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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here's How I Know Obama Has Already Won

The Manic Progressives - led by the libertarian left - are already complaining about having to vote for President Drone Strike.  Conor Freidsdorf at The Atlantic started it off and it has since permeated the left blogosphere.

And since I am otherwise occupied trying to hold my life together in these trying times, I shall once again outsource the blog to Booman.

I would add that to me drones are not nearly as troublesome as just about any other alternative.  Obviously I worry about what a Romney administration would do with drones, but as long as they are showing some discretion I do think it's the least worst solution to the problem of Al Qaeda.

Shake It Out, Young Man

Let's get that devil off your back.

Outsourcing The Blog Again

In a way, it has been a giant gamble. Every demographic trend that is working against the GOP has been exacerbated by their strategy of total obstruction, opposition to immigration reform, gay and women's rights, science, and their pursuit of voter suppression. But the strategy worked brilliantly for them in 2010, and it hasn't completely flamed out yet this year, although things are looking bleak. There wassome rational basis for what they did. At least, there was until they decided to vote en masse for the Ryan Budget and then put the man himself on the ticket. That was the equivalent of a Berserker attack.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thing Shoots, Things Scores!

After throwing up so violently, that I had to carry him down the halls of the school he was so weak, Thing One goes out and powers us to a 2-0 win over our archrivals three hours later.

Little dude was heroic.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Birthers and Skewers and Goopers, Oh My

The latest nonsense from the right is that the polls are systematically screwing Mitt Romney by skewing their samples.  So that poll from Fox News showing Obama up 5 nationally?  Just your liberal media at work.

It is difficult for me to explain how I feel about this.  About a third of Americans are willing to believe things that are categorically false in order to preserve their ideological purity.  Global warming?  False.  The Laffer Curve?  True.  Obama an American?  False.  Romney being screwed by a secret cabal of pollsters?  True.

This is not very healthy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

To My Beloved

"That Wasn't Me"

Hang on, just hang on for a minute
I've got something to say
I'm not asking you to move on or forget it
But these are better days
To be wrong all along and admit it, is not amazing grace
But to be loved like a song you remember
Even when you've changed

Tell me, did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you see, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, oh that wasn't me

When you're lost you will toss every lucky coin you'll ever trust
And you'll hide from your God like he ever turns his back on us
And you will fall all the way to the bottom and land on your own knife
And you'll learn who you are even if it doesn't take your life

Tell me, did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you see, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, oh that wasn't me

But I want you to know that you'll never be alone
I wanna believe, do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet
When you fall I will get you on your feet
Do I spend time with my family?
Does it show when I am weak?
When that's what you see, that will be me
That will be me, that will be me
That will be me

Get well soon.

Almost As Funny As Eastwood Talking To A Chair

Droning On And On

Every once and awhile, Tbogg tones down the snark and does some analysis - which is admittedly snarky.

Today he takes aim and the mindlessness of the single issue voter, in this case the Libertarians so upset with drone strikes in Pakistan that they would vote for a guy who would destroy America's full faith and credit in order to make a point about fiscal austerity.

Drones are problematic.  So is any solution to a bunch of medievalists who are willing to kill people at any time and any place.

Any criticisms of drones should end with a better (and realistic) plan to replace them.

I'll wait....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Their Ideas Suck

Josh Marshall is right that Romney hit the trifecta of losing: weak convention, the Libya gaffe and the 47% speech.  But I think it's also worth pointing out that it's not just the dynamics of the race and Romney's own shortcomings, but the various odious positions that the GOP has staked out.  It's not just that Romney made the 47% speech, but that that speech is a pure distillate of GOP economic and fiscal philosophy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Holy Crap

Just read.

Protect The Shield

I went to bed before the MNF game ended in farce or tragedy (depending on whether you live in Wisconsin or Washington State).

It was apparent from the pre-season that this was a bad idea, but Goodell and his Galtian pals have decided that getting rid of the refs pensions is worth destroying the credibility of their business.


If you think about it, two things stick out.

First, the NFL can afford to pay their refs pensions.  This isn't a struggling business trying to make ends meet.  We are talking about a couple of hundred people.  Pay the damn pensions.  This is about "unions suck" and nothing more.

Second, NFL players are about as competitive a group of people as you are likely to find.  They have said that they are working every play for the slightest advantage, because an interception vs a tipped pass in September might be the difference between a Super Bowl and missing the playoffs.

In other words, NFL players abide by the same ethos as Wall Street traders.  Win now, pay later.  You have to shoot your knee up with cortisone to play every Sunday?  OK, you'll be crippled at 45, but win now baby.  You have to leverage a company out the wazoo to realize a quarterly report that will vest your stock options?  Go for it.

When competition is this fierce, you need refs.

John Abraham - an All Pro defensive end for my Falcons - was arrested for refusing to leave the scene of a potential suicide jumper.  I don't know why he wouldn't leave the scene, but let's assume he has an emotional stake of some sort in the jumper.

For THAT he gets arrested, because the police in this country brook no shit at all.  You can barely look sideways at a cop without getting the full alpha male treatment. And if you're black, expect a tasing.

But Wall Street and the NFL don't need someone to vigorously and professionally enforce the rules because.....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rush Limbaugh In Spaaaaaaace


And a whining loser at that:

Seriously, THIS guy is supposed to stand up to whom exactly?

The Left's Reagan

Sullivan writes that Obama is the Left's Reagan, Booman agrees.

I'll add that Obama, I think, fashioned himself as the Left's Reagan.  In 2007-8 he got some flack during the primaries for lauding Reagan's communication and political skills.  "How dare you say nice things about Reagan!"

His point was that Reagan was a transformational President in a way that Clinton wasn't.  Clinton did some good, but - constrained by Congress in much the same way that Obama is now - Clinton's accomplishments are kind of feeble next to Obama's.

Some of this is simply the product of "the emerging Democratic majority" that Ruy Teixiera and John Judis wrote about eight years ago.  Demographically and I believe ideologically, the Republicans are just in an impossible place.  I was reading that Romney's advantage among working class whites exists primarily because he runs up massive majorities among white southerners.  

