Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today In Charlie Pierce

Newt Gingrich should stay in the race, doing exactly what he's doing, for as long as he wants to do it. If he wants to show up in Tampa come August to hurl invective at the walls of the convention center, he should do precisely that. And I am not saying this entirely because I know such a development will be wonderful theater and will drive Willard Romney batty. I am saying it because, for over 20 years, I have watched the Republican party embrace Gingrichism. I have watched it profit politically for having done so. I have watched it become coarser, more ignorant, and more vicious perhaps than any national political party has been since the days when actual fistfights broke out around the hard-cider barrel in the town square. I have watched it adopt retrograde policies that have damaged the country. All of these are products of the politics created and practiced by Newt Gingrich. If we are now at the gotterdammerung of that age, then, goddammmit, let Newt Gingrich be its agent. It's only just.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/newt-gingrich-attacks-romney-6649081#ixzz1l3sy7DFG

Mitch McConnell Is A Loathsome Toad

Mitch McConnell vs. the Truth Bus

Odious and repellant looking Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Liarsville) has unveiled the latest attack on Obama.  Breathtaking in its cynicism, stunning in its disregard for the truth, this latest attack is a perfect encapsulation of the GOP approach to politics.

Mitch the Toad says that Obama got everything he wanted from Congress.  Now, he amends that to include only the first two years, since even a liar like McConnell will not try and convince people that the current Monkey House has done anything but snoop around the uteruses of America and fundraise.

No, his argument is that from 2009 to 2011, Obama got everything he wanted from Congress.

I'm sure you remember how he muscled through the Stimulus Bill he wanted, got the public option, repealed the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, initiated Cap and Trade and closed Gitmo.  Heady times!

In fact, Mitch the Human Toad created the measurably worst Senate in history when it came to obstructing a legislative agenda.  The creation of a de facto 60 vote minimum in the Senate meant that a small coterie of Senators in what passes for the Center were given effective veto power over any proposal.  Conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln combined with Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman and Arlen Spector to water down almost every single proposal.

The stimulus as planned was too small; the Senate made it smaller.  The public option died in the cloying embrace of Nelson and Lieberman.  Repeal of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy and Cap and Trade went nowhere, dead before they hit the Senate floor.

And let's remember that the Democratic 60 vote majority lasted about 7 months.  The GOP extended the Minnesota recount for as long as possible in order to deny Al Franken the Democrats 60th seat for as long as possible.  And Scott Brown was elected in January of 2010.

So, the GOP played a game of delay and obstruction throughout Obama's first 24 months in office.  They then lie about it, counting on the short term memory of the American people, the complete impotence and ignorance of the official press corps and the inability of the Democrats to stand up and call a lie a lie.

This calls to mind Churchill's famous line, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Down, Down, Down


There are a bunch of articles/op-ed pieces out today, led by Paul Krugman, that perhaps the main reason that a financial panic in the housing market has led to such sustained economic pain has been that we have thrown out the entire Keynesian model for hard times.

Now, immediately, anti-Keynesians will scream "STIMULUS!" and point to the Stimulus bill as proof that Keynesian economics don't work.  The problem, again you have to look at facts not preconceived notions, is that Summers, Geithner... hell almost everyone in the room... underestimated the crushing blow to the economy.  And even if they hadn't it was very unlikely more spending could have gotten through Congress.  Wars and tax cuts for the rich, sure.  Aid to states and infrastructure spending, not so much.

More persuasive is the accumulating evidence of the failure of austerity programs in Europe and at the state level here in the US.  In Europe, we can look at Britain - as Krugman - does.  They have had a weaker recovery from 2008 than they did from 1930.  In the US, they have measured the effect of state budget cuts as depressing GDP by 0.3%.  An additional 0.3% GDP growth doesn't sound like much, but it is in fact a huge deal.  In the third quarter, GDP grew 1.8%; it could have been 2.1%.  In the fourth quarter, GDP grew 2.8%, when it could have been 3.1%.  If the economy was growing at 3%, unemployment would be plummeting.

And that's simply maintaining state levels of spending.  If they had actually increased under a Keynesian model of infrastructure projects, GDP growth could have been robust.

Austerity also flies in the face of good financial policy.  Right now, you can borrow money at ridiculously low rates.  If we assume that America's infrastructure is falling apart, an assumption we can base on evidence, then NOW would be a doubly good time to tackle our many needs.

We COULD have rebuilt American infrastructure and seen the economy rebound quickly.  Instead, after two years of deficit spending that prevented a complete cratering of the American and global economy, we then turned to austerity politics.  And it is austerity politics, not austerity policy.  The policy side is clearly a failure.  It doesn't even make basic math sense.  If you subtract governmental demand, the economy will indeed shrink, too.  This was entirely about politics and "optics".

We gleefully embraced deficits under Bush, but now we are supposed to care about them because the money might be spent on something besides Mitt Romney's tax cuts or killing Muslims.  And the purveyors of Conventional Wisdom are not people who require state assistance on anything from education to health care to jobs, although I would love to see the entire network news corps thrown out of work and replaced by random college graduates plucked off the street.

Revisionism is a powerful force.  We revised the causes of the Civil War to absolve the South of their sin for starting it.  We revised the nature of "blowback" from our meddling in the Middle East until "they hate us for our freedom" became a type of punchline.  We revised the criminal legacy of Nixon and Reagan until they become a foreign policy genius, instead of a crook, and a revered elder statesman, instead of a guy who illegally sold arms to Iran.

It has been well noted that Krugman is "shrill".  But if you look at the data, how can you NOT be?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pirates!

You dog!

So we have two events in the past few weeks.

First, we have the outpouring of opposition to SOPA/PIPA that effectively shuts down that particular piece of legislation, leading to a hissy fit from Chris Dodd that made me glad he's no longer my Senator.

Then, we have the arrest of bloated freakshow Kim Dotcom.  His story is just bizarre.  He's greedy, grifty and grafty.  Corrupt and filthy rich, he created both a persona and a financial empire built around the fact that he knew a little bit about the internet, when everyone was throwing money at people like that.

MegaUpload was his real money maker, whereby he shared pirated video and music for a premium.

I think the saga of SOPA/PIPA/Kim Dotcom shows that the issues addressed in SOPA/PIPA are real.  When I wrote my representatives to protest this particular bill, I said that I understand the need of content creators to profit from their content.  I avoid file sharing.  I think it's theft.  But there's no question it's a big issue.

But even without SOPA/PIPA the Feds were able to take down MegaUpload.  So the natural question is why do we need an additional piece of legislation that could have prevented me from quoting from Charlie Pierce under copyright restrictions.

Like the Patriot Act, the TSA and various other acts by the government ever since forever there are a host of unintended consequences to legislation.  I think that's at the heart of public distrust of government, and that's why both Clinton and Obama have made governmental reform the centerpiece of their administrations.  You can't have good governmental programs without good government.

But these two stories, the rise of internet millionaire Kim Dotcom nee Schmitz and SOPA/PIPA, also show that basic internet literacy is lacking at very important levels of business and government.  I'm not claiming any great expertise myself, but the suits who bankrolled Kim Dotcom's Kimpire and the ante-diluvian Senators who supported SOPA/PIPA just really have no idea how the Internet works.

