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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Philly and Pittsburgh With Alabama In Between

Just drove through central PA on my way to the AP reading in Louisville.  Man is that backwoods.

I was listening to The Devil and the White City on CD, since my iPod is dead.  Listening to the descriptions of 19th century Chicago is a helpful antidote to the idea that things are shitty right now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I just treated myself to a hot towel, straight razor shave, my first.

Definitely worth it.

I could never bring myself to getting a pedicure, though I hear they are awesome and my feet certainly could use some help.

But this is about as close as I'm going to get to that level of pampering, and it was pretty damned nice.

The Essential Negativism Of The GOP

The two main stories circulating at the moment are Romney's embrace of nutzoid birther and serial bankruptcy defendant Donald Trump and the profound and systematic voter purges going on in Florida.

I don't think Obama needs Florida, and I don't think he's going to use Florida as a firewall or part of his math to 270.

But basically, the GOP has yet to come up with a single positive message for this campaign cycle.  Obama is a Kenyan/Socialist.  Brownish type people should not vote.

To the degree that there is an agenda, it is the nebulous "plan" of Paul Ryan, which effectively ends the social safety net, while cutting taxes on the rich and increasing defense spending.

If our politics were based on actual policy, the election would be effectively over.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Donald Trump: Sleeper Agent

He might possibly be Obama's secret weapon.

At War In A Time Of Terror

The above piece from the Times outlines the new US strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda.  Basically, we've replaced the hammer with a scalpel, using drones to fight Al Qaeda rather than invading countries.  Part of the strategy in Iraq was to create a "jihadi magnet" to draw in foreign fighters and kill them on the battlefield.

That turned out to be a sucky plan.

Instead, there is a "Star Chamber" set up to review life or death decisions and recommend action.

It's difficult to know what to think of this.

On the one hand, there is no transparency, no accountability and no final reckoning when things go wrong.  Decisions are made and implemented without it ever becoming a matter for public debate.  And while national security is less bound by public debate, these things are being done in our name, under our flag.  That's troubling. It is also troubling that we have set a precedent for future presidents and other countries that tracking people down and killing them remotely is OK.

But terrorism is such a fundamentally different form of warfare.  We are not at war with a state - something the Bush Administration seemed to struggle to understand.  We are at war with various loosely allied groups of individuals who can do great damage if they succeed only once out of a hundred attempts.  In some ways, targeted killing is really the only smart way to fight this type of enemy.  Certainly striking guys like Awlaki makes more sense than invading Yemen.

If there is one issue that most disturbs the left about Obama, it is likely this.  But for whatever reason, I've had trouble getting too upset over these strikes.  I'm probably more disappointed in his lack of advocacy for global warming.  I understand the constitutional and moral scruples over targeted assassination.

Yet, this is not a conflict we started.  It is not a conflict that has any clear definable end.  The only way to win it is to make it too painful for the other side to wage.

I don't like it, but I don't see an alternative.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Well Timed Compliment

By the time graduation comes around, we are all ready to see the Seniors leave.  They are done with us and we with they.

But this year, we had an especially "nice" group of seniors, and they delivered some especially nice thank yous.

That helps remind us - the faculty - that these are genuinely good, interesting young people who are just ready to leave high school, not sluggards and sloths.  And it makes the job so worthwhile.

So, if any of my students are reading this - as some claim to - you are very, very welcome.

It has been a pleasure.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breaking Radio Silence

Something weird happened yesterday.

I didn't go online at all.

Somehow the world kept spinning.

Which is good because they next ten days or so is going to be pretty sporadic.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Difference Between Policy And Politics

Austerity has failed.  The evidence is overwhelming that Keynes is right and all the Austerians are wrong.

But the basic idea that "governments, like families, should tighten their belts during hard times" is deeply ingrained in the public mind.  Once something becomes a trope, it's hard to dislodge.  Obama has managed to make the Democrats the responsible party on national defense, but he was helped a ton by the raging incompetence of Team Bush, the Iraq Quagmire and shooting bin Laden in the face.

But the idea that governments should cut sail in the face of an economic storm is incredibly entrenched and incredibly damaging.

Look, if the GOP wins both branches of government next fall (God help us), they will become Keynesians.

But right now they can exploit the idea that Obama is fiscally profligate - which is entirely false - and the idea that they will balance the budget.  Again, we KNOW from the past thirty years that Democrats are more balanced in their fiscal policy than Republicans.

The challenge that Obama is facing is that he must win the political debate - "I'm not a big spender.  I believe in fiscal discipline." - while also winning the policy debate - "We must stimulate demand in a sluggish economy and that requires temporary planned deficit spending."

I remember a few years back, I was arguing with my dad about the Bush tax cuts and how they represented poor leadership.  He said he didn't care, because Bush was getting the Global War on Terra right. (I would argue that last point, too.)

Needless to say, he's now VERY concerned with deficits.

If it wasn't for the Fifty Little Hoovers, the Fifty Little Greeces, we'd be out of the unemployment recession already.  If it wasn't for the policy debacle in the Eurozone, I bet we'd be out, too.

But austerity makes a sort of gut-level sense and it's what people believe, evidence be damned.

Needless to say, given Mitt Romney's demonstrated propensity to say literally almost anything and the flood of Super PAC money, I think we are in for a very depressing debate.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Holy Distractions, Batman

There are two BIG stories this week apparently.

Potential breakthrough in negotiations with Iran?  No.

The Facebook IPO SNAFU?  Hell, no.

Orange Julius (Boehner) saying he'll create another debt crisis?  Nope.

No, the two big stories are that Cory Booker undercut Obama's assault on Romney's time at Bain Capital and now Larry Flynt did something gross.

The Booker thing shows that despite his tremendous personal story and magnetism, Booker is still a pol who looks out for himself first.  As mayor of notorious hellhole Newark, he has to keep Wall Street happy, as he has enlisted them in certain efforts to make his notorious hellhole slightly less brimstoney.  I'm sure Booker IS troubled by Obama attacking the lessons that R-Money learned at Bain.  And he should probably keep it to his damned self when he acts as a surrogate for Obama.

While this is a messaging problem, it hardly rises to the level of a problem, the way that - for instance - Romney speaking to Latino businessmen at the Chamber of Commerce and not mentioning anything to do with Latino interests does.  Outreach!

