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, July 31, 2012

Marriage Equality: The Chicken And The Egg

Democrats are rapidly lining up behind marriage equality.  But the numbers are so confusing and spotty it's tough to tell whether Obama's shift changed minds or whether the population's shift changed his mind.

My guess is that Obama's change led to some changes in the African-American community, but aside from that his position is meaningless.

As an aside, after watching Mitt's press guy meltdown in Poland, all I'm waiting for is Mitt's "Hey, do you guys put screendoors on your submarines?" gaffe when he meets the Polish Defense Minister.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Say What?

I think Mitt Romney just kind of, sort of promised to move our embassy to Jerusalem.

If we can't depend on the Palestinians to riot, who can we count on?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Deep Thought

Are the Opening Ceremonies over yet?

Just got back from a seven hour trip from JFK, the last hour of which was in a monsoon.

Which used to be rare in Connecticut.

There's an old joke, "Everyone always talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it."

Unless of course, you count pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Someone (Chait?) said that Obama's missed opportunity in the first two years was tax reform.  It was global warming.

Because it's probably already too late.

UPDATED ADDITIONAL DEEP THOUGHT: Will Romney cause rioting in Israel/Palestine?  I'm guessing he will call Jerusalem the capitol of Israel.  That should be fun.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Worse Than Scandal Is Ridicule

There is now a Twitter feed called American Borat:!/search/%23AmericanBorat

There is another called Romney Shambles, which as a zombie afficianado, I can say is the kiss of undeath.!/search/%23RomneyShambles

Romney is going to wind up a punchline.

UPDATE: Speaking of punchlines, the Telegraph gives us this:
Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Better Than Drugs

The Things have been getting on my nerves this week.  I feel like we've been in each others back pockets since March and I'm just tired of 8-10 year old boy crap.

And it seems like every driver on the road is purposefully trying to be a Mitt dick.

So I need something to chill me out.  Something to restore my zen.!/live-cams/player/service-puppy-cam

That'll do...

Mitt's Fail Tour

One of the most interesting things about Romney's campaign is how much he shields himself from the press.  Romney almost never takes questions, he only issues statements.

So he's in the tabloid capital of the world and goes and makes a prat of himself.  Basically, Mitt Romney is a dick.  Not to everyone probably.  I bet his grandkids like him.

But the evidence is mounting that he's just a colossal dick.  He can't help but insult people he's around.  He can't remember things like the freaking head of the Labour party right after he had a meeting with him.  (To be fair, Ed Miliband is kind of forgettable.)

Mitt Romney is...

A) a terrible politician

B) kind of a dick

C) hiding his tax returns because there is politically damaging stuff in there

Can you prove any of these things wrong?

And, holy crap, he's headed to Israel next.  By the time he leaves there Israel and the US will be at war.

Harry Reid Brings It

Harry Reid is a guy I kind of like.  I know a lot of progressives dislike him, but there's something about him I like.  He's one of those old Washington hands who remembers cross aisle dealmaking and the such.  It took him too long to realize the GOP had become a bunch of anarchists, but he's there now, and that's what matters.

Passing this could be a huge deal, but only if the House follows suit.

The tricky part is that if the House kills this, the public will be asked to believe that the GOP killed a tax cut and we've seen that the public has a hard time believing things that don't conform to its preconceived notions.  But saying that the GOP House is preserving tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle class might work.

Reid has shown he can lead.  Boehner has not.

We'll see what happens next.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Holy Crap....

The point of racist "dogwhistles" is that they are supposed to be inaudible to all but their target audience.

This is so obvious even a newspaper reporter could figure it out.

Now with pictures:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poll Taxes

One of the under-reported stories of 2010-12 is the systemic and systematic efforts by the GOP to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands if not millions of voters from groups that traditionally lean Democratic.

The DOJ has been taking some of these states to court.

Today, the Pennsylvania AG admits that there has been no evidence of in person voter fraud of the type these laws are trying to prohibit.