At some point, we have to return to the Enlightenment and Progressive idea that facts and expertise matter.  Or, to put it another way, Professor Gingrich's assault on "elites" is yet another corrosive, damaging stone in the tomb of his legacy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Downton Abbey


I finally started watching Downton Abbey, because every time someone mentioned it, people went, "Awwww" like it was a cute kitten.

One of the characters - who, GASP, works - says that he will be available on the weekends.  Maggie Smith's imperious "Dowager Countess" says aghast, "What's a weekend?"

I know how she feels!

Wrestling and then duty until midnight.  And this was supposed to be a day off, as we had no classes.

Luxury!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fun With Quizzes

Charles Murray's Crayon set.

Noted intellectual racist Charles Murray has a wonderful new quiz out to see if you are a real Muriken or whether you are a Chardonnay sipping Coastal Elite.

Here's Roy Edroso's take, including Tbogg's revelation that according to this quiz, he's Cornell West.

Here is the quiz itself, if you want to take it, and you know you do.

I scored a 52, based largely on - wait for it - my time in Los Angeles struggling to be a writer.  Ironically, those years where I worked crappy jobs, wore an ugly uniform working retail and had my feet ache at the end of the day makes me a real Muriken, despite the fact that I literally lived in Hollywood.  Similarly, the fact that I go fly fishing with my son in Litchfield County?  Real Muriken!

According to his scoring, am I perhaps a lifelong resident of a working class neighborhood?  Um, no.

Am I a first generation middle class guy with working class parents?  Again, no.

How about a first generation upper-middle class guy with middle class parents?  I think we can reverse that.

Most accurate descriptor would be a second or more upper middle class scion who gets out a lot.  But that score range is from 0-43, with a typical score a 9.  I scored a 52, well out of the typical range.  And I didn't "get out a lot" I tried to become a screenwriter and failed.  I then taught for six years at really low wages in a small town before coming to my current job and seeing my salary increase to a decent, though not extravagant, living.

So we have learned that I'm either not who I think I am or Charles Murray is just as crappy a social scientist as we all think he is.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No, NOT WATCHING!

In your mind, Newt.  In your mind.

At last, the death blow apparently has come to Newt.  Mittens has found a debate coach able to activate the emotion chip in his neural net and has unleashed whoopass on the former Speaker.  At least, that's what I'm reading on all the liveblogs and twitter feeds.

We will know more when the votes are cast, of course, and this primary has been anything but predictable.  But the near unanimous pounding that Gingrich is taking from the GOP establishment and now even Mittens has clearly left him exhausted and unable to mount a defense.

Apparently Santorum was finally acknowledged to be on stage and unleashed a little whoopass on Mittens over Romneycare.  But, alas, too late for Ricky, too late for Newt.

All I really wanted was for this carnival to go on until Super Tuesday.  I suppose it still might, even if Romney clears 40% in Florida.  But this is the last gasp for Newt, I think.  If he can't win the Cracker Belt, he can't win.

By Monday, we will know if the clown car has finally run out of gas.  If Romney really did improve his debate game, perhaps he would have benefitted from a longer primary season.  If he wins now, I imagine those skills will rust.  And he will be dependent on the economy stalling again.  And if the horse race is really over, the press can spend the next few months looking into the apparent irregularities in those tax returns.  Fun.

It will be interesting to see him be this consistently negative against Obama when they share the stage together.  He's throwing red meat to the base in a fairly harmless way that can't be used against him in the general election by making all sorts of outlandish and false statements against Obama now.  I don't see how he pulls that off when Obama is standing right next to him, but we'll see.

If Romney wins, keep an eye on his favorability numbers.  They are atrocious right now, but they will likely creep upwards as the GOP rallies around him.  But it's still possible the far right fringe won't.  If so, it will show up there.

Sigh, Yeah, That's About Right

http://www.ginandtacos.com/2012/01/26/what-really-matters/

Everything wrong with the GOP in one neat anecdote...

Trouble Brewering In Arizona

Obama at the Arizona airport.

A wee contretemps in Arizona, as shriveled Governess Jan "Not The Brady Bunch One" Brewer went to great the President of the United States.  She handed him a letter and asked to meet him about all those brown people who wake her up with the leaf blowers at 8AM.  Obama replied that the last time they met about this, she wrote a scathing and almost assuredly false account of the meeting in her book:  "Scorpions In My Mind: Sh!t I Hallucinated".

Well!  One does not talk to the Governess that way.  It was almost, dare I say, uppity!

She responded by saying she has all the respect in the world for the office of the Presidency.  But not so much for Nubian currently occupying said office.

There was a great scene in the old, lamented West Wing, where a Dr. Laura type gets torn to absolute shreds by President Bartlett.  The lesson being, you can disagree with the President, but you don't get to say you "respect the office" when you disrespect the man who holds it.  Disagree.  Vehemently if you want.

But don't be petty about it.

Jan Brewer.  Rick Scott.  Scott Walker.  John Kasich.  Rick Snyder. Maybe even Mitch Daniels.

They are all governors of swing states.  They are all awful, petty people.  One can't help but think that, when voters go to the polls in November, their dissatisfaction with their current lame - possibly criminal - governors won't engender a backlash against the party of fools who put them there.

UPDATE: Jon Chait feels this is a clever way for Obama to reach out to Hispanic voters in Arizona, a state he's got a slight chance of winning this year.

Meanwhile, check out the comments in this thread if you want to see what the current state of thinking is within the GOP.  Pay special attention to the "rec'ed" comments.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lucky Man

Playa!

At some point we have to acknowledge that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama benefit from the fact that they are skilled politicians, but also ones who benefit from great luck and ineptitude from their opponents.

Clinton obviously benefitted from Perot in '92, Gingrich in '95 and Dole in '96.  Yes, he was a remarkably successful Eisenhower Republican as President, but he also drove the GOP insane and that helped him.

Look at Obama.  The Tea Party was just bonkers.  The last vestiges of the aging Birchers and Reagan "Democrats" shouting into the void.  Now he's facing Scrooge McDuck and a guy so toxic even his own party hates him.  To know Mitt or Newt is to loath them.  Not dislike, loath.

Let's also acknowledge that the President went before Congress last night and basically said, "You are doing a terrible job at doing your job."  And he could get away with it, because the GOP has spent the last year acting like three year olds on a Cocoa Puffs fueled tantrum from hell. The GOP House has spent the last year trying to burrow their way into the uteri of American women and defunding Planned Parenthood.  Meanwhile, Americans want jobs.  Well played, idiots.

And he's been incredibly lucky overseas.  A year ago, comparisons were being made to Jimmy Carter.  Obama didn't have a Desert One, he had bin Laden shot in the face.  And he did it while roasting Donald Trump publicly over the birth certificate nonsense, while simultaneously launching a raid to kill bin Laden.  Imagine how that clip would've played at Fox if the mission had gone sideways?