As for the Larry Flynt thing, the right wing wurlitzer is asking us to believe that Hustler's degrading photoshop of a female conservative columnist is exactly the same as what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke.

The problem with this analogy is that Larry Flynt is a creepy cretinous lecher who no politician (outside of a drunken John Edwards) would be caught within a mile of.  Limbaugh has been the de facto voice of the GOP for years.  Limbaugh was made an honorary member of Congress by the GOP.  When he speaks, GOP leaders fall in line.

As Booman put it, liberals defense of Flynt extends entirely to the fact that he has a right to publish his filthy magazine and people have a right to buy it or not.  They extend the same rights to the publisher of the Turner Diaries, too.

Politics inevitably seizes on little moments and small acts.  So much of a politician's life is scripted and controlled that these tiny glimpses of real humanity are what matter.  It's why Mitt's dog on the roof and his wife's battle with MS are important in figuring out who the guy really is.  My read is that Mitt cares a great deal about the people close to him, but doesn't really give a damn about people in general.  Maybe that's wrong, but that's the sense I get from him.

Meanwhile, you have this:

A young boy wanted to know if the President of the United States hair felt like his.  And for the first time in 220 years, it did.  And the President asked him to touch it.

Does this matter when it comes to figuring out which man will do a better job getting the economy going?  No.  But little things like this do matter in assessing which person you trust with the job.

This nonsense noise about Booker and Flynt and whatever else will come down the pike... not so much.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Children Of Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse may have been a tragic trainwreck of a human being, but without her, there is no Adele.

Nor is there this:

Mitt Romney Is A Terrible Candidate (And His Campaign Staff Isn't Too Hot Either)


One thing we've always been able to count on is ferocious message discipline from the GOP.  The Romney campaign and Romney himself are simply all over the map.

This was a problem with McCain, too, and to some degree it represents the problems guys like Romney and McCain have.  Both men probably believe in certain things that they have to bury in order to represent the GOP.  And since that's tough to maintain, you wind up careening all over the place like McCain did in 2008 and Romney's Etch-A-Sketch in 2012.  Santorum would have been consistent and on-message, because he actually believes the crap he's talking about.

Of course, the example above IS something Mitt believes deeply, so the ineffectual response to attacks on Bain is just mystifying.

It's also worth noting that when Obama's surrogate went off message on the Sunday morning Snooze shows, it has consumed all the oxygen in the room.  But the GOP simply wanders around saying, "You can't talk about Bain, unless you're talking about Bain."  IOKIYAR.

Fascinating Facts That Have No Bearing On Our Political Discourse

Well, well, well.  Turns out President Obama is NOT a big spender.  Any liberal could have told you that.  Paul Krugman could have told you that repeatedly.

In fact, anything strike you about that chart?  Who is REALLY good at controlling spending?  Not the Republicans.  Now some of that is because two years into Clinton and Obama's presidencies, they lost control of Congress (or at least the House), and divided government tends to reduce spending.

But Democrats controlled the House in all but two years of the Reagan/Bush I era.  They had significant control of the Congress for the last two years of Bush II.

Maybe it's because when the GOP is in power, they want to retain power.  Maybe it's because they realize that people "hate government in general but like it in the specific" and therefore do things the public wants.

The other day there was someone saying that Obama enjoyed a substantial (and unsurprising) lead over Mitt Romney on foreign policy.  And that was, like, weird!  A Democrat enjoying higher approval on foreign policy?  Unpossible!  Except that C+ Augustus did such a crappy job overseas that Americans have decided to give the Democrats a look and discovered they generally prefer the approach that have characterized Democratic foreign policy since William Jennings Bryan resigned from Wilson's cabinet.

So, too, the idea that Democrats are bigger spenders is part of the tacit understanding of American politics.  It doesn't matter if it's true (turns out it's not, at least at the Presidential level), it FEELS true.

And no amount of data will convince people otherwise.

Which is why our political discourse is so stoopud.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arizona Brings The Crazy

This guy is in charge of elections in Arizona.  Feel better?

We all know Sheriff Joe Arpaio, or we would if we kept track of racist fascists in Maricopa County law enforcement.  He's being targeted by the Justice Department for being a racist fascist.

He's also a Birther.

His being a Birther means that other Arizona politicians have to become Birthers, too.

What we are seeing is an echo chamber of teh Crazee.  A feedback loop of racist, nativist Teatard nonsense.

At some point Arizona will likely tip Blue because of the brown people living there.  It happened to California - the state that gave us Nixon - and it will likely happen in Arizona.

And not a moment too soon, if you ask me.

(BTW: I got my computer back finally, so more pictures.  Yay!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever

You think we live in a post-racial America?

Look at these maps of urban areas based on race.

More Mann And Ornstein

As usual, spot on.  I especially like the idea of turning the election into a lottery, where you get a receipt and that's you ticket for a, say, $50M prize.  Their point about mandating (or at least dramatically improving) voter turnout would likely decrease extreme partisanship founded on turning out the base.

Interesting piece.

Your Moment In Neibuhr

As I move (slowly) through Niebuhr's The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, it becomes clear that his "children of light" are the classical liberals who assumed man's essential goodness would control any impulses to selfishness.  Something Niebuhr rightly calls out as naive.  Here is is critiquing Adam Smith.

It must be noted that in Smith's conception the "wider interest" does not stop at the boundary of the national state.  His was a real universalism of intent.  Laissez faire was intended to establish a world community as well as a natural harmony of interests with each nation.  Smith clearly belongs to the children of light.  But the children of darkness were able to make good use of his creed.  A dogma which was intended to guarantee the economic freedom of the individual became the "ideology" of vast corporate structures of a later period of capitalism, used by them, and still used, to prevent a proper political control of their power.  His vision of international harmony was transmuted into the sorry realities of an international capitalism which recognized neither moral scruples nor political restraints in expanding its power over the world.  His vision of a democratic harmony of society, founded upon the free play of economic forces, was refuted by the tragic realities of the class conflict within Western society.  Individual and collective egotism usually employed the political philosophy of this creed, but always defied the moral idealism which informed it.