One quibble, though, I doubt the Democrats will build a cult of personality around Obama the way the Right has around Reagan.  We just don't roll that way.  We don't venerate personality and individual leaders.  We don't subscribe to the Great Man theory of history.  As Obama said in his acceptance speech, "You are the change."  

Myth building is strong, but ultimately unsatisfying as a governing philosophy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When The Going Gets Tough...

..I go to church.

And this morning was helpful as I deal with issues surrounding the stuff obliquely referenced below.  My Most Glorious And Long Suffering Wife has noted that the collection plate is cheaper than a co-pay.  And my priest is also a psychologist by trade, so...#winning.

One theme our priest returns to is the idea that service to God is discomforting.  Not because it's unpleasant but because it's hard.  It's hard to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It is hard to let go of envy and pride.

As I sat listening to her talk about the damaging power of envy, I thought to myself, "I'm not an envious person.  Prideful, hot-tempered and self-protective, but not envious."

Yay, me.

But as I started thinking about it, what about my "relationship" with the 1%?  I don't universally dislike them, but the priorities of most of the 1% are not mine.  I don't consider the 47% "moochers" and I think the ultimate "job creator" is the customer, not the Wall Street investment banker.

Is my distaste for Donald Trump envy?  I don't think so.

But I also think that when I say that I could be rationalizing myself to myself.

And part of what was striking about Romney's Boca speech was the "epistemological closure" of it.  Everyone nodded along because they all agree with each other.  They have entered a feedback loop of Fox News and drinks at the club.

So, as I said, service and a life dedicated to other should be uncomfortable, because if you aren't constantly questioning it, you aren't fully living it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

To Be A Man

It's been a rough week here at Casa de Crazy.  Without divulging details, it involves Thing One and requires a great deal of time and effort from me.

Many people have noted that it's important to take care of myself in all this.  It's psychologically draining.

But on the other hand, I think about what it means to be an adult.  Being an adult means taking responsibility for your actions.  Kids run away from their actions.  They hide from their deeds.  Adults face up to them. Certainly a large part of Thing One's problems is that he's still a child.

But being a man means something different than being an adult.  Being a man means standing things that have to be stood.  It means doing the hard things BECAUSE they are hard.

As a youth, I certainly skipped my share of hard things.  We all do.  But I was also a wrestler and a rugby player.  That forces you to do hard things.  Before I wrestled, I had no idea what hard work was.  Before I played rugby I had no idea what toughness was.

But a man stands forth and takes it.  You take your lickings and you get back up and face the next one.  And you do it, so that those who can't do it, don't have to.  A man steps between danger and those that danger would harm.  Not because it pays well or will get your mug in the newspapers.  You do it because that's what a man does.

And since this is a political blog, here comes the pivot.

Mitt Romney's not a guy I would deign call a man.

For years, the Democrats were the "Mommy party" and the Republicans were the "Daddy party".  That was intended as a slight to Democrats by the way.  Since nurturing and caring for the weaker members of society was ghey or something.

But when I look at the modern GOP, I see a parody of manhood, like rappers talking about their bitches.  These aren't men.  They don't stand in front of the weak and state clearly, "Not here, not now, not while I'm drawing breath."  Instead, they sell out the weak for a quick electoral rush.

Mitt Romney disgusts me, honestly.  McCain didn't disgust me.  Dole didn't disgust me.  H.W. didn't disgust me (hell, I voted for him in '88).  Dubya infuriated me.  He was stupid, craven, shallow and vapid.  He was, indeed, C+ Augustus.

But Romney is something altogether worse.  Bush was certainly an arrested adolescent, but he was at least an adolescent you would've enjoyed knowing.  Romney is still that kid who held down a boy and shaved his hair off.  He's still the preening dick of the boarding school world.  Bush was the good hearted doofus with more money than brains.

But Romney is not even that.  He doesn't stand that which needs to be stood.  He hires someone else to stand it for him.  He outsources his responsibility.  He offshores his courage, his manhood.

I think many members of the current GOP are like this.  Maybe Romney wouldn't have become "Mr. 47%" if it wasn't for the shallow farce of manhood that the GOP has become.  Maybe he would have become the Man Bill Weld might have been.

But if he had been, we would have known months ago.  We would have known in the GOP debates.  We would have known when he told Gary Bauer or Grover Norquist to pound sand.  But he didn't.

Mitt Romney has no manhood, no character.  He's the ultimate empty suit.  This is why everyone who has run against him has come to despise him.  And this is why he's going to lose.  Perhaps in epic fashion.

Barack Obama, for all his flaws, is a man.  When Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old seat - a Senate seat that had spent forty years fighting for universal health care - many told Obama to cash it in.  Instead, he said he would keep fighting.  Because a man stands between the uninsured and the debt collector.  A man stands between a woman and lesser pay.  A man stands between a lesbian soldier and a bigot.  A man stands between those that would shut off all avenues to the middle class and a child who dreams of bigger things.

Obama took the least bad option (drones) to a terrible problem (terrorism) and has endured the contumely of his party for it.  Similarly, he refused to allow GOP demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to short circuit extended unemployment insurance for millions.

For years we have become conditioned to think of the Democrats as the "women's party".  But that has happened simultaneously with the degradation and warping of what our idea of manhood was.  John Lewis could vote, but he stood on the Edmund Pettis bridge and got his head half stove in to allow other people to vote.  George McGovern flew more bomber missions than he technically had to, so that some poor unskilled rookie wouldn't have to.  John Kerry volunteered for Vietnam, because someone had to fight over there.

Meanwhile, the GOP has embraced the idea that swagger is the same as masculinity.

Well, a man steps up.  A man does the things that need doing.  A man stands between those that need help and the danger they face.

Mitt Romney and the modern GOP look to sell those people out.

That's the key point in the 47% speech.  Screw all you losers.  I got mine.  You moochers can starve.  Who says you're entitled to "food".  That's why having Price Waterhouse release a letter about Romney's tax returns is a joke, not an act of courage.

So, I will bear what I have to bear for my son.  I will stand what has to be stood.  If I'm lucky, one day he will be a man himself and maybe even say, "thanks".  But if he doesn't, that's OK, too.  As long as he becomes the man I think he can be. That I hope he can be.