But it's important to remember that Obama playing a tape of Romney's tuneless singing of America the Beautiful is too hardball.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Framers

Josh Marshall's rag has taken a stab at historical analogy:

In it, he opines that the today's Tea Party types are really more akin to the people who opposed the Constitution than the ones who framed it.  They are Anti-Federalists obsessing about states' rights and rights being impinged upon by the federal government.  He even finds some brain droppings from Amity Shlaes, Amateur Historian, who has proposed reviving the Articles of Confederation taxation model.

It is worth noting however that many Anti-Federalists agreed that the Articles taxation methods were failing.

So Shlaes - and by extension Kevin Hassett of the AEI and (wait for it) the Romney campaign - are actually arguing for something so odious most Anti-Federalists were appalled by it.

One can argue that Madison, for instance, careened from Federalist to Anti within a few short years, and that's true.  Madison was suspicious of power wherever it lay.  Under the Articles, it lay with the states and to such an extent that there was no effective national government.  Once the national government became - in Madison's eyes - too powerful under Hamilton, then Madison changed his tune.

But what Shlaes and Hassett are effectively arguing for is a Eurozone for the US.  One currency for the entire nation, but different fiscal realities for the sub-units.  As Shlaes blithely says, "the details can be worked out later", but we have the details and the reality of trying to divorce fiscal, macroeconomic and monetary policies from each other.  Ask the Greeks - or better yet the Spaniards and Irish - how that works out.

Of course this comes from the woman who assures us that FDR made the Depression worse, so... Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Well, THIS Is Awesome!

I Have Hantavirus

I spent yesterday cleaning out the basement.  It was nasty, unpleasant work, complete with massive amounts of mold and mouse poop.

I now have a cough, so... hantavirus.

Either that or hypochondria.  One of the two.

Happy birthday to my sister, who is hopefully taking a day off from her labors to save the West from itself to indulge in... whatever it is that she indulges in.  Hiking 15 miles?  Biking the continental divide?  Swimming upstream through the Grand Canyon?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

America's Finest News Source

After 9/11, I remember people saying that satire was dead.  And then the Onion (along with Jon Stewart) proved it wasn't.

Today, the Onion nails the Aurora shooting:,28857/

(It occurs to me that I have a tag just for mass shootings.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Good Point

The New Cycle Devours Itself

I actually haven't watched a minute of news about the horrific shooting in Colorado.  I had planned to sneak out and see The Dark Knight Rises today.  While my wife didn't want me to go out of safety concerns - which seemed farfetched - I just didn't think it would be enjoyable.

Nor will it be enjoyable to watch the enormous wankathon begin on the news nets.  There have already been some attempts to politicize the shooting on both the left and right.  But eventually we will degenerate into the same old "Are movies too violent?  What about video games?"  and David Brooks will pen some godawful screed about the lack of elite values.  Someone will suggest that Obama welcomes this shooting as a chance to extend gun control laws.  We will hear about gun laws (though nothing will be done about them).

But I don't think we will hear much discussion about the elephant in the room.

This guy was mentally ill.

And we currently have a mental health care system that eschews institutionalization.  And if you have visited a mental health institution, then you probably can sympathize with that.  If you knew about pre-reform asylum treatments... suffice to say, lithium is preferable to dunking the schizophrenic in ice water and leaving them for days in a freezing cell.

The problem is, just as institutionalization is the wrong course for many people with mental illness, turfing them back out on the street is the wrong thing for some people, too.

As with education, health care should be tailored to the individual in order to get the best results.

But as with education, the labor costs would be quite high.

And we have bombers and aircraft carriers to build and taxes to cut.

Priorities, people.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

White On Black Crime

Wingers have been floating a "statistically untrue" story that since Barack Hussein Shaka Zulu Malcolm X Obama was elected president of the coasts of America and Kenya a crime wave of black on white crime has erupted.  With swarthy muscular black men assaulting fine white job creators and stealing their entrepreneurial  spirit.  Or something.  The important thing is that criticism of Obama is not about race.

Anyway, turns out that the REAL crime has been white people (and I mean REALLY white people) stealing from black people.  And I'm not talking about what Capitol One was doing in their call centers.

Turns out a bunch of white hipsters have been stealing black music.

I want Al Green and Huey Newton to pop a cap in Mayer Hawthorne's ass...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tax Return Narrative

I've been reading Fallows and the New Yorker and the punditry.  They are all trying to figure out why Romney won't just take the hit and release his returns.