You can add Jefferson to the list of the children of light who failed to recognize the corrosive effects of self interest in a liberal democracy.  Jefferson, in fact, was unable to see the effects even in himself.  It was Madison and Hamilton who most acknowledged the essential power of self-interest and the need for it to be governed, though the differed in how to govern it.

The Teatards who run around quoting Jefferson and Smith have no idea of the inherent complexities and therefore the failures in classical liberal thought. 

They aren't seeking understanding, but slogans for bumperstickers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Anarchists Suck

Anarchists are ridiculous people.  Anarchy is a ridiculous political belief.  Now, to be fair, substitute the word "Libertarian" for "Anarchist" and those sentences still ring true.  Both Anarchists and Libertarians believe in a fantastical world where governments are not necessary for the proper allocation of common goods.  Of course, Libertarians still acknowledge the need for a state to adjudicate crimes against property, so the police and military tend to stick around in a Libertarian utopia.

The difference of course is that "Liberals" - for lack of a better word - reject anarchism and anarchism rejects liberalism.  Libertarianism and conservatism kind of work hand in hand.  It's fun watching Libertarians try to justify supporting the GOP with its hardline against drugs and abortions, or the fact that there is practically no daylight between the GOP and the Democrats on national security issues that infringe on civil liberties.  In fact, the GOP is even more dismissive of civil liberties claims when it comes to Muslims and other scary brown people.

But anarchists have been screwing things up for liberals (or progressives) ever since the late 1800s.  Haymarket Square, the Homestead strike and a host of smaller labor clashes saw anarchists upping the violence against the state and capital, which in turn created a backlash against legitimate worker's grievances.

Liberalism (as a political attitude rather than a political philosophy) has always shied away from its radical fringes.  Because Liberalism seeks to change society through progressive, incremental measures, those calling for radical change (and radical ends to achieve that change) have always been a threat to their agenda.  Ironically, conservatism (which seeks no or very small change) has allied itself closely with a radical reactionary movement that would drag the country back to before the New Deal.

So even though a bunch of anarchists were allegedly planning on attacking the Obama headquarters in Chicago, Obama will routinely be tarred with Bill Ayers and Socialism. Whereas Mitt Romeny, who IS allied with people like Paul Ryan who will roll back Medicare and Social Security, is a stolid conservative.

The lack of understanding of this essential difference explains why Romney is within spitting distance of Obama.


Took Thing One camping at the local state park.  Found a nice spot.

A group of twentysomethings pulled into the site across the road and put up three tents and started drinking and talking until 4 AM.  Needless to say, a nylon tent does not provide any sound insulation, so I was up with them, despite yelling at them to be quiet. 

At several times, I considered getting dressed and confronting them directly.  But my kid was asleep in the tent beside me.  And "drunks in state parks" sounds like the opening of a the tragic story of a suburban soccer dad who was shot in front of his 10 year old son.

The NRA once had a bumper sticker saying that "An armed society is a polite society." 

Um, no.  An armed society is a fearful one.  As I lay there - pissed - I thought of things I could do in revenge to the people who stole my sleep.  Peeing in their cooking gear.  Cutting their tent lines.  Peeing in their cooking gear.  Making a lot of noise at 8AM when we got up.  Peeing in their... I really had to take a leak by the end of the evening.

Ultimately, I didn't do this because I needed to set an example for my son.  That every conflict is not a fight and there is value in being "the bigger man".  Not because I wondered if the yahoos had a gun.

Which is not to say I didn't leave a note for the ranger about the illegal beer all over their campsite.  Maybe if he writes them a ticket, the state can afford to staff the ranger station overnight.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can Charlie Pierce Get An Amen?


Thing Two is spewing sick out of both ends of his alimentary canal.  Thing One has a game in New Milford, then he has guilted me into taking him camping, which I look forward to as much as the inevitable moment when I come down with Thing Two's stomach bug.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Romney's Strategery

Basically, Romney is counting on dissatisfaction with the economy sweeping him to victory. 

As Chait says, that's not a stupid strategy.  I would say that's especially true when you're running such a mass of mediocrity as Metamorphomitt. 

But at the same time, R-Money is perhaps the wrong messenger, depending on where people place the blame for the economy.  If people tie the bad economy to Wall Street, then they are likely to vote for Obama.  If they blame it on bad governmental policy, especially post 2008, then they will vote for Romney.

Two things.

First, the evidence from Europe is pretty clear that the problem post-'08 was not too much governmental spending, but too little.  Of course, as we have noted, evidence means less than nothing in our political discourse.  Blaming things on Washington rather than Wall Street only works if you already hate Washington.

Which brings me to point two.  Romney's strategy seems a good example of epistemological closure.  The GOP is so obsessed with "government is not the answer to the problem, it is the problem" that they are constitutionally unable to see Wall Street is the problem.  For them, Washington is always the problem.

While this is not true, the success of GOP messaging means that a lot of people have internalized that idea.  The question is have enough people internalized this idea in order to overcome an unpopular candidate leading an unpopular candidate against an incumbent in a bad economy.

Mitt In His Own Words

“I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said whatever it was.”


Follow Up To Yesterday

So, will Citizen's United backfire?

Most corporate titans realize that they can't drive away business.  While I think a boycott of Cubs would have gone poorly, a boycott of TD Ameritrade would have stung.  There's Schwab , TRowe Price and other options

Transparency apparently dissuaded Ricketts from following through with the race baiting ad, and to be fair,we don't know if he fully greenlighted it.  The odious arsehole that came up with it has a history of making inflammatory ads, so the ad might have been pitched and not fully rejected. 

But there's a future in civic activism for those who want to push back against corporate buying of elections.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your Moment In Intellectual Ambition

Every year I set aside one challenging book to read.  Not just a tricky novel or an in depth history text, but something hard.

This year, I'm reading Reinhold Niebuhr's The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.

Though Niebuhr is remembered as a Christian ethicist, he's really a political scientist with a Christian point of view.  He wrote the book in the last few years of World War II, but - if you'll forgive my flirting with Godwin's Law - this passage from the early part of the book resonates with me today.

According to the Scripture, "the children of this world (children of darkness) are in their generation wiser than the children of light." This observation fits the modern situation.  Our democratic civilization has been built, not by children of darkness but by foolish children of light.  It has been under attack by the children of darkness, by the moral cynics, who declare that a strong nation need acknowledge no law beyond its own strength. It has come close to complete disaster under this attack, not because it accepted the same creed as the cynics; but because it underestimated the power of self-interest, both individual and collective, in modern society.  The children of light have not been as wise as the children of darkness.