Same with last night.  Obama walks on the floor with a speech that revolves around comparing the American military's values to the values of the Congress (and implicitly the GOP).  Meanwhile, SEAL Six is rescuing hostages in Somalia.  Again, what if the mission goes sideways?

A lot of people shudder at the possibility of a Newt nomination, because that means the American people will face a binary choice between Newt and Obama.

Can anyone doubt after last night that Obama's patient work to claim the middle from Congress and be the "adult in the room" is paying off?

Can anyone doubt after last night that Obama will win?

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Nice moment from last night, turned into a fun GIF:


If Romney had hugged her he probably would have made a lame joke about her grabbing his ass.  Gingrich would have grabbed hers.

UPDATE: Poop.  Why won't my GIFs work?  Damn you, Internet!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SotU


So, game on, I guess.

I only saw the last part.  For all his reputation as an orator, he really on lets fly in the last ten minutes of his speeches.  It's really more his skill as a writer that he leans on, so you might as well read most of the speech.

On the one hand, I'm increasingly tired of theater.  I'm tired of the security theater when we get on airplanes.  And I'm really tired of the political theater that passes for our electoral system.  I'm tired of the sort of political theater that led to a near default on our government's debt.

So moments like the SotU don't exactly jingle my bells.

But this was less about the state of the union and a realistic legislative agenda than it was about laying out a different vision of America from the cramped, jingoistic, mean spirited one we saw last night in Tampa.  I'm sure the Manic Progressives will say he's being naive to expect any of this legislation to pass.  It really isn't about that.  Maybe he helps shape the public debate a little bit, but really this was about explaining a different philosophy for governing, indeed a different vision of America.

I think it succeeded on that score, but I also despair that it will matter.  Come Thursday, Newt and Mitt will just go back to lying through their teeth about how Obama "apologizes for America" or "hate Israel" or "killed bin Laden".

Oh, wait, that last part was true.

I thought his final passage was very deft, and it's one that I've thought could resonate for years.  We applaud our military, mostly as convenient props and ciphers for whatever cause we are pimping at that moment.

But the central tenet of the military is "No one gets left behind."  Wes Clark started talking about this theme in 2004, and I wished he had run harder with it.  You fight for the person next to you.

That shouldn't be limited to the military.  That should be the mission for all Americans.  We should all fight for the person next to us.  Adopt THAT standard, and the narrow, pinched vision of Newt and Mittens dissolves into dust.

As it should.

UPDATE: The Guardian was impressed, so was John Cole.  The takeaway seems to be: A) OK, Obama's not perfect, but his direction is good and his intentions are true.  B) He's a President.  Mittens and Newt are not. C) Obama can be realistic and yet optimistic, whereas the entire GOP is about how America is DOOOOOMED!!!! Which is not, I should point out, a winning electoral strategy.

A Note On Mitten's Tax Returns

I think I know one reason why Mitt didn't want to release his taxes until the general election.  Dude gave a truckload of money to the Mormon church and that won't play well among the evangelical set.  Being Scrooge McDuck won't hurt him in the GOP primary much, but being a Mormony Mormon probably will.

This Week In Political Theater

When in doubt, yell louder.

So, we had that thing last night.  Mitt got all butch on Newt and landed a right wing to the jaw.  Then Mitt tripped on his spit bucket in his own corner when he demonstrated that he actually paid LESS than 15% in taxes.  Any transient damage he did to Newt will get lost in the tax returns.  Nice work, campaign advisors.

Tonight we have the State of the Union.  More theater, as Obama stands before America and lays out a list of policy initiatives that the GOP won't even vote on, much less defeat.  Still, it will be mildly interesting to see how an actual pro handles policy.  What has been striking about the GOP debate is how content free it has been recently.  Part of this is that very little separates this yahoos, part of it is that a party that doesn't give two shits about governing really doesn't need a policy portfolio, part of it is that no one really presses these yahoos about how you increase funding for NASA, say, while cutting the budget so you can cut Mitt and Newt's taxes even more.

I would expect/hope that Obama will press hard on the Buffett Rule.  It's in the news, it's relevant to governance, and the GOP won't touch it with a ten foot pile of SuperPAC money.  I would hope he offers a defense of the XL Pipeline decision, just to shut those idiots up who think 5000 jobs in a part of the country where unemployment is already very low is worth polluting the world's most critical aquifer.

I look forward to him saying that, you know, bin Laden was shot in the face and watching the GOP reluctantly rise to their feet in applause, John McCain's teeth grinding so hard that tiny flecks of enamel shoot out of his mouth and land in Scalia's Bryl-Cremed hair.

And then, on Thursday, we get ANOTHER GOP debate.  One would hope that CNN would actually ask questions about policy and ACTUALLY FOLLOW UP THOSE QUESTIONS WITH FACTS, but I think we all know that won't happen.

This week we get to see the battle lines more sharply drawn for 11/2012.  Obama will lay out a policy agenda that stands no chance of being passed while the GOP candidates will spew forth sound bites that have basis in reality.

Huzzah!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wow. What An Ugly Scene.

Brian Williams sits down with Newt and Mitt.

So, I finally caved and watched the GOP debate.

First of all, a lot of it is just invective.

Even more of it is just ridiculous lies.  Just listening to Brian Williams stupid frame of the question about housing made me want to jump through the TV screen and beat him senseless.  The federal government was not responsible for the housing crash.  The Federal Reserve was more responsible than Freddie Mac.  Unscrupulous lenders abused Freddie Mac by dumping crappy mortgages into Freddie.  That facilitated the crisis, but hardly caused it.  Dodd-Frank has not made it harder to get loans, there is a massive glut of housing that depresses housing prices.

I haven't considered the fact that a long debate schedule and a long campaign will simply cement the lies that these guys are spewing in the public record.

Because "moderators" like Brian Williams are unable to say things like, "Dude, that was just pure bullshit!" they will simply continue to repeat these zombie lies.

I can only quote Charlie Pierce: "This is your democracy, America.  Cherish it."

Here we have them talking about foreign policy.  They are consistently trying to out-butch each other and take down Obama.  I don't think you want to engage Obama on foreign policy.  You give him an opportunity to remind people that bin Laden is fish food.

Only Ron Paul makes any sense here.  Admittedly, it's a bit whacky, but it's nice to hear someone saying, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't invade Iran."

(Bonus hilarity: the program guide from the cable box says that the debate is actually "Fear Factor".  Couldn't be more accurate.)

Oh, thank God, we get to hear Frothy Mixtures' opinion on Iran.  Yes, Iran is completely different from the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was run by fluffy bunnies, whereas Iran is run by Hitler's with full beards.

Ahhhh, a BP question!  Let's see them pivot this back to it being Obama's fault for over-regulating the oil industry. Canada's not "domestic" dipshit.  And the XL pipeline is a Deepwater Horizon times a brazilian.

I like the Eyeglass Lady's questions.  Newt actually does well with that question about Spanish language.  Cambodian is not a language Mitt.  And kids learn English.  It's their parents that don't learn it. Interesting to watch them suddenly do "brown people outreach" now that we're out of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Confederatestan.

The DREAM Act is a good bill.  Too bad these assholes hate brown children.  And I think military service actually does already fast track citizenship.