And I hope he becomes a man who stands for something besides privilege and self-interest.  I hope he stands between those weaker than him and those that would harm them.  I hope he devotes himself to something bigger than his own wants.

I hope he's nothing like Mitt Romney.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fox News In A Nutshell

Roasting marshmallows with your bare hands.

Obama's Winning

Look, it's not complicated.  Romney got essentially no bounce out of his convention, because there was nothing there to create a bounce.  Obama got a traditional bounce, because Michelle, Bill and he gave impressive, substantive speeches that were unified around common themes.

And since the convention, Romney has stepped on his junk over Libya and the 47%.  There is literally no good news for Romney these days.  Of course Obama is winning.

Absent a massive event that shakes the fundamentals of the campaign (and the debates don't count unless Obama shows up on meth), Obama will get re-elected.  Also, Romney's crappy campaign and unpopular message delivered "inelegantly" is having an effect on down ballot races.

The GOP - again minus an "exogenous event" - will  not win control of the Senate and may actually lose ground.  They will lose their seat in Maine, and I bet they wind up losing Massachusetts as well.  Keep an eye on Indiana and Arizona where the GOP has nominated nut jobs.  Nevada is a toss-up.  The Democrats are going to lose in Nebraska and could lose in Montana and North Dakota.  But if they can pick up four seats, they will mitigate their losses there.

At this point, the election is over control of the House.  If Democrats can win control of the House, we will be able to back away from the "fiscal cliff" and the sequesters.  If not, we're headed to the summer of 2011 on steroids.

So, while the presidential election is in its endgame already, the race for the House is still alive and very, very important.

As I believe Ray Kroc said, "If they're going to drown, put a hose in their mouth."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Class Warfare? You're Soaking In it

A Kinsley Gaffe is defined as a gaffe where a politician inadvertently tells a truth that damages them.

Perhaps a Romney Gaffe is a gaffe where a politician actually expresses the core truths that are unpopular to the population as a whole.

The PA state rep above is an example of the sort of assumptions that animate today's GOP.  This is the root of Romney's 47% bullshit.  When Romney said 47% of Americans don't pay taxes, he was referring to income taxes.  Anyone who works pays payroll taxes (including many undocumented aliens).

So 47% of Americans don't pay zero taxes.  It's 47% who pay no income taxes, in large part because of Reagan's earned income tax credit.

From there, it's a hop, skip and a jump to Galt's Gulch.  There, we find the idea that 47% of Americans are simply moochers for wanting food, shelter and medicine.  And those lazy moochers shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Just remember that the next time some Republican starts whining about class warfare.

Stewart FTW

There's an ocean full of win in there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It is an article of faith among many Americans that this country is in irrevocable decline because all we care about is video games and simple, mindless gratification, whereas the countries of East Asia are going to eat our lunch.

I think the evidence shows that as a country becomes wealthier, it becomes, well, sillier.

Just watch that video.  It wouldn't have been made in Korea twenty years ago.

But now....

How Is THIS Possible

Romney's campaign is in debt?

I guess that's not a surprise.  Romney will leverage his campaign up to the armpits and then outsource the real job to Obama.

Karmic Justice

Oh, sweet Jesus, yes.

You know how the GOP has been slagging on Obama, calling him the Black Jimmy Carter?

Turns out Carter's grandson helped facilitate the distribution of what I think we can all call "Romney's Whitey Video".

Jimmy Carter turns out to like Michael Corleone.  He waits, until you guard is down, and then he has a baptism...

Chait On Romney

This is why Romney's open mic moment matters.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I've had some of the worst five days of my life.  No need to go into details.

So, thanks, Falcons and Braves for not sucking while the rest of my life did.

We give too much credence to sports, but when they make us happy... well, that's nice.

Mitt Romney Is A Colossal Dick

Wow.  Let's just remember who has been ugly during this campaign...

UPDATE: Read Pierce.

UPDATE II:  From Alex Pareene's twitter feed:

So true. RT : good luck convincing any white american that they're in "the 47%" romney's talking about

Light Posting For A While

Things are afoot.

Trying to keep up with events for class, but rarely have the energy to form a coherent thought.

So just go read Booman.  We reach the same conclusions anyway.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Deep Thought

Septembers in New England might be the most glorious time of the year, anywhere.

Friday, September 14, 2012


He's the one on the left.

Romney has had a bad few days.

What is fascinating - as John Chait has noted - is that apparently Romney and his campaign staff feel they can create an alternate universe where they think they are doing well.

Also, in this alternate universe, Romney will need to be sharp in the debates because Obama lies too much.

One of the hallmarks of the Romney campaign is their willing desire to say or do anything to get elected.  As Romney's polling director said, "We're not going to let our campaign be directed by fact checkers."  While the general performance of fact checkers would lend credence to this position, it's rare to come out and say, "We don't care about facts."  This was in response to Romney's welfare reform ad lies, Paul Ryan's remarkably mendacious speech and... well, you name it.

The Libyan catastrophe was entirely predicated on lies and twisting the fabric of space-time itself.  It has incensed American diplomats overseas that he has taken the death of some of their own and immediately tried to leverage it into a political advantage. A tactic that has backfired spectacularly.

So Romney has sort of doubled down on his foreign policy critique, because what the hell else can he do?  But in doing so, he keeps reminding people of his mistake and he's stopped talking about the economy.  Brilliant.

But remember.  It's OBAMA that's the liar.

But he has a strategy.  First is a Twitter feed called #Romneystrength.  I spent some time there this morning. Had a blast.  Social media fail.

The second part is to start laying the groundwork for the debates.  The CW is developing that A) Romney has to do well in the debates, because he's losing (which is true) and B) Romney is a really good debater and Obama is pretty weak.

Again, this is most likely not going to work.

Romney has to attack.  And Romney is a dick.  He's going to look like more of a dick attacking Obama.

Obama's reputation as a weak debater is grounded in the fact, that he's always been winning when the debates are taking place.  He was crushing Alan Keyes and comfortably ahead of McCain.