The children of darkness are evil because they know no law beyond the self.  They are wise, though evil, because they understand the power of self-interest.  The children of light are virtuous because they have some conception of a higher law than their own will.  They are foolish because they do not understand the power of self-will.

Obama cites Niebuhr as his favorite philosopher.  Certainly, he has to understand that the power of self-interest is profound, and the GOP is the party of self-interest.  If the Democratic party is to win as the party of the common good, then it will have to cope with the power of self-interest and potentially appeal to that power of self-interest when it can.

That strikes me as being at the heart of the "class warfare" tactic.  Obama is looking out for your self-interest.  Romney is looking out for his own.

That resonates, I think.  Expect more of it.

Will Citizen's United Backfire?

We have this:

The guy who owns TDAmeritrade and the Chicago Cubs - you know a reg'lar Murican - is going to unleash a bevy of Jeremiah Wright ads right before the election.

Jeremiah Wright was not relevant in and of himself, but rather how would Obama respond to the revelation that his minister said some controversial and perhaps offensive stuff.  Obama responded with a remarkable speech on race in America that will probably wind up in primary source readers for US History students before too long.  It was among his most impressive speeches, for a guy known for giving good ones.

(Contrast this with Mitt R-Money's flubbed handling of the allegations of his high school bullying.  Again, the bullying is a non-issue, it's how the Romneybot's software processed and responded to the revelations that mattered.  And he flubbed it.)

Political campaigns have come to understand certain things about politics.  You have to go negative, but in a way that doesn't rebound to your disadvantage.  The proposed campaign sounds skeevy.

People tend to have made up their mind about incumbents, especially high-visibility ones like the President.  They also tend to like Obama, even if they are disappointed in his economic performance.

A double-barreled sleaze campaign focusing on an issue most people have already made their mind up about, could backfire against Republicans in general.  A lot of it will depend on where the electorate is by Labor Day and Columbus Day.  Currently, the race is pretty tight, though state polling tends to favor Obama more than national polling.

My own prediction is that - with gas prices coming down - we should see an increase in hiring that should continue through the fall.  The big wild card is the situation in the Eurozone.  How painful will the collapse of the Euro be in the US?  A much stronger dollar will further depress gas prices, but it will also hurt exports.

But if unemployment is around 7.5% and falling by September, then Obama should win fairly handily.  If the GOP - through their money men - launch a scorched earth campaign, then they will "damage the brand" of the Republican party.  Especially when you compare it with their plans to force another debt limit fight.  They will tip their hand about being essentially negative and destructive in their politics.

Winning the House couldn't be more important for these reasons, and if the GOP/Plutocrats poison the political atmosphere too much, it might help turn people away from the GOP even more.

But it will require the Democrats to prepare the ground politically for this NOW, and Democrats tend to suck at politics, so....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Time For The Next Verse, Same As The Other Verse

Looks like the Orangeman of Ohio is prepping his legion of nihilists for another debt limit showdown.

Because it worked out so well before.

In a not unrelated tidbit, Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, who wrote a thorough, scholarly book on the dysfunction created by the current governing ethos of the GOP, have not been invited onto the Sunday morning gab shows.

Until we fully acknowledge how profoundly bonkers the GOP is, we will not be able to punish them at the polls.  Until they are punished at the polls, they won't alter their behavior.  Until they alter they behavior, the government won't work.

This is not a "both sides do it" issue, and until the news media realizes this, we are doomed to electing more bomb throwing reactionaries.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Wish I Could Write This Well

A few days ago, I copped to my own past as a bully.

Read this, and you'll get what I meant to say if I was as good a writer as Tom Junod:

Tampa: America's Strip Club Capitol

Admittedly, it's self-love, but love all the same.

The political season has entered its dull period.  Meta-outrages and silly puff pieces will dominate our discourse until something happens to re-boot the campaign.  Romney will be furiously shaking his Etch-A-Sketch.

The nominating convention in Tampa could be our next big freak show.

First off, this year has been unlike any other nominating year that I can recall for the GOP.  Maybe '76?  '64?

R-Money will come in with the delegates he needs to be nominated.  But Santorum and Paul will have a sizable chunk of delegates, too.  Do you let Santorum loose his frothy philosophy in a prime time address?  How do you deny the evangelicals their moment in the spotlight?  Surely Romney's people can remember the effect Pat Buchanan's speech ("better in the original German") had on the GOP in the last "Year of the Woman".

But Santorum is ultimately a pol, and as a pol he will probably play nice to insure his seat on the wingnut gravy train.

No, the real wild card are the Paulistas. 

TPM reports that they are planning on forcing the issues near and dear to the 20 something tech people who seem to populate his movement.  They have skillfully exploited the stupid rules of the GOP nominating process to get far more delegates than they "deserve".  They are also fundamentally at odds with reality.  They think Paul is a prophet (not a racist old crank) and they subscribed to the muddled melange of narcissism that constitutes Libertarianism.  They also - as primarily tech savvy Libertarians - lack that fundamental empathy gene that allows them to see things from other people's perspectives.

These crazy bastards could do anything.

The speculation is that Ron is building leverage for Rand.  But that's "DC thinking".  It's just as plausible that Ron really believes in his "revolution" and will go down fighting.

So, to sum up: we have a fractured Republican party, with evangelicals and libertarians unhappy with the Romneybot.  They will meet in a hot, sticky town known mostly for strip clubs and pawn shops where you can carry a concealed weapon pretty much anywhere.  And it is populated by cranky old people.

With any luck a mutant, sentient tar ball will wash up on the beach from the Deepwater Horizon and eat Chris Christie.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Not To Ruin Mother's Day And All...

Apparently the Catholic Church is trying to prevent laws at the state level that would allow the victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue into adulthood.  Since child sexual abuse tends to be hidden by the victim for years, this makes sense and, you know, justice and all.

Charlie Pierce has been all over this and is again today.

But his central question remains unanswered.  At this point, how can you look at the Catholic hierarchy as anything less than an organized crime group?  How can you not invoke the RICO statutes?