People laugh at Mitt's suggestion that people would voluntarily deport themselves.  Why?  That seems perfectly reasonable.

Rick Santorum is speakingmn ,df v,mjkbfv;kjppojfgrkvnaergjnerdfv;kjbn;

Sorry, fell asleep on the keyboard.

Newt is talking about sugar.  You can see him grow wistful about sweet, sweet, delicious sugar.

Mitt wants to "step back" and show some empathy.  Oh, and attack Obama.  NASA, jobs, whatever.  Golf.  Keystone pipeline.  So many lies there.  So hard to unpack.

Ron Paul has no desire to theoretically let people in South Florida drink water.  I know he makes sense on not fighting wars (drug or otherwise) but damn this guy is thick.

David Gregory... Fluffy, you did not just compare football and politics did you?  Did you?  If I see you at the Fourth of July waterfight this summer, I will kick you in the nads for that.  Better yet, I'll have Thing One do it.

Tweet from DemocraticMachine: "Self deportation is also the policy Mitt Romney exercises with his money."

Santorum talks about Schiavo. He saysmn dfbvjlsflbn;d8[gthetgnfdvkjdfnv'p[lpkb

Damn, fell asleep again.  Can he just quit?  Well, he gets some applause for his Schiavo answer, which is a bit weaselly.  Newt defends the Schiavo thing, too.  Seriously, that was what began the cratering of the GOP.  Please, wrap your arms around that debacle.  Again, Paul makes sense within his same old "theory".  Seriously, "Congressman Paul, would you like a soda?"  "Is it a state soda?"

NASA question.  Spending and space.  Again, they will just lie and make up numbers.  Government is bad!  Government can't create jobs!  Obama isn't funding NASA!

Glorious Wife avers that these debates just demonstrate how bankrupt their ideology is.  It can't make sense even internally.  Eyeglass Lady wants to know how you fund it while cutting the budget.  None of these clowns address the real question.

Aggressive private sector space exploration?  How many people will die in THAT!

Another good question about Bush Tax Cuts.  Why should we do more tax cuts create jobs when they didn't under Bush?  Newt pivots to regulation, which is not the same thing.  And Newt, regulation of private land is under the same regulations as public land, it's simply that say, Theodore Roosevelt National Park would not be welcoming to drilling.

I guess Brian Williams is thinking, "This is a Republican party, so I better not ask any non-Republican friendly questions."  But that last question was horrific.  It's just a massive invitation to bloviation and tells us nothing about how these idiots would govern.  It's a stupid question, but at least Newt won't run off stage and eat his liver.

Here's another thing.  There's a ton of evidence that we are beginning to see real growth. Obviously, unemployment under 8% makes beating Obama very difficult.  But it would be impossible for Romney, because he has based his whole campaign on Obama's failures.  He has not offered a vision for governing aside from Obama's A Failure.  Newt at least could define this as a "Clash for the future of Civilization!"  It would be absurd, but it would fit Newt nicely.

Put another way?  Can anyone tell me why Romney wants to be President?

Also, I've found I mute Romney and listen to Gingrich.  I'm not sure why.  Romney just sounds so forced and phony.  Gingrich at least has the smooth patter of a lifelong grifter.

I missed that last bit where Mitt is proud that he made Ted Kennedy take out a mortgage on his house.  Wow, thanks asshole!  I mean, that sort of cuts to the heart of these guys, doesn't it?  They are just assholes.

The State Of Our Union Is... Meh

If Tom Selleck gave the SoTU, he would create hamburger waterfalls 
in accordance with our native ancestors wishes.

So, we pivot from the "WTF was South Carolina thinking" moment to "Why is Obama such a huge, quivering failure?" moment as we get ready for the State of the Union address.

AP has a story up about how Obama is a huge, quivering failure because he laid out all these wonderful goals last year, right after Gabby Gifford was shot and Congress agreed to play nice for 15 minutes.  And then... Wha happen?

Absent from the story, and likely absent from any coverage of Obama's struggle to achieve any legislative milestones this year, is the fact that the GOP became entirely an obstacle and not a partner in governing.  This cannot be over-stressed.

The public is already on board with this narrative, as Congress has approval ratings within the margin of error of zero.  I don't think Obama will have trouble selling this idea when he ramps up his campaign.

But it is distressing that a President who has had the most legislative success of any President since LBJ, if not FDR, would be labelled a failure.

I mean, aside from keeping the GOP from defaulting on our debt, extending payroll tax credits and ratifying START and a trade agreement with South Korea, what has Obama done since the LAST SotU?


Oh, yeah.....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day Of Rest

Need a shoulder pillow...

Yesterday's snow left me with a surprise afternoon off as our wrestling quad was called off.  I collapsed into a too-long nap.  Thing One blindsided me at my practice on Friday and I now have shooting pains down my left arm.  I'm SO glad he's taken up wrestling because it's really important that he learn the more refined applications of violence.

Anyway, I will now spend Sunday at his wrestling tournament, which - at least - offers the comic relief of young wrestlers rolling around the mat without much sense of what they are doing.  I am known as Crazy Coach by the varsity, but for JV matches I'm pretty sedate.  Let's hope I can maintain my sedateness during Thing One's matches.  His Stunning and Dedicated Supermom cannot.  She's a mess when he wrestles.

Anyway, not sure when those 24 Comp Gov tests or 22 AP US tests will get graded.

And on the seventh day he rested did more stuff.

(I'm not sure that there is much more to say about South Carolina.  It's as much Newt's backyard as New Hampshire was Mittens.  All I'm rooting for is Newt to keep landing haymakers on Mitt's glass jaw for another month and a half.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Well, That Was Quick

Newtmentum carries him to a sweeping victory.  Called before the polls were barely closed.

UPDATE: Florida will decide it.  Primarily because it's a LONG time between Florida and Missouri, the next big contest.  If Newt wins Florida, then he will be very tough to beat.  A lot of GOP hate Newt, especially those who know him.  But if he wins Florida, watch them start talking about how "smart" he is.

It's A Man's World....

Or a newt...

So, by all apparent reading of the tea leaves, bird entrails and the alignment of the stars, Newt is going to win in the Palmetto State Republic Insane Asylum.  And it doesn't look like it will be that close.

This is significant, I think in two ways.  First, I believe South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary, unlike the first two contests.  Which means that while you are in church, pleading God to forgive you your sins, Newt Gingrich should have taken the delegate lead.  Second, and more importantly, Mittens' pitch has almost always been "I know you think I'm not sufficiently crazy, but that veneer of sanity will make me more electable in November."  Electability is his real qualification to be the GOP nominee.

The last week has put massive, gaping holes in that argument.  His lackluster debate performance combined with his completely inept response to the perfectly foreseeable calls to release his tax returns has made him seem like the paper tiger that he is.  Newt's impressive debate performance verbal disemboweling of John King, have made him suddenly seem more formidable than Romney as a general election candidate.  I think that's false, because everyone who is not in the GOP (and quite a few who are) hates Gingrich with the heat of a thousand suns.  But this is the GOP base we are talking about, and South Carolina Republicans in particular.