What could possibly be so damaging that it's worth making the secrecy the story?

Is Romney just a rich, privileged jerk who doesn't feel the proles should see his bidness?

Did Romney pay effectively 0% in taxes some years?

Did he make a fortune shorting the market in '08?

Does he have a ton of offshore accounts?

There can't be any doubt that these stories are killing Romney.  The story is entirely his finances and not the economy.  And it's also clear that Team Obama will define Romney as Ritchie Rich and then attack his tax plans as selfish (as opposed to fiscally foolish).

So why not release the returns?  Why can't Romney see the obvious?

Maybe... just maybe... Romney is a terrible politician?

Could that be it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Is The Most Important Thing You Can Read

This has troubled me for awhile.  Probably since I saw Wall Street and Pretty Woman for the first time.  The idea of predatory capitalism is based on the ruthless culling of the herd.  It's an economic application of Social Darwinism.  What Wall Street wants in a company is fundamentally different what EVERYONE ELSE WANTS IN A COMPANY.

And that cannot be stressed enough.

I had a friend, let's call him Bob, since that's his name.  Bob was a Harvard grad and moved to LA to be a "producer".  He was wired differently from me.  And I remember him coming back from a factory and being impressed, even moved, by the idea that the guy who owned that company had people working for him that he was responsible for.  That people's livelihood's were dependent on his running the company responsibly and everyone producing a good product.

And yet there is a preference on Wall Street to punish those companies.  As Bernard puts it in his piece, there are powerful incentives to gut those companies.

Now, not every Wall Street firm acts that way.  But I bet if you looked at the percentage of publicly traded companies that failed between 1950-1980 and those that failed from 1980-2010, you'd see a massive increase in businesses rising and falling dramatically.  And that goes to a changed culture on Wall Street.  Mitt Romney would say that's the vigor on the market, but I think it's a perversion of market economics.

And what's more, that culture spilled over in the MBA programs around the country.  So even companies that don't get raided, still find themselves poisoned by this groupthink.

You want to know why America doesn't "make anything" anymore (despite the fact we do)?

It's because Wall Street doesn't give two shits in a flood about Main Street.

And the sooner we get that through to everyone, the better for America.

Put another way, "Why can't Mitt Romney be more American?"

Romney-nomics Explained

Today In Dickitude

"Learn how to be an American"?

That's the counterattack?

The "American formula for success"?  What?  Deregulation and tax cuts, John?  You were chief of staff for Bush I, who was not exactly known for his macroeconomic acumen.

I think the GOP should change their mascot from the elephant to this guy:

UPDATE:  I like Chait's take on it:

John Sununu, former chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, unloaded a classic stream-of-consciousness cultural attack on President Obama that managed to weave together a string of buzzwords from conservative fever dreams:
He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn't be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S., he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago.
With this single sentence, Sununa wins the Republican Mad Libs contest for all time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Financial Press

Given the failure of the political media as typified by Glenn Kessler's inane fact checking of Obama's (and the Boston Globe's and Mother Jones's) assertions about Romney's departure from Bain, I think the biggest thorn in Romney's side will be the financial press.

These reporters are rather diligent about facts and numbers, again unlike the political press, which is obsessed with horse race and tactics.

And so you get this from Bloomberg:

Reading this, it is difficult to appreciate how Romney's work qualifies him to be President, unless you think the main job of a President is to reward the wealthy.  Which, judging from his stated policies, is exactly what Romney seems to think the job is.

As Josh Marshall and others have pointed out, Team Obama is successfully removing Bain as a strong point in Romney's bio.  If he can't talk about Bain and he won't talk about Massachusetts and being an elder in the Mormon church... what exactly is Romney going to say about himself?  What is his narrative?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rot From The Top

Unbelievable, That's What You Are

via Booman, from the NY Times Magazine:

Burton and his colleagues spent the early months of 2012 trying out the pitch that Romney was the most far-right presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater. It fell flat. The public did not view Romney as an extremist. For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing. What became clear was that voters had almost no sense of Obama’s opponent. While conducting a different focus group — this one with non-college-educated Milwaukee voters on the eve of Wisconsin’s April 3 primary — Burton and Sweeney were surprised to learn that even after Romney had spent months campaigning, many in the group could not recognize his face, much less characterize his positions. Compounding the Republican nominee’s strangely persistent obscurity is that, as Garin told me, “Romney is not a natural politician in the sense of embracing opportunities to talk about himself.”