But it's important that we listen to this aging protectors of child predators on the question of contraception, because of their moral authority.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone

It is only with some serious restraint that I don't make cracks about how narrowly the GOP defines motherhood these days, but overall, let's give a hand for the Uteri-Americans!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This Is Good News For John McCain

In 2008, noted beneficiary of nepotism over merit Mark Halperin said that John McCain's inability to remember how many houses he had was "good news for John McCain".  It immediately became short hand for the cluelessness of the DC punditry, especially that at Politico.  As the Obama campaign said, "If Halperin says we're winning, we're losing.  If he says we're losing, we're winning."

Heh, indeedy.

Anyway, TPM puts on its Politico jacket.

In a technical sense, they are right.  JPMorgan didn't break the rules because the rules were so poorly written.  And that is the fault of regulators in the Obama Administration.

True.  And irrelevant.

The Morgan story does not highlight the unfortunate loopholes in Dodd-Frank.  It reinforces the message of OWS and others who complain that Wall Street continues to skate free of the problems they created in 2008. 

Precisely because the GOP is running the former CEO of Bain Capital, they can't attack Obama on being close to Jamie Dimon or the weakness of a bill that they have all vowed to repeal, weak though it may be. 

Subtlety has never been a forte of the American electorate.  All they see in this story is Wall Street behaving badly again.  The OWS crowd may complain about Obama's closeness to Wall Street, but there's close and there's R-Money.

That doesn't require subtlety to figure out.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nice Summary

Markos lays the wood:

On the other hand, Romney's bullying has been so resonant precisely because it confirms what we already know about the Republican—that he is a callous, privileged, entitled asshole. He is such a jerk, that he even bullies the 1 percent. He is such a jerk, that his campaign-selected prep school friends trashed him as well, calling him "evil" and "like Lord of the Flies." It's not hard to see what happened: The governor's son bullied everyone into submission and he mistook that for friendship. He is the classic mean entitled rich kid from every 80s teen movie.

It is confirmation that Romney isn't just an insufferable dick today, but that he has always been that way. Had Romney responded to the bullying revelations with a heartfelt apology, admitted that his behavior was wrong, and called for an end to bullying in schools today, that would show the kind of maturation and growth in character that would render the issue into a positive for him. But of course, he didn't. He just doesn't think he ever did anything wrong.

So it's not so much his behavior as a child that's in question, it's his lack of maturation and growth as a human being.

It's relevant because we see the exact same Romney on the campaign trail—mocking the ponchos of NASCAR fans, laughing at the cookies proud Ohioans had laid out for him at a picnic, talking about how much he didn't give a shit about the poor, torturing poor Seamus on family vacations, "joking" to unemployed people how he—rich asshole—was also "unemployed," laughing about Michigan auto workers losing their jobs, bragging about how much he loves to fire people, etc.

He's a dick. We suspected, sure, but now we know that he always was one. That he doesn't remember the incident is just more evidence that for him, being a bully was normal, average, status quo behavior for him. And no one remembers an average day.

Your Daily Link

Again, for a historian, this isn't really complicated.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Linky Postings

The story about Mitt Romney bullying a kid in high school is disturbing, but not in a "holy crap" sort of way.  Bullying happens because kids are, well, stupid.  They often don't see past their own perspectives and they can't think of the long term implications of their actions. 

I bullied a kid in elementary school and junior high.  I was part of a group, and the kid was "different", in this case Jewish and nerdy in a preppy Atlanta school.  I honestly didn't like him for reasons that may or may not be legitimate, but I acted on that dislike because I was in the safety of a group and he was weaker than me at a time when I was pretty weak myself.

But here's the thing.  I can't think of my time at that school without thinking of David and what we did to him.  It is among the most shameful -probably THE most shameful - thing I have ever done.  I don't think I was an anti-Semite, simply because I didn't really understand what Judaism was.  All I know is that I was cruel because I could be, and it haunts me still.

Which is why Mitt Romney can't remember what he did so creepy.

Either he truly doesn't remember holding a boy down and cutting his hair off or he does and again he's compulsively lying about it.

Which is worse?

Colin Powell Admits What We Already Know

C-Plus Augustus led us into war in Iraq on flimsy pretexts.

Shocker, I know.

Mitt Romney Can Be A Colossal Dick

I know that Rick Santorum is truly a colossal dick, but it seems Mitt Romney wants to give him a run for his money:

This is what will do him in.  He's not used to the grind and constant attention of a true presidential campaign.  He's been shielded by the fact that he's been running against jokes like Perry, Gingrich and Santorum.  He gets VERY prickly, VERY easily.

He will have a true "lose your shit" moment at some point this fall.

Please Stop

Joe Biden did not "force the President's hand" on marriage equality.  He floated a trial balloon.  So did Arne Duncan a few days later.  They prepared the ground.

And it's not a coincidence that this happened after Amendment One either.  And it's not "eleven dimensional chess" either.  They knew Amendment One was going to pass a week ago.  David Gregory just happens to ask Biden a question about marriage equality on Sunday? 


Just Words

So, needless to say, the Obama "endorsement" dominated the news cycle.  And, needless to say, the Right went apeshit.  And, needless to say, the Manic Progressives just went "meh" and "what took him so long?"

I like this via John Cole:

(BTW, John Cole started out his blogging career as a Republican Iraq hawk.  He is now flogging marriage equality from his bunker in West Virginia.  Who says there's no progress in this world?)

I also like this from TPM:

There are a lot of neat anecdotes in that piece.  Yesterday, when the odious trolls at the Log Cabin Republicans said Obama's timing was terrible because gays and lesbians were "mourning over North Carolina" that seemed as idiotic as calling Dick Cheney a "moral leader" on this issue (or any issue), I thought they got it exactly backwards.  Precisely because Amendment One sailed through so easily, this endorsement is an important statement at a time when LGBT Americans needed something - even something purely symbolic.

The statement was not as big a deal as repealing DADT or refusing to defend DOMA in court.  At least not in terms of policy.  But it was a huge deal for the President to come out and say it (even if everyone knew it's what he already believed).  Contrast this with the leadership of Dick Cheney - whose daughter is lesbian and must therefore have a perspective on this issue that is intensely personal.  When Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney in his debate, Mary's mother reacted as if Kerry had called her a dirty name.  And Dick himself routinely changed the subject when it came up.  After he left office, he mumbled something in the direction of support and then was more vocal when it came up in Maryland, his home state.  Good for him, he stood up for his daughter.