Florida suddenly becomes interesting.  And suddenly, Gingrich is looking like another angry old coot - this time not from Arizona - and Romney is looking like the ineffectual northeastern - this time not the former mayor of New York 9/11.

In retrospect, Iowa meant nothing, except the continued dominance of God-bothering fetus fetishists in that particular thin slice of the electorate.  New Hampshire meant that Romney could win in his backyard.  South Carolina could mean that Gingrich is the final Not Mitt for the base.  And Florida, a legitimately important state with demographic issues out the wazoo, will actually get to play a meaningful role in selecting the man who will take on Obama.

Will the older voters there remember 1998?  Or will they shy away from the glib huckster?

Obama seems really worried in any event:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt, Mitt And Disclosure

Newt's dating techniques are getting stranger...

So that debate was fun!

Newt ripping John King's jawbone off and beating him to death with it has become the signature moment of the debate.  But just as important was Mitt's complete flubbing of his tax returns.

Both Mittens and Newton have a problem heading into tomorrow's crucial (and really first significant) primary.  For Mitt, he is suffering from exactly what he says he wants to avoid: the drip, drip, drip of information about his finances.  The 15% (or lower) tax rate is bad enough.  But simply the phrase "Cayman Island bank accounts" is incredibly toxic.  As Gingrich put it: "If there is something bad in there, we should know it before we select our nominee."  (Or words to that effect.)

Meanwhile, Newt has become the Exhibitionist candidate.  Rather than offer a mea culpa about his past marital infidelities ("I have caused pain in my marriage for which I am truly sorry."), he pivots and attacks the press.  And then he releases his tax returns in the middle of the debate.  Brilliant!

People have been saying that Perry's endorsement won't mean much.  First of all, I expect the results to be close enough that even a 2% bump could be huge.  Secondly, Romney is not the "inevitable" nominee because people like him.  He's the "inevitable" nominee because he has the backing of the establishment and all the money.  But he no longer "won" Iowa and if he loses South Carolina and continues to whine whenever he's asked questions about his immense personal wealth, he could enter a death spiral in Florida.

Of course, after Florida, there is a long gap before we have any more significant primaries.  Romney will be able to recover and probably still win.

But a wounded front-runner is never a very good thing.  And Romney is bleeding all over the place right now.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I know a few people who are worried that if Newt gets the nomination, he might end up President.  Therefore they prefer Romney.  Fie upon thee!

Newt has the favorability of colo-rectal cancer.  Outside of the GOP base, he's as electable as Mullah Omar. Newt Gingrich heading the GOP ticket will mean that roughly 73% of women will vote for Obama.  (The "Crazifaction Factor of 27% knows no gender constraints.)  "Newt For President" means a Democratic House.

Romney allows people to plausibly deny that they are voting for the Nihilism Party that currently controls the House (and practically the Senate).  Gingrich shoves the nastiness of today's GOP in everyone's face.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perry Is Out, Endorses Gingrich



Well, what took him so long?  He was as dead as the Thanksgiving turkey and at about the same time.

I have no idea what practical effect this has on Gingrich, but I think this could push him over the top in SC.  Perry was polling about 4% in SC, and if 75% of his supporters go to Newt, that could tip a close race.  Unfortunately, given Governor Goodhair's demonstrated political acumen, this likely means that Marianne Gingrich's interview tonight will destroy him so completely that his career will only be detectable on the sub-atomic level.

My condolences to the people of Texas who now have to live with this colossal idiot again, but y'all voted for him so...

OWS, XL, SOPA/PIPA And Other Letters

Rage on against the dying of the light.

"What does the Occupy movement really want?" asked the millionaire pundits on the TeeVee.  And I guess there was some merit in the question.  OWS wanted several things: economic opportunities for the 99%, justice for Wall Street con artists, drum circles.  But it was a fractured movement with roots in left wing anarchism.  It tapped into a mood rather than articulated a platform.

OWS has changed the national conversation, and for the better.  Economic inequality leads to economic instability.  It removes the necessary demand from the economy to keep it moving forward.

But recently, I think the lesson is that protests, to be successful, need to be focused.  The XL Pipeline project that would bring incredibly toxic tar sands right through the heart of America's most important aquifer appears to be dead.  Of course, the GOP are pitching a hissy fit over this because... well, in many ways simply because Obama killed it, and "Drill, baby, drill" and Federalism only applies when we want it to.  The fact is that the Real Muricans of Nebraska are just as capable of playing the NIMBY card as anyone else.  Also, too, the GOP overplayed its hand here, forcing the issue in ways that almost assured its defeat.

Similarly, the internet protests over SOPA/PIPA have been focused and directed and seemingly very effective.  I am sympathetic for the need of content creators (less so content providers) to benefit from their work.  I do not listen to pirated music or films.  I do watch the Falcons on a hijacked streaming feed, but the ads are there just like regular TV, so I don't feel I'm depriving anyone of anything.  Plus, the NFL monopoly on which games you get to watch is unreasonable and deleterious to being a fan.  MLB is only slightly better, as you can pay to stream every game if you want.

But SOPA/PIPA is poorly written and conceived.  It would prevent me from using, perhaps, the pictures or graphs that I run with my posts, or the snippets of other people's writing.  It would allow large corporations the ability to shut down various sites with almost no check or balance on this power.

It's a bad law in service of a plausible idea, and the kick-back from the Wired Generation has clearly unsettled DC.

As OWS morphs into something else, perhaps it needs to splinter.  Let the Vegan Anarchists have their movement, while the people who want Mitt Romney to pay more than 15% in taxes can have their own movement.

The problem our democracy has faced, from the People's Party of the 1890s until today, is that it is exceedingly difficult to mobilize the 99% on behalf of their economic interests.  There are too many diffuse issues, too many separate axes to grind.  Yet motivated minorities - from gun rights zealots to an alliance of Nebraska farmers and tree hugging Greenies - can change policy.

Most historical figures who focus on One Big Idea from Utopians like John Noyes to Silverites like William Jennings Bryan to social engineers like Dr. Francis Townsend, turn out to be cranks.  But they can change things.  Bryan failed with silver, but we do have a managed inflationary currency.  The Townsend plan led to Social Security.

Those who would fight for the 99% need to find their One Big Idea.  Maybe it's the Buffett Rule (soon to be relabeled the Romney Rule), maybe it's simply raising that top rate, maybe it's some form of student loan forgiveness.

Whatever it is, OWS needs to look at what the opponents of the XL Pipeline and SOPA/PIPA have done if they really want to change this country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sullivan FTW

Sully-Pooh on the rampage!

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/andrew-sullivan-how-obama-s-long-game-will-outsmart-his-critics.html

This piece is getting a lot of attention, and rightfully so.

Sullivan combines the natural pugnaciousness of the internet ("Why are Obama's critics so dumb?") and great talent as a writer.