Obama's job is not to blow it during the debates.  Romney needs a game change.

Still, it's better than an easily hijacked Twitter feed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Apparently Mitt Romney has a competition to name his campaign plane.  Wonkette has some submissions:

Snakes on a Plane
Two Right Wings
Hair Cut One
Air Seamus
The Mousse Goose
Swiss Air
Con Air
Air Force 1%

Just a few suggestions, Mitt.  I like Air Force 1%.

Sweet Home Chicago

I haven't commented on the Chicago teacher's strike, because I've been insanely busy and didn't know enough to really comment on it.

But I've caught the gloss of events and - while I don't usually finish reading his posts - Freddie de Boer captures I think the real problem at the root of the dispute:

Here's the problem broken down:

A) We need good teachers at all levels to maximize student learning.
B) Students from weak and impoverished backgrounds are difficult to teach because they often lag behind in the skills they need to succeed.  Screw up first grade and third grade becomes pretty durn hard.
C) We need to evaluate who the good teachers are, and improve or replace the bad ones.

These are mutually exclusive, in some ways.  Do you want more good teachers?  OK, but you can't treat the profession poorly - as is generally done by reformers, who treat teachers as over privileged whiners.  Do you want to evaluate teachers?  OK, how?  We do it at our school by peer mentoring followed by departmental evaluations with opportunities for more training.

What we don't use is standardized testing.  Because of (B), you can't be entirely sure why a student might not improve under a particular teacher.  Which makes (C) hard.  And if you screw up (C), (A) becomes impossible.

Ideally, teacher's unions would come up with a way to evaluate teachers that doesn't rely on standardized testing.  But that commitment would also come up against resistance.  "Reformers" would distrust the source.  Privatization advocates would dismiss it out of hand, because it interferes with their business model.  And any evaluation system based on review of actual classroom behavior becomes subjective, and therefore fails the test of "rigor".

The American model of labor-management relations is predicated on conflict.  Other countries - Germany most notably - don't approach their labor relations that way.  As long as teacher's unions and city governments see each other as enemies, then reform is unlikely to succeed, no matter how well-designed the reform is.

And, to paraphrase Clinton, there is the math. You can't fire the bad teachers until you have new ones to replace them.

Where are they going to come from?

UPDATE: The union DOES have a plan.  It's pretty good.  And pretty expensive.  And doesn't touch teacher evaluation.

True Dat

This is another installment of "What Booman Says."

Murphy for Senate

Please give...

The Hot Mess

The attacks on the American embassies in Libya and Egypt were a confluence of two important things.

First and probably more important, Egypt and Libya are insufficiently liberal to support democracy.  By "liberal" I don't mean what is commonly understood to be "liberal" in America.  I mean liberal in the classical sense.  Liberal as in the accent on liberty, freedom and the limited state.  Liberalism - as opposed to being liberal, which depends on your ideological context - is an essential precondition, along with a middle class, for a successful transition to democracy.

Neither Egypt nor Libya has a large and wealthy enough middle class to overcome its lack of liberalism.  For the assaults on the embassies - while no doubt a product of calculating assholes on both sides - demonstrate clearly that these countries have not assimilated the idea that people have to be free to disagree without fear of getting killed in order for democracy to work.

The second thing is the aforementioned assholes on both sides.  The mysterious group that made the movie and Quran burning jackass Terry Jones coordinated these stunts in order to inflame Islamic opinion.  Similarly, apparently Al Qaeda was at least partly behind the attacks in Libya.  Both the Terry Joneses and Ayman al Zawahiris of the world NEED the clash of civilizations.  They NEED hatred and mistrust between the Islamic and Western world.

And people who are willing to resort to violence (or instigate violence) will always have an advantage over those that seek the harder path to making peace.

Are Jones and the filmmakers responsible for the deaths of those Americans overseas (and the additional deaths in Yemen today)?  That's a tough call.  Precisely because America is a liberal country, in the sense I described above, we are used to people being assholes.  We live with the Westboro Baptist Church and others of their ilk, left and right, because that's necessary for a free society.  We condemn them, hold counter-protests or ignore them, but we don't stifle them and we don't burn down their churches.

Large parts of the Islamic world have not internalized this basic idea, that disagreement need not end in violence.  Republicans and Democrats probably hate each other as much as they ever have, although 1998-2000 was pretty bad.  But it almost never resorts to violence, because we have hundreds of years of dealing with disagreeing.

I think the instigators should be held somewhat responsible, because they were specifically seeking out this conflict.  Their motivations matter.  But these guys are just assholes, and there will always be assholes.

What's more worrisome is the fact that Egypt and Libya are lost in the woods.  They may think they are headed to democracy - and they might very well have free elections - but they are unlikely to get there easily, as long as enough of them feel it's OK to kill people because someone from the same country as them did something obnoxious.

Oh, and Mitt Romney is a huge dick, because that can't be said enough.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Madness

Apparently Mitt Romeny - The World's Worst Politician - spent the morning stepping all over himself in his haste to make political hay out of the assassination of an American diplomat.

Mitt Romney is a colossal dick.

UPDATE: Looking around, I see that Romney's essential dickishness to the press means that they are using this to gut him.  Not a single GOP elected official has followed Romney's lead in trying to politicize the attacks.  And even Mark Halperin is saying Romney is hurting himself here.

James Fallows says Romney failed his "3 AM phone call".


As Libyan and Egyptian crowds commit crimes against the US, it's worth reflecting that this was caused by one guy being an asshole.  In no way, shape or form is the violence we've seen justified by the fact that someone in the US made an incendiary and insulting film.  In no way.

But just because some asshole CAN make a film insulting Islam, doesn't mean he SHOULD.

Having said that, it seems clear that factions within Egypt and Libya wanted to stir up trouble by talking about a film that all but a few thousand Americans didn't even know existed. I have no idea what the politics over there is, with regards to stirring up trouble, but Libya especially is troubling.  You don't just kill an ambassador.  You don't start down that road.

But then again, a regime born in violence will likely have a violent infancy.