But he was not going to pay a price for this.  Obama might.  If anything it will test the theory that he "simply should have used the bully pulpit more and he would have gotten more done".  I don't think this will be a big issue, but it will be interesting to see if Obama changes opinions in the African American community. 

That might be the one area where he might be able to change minds.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Our Annual Concert

Her Radiant Majesty and I went to our annual concert.  We saw Cake.  It was unusual.  I found it pretty darned entertaining, I mean who doesn't like cake?  I think she realized a few minutes in that she only really knew a few of their songs and it really wasn't her thing.

Although  more trumpet is always a good rule.

Anyway, Cake for everyone!


Log Cabin Republicans - all five of them - have said that Obama's announcement today is "callous and offensive".

They say this because it came AFTER the passage of the amendment in North Carolina, which Obama campaigned against, but passed anyway.

Callous and offensive?  How about needlessly brave?  How about stop pretending that 95% of the GOP hates your guts?

That's The Sound Of A Million Heads Exploding

Shep Smith (accurately) says that the GOP is on the "wrong side of history" by opposing gay marriage.

Interesting move by the president today.  Clearly a trial balloon by Biden.  They must have done the polling and decided it's not going to hurt him.

I hope so. 

He just showed more guts that Mitt Romney has in his whole life.

Auterity Sucks, Episode 73536

If it wasn't for the 50 Little Hoovers and the nihilists running the US House, the unemployment rate would be around 7.0% and the Presidential race would be effectively over.

So, congratulations Republicans.  You've accomplished your mission of weakening Obama's chances at re-election.  True, millions of Americans have had to suffer for it, but their sacrifice is ultimately worth it.  To you, I mean.

The Polling Numbers Are Weird

There has started a trickle of head-to-head polling on the Presidential race.

What's fascinating is that the National numbers show a tied race or a race slightly tilted in Romney's favor.

But the state polls show a lot of promise for Obama.

For instance, Gallup has R-Money up 47-44 and Rasmussen has him up 49-44.  Reuters has Obama up 49-42.

Now two of those outfits, Gallup but especially Rasmussen, tilt to the GOP in their samples.  But when you go to state polls you see stuff like this:

Iowa (PPP): Obama 51-41
Ohio(PPP): Obama 50-43

If Obama wins Iowa and Ohio, he wins the election.

I guess the "it's early" caveat is in order here, but that's an unusual amount of noise in the polling.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dick Nixon's Favorite Mayor Goes Down To Defeat

The Tea Party gains another scalp.

Hopefully, this gives Donnelly a chance to pick the seat back up for the Democrats, but that's a long shot.

Any chance more people will wake up to the fact that the modern GOP is insane?

UPDATE: Hey, media?  Lugar is not a "moderate".  He's just not insane.

UPDATE 2: Looks like North Carolina is proving why Obama's position on gay marriage is still "evolving".

This Will Probably Be The Most Awesome Thing You Read Today

And the comment thread is excellent, too.

Stewart On Europe

Gay Marriage 24/7

So Grampa Biden wandered off and made a statement that has now commenced to eat the political discourse.

Biden made what appears to be a fairly mundane statement in favor of marriage equality rights.  Reading it, he could be endorsing civil unions as much as gay marriage.

The question has now shifted to what Obama feels about this.  And that gets into the weeds.

First, I think everyone and their dog knows Obama favors marriage equality.  If the repeal of DADT isn't proof then the decision not to argue in favor of DOMA is the clear giveaway.

The problem is that this sort of narrow band social issue is only really going to move votes AWAY from him.  People who support marriage equality are going to vote for Obama this November anyway.  Most of the people who turn purple screaming over marriage equality are going to vote against him.

Those idiots in the mushy center are up in the air on this.  And since his electoral strategy is really dependent on Virginia, there's a reason why his position is "evolving".  He doesn't want to have this fight.

Clinton in '92 pioneered the War Room and the mastery of the 24 hour news cycle.  Republicans soon matched that.

Obama was elected by ignoring the 24 hour news cycle.  He refused to get involved with the howling monkeys flinging poo at each other on the cable nets. 

This is a monkey flinging poo fight.  If Obama comes out in support of marriage equality, then it might lose him a close election.  If he waits until November, maybe he can lead a Justice department that argues against the constitutionality of DOMA. 

On the other hand, and this is where I think it gets tricky for Obama, if he comes out now taking a strong stand on a somewhat controversial issue, it really highlights the differences with Multiple Choice Mitt.  If their basic line of attack is that Mitt is a cypher for the Radical Right, that Mitt believes nothing and is an empty shell to be filled with whatever ideology that will win him support in that particular moment, then wouldn't taking a stand on gay marriage be a perfect way to highlight that?

"I have come to believe that the state should not stand in the way of two people who love each other.  I realize that this is not popular.  But I also realize it is the right thing to do."

Would that win him votes or lose him votes?

I don't know.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Worth Reading

Charlie Pierce has been bitten by the Purity Troll recently, but this piece is him at his finest:

Holiday? What Holiday?

Supposed to be a day off, no such luck.

Only just sat down to catch up on the day's news.

Apparently Romney did something politically tone deaf and Joe Biden wandered off script.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite

France just elected a Socialist.

Clearly this is good news for John McCain Mitt Romney.

Actually, Mittens spent Vietnam in France trying to convert people to what evangelical voters call a cult.  So maybe discussions of France aren't in Mitt's interest.

Of course, it's a matter of days before someone points out that France has nuclear weapons and is a Socialist country.  Expect some bellicose rhetoric from the Right in America.  (It's started already.)  Of course, a fire last month at the white flag factory destroyed France's military capacity, so it should be a cakewalks when President Romney invades Normandy again.

What this means is that Austerity Sucks.  Austerity has always sucked, but now we will see governments in Europe (Right and Left) fall because of the said sucking of austerity.

Viva la revolucion!

The State Of Play

Pretty good summary of the dynamics of the race.

Off to see The Avengers with the Things.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Is It Pathological?

The distinction is lost on some people.