That left an opening for the Democrats to tell Romney’s story, and over the spring they figured out how to do so. Obama’s opponent was not an ideologue per se, the Priorities team decided, but instead someone who knows and cares only about wealthy Americans. Burton describes the distinction as “a top/bottom rather than left/right approach” — also known in Republican circles as class warfare.

And this is why the Bain attacks exist and will continue.  The GOP/Ryan plan is toxic when explained.  So toxic, in fact, that those "low information voters" (you know, morons) can't believe the actual facts of the situation.

So, as Krugzilla pointed out, you use Bain to stand in for the very real, very dangerous policies that a President Romney would enact.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Holy Coincidence, Batman!

The villain in this summer's Batman movie which will make a Brazillian dollars?


Or Bane.


Liberal media...


This might be photoshopped...

And Now Obama Brings The Bain-Pain

Holy Smackdown, Batman.

As someone (I think Josh Marshall) out it earlier today, we're not used to a Democratic politician playing hardball like this.  This is going to cause caterwauling among the punditry, which as DougJ points out, means you're winning.

Romney has won exactly ONE race in his life, unless you count beating The Blessed Sweater Vest of the Virgin Mary and the Lumpen Remains of Newt Gingrich's Ego for the GOP nomination.

He's getting plastered on this, which - as Krugman points out - is entirely fair and appropriate.  The attacks on Bain are really attacks on his policies, which would dramatically slash the safety net and redistribute wealth upwards.  How is that different from laying off workers to pad Bain's bottom line?

Earlier, I said that Romney was the worst possible candidate to run against Obama and Obamacare, because it was basically Romneycare.  It is also worth noting that sending a private equity vulture capitalist out to run during the tail end of the worst fiscal crisis and unemployment crash since the 1930s was also less than deft.

Gingrich played around with these attacks in March and was called to the curb by the GOP mandarins.  But the problem is that Obama was always going to make these attacks.  This is how you beat Mitt Romney, who has all the empathy of a ballpeen hammer.

Romney whining for an apology for hurting his fee-fees is the weakest response possible.

If we had a functioning, adversarial press corps (where have you gone Mike Wallace?) Romney would be trailing by 15 points...

Taibbi And Marshall Brings The Bain-Pain

But Romney doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to impress the prom queen, and what he comes up with is kicking a kid in a wheelchair. Instincts like those are probably what made him a great leveraged buyout specialist, but in a public figure? Man, is he a disaster. It’s really incredible theater, watching the Republicans talk themselves into this guy.

Josh Marshall has a phrase that is somewhat unfortunate, but really captures the soul of GOP tactics: "bitch-slap politics".

This is and will remain a low single digit race. But the President’s team is making Romney look shifty and silly and weak. (I half expect them to start goosing surrogates to call him Slick Willard.) And they’re well on their way to defining him in a way that will be difficult to undo.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's Just One Poll But...

Pew is a pretty good pollster and a seven point lead is a pretty big deal.

Remember when Cory Booker said he was unsettled by the Obama campaign highlighting Romney's Bain Capital ties?  Hey, Cory, not your finest moment.

Romney faced a bunch of JV Lightweights in the nominating process.  Only Perry had the organizational capacity to go toe to toe with him and Perry appears to be brain dead.

I mean, Herman Cain?

The Obama campaign has spent the last month and a half hitting Romney where is hurts.  And he has neither the chops nor the biography to answer  back.

We haven't seen the full impact of the Citizens United millions, but unless the GOP manages to disenfranchise people (and they are trying in PA and FL) I don't see Romney closing the gap on his personal story and his personal appeal.

UPDATE:  Exhibit A: This is the house Romney's HORSE lives in.  No word yet on whether the horse had an ARM with Countryside.