There isn't a lot that the US can do.  We can't turn our back on Libyan efforts to create some form of democracy, nor can we overplay our hand in Egypt.  That would play into the hands of the men who started this furor in the first place.  The Islamists who pushed this violence are probably banking on a violent response from the US.  This would justify their anti-American positions and strengthen their position politically.

So we have measure our response, not turn the check exactly, but not start launching drones over Tripoli.

In an election year.

Good luck with that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interesting Piece On The Stimulus

Mitt Romney Is A Terrible Politician, Ed. 387676

Romney, I apologize for the earthy phrase, can't keep from stepping on his own dick.

Admittedly, it's tea leaf reading, but yesterday had two grinning Democrats (see below) and Romney going culture war (with the "taking God off our money") and stepping all over his health care position.  The Obama campaign looks confident and is clearly getting some sort of bounce from its convention.  The Romney camp looks shaky because it got NO bounce from its convention.

And so Romney tries to say something he probably believes (about pre-existing conditions and other parts of ACA he'd love to keep) but immediately has to walk it back.

Some of this is just Romney's incompetence as a politician.  Like his "I didn't talk about the troops because I only wanted to talk about important stuff" gaffe.

But in a larger sense, Romney is in an impossible place.  As Deval Patrick said in his speech, Romney has one, unalloyed accomplishment as a public servant: RomneyCare.  Which he can't mention and has to run against at the national level.

Romney has to run not only against Obama but against his own past as a moderate Republican in a blue state.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that genius was the ability to hold contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time.  Now Mitt is a smart guy, but not in THAT sense, especially since he has to hold three or four different positions in his mind at the same time and that's just impossible.

So, part of the problem is Mitt.  But a larger part of the problem is that the GOP has taken positions that are just so extreme and combative that it's impossible for a credible national candidate to embrace them all.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Your Day In Pictures

via New York magazine.

The problem is that white men just don't like Obama:

The other problem is that Joe Biden is about to get killed!

I Just Paid $200

To watch Chipper Jones draw a four pitch, pinch hit walk and then get lifted for a pinch runner.

And it was still awesome.

The Things liked it, too.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two Great Takes On Obama's Speech

Levenson is a prolix sonuvabitch, but it's a good comparison.

This is better:

Your Morning In WTF

As someone who has a mortgage with Wells Fargo, this story is... disturbing.

Of course, no one will ever be really held accountable for this.  It's not like they are Negros or Chicanos or some other dusky hued lowlife.

These are bankers who broke into a home, stole everything and fenced it.


But all Serious People agree that we have too much regulation of the banking industry and markets are always right.

I realize that Wells Fargo will write them a big check to cover the loss of, well, everything they own, family heirlooms, photo albums and the accrued memories of several lifetimes.

Because, and we can't say this enough... Capitalism!

(As always at Wonkette, skim the comments.)

Go...Cheddar Cheese Guys

The all-important U-11 soccer season begins today.

Say a prayer for the coach's blood pressure...

Also, too, taking the whole family to see Chipper Jones's last game in New York.

He'd better hit a foul ball to Thing Two.  I think I have a two year window to lure him away from the Red Sox.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Go Vikings!

Chris Kluwe is my new favorite punter...

That was awesome.

THIS Is The Ad Blitz?

Delicious, deep fried television.

Um... OK.  It's a clever idea.  In 1996.

Two problems, first is that political ads are repeated ad nauseum.  How many times before this gets old?  I'm guessing twice.

Because, while the idea had some merit, the production values - from the camera work to the "acting" - scream public access cable show.

Mitt Romney has more money on hand than he knows what to do with.  Yet he can't advertise in Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania and he can't film a creative spot with competent production values?

Between Clint Eastwood and the overall competency of the Romney campaign, I'm increasingly worried that the entire country is being punked.

UPDATE: More deep thoughts:

I wonder, too, about the basic idea behind a media "blitz".  Remember how in 2008, Obama's campaign understood the lay of the land better than Hillary and better than McCain.  Hillary had a strategy that relied on big states and downplayed caucuses.  Obama's strategy was clearly better.

The Obama campaign puts a ton of resources into GOTV.  McCain did not.  Obamanauts HATED requests for signs, they wanted people working voter registration drives, not plopping a sign in their yard and going back to watching TV.

No one really watches ads anymore.  With DVR and Netflix and Hulu, with the blessed, blessed mute button, there is just no way to reach people with an ad "carpet bombing" - to use Sununu's phrase.  Obama has again worked to create a GOTV machine.  Romney is tossing a bunch of money at TV ads, kind of like Hillary did.

I'm skeptical it will work.  I'm VERY skeptical negative ads will win Romney votes.  Negative ads usually are about depressing voter turnout.  But if no one watches them...

More Crappy Jobs Numbers

Unemployment goes down from 8.3% to 8.1%, but the economy only added 96,000 jobs.

There were hints of a better number yesterday.

I was talking to my students about causation vs. correlation.

If 96,000 jobs is not enough to drop the unemployment rate (and it's not), why did it fall?

The conventional wisdom is that people have simply given up hope.  And that's certainly part of it.  If you're not looking for work, you're not technically unemployed.

But there are also two other things at work, one demographic and the other politically.

First, the Baby Boomers are retiring, or they've given up finding that part-time job in retirement.  Structurally, unemployment rates will continue to fall as the Boomers leave the workforce.  Yes, Social Security and Medicare will be stressed, but the unemployment numbers will look better and eventually that could lead to an increase in wages.

(As an aside, China's One Child Policy will also lead to this sort of demographic shift, which will in turn begin to price Chinese labor higher. But not for about 15 years.)

Second, I'm beginning to wonder if the unemployment figure is baked into the political race already.  In 2008, I kept hearing about people who were worried about a "Bradley Effect" in the polling.  Didn't happen. Because voters had a legitimate alternative in McCain.  They weren't "voting against the black guy", they were voting FOR McCain.  I think that's now the accepted wisdom: It's baked in.

A lot of the unemployed are the young, African American and Hispanic.  For any number of reasons, these groups are not going to line up behind Mitt Romney.  At these point, we have come to "accept" 8% unemployment and high gas prices.  We've normalized it.