He admits his bias, and I admit mine.  I think pretty much all of what he says Obama is true and very closely mirrors my own thinking.  Obama's record of achievement legislatively and diplomatically rank near the top of any modern President, with the exception of FDR.  Give him 8 years, as Sullivan argues, and you can cement some notable reforms.  To wit:

- A sane, responsible budget that both cuts spending and raises taxes on the wealthy.
- A sane, responsible foreign policy that makes America first among equals rather than a domineering hegemon and allows for America to influence the world, not be in constant conflict with it.
- A retreat from the divisive culture wars over LGBT rights.
- Universal health care for all Americans, with the hope that - as a pragmatist - Obama will tinker where it needs tinkering, change where it needs change and preserve where it needs protection.
- A rejection of the nihilism of the current GOP, for whom political calculus is more important than the common weal.
- Entitlement reform premised on maintaining a vital social safety net in the age of globalization rather than gutting and ending that safety net in the pursuit of free market ideology.
- Hopefully, immigration reform that sanely and calmly addresses the issues of legal and illegal immigration in a way that protects immigrants and citizens alike.

I keep comparing Obama to Woodrow Wilson.  Eloquent, professorial, reform minded.  But also pragmatic and result oriented.  And like Wilson, Obama is a reformer who comes at reform from a fundamentally conservative point of view (as Sullivan notes).  Change, under Obama, comes slowly and methodically.  Teddy Roosevelt was the second most radical candidate in the race in 1912 (obviously Eugene V. Debs on the Socialist ticket was the most radical).  Wilson's slow moving reform infuriated the impatient Roosevelt, but Wilson wrote a reform record that dwarfs Roosevelt's own performance as President.

Obama is quietly writing a tremendous record for himself, one that will hopefully be validated this November.

Because I would hate to think what loosing those vandals on the halls of power again would do to our country.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Raylan Givens Is Back



Awesome.

UPDATE: "You didn't have to do that, Eva."

"Of course I did, Mr. Givens.  Otherwise I wouldn't have done it."

Look Out Below

Hi, Rush.

Some, including Dana Milbank at the Washington Post have begun a not-so-flattering comparison of Mitt Romney to Al Gore.  Gore, you may remember, was treated with the utmost contempt by the Washington press corps for being a phony.  Remember all the "lies" that Al Gore said?  Inventing the internet?  Exposing Love Canal?  Being the inspiration for Love Story? Of course, even a marginally careful reading of those lies within the context of the whole thought showed that he didn't say any of those things.

It didn't matter.  The Press hated Gore and their coverage showed it.  They even thought the "Kiss" at the convention was fake.  His sighing during the debates when he was flabbergasted by the nitwit standing next to him on stage was blown out of all proportion.  And so we got eight years of an idiot man-child "C-Plus Augustus".

It got so vehement, that some of that contempt rubbed off on John Kerry.

Well, now it's the Republican's turn.  

By all accounts, the press hates Romney as much or more than they hated Gore.  Here's a taste from Michael Kinsley.  

Mitt Romney is now the de facto nominee.  He may or may not win South Carolina, but the GOP are - as they so often do - falling in line.  But the stunning lack of enthusiasm for their presumptive nominee is really troubling for them.  

Romney will struggle to move to the center, since his base is already up in arms.  If he moves too far to the middle, he's all but guaranteed a third party challenge to his right.  If he doesn't, he stuck in this weird position of having to be Multiple Choice Mitt, bouncing back and forth from what he said in the past and what he says today.

But most interesting of all is the fact that the GOP once thought that a long primary season would benefit them, because they felt Obama had an advantage over McCain due to the long primary fight with Clinton. The long Democratic primary worked, the thinking went, because it kept Obama in the news, it honed his campaign skills and it gave him exposure in almost every state.

The problem for the GOP is that Mitt has a glass jaw.  Oddly, most of the debates have been about the Not Mitt's attacking each other to become the Sole Not Mitt.  When they did train their sights on Mitt, he got whiny and prickly.  As Kinsley says, he acts like he's owed this job and is tired of having to justify it to these pesky voters.

In other words, he has all of McCain's aggressive irritation with debating without McCain's reputation or resume.  And remember how smooth Obama was compared to McCain?  The race was probably won shortly after McCain tapped Princess Snowbilly Caribou Barbie as his running mate (if not before), but the debates sealed the deal.

Romney is not really loved by anyone.  Conservatives don't trust him, the press hates him and his dog would rip his throat out if he had half a chance.  He's also alienated the fastest growing ethnic group in the country.

If the economy tanks again, he could win.  Given events in the Straits of Hormuz and the constant peril of the Eurozone, anything is possible.  

But it will be tough to win if he pooches the debates, because he's not going to get a free ride from the press the way McCain did.  ("Not being able to remember how many houses he has is good for John McCain.")

Buyers remorse should hit hard by early spring if it hasn't already.

UPDATE: And now we have the "Romney Rule", a play on the Buffett Rule, where Mitt admits that he pays a tax rate of about 15% and no payroll taxes.  That will play extremely well with working class voters...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just For Fun

I saw this over at TBogg's, and thought I would share it with you.  Every time the GOP starts bitching about how your tax dollars are wasted, just cue this video:

The Show Must....Must...


So, we have our MLK day observation today.  I'm running a workshop based on Ta-Nehsisi Coates excellent essay and then I am singing the above song in front of the entire student body.

Never wracking as that is, I am of course sick, too.  Luckily there are no high notes.

Pray for me, a sinner, in the hour of my need...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Victory

My long battle with plaster is at an end.


This was the amount of water damage I removed.


You can see it's amateurish, but the price was right.

A Few Tidbits On This Frigid Morn

Stephen Colbert went on ABC This Week to launch his exploratory campaign to be President of South Carolina.  I love Jon Stewart, but Colbert might be the finest satirist I have ever seen.

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/updates/4093

Now that Tim Tebow's amazing run at playing QB for a great defensive team is on winter break, I offer you Rick Reilly's take on Tebow, which I couldn't agree with more:

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow

And finally, the last word on Tebow is this:

http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2012/01/14/jimmy_fallon_channels_tim_tebow_david

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Family Time


For almost a year now, the Most Dedicated Mom and Scrumptious Wife has been reading Harry Potter to the Things at bedtime.  I tended to take a pass on it in the fall, because by the time bedtime came around, I was done with them.  She had been at practice, whilst I was riding herd over the violence prone homunculi.

Now, I'm at practice.  Also, during the Halloween blizzard, we all slept in the living room in front of the fire, while I read from the book.  Turns out I really enjoy doing it.

What's interesting is how - by acting the story out rather than simply reading it in my head, by assuming the voice and emotions of the characters - I become emotionally involved in the story.  Rowling does a great job in creating characters that are both noble and human (even if they aren't technically human), and I'm always a sucker for that.

Anyway, I'm grateful that I have been allowed in to this evening ritual.  Even if now I know why my students refer to me a mix of Mad Eye Moody and Severus Snape.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The PACman Cometh

Bringing home the Bacon.

As several Op-Ed contributors have noted this morning, it is somewhat delicious to watch the GOP get their panties in a twist about Newt's SuperPAC unleashing hell heck on Mittens.  Once again we are seeing something that has been obvious for years.  Republicans are more in love of theories and abstract principles than real world events.