We now have - not the War on Women - but the war on the Cartoon Woman.

Meet Julia.

Julia is a woman who benefits throughout her life from various government programs, from HeadStart to Pell Grants to being on her parent's health insurance into her mid 20s to small business loans to Medicare to Social Security.  The cartoon illustrates that everyone benefits from various government programs at various stages in their lives.

Needless to say, conservatives unleashed the Flying Monkeys.

As Ann Marie Cox noted, anything that gets the GOP to start slamming women again is a win for Obama and it hardly matters that she's two dimensional.  The fact that it is Julia and not James is hardly happenstance.

All this bellicose yelling about "Freeeeeedom" like they're Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart obscures the fact that people don't like the freedom to suffer.  The truism that we've repeated here a lot: "People hate the government in the abstract but love it in the specific" applies even more so to women.  Let's face it, women weren't the target audience for Braveheart.

Women and Hispanics tend to favor government intervention more than white men.  By constantly yapping about the evils of Pell Grants and health insurance reform and the "nanny state" the GOP insures their continued conflict with these two demographics.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ah, Newt...

"Healing Slower Than Paint Drying"

A) The economy is getting better.

B) It is not happening fast enough.

The Stakes

To the battlements!

I think Booman is right here, in that there is a pretty plausible road to an Obama landslide.  He looks to be solidly in the lead in VA and PA.  While national polls are shaky, he's doing REALLY well in battleground states.  I think he wins PA, OH and VA as things stand.  I also think Romney is such a crappy politician and because his real vulnerabilities were only hinted at during the primary (Scrooge McDuck for President!) that momentum in the fall will tilt Obama's way.

Yes, the economy is soft - mainly, in my opinion - because of gas prices.  But if the unemployment rate (as opposed to the actual number) keeps falling (and it has, even with today's Meh job's report), then Obama cruises, even with a relatively weak economy.

John Sides over at Nate Silver's place explains' the Obama is more popular than he should be.  In this way more than any other, Obama mirrors Reagan.  When we finished our study of Reagan, my students asked, "Why was this guy so popular?"  And given the deficits and Iran Contra and divisive social issue politics, that's a legit question.  The Teflon Presidency was ultimately about Reagan's likeability  and his ability to make Americans feel good about being Americans.  Obama has the first part nailed.

So absent a massive double dip, I think Obama's basic likeability and the fact that Metamorphamitt is a lousy politician means that Obama wins almost all the states he won last year.  I think he probably loses Indiana and the Nebraska 2nd, but he might gain Arizona and Missouri.

Booman goes on to say that this outcome would necessitate a re-evaluation by the GOP.  If Obama brings a wave along with him that wins the House and nets a seat or two in the Senate, then any sane political party would have to consider that pissing off women, young people and Hispanics is probably stoopud.

But honestly, is there anything sane about the GOP right now?  And if the relatively sane members of the GOP say, "Hey, maybe waging a jihad on contraception, student loans and Medicare isn't a smart strategy" then that person immediately gets primaried by the Teahadists.

And even more significantly, the GOP base has their ready-made fall guy: Mitt Romney.  If Romney gets buried, it will not be because people think Obama's cool and the Romneybot likes a functioning empathy chip.  It will be because Romney was not sufficiently - or severely - conservative enough.  Operating on the assumption that "conservatism never fails, it can only be failed" that made George W. Bush a liberal once his approval ratings his the 30s, any defeat in 2012 will be laid at the feet of Romney's insufficient conservatism.

Not to mention, should the Democrats do well in 2012, we can almost guarantee they will do poorly in 2014, given the prevalence of Democratic voting blocs to skip off year elections.

I'm calling it right now: Santorum will be the GOP nominee in 2016.

Happy "May The 4th Be With You" Day

(h/t Kathaleeen)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Problem Isn't Religion

And another thing God told me...

It's religious people.

Click through:

There are people in this country who refuse to believe anything that isn't in the Bible.  The word for these people is not "religious" it is "idiots".  These are the zealots and narrow minded prejudicial God botherers who refuse to acknowledge any advancements in human knowledge that weren't accounted for 2000 years ago.

I would love for God to appear in the heavens, wrap his arm around Charles Darwin and say, "My homey here is right, and the rest of you people... well, I clearly erred in giving you brains, since your never use them."

That would be an awesome God.

Meanwhile, the organized crime organization known as the Church of Rome has a problem in Ireland where it turns out the head prelate for Ireland knew about allegations against a sexually predatory priest and did nothing.

Any time you close yourself off to scrutiny and questioning, you're going to wind up seriously far astray.

No, Just... No

F-ing Hypocrites

Funny, it seemed like only a year ago...

Remember that time Obama had bin Laden shot in the face?  Remember how he pointed this out as a central accomplishment of his national security strategy?

Remember how the GOP climbed onto the wahmbulance and complained that "EVEN JIMMY CARTER WOULD HAVE ORDERED THE RAID!!!!11!!"

Well, what does that make Donald Rumsfeld.

What's The Matter With Arizona?

Seriously.  Is it sunstroke?  Dehydration?  Acute Old Man Yelling At Clouds Syndrome?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Blog's New Theme Song

We got a new motto from Abe Lincoln, time to get a theme song:

Well, no cannonballs did fly, no rifles cut us down
No bombs fell from the sky, no blood soaked the ground
No powder flash blinded the eye, no deathly thunder sounded
But just as sure as the hand of God, they brought death to my hometown
They brought death to my hometown, boys

No shells ripped the evening sky, no cities burning down
No army stormed the shores for which we'd die, no dictators were crowned
I awoke from a quiet night, I never heard a sound
The marauders raided in the dark and brought death to my hometown, boys
Death to my hometown

They destroyed our families, factories, and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains, the vultures picked our bones

So listen up, my sonny boy, be ready for when they come
For they'll be returning sure as the rising sun
Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it 'til you're done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber barons straight to hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Who walk the streets as free men now

Ah, they brought death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, whoa!

I Can Almost Forgive Fox News All Its Sins Just For Giving Us This


This may be the greatest thing in the history of cable news.

Stephen King Is A Monster Under The Koch Brothers Bed

Nut graph:

What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “OK, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.

Stephen King really is a helluva writer.