Again, this was referenced in Obama's speech last night, although these number do undermine the case.

But at this point, I think we have come to expect mediocre job numbers.  Still, it will be interesting to see where the polling is next week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Skimming The Punditry

Quick!  To Twitter!

Twitter was full of... "well, kind of pedestrian."

Any analysis of Obama's speeches has to recognize that he builds during a speech.  He usually starts out slow and measured.  He's a slow and measured person.

But holy crap, when he gets going...

This convention was a masterpiece of messaging.  How many speeches fed into that one.

Also, he did a great job of turning the "Hope and Change" snark into a paean to America's people, not himself.  That was a great rhetorical device that was the direction of the entire convention.

UPDATE: The GOP pushback is that Clinton gave a better speech.  I personally liked Obama's better, because - while I smiled along with Clinton - Obama's Lincoln reference just gut punched me.

Still, there is an argument that Michelle or Bill gave a better speech.

I don't hear anyone arguing that Romney gave a better one.

Liveblogging The POTUS

Missed John Kerry getting eight years of frustration off his chest.  Hear it was something else, though.

Pulled into Joe Biden's speech towards the end.  Did he have an eye job?  He looks like Kevin Nealon with a wig on.  Of course, Nealon played him in one of the best SNL sketches of all time.

Listening to part of Biden's speech, it's apparent the advantage incumbents have.  He rightly points out that the GOP was saying that America's best days are behind it.  That's just a sucky sales pitch.

The DNC attendees and speakers were just having so much more fun.

I don't think one convention and one election cycle will effect this change, but Romney and the GOP completely stiffed the troops.  After wrapping themselves in the flag SO tightly in 2004 and to a lesser degree in 2008, the only mention or reference to the military was when they announced the Paul Ryan pick on the USS Wisconsin.

Military voters are obviously a tough sell for the Democrats in a lot of ways.  But they aren't a monolithic bloc.

Interesting video.  Clooney narrating and lots of Clinton.  Apparently Bill Clinton has gotten over 2008.


A lot of discussion of character.  Clearly they think that this taps into his personal favorables.  Plus, Romney's character is of course an open ended question.

Nice production values.  Damned Hollywood elites!  All the GOP could get was a chair.

Let's see how he measures up to the other speakers.

If repetition is the soul of learning, then I think this is a pedagogically sounds convention.

Thanks for mentioning climate change.  Now do something about it next year.

Very wonky speech.  Lots of details.  Clear contrast with Romney's speech.  Don't worry though.  Obama tends to save the soaring stuff for the end.

Making the most of this "choice" theme.  My guess is he will end with a song of American greatness.

Excellent use of the word "citizenship".  It did seem as if the entire convention was circling around that word.

Very clever.  My works are your works.  Deflates the idea that he's an egomaniac.

Lincoln still kills from beyond the grave.

Brilliant turning around of the "hope" theme.

Wow.  As usual, he just slaughters at the end.  Brilliant.  Oh, and what, you couldn't get Springsteen IN PERSON.

Is This Election Over?

Noted race baiter and GOP hack Alex Castellanos said that the election was over after Clinton's speech.

Wellllll maybe...

But today brings word that Romney is pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan.  PA has never been heavily contested so far this cycle, belying its reputation as a swing state.

But Michigan has produced a slew of polls from weird fly-by-night outfits that have suggested that it was in play.

Apparently it's not.  R-Money should not be having to marshal his resources.  Even the SuperPACs are pulling out.

If the GOP concede Michigan and Obama holds his lead in Nevada, Obama is 14 EVs from winning.  He can get them from Ohio or Florida alone.  Or a combo of say, Iowa and Virginia.

Romney was never likely to win Michigan, despite his admiration for the height of their trees.  But to concede that ground this early means he's hemorrhaging elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bill Clinton Is The Great Explainer

No one explains things better than Bill Clinton.

He managed to talk about... well... everything... and make it interesting.

Yeah, he was too prolix, he went on a bit too long, he gets off script... but is there another figure who can take a complicated idea or series of issues and make it understandable on a visceral level?

What a teacher he would have been if he hadn't wasted himself on politics.

Steve Schmidt: "I wish we had a figure like Clinton on our side."   I think that covers it.

As someone tweeted, "Clinton just gave Obama a $500,000,000 donation".

Chuck Todd just noted that Clinton - whom the GOP impeached for a blowjob - is now the GOP's favorite Democrat.  And that Clinton - of all people - spoke about the nobility of public service on both sides of the aisle.  Amazing.

And the GOP kept saying that Clinton was going to stab Obama in the back.  More political incompetence from the GOP.

Two great posts from Josh Marshall:

Folks with a hard copy of the speech tell me it bears little resemblance to what Clinton’s actually saying.

 Hard for me even to fathom how much Clinton is relishing this. Like a caged animal let back out for a brief run in the wild.

Ed Schultz points out that Clinton did the very best job in explaining what exactly is in the health care bill.  
Too bad they couldn't use it a few years ago.

“This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama.” – Top Republican strategist and CNN yacker Alex Castellanos just after Clinton’s speech.

Melissa Harris-Perry on the Tweetz: “Ok is it weird that President Clinton started the speech in his 60s but is apparently 40 at the end?”

Yeah, that was weird...

Tom Junod Is A God

That dude can write.

Yeah... Pretty Much

Is This Real?

Hackers allegedly broke in to Price Waterhouse and downloaded Romney's tax returns.  They will release them in three weeks unless a ransom is paid.  If someone else pays the ransom, they will release them, too.

That's strange.  PWC says it didn't happen, but they are working with the Secret Service to find out who didn't steal the returns... or something.  It's a strange story and likely false.

And if it isn't?

Fact Checking

Interesting moment in fact checking.  The Democrats, most notably Kathleen Sebelius, have said that the Romney-Ryan plan will require seniors to pay $6400 a year in health care costs.

This is apparently Pant-On-Fire because that was only the Ryan plan.  The Romney plan - as usual - promises ponies, but doesn't exactly spell out how those ponies will A) come to your house and B) not shit all over your living room.  But... PONIES!