When five members of the Supreme Court upended a century of campaign finance laws in Citizens United, everyone who was even half awake knew that this would lead to a river of cash that eventually would empty into a swamp of nastiness.

McCain/Feingold's "I approve this message.." did work at least in part to tone down the nastier rhetoric and the whole doom and gloom/ominous narrator/dark clouds type of ads, at least by the candidate themselves.  Those got farmed out to other groups.  Now, those groups have more money than they know what to do with.

Again, anyone could have seen this coming.

The fact that the first "victims" of this type of SuperPAC filth are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney is simply a reminder that the universe loves irony.  Newt pioneered the nastiness - along with Lee Atwater - that has come to typify our political discourse, especially on the Right.  Mitt is the embodiment of Wall Street money and privilege.

But SuperPACs are coming to a race near you.  If you live in Massachusetts, prepare to hear lies and outrages against Elizabeth Warren, as Wall Street doubles down on destroying her.  Money will not be a problem for Scott Brown.  Don't be surprised if all this corporate cash eventually finds its way down to your city council elections.  It's simply a matter of time.

Yesterday, the Times stepped in it, when the public editor asked whether reporters should report within a story if someone lies.  The example used was how Romney always says that Obama has apologized about America being America.  It's a lie.  It never happened.  The comment section erupted.  Of course reporters should call people on their lies.  It's tough, because you have to actually know the facts and you could "lose access", but that's a reporter's job.  At least one would think so.

With the advent of Citizens United slush finds, we're going to see more lies and more innuendo than ever before. We've already seen Mitt's campaign release an ad deliberately and obviously taking Obama's words out of context in the most shameless fashion.  What will the SuperPACs do?

I suppose I could hope that America, as is her pattern, will react to the breaking of her campaigns with reform.  Eventually, it takes a crisis to make anything happen.  I believe it will take a constitutional amendment to deny corporations unlimited spending on campaigns, in order to overturn Citizens United.

But the GOP is already suing to overturn the law that prohibits unlimited direct contributions to candidates.  They are actively working to destroy the vestiges of democracy in America.

When people like Glenn Greenwald or Ralph Nader say there is no differences between the two parties, remind them of this.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chuckles

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/01/11/haven_t_we_lived_through_this_primary_before_.html

This Seems Important


http://news.yahoo.com/murder-knocked-off-list-top-u-killers-cdc-191845421.html

Murder is now the 16th biggest killer in the US.  Moves off the "list".

WTG American!  USA! USA!

Of course, this is another sign that Obama is prompting the New Black Panther Party to kill whitey in their sleep.

Mitt Romney Is A Crappy Politician

No, he won't get any better.

James Fallows found this.  Click thru and watch it.

One of the fascinating dynamics of the GOP primary has been that so many guys have been vying to be the Not Mitt, that they haven't bothered to really go after Mitt.  Newt's assault on Bain Capital is the first real potential haymaker laid on Mitt's glass jaw.  Of course, it might not hurt Mitt with the GOP base, but it's lethal in the general election.

Listening to Mitt say that anyone who questions wealth inequality or vulture capitalism is "envious"... Holy crap, were his political consultants hoping up and down behind the camera shaking their heads and mouthing "NO"!  Mitt looks like a TV President.  I got that.  But being handsome is not the same thing as being charismatic.  And being able to articulate a point is not the same as making a good point.  And you can't fake empathy.

I am increasingly convinced that integrity is the most important value a person can have.  I have been giving some thought to integrity since it was my Epiphany gift in church.  To me, integrity is being both true to yourself and being the same person to each person you meet, whatever their station.

I think that Mitt struggles with integrity not only because he's constantly flip-flopped on positions in blatant political calculation.  He also struggles with it, because he's a rich Wall Street prick who knows that people aren't really fond of rich Wall Street pricks.

His "envy" comment was the authentic Mitt.  And that shows me the authentic Mitt is a dick.

I know the polls say that the race is very close, but I can't see people getting to know Mitt Romney and voting for him for president.

The Department Of Unsurprising Developments


Today's big story is that Marines in Afghanistan urinated on dead Taliban.

Sorry, this is not a big story.  The story, really, is that we live in a You Tube world and that this was captured on film and posted.  Don't you think GIs were peeing on corpses in Normandy?  Iwo Jima?

Part of the problem is that we fetishize the troops so that they are no longer allowed to be fallible human beings.  "Support the troops" is a platitude designed to deflect criticism of the on going war, but it also means that we never seem to consider the effect a decade worth of war has on people's psyche.  War messes people up.

The most powerful societal taboo is against killing another person.  You can't strip away that basic rule and expect people to remain obedient to all the other rules.  Once you have trained someone to kill, then encouraged them to do it in actuality, you can't be surprised when they decide to urinate on the corpse.

It's nice, I guess, that John McCain has said how sad it makes him to see Marines behave like thugs.  At least he's not saying it didn't happen.  But if you vote to constantly keep young men in a war zone, they are going become calloused and insensitive to things that look awful to people sitting at home.  McCain and everyone who both initiated a decade of war and refuse to countenance a withdrawal from these wars are just as responsible for the actions of these Marines as the lack of discipline in this particular unit.

Scout snipers have one job.  Go find the enemy and kill them, preferably with a bullet to the head.  Looking through a scope, you get a sense of intimacy with your target, at times, before you pull the trigger.  This is going to create a callous disregard for that person's life.  You have to do it to stay sane.

This is not about a few "bad apples" any more than Abu Ghraib was.

This is about what war does to normal people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pierce Lays It Down

Charlie Pierce looks at Mitt's defense of his vulture capitalist past:




It is an altogether appalling spiel. The old, iron millionnaires knew how to talk to the proles. They built libraries while they busted the unions. They planted trees and developed parkland while they bought the legislatures and sublet the courts. And out of all of that we got cars and planes and television sets and an ambitious middle class that demanded political power and succeeded in wresting it away. Now, we have a class of plutocrats who create nothing, but who move wealth around, and they are demanding a return to the days of unaccountable corporate royalism. Willard's entire campaign is based on the notion that we are all in that effort together, even the people who are most likely to get ground up in it. A wink and a nod, and most of us become beggars to our own demise. It used to be that the corporate powers behind modern conservatism had to use misdirection to fool people into voting against their own economic interests. Willard doesn't want to work that hard. Instead, he's going to assert repeatedly that his interests and ours are the very same — that we're all in this great American adventure together. Some of us just have to make the trip in steerage, that's all. Sorry, sport

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/mitt-romney-new-hampshire-primary-results-6637018#ixzz1jACMxbrI

Away Down South In Dixie

OK, Mitt, convince this guy...

So, New Hampshire is over and now we await the Secession South Carolina primary.  It looks as if Mittens did improve on his New Hampshire numbers from 4 years ago.

In 2008, McCain got about 88,500 votes to win NH.  Romney got 75,500.

This time around, Romney pulled in 95,500 votes, whereas Ron Paul - America's Cranky Old Man Somehow Beloved By Young Men Who Drink Pabst Ironically - took home 55,500 votes.

By my math, about 240,000 people voted in the 2008 GOP primary in New Hampshire.  Almost exactly the same number voted in the primary this time.