Unpresidential Is What I Say It Is

The stampede to the fainting couch is threatening to trample some journalists.  Led by the atrocious Mara Laisson on Nice Polite Republicans, we are being told not so subtly that it is just beyond the pale for Obama to politicize what is arguably his greatest accomplishment as President.  And in the middle of an election year no less!  So polarizing!

Look, Mitt Romney said what he said in 2007 and 2008.  I have trouble blaming him, because this was the crappy position he inherited from George Bush: "Bin Laden isn't that important."  As per usual, Romney - in being forced to toe the GOP line - has taken a position that is difficult to defend in the light of how reality played out.  So he can either flounder to defend that line or he can abandon it.  Good luck with that Mitt.

But the idea that a President would play politics with foreign policy?

I mean the fact that he might gloat over something?

That he might think about spiking the football?

Well, my dear, that simply isn't DONE!

Sorry to harsh your buzz, sorry to tread on your toes, sorry to rain on your parade.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obama Is On His Game Right Now

Obama - or at least his campaign - is firing on all cylinders.

First, using the occasion of "Mission Accomplished Day" as a back drop, Obama is assailing Romney for his weakness on going after bin Laden - as stated by Romney himself back in 2008.  Chait has a nice summary here.  Josh Marshall says this (his unfortunate phrase) "bitch slap politics".  Obama can rightfully point out that Romney publicly opposed in 2008, exactly what Obama ordered done in 2010.  What's more, Romney's response was (predictably) weak.  Jimmy Carter?

Wasn't Jimmy Carter the guy who ordered a cross border raid that ended disastrously because there weren't enough helicopters?  And wasn't Obama the one who insisted on another helicopter which turned out to be pretty durned important?

Meanwhile, Romney can't use his new foreign policy attack dog, because this particular attack dog likes to hump other boy dogs and we can't have that now, can we Precious.  So Romney by the end of the day has caved to anti-gay bigots and fired Richard Grennell and eventually caved on congratulating Obama for ordering bin Laden's death.

That's what Marshall means by "bitch slap politics".  Ever since Reagan, we've been conditioned to think of the GOP as the manly national defense party.  Carter's disastrous Eagle Claw saw to that.  Before that it was Wilson, FDR, Truman and Johnson who led us into the nation's 20th century wars.  But Obama made Romney look weak.

If he can continue to keep Romney looking weak, this thing won't be close.

Second, Obama decides to drop into Afghanistan (I hear Kandahar is lovely during the spring when the snow melts and the landmines spontaneously explode in the thawing earth) and announce a clear withdrawal plan.  Romney will HAVE to say, "No, we should stay."  Just like in 2008 he HAD to say, "Bin Laden isn't important."  That's the GOP position and Romney of all people can't deviate from it.

So Obama just reassured the American people that we will be leaving Afghanistan in 2014 and troop drawdowns will continue apace as we shift away from combat missions.  Most Americans want to be gone yesterday.

But their choice is between a guy who wants to leave in two years and a guy who doesn't want to (or can't say that we should) leave.

Obama seems to have some clear positions he can stake out that Romney just can't angle himself into a good position to rebut.

Etch-A-Sketch or not, Romney has tied himself to so many different positions that Obama can fence him into any of them he wants to.

On a final note, can we stop being offended that the President is committing politics during an election year?  Bush politicized the hell out of 9/11.  He held the 2004 convention in New York.  Remember the "Wolves" ad?  Obama has every right to beat the living crap out of his opponent.  Please, Mara Liasson, just shut up.

#OWS Is Back

My old friend Jon Greenberg wrote a piece for the Atlantic noting similarities to Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener

Jon acknowledges that Occupy's amorphous demands actually became a political asset.  Occupy, like the Tea Party, changed the conversation.  Since Occupy began, we are having a much saner discussion about our nation's priorities than deciding whether or not to default on our debt obligations.

Reading the comments makes me sad.  The privilege and obtuseness of the "get a job" attack is that this is the precise point: young people today can't get jobs.  That the crushing debt they accrue through their education leaves them with fewer options to pursue once they graduate.

Few countries put such economic burdens on their students.

The average cost for a year of four-year college in the US is about $32,000.

The average cost for a year of college in Britain is about $15,000.

The average cost for a year of college in Germany is about $660.

When OWS says, "I'd prefer not to", they are not saying they don't want to work, but rather they want to do work that is spiritually fulfilling and allows them to lead a comfortable life.  Instead they see a system where you either have to be already wealthy to afford college or work into your child bearing years to pay it off.

That is if there were any jobs around in the first place.

I'm not sure why that's so hard to understand.

Maybe if Melville wrote about the Tea Party, he would have called it Moby Dickhead.

Yes, My Loaner Computer Sucks

Anyway, the Mann/Ormstein piece is dominating polite conversation, which is good.  Their criticism - effectively what many bloggers and Krugzilla have been writing about - is being taken seriously because Brookings and AEI aren't bloggers or Nobel Prize winning economists.  Or something.

This piece from USN&WR could have been written at Daily Kos, right down to the "Obama is too much of an accomodationist" line.

The problem I have with blaming Obama for pony hunting is that Clinton "fought back" as the piece noted, but that hardly worked any better.

I taught the Clinton Administration in class yesterday, and I was fascinated to note all the similarities between Clinton and Obama.  Two things Obama learned from Clinton's mistakes are to A) Stay focused and B) Get Shit Done!

Clinton's rampaging intellect bounced from topic to topic and seemed to be at the mercy of the Fox News/talk radio attacks.  He spent a huge amount of time counterpunching.

And to no effect.

Obama has decided to take the high road and not respond to everything by throwing haymakers.  Sometimes, this leads to horrible results like Shirley Sherrod getting fired for no good reason.  But I think that the idea that somehow Obama's accommodation to the right "emboldens" them is silly.  Clinton fought back, Obama doesn't.  Either way, the Right attacks.

So Clinton's first term is remembered for raising taxes, cutting spending and welfare reform.  Obama's is known for ACA, stimulus, GM and Chrysler and the debt ceiling fight.  (And shooting bin Laden in the face.)

By any objective measure, Obama's had more legislative success than Clinton enjoyed.  I'm not blaming Clinton, Obama simply learned from his mistakes.

But as has been noted, Democratic Presidents are only appreciated after they leave office.