UPDATE 2: This is a target rich environment and Booman lands a blow:
 But even if Romney is essentially telling the truth about not having anything to do with Bain's day-to-day operations, he doesn't want to have to explain why he received a $100,000 salary for doing nothing. This is particularly true because last night he accused the entire NAACP membership of just wanting free handouts from the government. How about no-work jobs? I thought only the mafia created those. Is that really what Romney wants to argue? That he got paid to do nothing? Wasn't he trying to act like a big man at the time by ostentatiously refusing payment for his work on the Olympics? That's easy to do when when Bain is paying you $100,000/yr. Of course, his salary was just pocket change compared to his financial interest in the company itself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Home Again, Thank FSM

Today was Dad's day on the road trip, and we hit the history.  We went to Seneca Falls to the Women's Rights Historical Site.  Very disappointed, as it felt dated and very early '90s, which is twenty years ago now, people.  We also went to Ft. Stanwix, which is SUPPOSED to feel dated, but part of the Seneca Falls exhibit is the idea that the struggle for equality is still going on.  If everything feels two decades old, it lets the visitor off the hook.  Plus it just felt second rate.

In between we went to the Erie Canal Village, which was also kind of seedy, tired and run down.  Unfortunately, we spent too much time there, as we only had about 30 minutes in Ft. Stanwix.  That's a shame, because it was really well done and right up the boy's alley.  They were attentive and good sports for the most part in Seneca Falls, which I'm sure their mother appreciated from afar.  But Ft. Stanwix would have been a great opportunity to get them really hooked on history and we had to dash through it.  It was a bit strange, as it sits in a green space in the middle of downtown Rome, NY.  Other than that, it was pretty cool.

Once we win the lottery and take a barge tour up the Erie Canal, we will go back and see it properly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Got An Awesome New Hat


Took the things to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo for the original wings and then to Niagara.  I think it was a major success.  The sheer volume of water had an effect on them.

An astounding number of Indians there.  I guess it beats the muddy Ganges.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Today In Cooperstown

I have taken the Things on a road trip.

Today we went to Cooperstown and visited the Fenimore Cooper Art Gallery Baseball Hall of Fame.  At the beginning, they have a hokey video about baseball, but it ends with singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame".  I got weirdly choked up, especially when I saw Thing One, who is not especially interested in baseball, singing along.

Museums are tough with boys under the age of 10 15 20 25, even when it's baseball.  But they hung in there.  Probably the highlights were the "bloody sock" of Curt Schilling and the "Who's On First" video with Abbott and Costello.  After awhile they just can't focus on stuff.

We threw for a radar gun and I managed to beat the old fart's record for the day, but by the end I couldn't feel my hand.  That's not good, right?

Thing Two threw up early in the trip, so I pulled him up to the front seat with me, operating on the principle that sick kids should be treated like an adult, whereas sick adults should be treated like kids.

Tomorrow we head to Niagara Falls.  If it goes poorly, maybe I try the barrel.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Lost Decade

Back when the economy tanked in 2008-9, economists like Krugzilla were noting that an inadequate response to this crisis could lead to a "lost decade" like Japan suffered through.  Low, sluggish growth and relatively high unemployment became "the new normal".

One of the threats Krugman talked about was inadequate Fed policy.  The Japanese central bank made very poor decisions during their decade of poor growth.  Luckily, our central bank has been proactive and staved off utter collapse and stagnation.  It has been the ECB that has screwed everything up for all of us.

Nevertheless we are stuck in a slow economy.  It's not as bad as the '08-09 cycle, but it's not good.

One question is whether or not people are beginning to assume that this really is "the new normal".  People have assumed that Obama is outperforming the employment numbers because of a combination of people still blaming Bush, his personal popularity and Mitt's personal unpopularity.

But it may also be that people have simply internalized a diminished state of the economy.

Purely conjecture, but you have to wonder.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Job Well Done

Finished my workshop, which went well.  Great group of teachers to work with.

Headed to pick up the Things and take them to Cooperstown on Monday to genuflect before the Bloody Sock, apparently.  Then off to Niagara Falls.