By contrast, 287,000 Democrats voted last time.

Barack Obama outpolled John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in an uncompetitive Democratic race that I imagine few people knew was going on.  (He polled about 45,000 votes).

Rick Perry polled 1000 more votes than a performance artist candidate called Vermin Supreme.  Seriously, y'all!

There are two things to examine in the tea leaves of New Hampshire.  First, the Granite State took a hard right turn in the 2010 midterms.  The NH state legislature is now inundated with whacko Tea Party types, who have been passing some of the worst legislation in the country recently.  Judging from the lack of growth in the primary electorate from 2008, NH seems a good exemplar of the idea that 2010 was about voter intensity and Democratic voters staying home.  NH also has an open primary system, and without a Democratic race, how many D voters crossed over to vote mischievously?

Put another way, John Sununu was bloviating about New Hampshire voting for Romney in November.  I don't see the demographic shift that allows this to happen.  Obama beat McCain by 70,000 votes (out of 706,000 votes cast.)  If the GOP was really that much stronger in NH than in 2008, where were the primary voters?

The second thing is that Romney came in close to the 40% threshold. This means that it really all does come down to SC.  South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary, unlike New Hampshire.  If a Not Mitt can win SC, they can make a strong case on the delegate math to continue, in that whoever wins SC will automatically assume the delegate lead.

Perry is toast.  He can still cause mischief in a tight race, as he will likely get 5% just because he sounds like a Good Ol'Boy.  Santorum is banking on all the Fetus Fetishists to push him over the top.

Ron Paul is unlikely to do as well in SC, because of his isolationism and anti-militarism.

So, will Romney's 25-30% be enough to win the day?  Will Newt's assault on Bain Capital be Mitt's bane?

Ideally, either Santorum or Gingrich would drop out along with Perry to clear the field, but this is the real deciding moment. Fitting that the party that has embraced the ideas of John C. Calhoun will have his state decide its standard bearer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Erm, No

What the...

Two things.

Yahoo has a story up: Dolly Parton Wows At 66.  And the NY Times leads with Romney Wins Republican Primary.

OK.  Both I guess are true, if you don't take into account the artificial distortions, the manic desire to slice off flesh to make yourself perpetually appealing and the grotesque mask of human facsimile that is left.

And then there's Dolly Parton.

Mitt may yet crack the 40% barrier, but if Nate Silver is right, Mitt will only have gotten about the same number of votes as 2008.  GOP turnout is DOWN from 2008.  How can that be?  Could it possibly be that Republicans look at their slate and say, "Screw it, what's on Spike tonight?"

Maybe Santorum won Iowa.  I bet he did.  So what.  Mitt won New Hampshire.  So what.

I'm waiting for South Carolina and Florida.  Screw these small lily white states.  I want a state with some meat on its bones.  I want a state a-scared of black and brown people.  I want a state that is progressively losing its teeth.  Bring on the rednecks and the blue hairs!

More than anything, let Newt be Newt.  Let the master slide the shiv in.

Don't empty the clown car just yet.

Please.

No One Puts Newtie In A Corner

Newt fulminates as Ron Paul looks on.

Rather than post a link, I'm just going to blatantly rip off mistermix at Balloon Juice.

Here's Newt's attack line

“You have to ask the question, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and then walk off with the money?” [...]
The former Speaker is making the case that, in contrast to good old fashioned businesses who make stuff, Romney and his ilk have instead gamed the system to create a soulless machine that profits from the misery of others. [...]
“I am totally for capitalism, I am for free markets,” Gingrich assured reporters on Monday. “Nobody objects to Bill Gates being extraordinarily rich, they provide a service.” What he instead is concerned about is when an investor receives “six-to-one returns, and the company goes bankrupt.”


And here's mistermix's analysis:



I haven’t seen a Democratic attack on Bain phrased this crisply. Democrats attack Romney’s math on job creation and they are using Randy Johnson, who was laid off in Bain’s gutting of Ampad, as a spokesman. While it’s true that Bain laid people off, the fact that they did so doesn’t in itself make Bain a bad business. Good companies sometimes lay people off. Newt’s attack has more bite because he’s putting Bain in the same boat as the rest of the hated Wall Streeters who almost took this country to ruin and haven’t been punished for their actions.
If Democrats can make this connection, which seems to be an obvious one, they can harness some of the anger that remains over the mortgage crisis and the resulting Great Recession. I might have missed it, but I don’t see that happening. I wonder if it’s because Democrats are afraid of offending deep-pocket Wall Street donors, or because they are afraid of being cast as socialists, or simply because they’re generally inept. But so far, Newt is doing a better job than the DNC.


Wow, that's kind of the heart of the matter, isn't it?

Romney is incredibly vulnerable in the general election in two ways.  First, he is just not very likable.  He's not genuine.  I would even argue he has no integrity.  Not in the sense of he's a liar and a cheat, but that he lacks the integrity that allows you to be genuine, to be who you are, to be the same person regardless of the situation and who you are talking to.

Second, Bain Capital is just the perfect example of the financialization of America's economy.  This guy is the living embodiment of what #OWS was yelling about.  And while #OWS eventually got smeared by the drum circles and the anarchists, the basic message found real resonance with Americans, because the average American looks at the last four years and sees a system that rewards the rich and punishes everyone else.

Maybe it's just that Newt knows better than anyone how to stick the knife in, but that last line about free markets versus predatory capitalism... Man, that's brilliant.  Succinct and believable precisely because it comes from a Republican.  Maybe Obama has more trouble leveling that line of attack because he's been attacked for four years as being a "Socialist," but if this becomes the narrative, Romney is doomed.

Calvin Coolidge, that most conservative of Presidents, said that, "A man who builds a factory builds a temple."  What do we say about the man who shutters that factory and lays off the workers?  What do we say about the money changer in the temple?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today In Mittens


The Internet is abuzz with the various attacks being leveled at Mitt Romney.

There is a "film" out from Newt's Super PAC that, as someone said over at Balloon Juice, could've been made by MoveOn.org.  Perry is going after Bain Capital, too.

I wonder why they waited until now to level this attack.

The simplest explanation is that it has taken them this long to realize that "vulture capitalist" is not a good thing, people don't like them and therefore, contrary to Gingrich and Perry's personal beliefs about Wall Street, they are going to unload on this angle of attack.

I think it's a good angle.  Of course, I think this as a Democrat and economic populist.  I do think this message could resonate in South Carolina, but it might have even had some traction in New Hampshire, if the freaking primary wasn't tomorrow.

The more people get to know Mitt Romney, the less they seem to like him.  The press doesn't like him, the other candidates don't like him, McCain hates him so much, he accidentally endorsed Obama the other day.

This is exactly the sort of scorched earth tactic I expected from Newt earlier.  And for Perry, it makes the most sense, since he can somewhat plausibly run as a populist, since he's clearly not an intellectual.

Tomorrow night, it's all about 40%.  I think that's the magic number for Romney.  Over 40%, then someone else has to win South Carolina.  Under 40% and the conversation becomes "Why can't Romney seal the deal?"