Part of Romney's substance free policy approach is that it allows him to avoid pointing out the popular stuff he will have to cut in order to fulfill the promises he's making.

The downside is that you can run the numbers that Romney's plan DOES give you and say things like "Mitt Romney will raise taxes on the middle class."  And you can say that because Mitt promised to cut taxes and also balance the budget by closing loopholes and the only way to make that true is to end the mortgage tax credit, which - ta da - raises taxes on the middle class.

I know that fact checkers are important, but it seems to me you have three categories: Truth, Lie and Spin.

What the Democrats are doing is Spin.  They are taking some facts and reaching conclusions from those facts.  They are also taking Ryan's plan - which every House Republican voted for - and using that instead of Romney's.

That's different from saying "Obama is ending the work requirement in welfare" but sadly they are all treated the same.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Deep Thought

It's difficult for incumbent presidents to lose.

The Democrats put on a much more positive first night than the GOP.

I wonder if the two are related?  That to take out an incumbent, you have to attack and destroy them.  And that just doesn't sell well.

Reflections On The First Night

Smiling dude is smiling.

Some nice body blows from Deval Patrick.  Couldn't listen to O'Malley, something about his voice.  Loved Kal Penn's outreach to slackers and stoners.  Lily Ledbetter eats iron and shits nails.

(UPDATE: Watched a little bit of Strickland's garroting of Romney.  Holy crap.  Oh, and Stacey Lihn: heartbreaking.)

Julian Castro was great.  Watching the FLOTUS now.

What strikes me as a difference is that this has been much more positive than the RNC.  Another difference is that they are actually talking about Obama.  Romney was kind of MIA in the RNC.

Finally - and amazingly - the military was missing from the RNC, but it's front and center in the DNC.

I really like Michelle Obama's speaking style.  I like the little stutter she has, feels conversational.

It's pretty clear that they are focusing on women and Hispanics, but they are doing it in a way that is not exclusionary.

I wasn't going to watch, but it was pretty good.

We'll see if it beats Honey Boo Boo in the ratings.

"So young, so in love, so in debt."  #thingsromneydoesnotunderstand  The FLOTUS is filleting R-Money without ever mentioning his name.

Remarkably full throated defense of marriage equality throughout the night,

I got something in my eye again...

I had no idea Michelle Obama was the best public speaker in that family.

UPDATE: Howard Fineman talking on MSNBC about an enthusiasm gap.  And it's applying to Obama?

UPDATE 2: Watching Andrea Mitchell interview Chuck Schumer.  And people wonder why I believe in zombies?

Hey, Obama! I Built This!

It's a retaining wall with a firepit!  Come on by.

But bring some of that White House beer.

And so ends the Summer of Projects....

Republicans Hate America

Obama is trying to resurrect some of that hopey-changey stuff and Mitch McConnell is all "Oh, no he didn't!"

First of all, kudos to McConnell for honesty.  That's a rare trait in the GOP these days.

Second, McConnell is counting on increased GOP representation in the Senate.  I'm not sure that will happen.  I am reasonably sure that they won't take the Senate.  Akin may have stopped them from taking Missouri, King will win in Maine and if Warren beats Brown, Berkeley beats Heller and Heitkamp beats Berg - and that's all possible - McConnell could be dealt a significantly weaker hand.

And Ramesh Ponnuru noted that whatever happens in November the GOP will likely move even further Rightwards.

Basically their strategy is "Vote for the GOP or we will f*** some s*** up!"

Unless Democrats hold the Presidency and Senate and win back the House, you can expect even more obstruction and putting party above country.

I guess you either have to live in Paul Ryan's Randian fantasy world or make sure that Democrats sweep this November.

This Is Awesome

It's Not 1980

Their last, best hope...

It's an article of faith among the Wingnuts that Barack Obama is the Black Jimmy Carter, and that Mitt Romney is - stop laughing - Ronald Reagan in 1980.

This is grasping at straws so thin you need a magnifying glass to even see them.

There have been four incumbent presidents kicked out of the Oval Office since 1897. William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.  That's it.

Hoover stands alone as a unique situation, but the other three have some strong similarities.

First, all three had strong intra-party challenges for the nomination.  Taft faced an internal revolt by the Progressives led by Teddy Roosevelt, his old mentor.  Carter faced a challenge from his Left from Teddy Kennedy and Bush had a challenge from his right from Pat Buchanan.

Perhaps as a result of this "fractured base", all three races saw strong third party candidates.  Roosevelt bolted the GOP and headed the Progressive party ticket and easily outpolled Taft in both the popular and electoral votes.  John Anderson won 6.6% of the national vote and Reagan barely squeezed out a majority of the popular vote, winning 50.7% of the electorate.  It was a landslide in the Electoral College, but Anderson polled over 5,700,000 votes.  Bush, of course, saw Perot run in '92.  Perot won 18.9% of the vote or over 19,700,000 votes.

Taft stole the progressive Republicans (back when there were such things), Anderson stole the moderate centrists and Perot stole the fiscal hawks.

In fact, you can even say the last time an incumbent PARTY was kicked out (1968, 1976, 2000) you also had special circumstances.  In '68, George Wallace won 13.5%/9,900,000 votes.  He carried four states in the deep South and probably tilted the upper South against Humphrey.  Nixon won the popular vote by a mere 0.7%.  In '76 you had Watergate, but even THAT vote was extremely close, with Carter winning by just 2.1% of the popular vote.  And in 2000, you had the Nader effect in Florida and New Hampshire that effectively tipped the race to the loser of the popular vote. Even JFK in 1960 won by a razor thin margin.

Obama's election in 2008 was one of the few instances in recent memory (Eisenhower and FDR were the others) of a popular vote route of the incumbent party, much less a sitting president.

It just doesn't happen very often.  In fact, Bush's narrow 2004 re-election was the closest margin for an incumbent since 1916.

People don't like to throw their Presidents out of office.

Or perhaps demographics are another way to look at it.

From 1932 until 1968, the Democrats won the White House unless they ran against Dwight Eisenhower.  From 1968 until 1992, the Republicans won the White House unless they ran under the shadow of Watergate.  From 1992 until 2008, the Democrats won the popular vote every time except 2004, when they had to face a sitting president.