So, one job ended, another starts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

John Marshall Harlan the First

As part of my teacher's workshop on research based writing, I have my students/co-teachers do a research project to re-discover the pains and joys and pitfalls of research.  I join in in the spirit of camaraderie and also to refresh my own memory.

I've been researching John Marshall Harlan, the great dissenter of the Gilded Age, most famous for his dissents in Plessy and the Civil Rights cases.

Harlan was born into a slave holding family, but fought with the Union against secession.  Still, he opposed the Emancipation Proclamation.  The travesties of Klan rule after the war, however, turned him into perhaps the 19th century's pre-eminent defender of the rights of African Americans.

How did a former slave-holder and a man so steeped in the racism of his day that he had no trouble excluding the Chinese from any possibility of citizenship become a champion of the "color blind Constitution"?

It seems to me that his experiences in the Civil War and in politics made him more attuned to the actualities of real life than did the arid reaches of legal theory.  The other "great dissenters" during this time period of the pre-modern Court were a Jew and another Civil War veteran.

It occurs to me that we have too many judges and legal scholars on the bench.  Earl Warren had been governor, Thurgood Marshall a plaintiff's lawyer, John Marshall, a officer in the Continental Army, a Secretary of State and a legislator.

If Antonin Scalia ever gets around to that massive rage fueled stroke that he's been working towards, maybe Obama could find someone with some real life political experience.

The Supremes could use some of that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fetus Pudding

Just read it...

Laughed out loud.

Well Played

Eating Their Young

Remember (or maybe not) that 13 year old, Santorum-approved-sweater-vest-wearing conservative kid who wandered briefly through the media wasteland four years ago?  His name was Jonathan Krohn.

Anyway, he grew up and now he's a centrist with some liberal leanings who said if he could vote he'd vote for Obama.

What makes this interesting, as the article attests, is that the conservative punditry which lauded him four years ago is now ripping this poor kid apart.  Maybe Krohn and John Roberts can get together and compare notes.

This goes back to Digby's famous aphorism: "Conservatism never fails, it can only be failed."  In other words, it's not that George Bush was a failure, it's that he was not sufficiently conservative enough.  John Roberts was, in fact, being quite conservative with his ruling last week.  He was using a 19th century reading of the commerce clause and an 18th century reading of the taxing power.  I doubt Alexander Hamilton would've faulted his logic at all.

Roberts has been repaid by ruthless attacks from the Right.  Many of the Left are saying, "Thanks, but dude that commerce clause ruling is nuts.  And we still hate you for Citizen's United."  Personally, I respect Roberts for realizing that the long term legitimacy of the Supreme Court was worth more than a policy victory.  I still think his judicial philosophy is tragic and anathema to modern reality, but I'll give him his due.

Not the Right, who are moving to excommunicate him.  Just like young Mister Krohn, when you cross the central tenet of conservatism - which seems to be "Never Disagree With The Current Orthodoxy" - you are a non-person.  You have been expelled from the movement to wander in the wilderness without a sinecure at the Heritage Foundation to clothe your nakedness.

One wonders about the long term viability of this strategy.  What if, for instance, Roberts is so stung by the rebukes from the Right - including his fellow justices - that he begins to hang out with Breyer a bit more? Or finds himself agreeing with Kagan a bit more?  What are they going to do, impeach him?

Obviously, the loss of a 17 year old "white Jewish nerd" isn't going to doom the Republican party, but eventually they will leave themselves with a rump if they continue to purge those who don't toe the party line.

Similarly, those Firebaggers who HATE Obama for occasionally compromising on issues that are near and dear to them need to realize that purity is a prime recipe for electoral defeat.  If Europe had not screwed up its monetary and fiscal policy so profoundly, the global economy would likely be recovering and Obama would be cruising to a second term at least in part because of the current ugliness of the Republican "brand".  And while I realize that a ton of people simply vote the party, eventually you can alienate enough people where that is no longer viable.

That was where the Left was by the '80s and I think that's where the Right is headed now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Remember: Obama Is Good At Politics

Breaking the Etch-A-Sketch

There has been a bunch written  about the Obama attacks on Romney and Bain Capital.

