoy the mathematical genius of Phillip Klein…Now, that’s a majority I can live with!”

You mean Mr. Klein isn’t demonstrating his brilliance at TurdBlossom’s math?! Shoot!

Klein shouldn’t have cut math class

Dionne vs. Originalism

E.J. Dionne makes an amateurish attempt to find hypocrisy among conservative justices in the Heller ruling:

Conservative justices claim that they defer to local authority. Not in this case. They insist that political questions should be decided by elected officials. Not in this case. They argue that they pay careful attention to the precise words of the Constitution. Not in this case.

It’s true that conservative judicial philosophy is deferential to local governments when the Constitution doesn’t specifically grant a given right to the people or forbid government from making a certain law. But it is totally different when the Constitution specifically prohibits government from regulating a given behavior. Just as the District of Columbia doesn’t have the authority to censor what Dionne writes in his Washington Post column because of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment guarantees my individual right to keep and bear arms as a citizen of the District.

And it’s hard to see how Dionne could have even glanced at Scalia’s opinion and still concluded that it doesn’t pay close attention to the precise words in the Constitution.

As Randy Barnett puts it in an excellent, far more illuminating op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

Justice Scalia’s opinion is exemplary for the way it was reasoned. It will be studied by law professors and students for years to come. It is the clearest, most careful interpretation of the meaning of the Constitution ever to be adopted by a majority of the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia begins with the text, and carefully parses the grammatical relationship of the “operative clause” identifying “the right to keep and bear arms” to the “prefatory clause” about the importance of a “well-regulated militia.” Only then does he consider the extensive evidence of original meaning that has been uncovered by scholars over the past 20 years – evidence that was presented to the Court in numerous “friends of the court” briefs.

Re: Obama Fantasy

I will say this about the Obama team. They pulled off a tremendous upset over Hillary Clinton through their mastery of all the arcane rules of the Democratic nomination system, with a laser beam-like focus on how they could win the most delegates. Obama racked up huge margins by organizing aggressively in all of the caucus states, while the supposedly seasoned Clinton team was obsessed with winning the big states, even though delegates were allocated proportionally. My point being, when David Plouffe talks about having a plan to get to 270 electoral votes, while some of his assumptions may be rosy, it would be unwise to dismiss what he is saying out of hand as so obviously absurd.

Obama ‘Path To Victory’ Conference Call

Just got off of the Obama campaign conference call with David Plouffe that I mentioned earlier.

The overriding theme was that the campaign will keep its focus on how they can reach 270 electoral votes. The first objective will be to hold John Kerry's 252 votes. Plouffe said the campaign was well on its way to doing that because it enjoys "unusually large leads" even in states such as Oregon, Minnesota and Maine, which were among the closer Kerry states in 2004. "There's not that many Kerry states where McCain can make a credible claim," a confident Plouffe said.  

Once they hold on to the Kerry states, he said the campaign has a good opportunity to go "on offense" in Bush states.  They hope to compete aggressively in enough of them to give Obama as many chances as possible to reach the 270 threshold. "We see a pathway to get to a winning number," he said.

For instance, if they maintain the Kerry states and win Iowa, where Obama spent a lot of time in the build up to the caucuses, they'd be at 259 electoral votes — just 11 shy of the target number. In this case, a win in Missouri would get Obama to 270.

Plouffe also mentioned New Hampshire, Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico, and Nevada. He said they consider Indiana "highly competitive" and also sees an opportunity in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. In the southern states, the hope is that higher turnout among blacks and young voters, along with an appeal to independents, could lead to Obama victories. They will work hard to register more black voters. Plouffe insisted that the ads that they're running in 18 states aren't head fakes designed to drain McCain's resources.

He said that in Florida, Obama and McCain are tied, but that is a good place to be in since Obama didn't campaign there during the primary.

He also noted that Nebraska is allocating electors by Congressional district, and so there may be an opportunity for Obama to pick off a vote in the Omaha district.

All in all, he sees "lots of opportunities to get 270."

Plouffe also emphasized the "enthusiasm gap" Republicans are facing, and the organizational advantage the Obama campaign has over the McCain campaign.

One thing that particularly struck me was that as far as I could recall, there wasn't any mention of Iraq or the War on Terror (though there's a chance I may have been distracted by my writing at the moment it was mentioned). Either way, it was pretty clear from this call that the Obama campaign won't be placing its focus on removing troops from Iraq, but rather on the economy and vague promises to "change the way Washington works."  Plouffe kept coming back to the economy, no matter what the subject. Even when asked to explain Obama's flip flop on guns and the salience of the gun issue, he eventually circled back to explaining that the economy was of most concern to voters. It's 1992 all over again.

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Painting the Map Obama

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe releases a slide presentation outlining Obama’s “path to victory.” The report emphasizes the campaign’s 50-state strategy, his growing strength among Hispanics, women, and independents; his grassroots organization; and the “enthusiasm gap” among supporters of Obama and McCain. One slide lists the following red states that Obama has a chance to turn blue: Virginia, Missouri, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, and Florida. The campaign is hosting a conference call later in the day, so I’ll have more, if warranted.

Obama’s Statement on Heller

Here’s the statement from the Obama campaign, in which he claims that Scalia endorsed his long-standing position on guns. Again, I encourage you to watch the video below –from three months ago– and see how rapidly Obama’s position has evolved. If flip flopping were an event at this summer’s Olympics, Obama would be a lock for the gold medal:

“I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country. “As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today’s decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.

McCain Statement on Gun Rights Decision

From my email inbox:

“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

“Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

“This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

More on Gun Rights Decision

The full opinion is here.

Some of the holdings:

1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home…. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition — in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute — would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.