Jon Chait has noted that this is a "must win" election for the GOP because demographically the dice are loaded against them for the next decade until they find a way to peel off minority voters or women.  Put another way, the GOP will have trouble winning national elections until they stop being the GOP.  But it's also "must win" because the economy is likely to pick up steam over the next two years.  Whoever wins this November will get to preside over an economic expansion largely irrelevant to whichever party sits in the White House, just as Reagan benefited from the monetary expansion of '82-'84 that was entirely a product of the Federal Reserve.

The problem for Mitt Romney is that people historically don't like to throw out their President, demographics are turning against the GOP (see Graham, Lindsey) and no one likes Mitt Romney.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"George Bush Kept Us Safe"

Apparently his brother said that at the RNC.

Kept us safe?

I'll take my chances with the Democrats.

Dionne On The Conventions

The idea that Obama is anti-business is absurd (look at the Dow Jones averages) and needs to be refuted. But more important is challenging both Tampa premises. The United States was built not only by business people but also by those who “labor in the oil and gas fields, mines and mills,” and by the “hands that work in restaurants and hotels, in hospitals, banks, and grocery stores.” The words of Rick Santorum, Romney’s former rival, were among the few spoken in Tampa that acknowledged the priority of labor. It’s a theme Democrats should embrace.
And Obama will have to return unapologetically to the theme of his inartfully cast but philosophically sound “You didn’t build that” speech. American government — through student loans, the GI Bill, the interstate highway system and so many other measures — has always been primarily about opportunity, investment and enterprise, not dependency. For Obama, winning this argument is a precondition to winning the election.
EJ Dionne makes an essential point.  One of the advantages of incumbency is that you go second in making your scripted pitch to the electorate.  
Obama has a huge advantage in likability and "Cares for people like me/understands people like me."  He is not trying to win the plutocrats votes, he's trying to win middle class votes.  All he has to do is win 40% of the white vote and he wins the election.  
So he gets to re-argue two points: the essential necessity of the social contract and the essential role of the middle class.  You will hear a lot about community and the commonwealth in Charlotte.  You will hear a lot about the basic role of government in a complex world.  
I think it's a compelling message, of course.  I would.  But the idea that "workers built that" is a nice rhetorical counterpoint to "I built that".  
Finally, Obama needs a message that can soar.  Romney's speech was - unsurprisingly - poorly received for a convention speech.  Obama can deliver a speech that raises the roofbeams, if he has a message that can resonate. 
Plus, having Bill Clinton give a speech is usually a plus when it comes to making a complicated argument.
Just - for God's sake - triple fact check everything.  The press is eager to the point of desperate to write "both sides lie" stories.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Eastwood, The Coda

Laurence Lewis at Daily Kos:

The saddest thing about Clint Eastwood's embarrassing performance at the Republican National Convention is that it seemed so out of character for a man who always has been more nuanced and complicated than his macho film persona would suggest. In fact, many of his films have been more nuanced and complicated than many realize, often demonstrating a sensitivity to cultural diversity that is anathema to most Republicans, once making the case for end of life choice, and once even revealing the pettiness and empty false mythology behind the violent Westerns that first made him famous.
Eastwood has come out in favor of gay marriage, but he supports a presidential candidate who would ban it, and spoke to the convention of a party that is openly bigoted against the LGBT community. Eastwood last winter cut an ad that expressed appreciation for the auto bailout that Mitt Romney opposed and President Obama created. Eastwood is an environmentalist in a party that sees nature as nothing but a commodity to be exploited and exhausted. Eastwood in his speech decried the ongoing war in Afghanistan, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Republicans oppose even the limited withdrawal President Obama signed. Eastwood mocked liberal Hollywood, but has a history of working well with noted liberal activists such as Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Hillary Swank. He has been known as a man of dignity, unpretentious, widely respected, well-liked.
Clint Eastwood is 82 years old, but there is no evidence that his mental faculties have been suffering. He still directs substantial films, and he still demonstrates wisdom in his choices of films to direct. If there is any lesson to be drawn from his public self-immolation it is that even a nuanced and complicated and normally respectable man cannot stand in the GOP spotlight without being soiled by it. This was a self-inflicted disaster, and Eastwood has no one to blame but himself. It was, nevertheless, sad.

Happy Labor Day

What's Axelrod Up To?

Obama campaign guru claims that the GOP convention was a "terrible failure".  While I recognize that spin and bold claims are a staple of campaign flack discourse, why make that statement now?  Do they have poll numbers?  Nate Silver suggests that a typical convention bounce is 5-6 polling points.  For a variety of reasons, we have fewer undecided morons voters this year.  So the bounce is going to be smaller anyway.  He predicts 2-3 points for each candidate.  Romney needed more than that.

Let's see if Obama is winning on Monday or Tuesday.  If so, then Axelrod is probably right.

He's not as smart as a chair, but he's pretty clever.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mitt Romney Is A Dick, v.287265

And he's incompetent, too.

The Eastwood thing alternates between funny and sad, of course.  Mostly funny.  Eastwood's a legend, his films will live on and in a few years the epic weirdness of Thursday night will be but a tickle in the back of the collective memory.

But for a candidate running on his competency as a business man, the Romney campaign has been pretty damned incompetent.  And I'm not just talking about Romney's personal shortcomings as a politician.

There is this:

There is this:

There is your keynote speaking for an hour about how awesome HE is:

And despite 8% unemployment, they couldn't find a LEGITIMATE angle of attack, so the well delivered battle cry from their VEEP becomes obscured by this:

And then there is this...

But what's interesting about this, is that Mitt Romney is not exactly Harry Truman.  The buck doesn't stop with him.  Read the Slate piece above.  "Eastwood's not OUR fault!  Neither was Christie's Ode To Myself. Not me!  I didn't do that!" I guess when it comes to their own convention, "They didn't build that."

Yeah, he's no Harry Truman, but he might be Thomas Dewey...

UPDATE: Don't believe me:
That's the Intrade market for Obama's re-election.

Here's Romney's

Who's got the bounce now?