At first, we got the usual pearl clutching from the pundits - many of whom know and have friends in finance - about how unfair this all was.  (I am teaching a workshop on research-based writing this week, and half the teachers are from public schools.  Needless to say they are dealing with different issues than we are.  My main issue is why so many of our brightest graduates wind up working in finance, when they seemed so full of promise when we taught them.  I guess that's just where the money is.)

Anyway, people are marveling at how the national tracking polls were trending Romney's way, while the swing state polls tended to favor Obama.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, Obama is going to get killed in the Red States.  That's going to drag down his national numbers.  Second, national tracking polls are only being done by Gallup and Rasmussen.  The latter has a well-known Republican "house effect" and the former has some odd assumptions about the demographic makeup of the 2012 electorate.  Interestingly, both daily trackers have shown movement towards Obama in the past few days.  An after effect of the ACA ruling?

Finally, with all respect to Nate Silver and Ruy Teixiera's excellent demographic analysis, candidates and campaigns matter.  Romney is not a good candidate and he stepped all over his response to the Court ruling.  And Obama is beating the Bain drum loud and often.  This is smart.  Because few "independent" voters were paying attention to the horror show that was the GOP nominating process.  All they know is Romney is a handsome guy with an "R" after his name.  Obama is systematically defining Romney as a vulture capitalist, an "outsourcer in chief."  Since Romney is predicating his campaign on his business acumen, this is a perfectly legitimate line of attack, no matter what Cory Booker says.

Most people's minds are made up about Obama and whether they will vote for him or not come November. Most people also don't like to be told they screwed up at the last election.  This is why the only incumbent Presidents to be beaten in a two person race since 1900 are Hoover and Carter, and even Carter had John Anderson on the ballot.

Romney's only chance is for the economy to weaken significantly - so far it's soft rather than weak - and to define himself as a reason to chuck out Obama.  By defining him first, the Obama campaign is reducing the efficacy of Mitt's Etch-A-Sketch moment.  Combine that with Romney's own tin-ear and his lack of demonstrated political empathy (as opposed to personal empathy, which who the hell knows) and you have a great opportunity to end this campaign before it really begins.

The poll numbers will continue to fluctuate.  McCain led Obama or was tied with him in the Summer of '08.  

The question is whether or not the Citizen's United billions will overwhelm people or whether - like most bad advertising - they will simply tune it out.

Dog Bites Man. Makes Him Gay

There you have it...

Anderson Cooper is TEH GHEY!   Who knew?  Aside from everyone?

Honestly, I thought he was out already.

Anyway, the take on this is best left to TBogg.

Cultural Whiplash

This guy?

Or this guy?

Last night, the Most Delightful and Radiant Wife and I sat down to watch Downton Abbey, which she hadn't seen.  Then, when she went to bed, I watched Breaking Bad.

The thing is, watching Bryan Cranston's Walt sit through an "intervention" over his cancer treatment was in many ways more powerful than any of the soap operatic delights of Downton Abbey.  I've only just started watching it, but I'm beginning to get why it is so critically lauded.  And most of it has to do with the dad from Malcolm in the Middle.

Which is weird.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Facts? We Don't Need No Stinking Facts!

The GOP - predictably - is going to attack Obama for "raising taxes" because John Roberts only accepts a 19th century interpretation of the Commerce Clause, but he does accept 21st century political realities.

The above chart shows that the GOP attack of "Obama has the biggest tax increase in history" to be rankly, demonstrably and knowingly false.  Not that this will stop the GOP nor will the bulk of the media report the facts as facts.

Most interesting is looking at who DID have the largest tax increase as a percentage of GDP. Good thing that guy's not running today, he'd never make it out of the primary.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Good Life

Yesterday, the Most Glorious and Thoughtful Wife and I did major work in the yard.  It was hot, but not hot like it is around the rest of the country. At the end of the day, we had a clean garage, some newly planted plants and a retaining wall mostly finished.

After a shower and a nap, we drove to a "surprise date" where she took me out to Ibiza in New Haven.  We had a simply fantastic meal.  Different ceviches, she had duck, I had rabbit.  I had been hoping to go to Ibiza for a few years now and it was worth the wait.  New Haven was bustling and lively, a far cry from the war zone it was when I toured Yale over 25 years ago.

That was a good day.