Blog Credo

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

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Seeping In

Ron Fournier is about as close to the Beltway conventional wisdom as any journalist in DC.  He is synonymous with the Courtier Press.  Yet, he wrote an illuminating piece that suggests the real lessons of Ferguson and Baltimore might be seeping into the governing classes.

Despite Wolf Blitzer's once again woefully deep stupidity on display, apparently Americans might be ready to see beyond a burning CVS.  Fournier goes on to talk about Toya Graham, the latest internet celebrity.  Most people have said, "Why can't we have more mothers who will spank their kids?"  Spanking really doesn't work, and I've often wondered if the preference for corporal punishment in African American communities (see Peterson, Adrian) isn't a small contributing factor in why those communities struggle with violence.  Violence teaches more violence.

But anyway, Fournier at least gives her the voice that the sensational internet clip doesn't.  She smacked her son, because she knew he could wind up dead if he stayed at the barricades.  The whole point of this unrest is that black lives DON'T matter as much, and her son's presence gave authorities the right to unleash violence upon him (as long as the cameras weren't on).

Riots are "wrong".  In the Rolling Stone article above, the author cites the quote from MLK - because the Wolf Blithering Idiots of the world only see Disneyland MLK, and MLK is much, much more complicated than that.  The fact is - as the President and others have noted - there WERE peaceful protests.  For days.  But the media only showed up when the CVS started burning.

That Fournier can see around the edges of this problem is encouraging.  Because if he can, anyone can.

At any rate, I leave with the MLK quote in all its complexity:

I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.
Maybe people are starting to listen.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Your Daily Dumb

WTF, Texas?

And, Judge Pape?  The reason Americans think their government might do something like this?  It rhymes with Fox News.

Every time a Democrat takes the White House, we hear ridiculous theories about black helicopters and secret Muslims and birth certificates.

You feed people fear, they will be afraid.

Keep Doing This, Hillary

Clinton needs to "wonk" her way to the White House.

This is a good start.

Worth Clicking Through

Tweets from Baltimore...

And if true, we are seeing something similar to some instances in Ferguson where members of the community are doing more to diffuse things than the police are.  Which is good, and totally not what CNN and Fox want to show on the TV.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hot L Baltimore

While I admit that most of my knowledge of Baltimore comes from The Wire and Serial, I think we can agree that it is one of the most economically depressed cities in America.  It is overwhelmingly poor and brown.

And angry.

I was getting my haircut and the barbers had Fox on, because of course they did.  The blonde newsreader introduced a Milwaukee police chief  (or more likely the sheriff) who she said had brought "balance" to this issue.

Whoever this guy was (I was fixed at the mirror ahead of me), I'm guessing he was African American (and not Ed Flynn, so probably David Clarke), which would account for the "balance."  What I heard at the end was this officer refer to the looters as "sub-human."

Really?  Not "wrong," not "misguided," not "foolish," not even just plain "criminals."  But that they were "sub-human."

If police officers - and this guy was from Milwaukee not Baltimore - see the communities they police as full of "sub-humans" then that would explain why they treat their populaces that way.  How do you kill a rabid squirrel?  You break its neck with a shovel.  Why not do the same to Freddie Grey?  I mean, he's sub-human, right?

Who cares - aside from PETA - about the "rights" of animals?  Who cares if another stray cat gets put down? It happens all the time in America.

We have a Black and White problem, but we also have a Black and Blue problem that is much deeper.  And John Angelos said it best yesterday:

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
I should be clear, that the looting and rioting are stupid.  They are counter-productive.

But that assumes that anything productive can come out of this anyway.  What evidence can we produce that would persuade Black America that we give a shit about the dead young men that are continuing to be a product of police aggression?  What evidence can we produce that would persuade young black men that we think they have or even just deserve an economic future?

When we think of "depression" we think of sadness.  But depression in men often manifests as anger.  The young black men of Baltimore and Ferguson and everywhere else are unvalued, undereducated and the jobs they might be able to do are in China and Mexico.  If they exist in the public eye at all they exist as criminals and looters.

Wouldn't you be depressed, too?

UPDATE: I think POTUS nailed it:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

American Napoleons

Ross Douthat coughed up a column today about military policy.  In it, he says that Obama has tried to lay down some of the burdens of Pax Americana, especially in the Middle East and that this has led to "frozen conflicts" that America is managing rather than trying to win.

He quotes Napoleon: "When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna."  But here's a variation: "When you set out to take Moscow, rethink your plan."

As Clausewitz noted, you fight the wars you have to and you fight the wars you can win.  The idea that winning in the Middle East is possible should be fully realized as the fantasy that it is.  Wars can only be won against states.  We "beat" Iraq pretty handily.  We could "beat" Iran or Syria or Pakistan.  We can "win" any war we choose.

But that winning comes at a cost that isn't worth it.  And as we discovered in Iraq, once you've won, you have to govern an essentially ungovernable, occupied populace.

Napoleon conquered much of Europe.  But within two decades, he had lost it all and was imprisoned.  His country relapsed into the aristocracy that had been overthrown in the revolution that spawned him.

Napoleon lost.  Why on earth would that be your model?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

And So It Begins

First of many soccer games this spring.  Appropriately, it was freezing cold.  Thing Two did not see a ton of playing time, but since it was 1-0 and he is mostly a goalie, I'll take that.

Two more tomorrow while trying to keep up with a stack of grading.


Friday, April 24, 2015


I've enjoyed much of what Zandar writes at Balloon Juice.  His latest piece has some nice rant-type qualities.  I won't discuss the topic of white supremacists whining about people talking about white privilege.  I do worry that we may reach a point where white supremacists may garner some legitimacy because the world is a painfully stupid place sometimes.

I have been thinking a lot about how we think about safety, though, and what role schools play in creating a safe environment.

One of the more or less profound things that Edward Snowden said in his interview with Jon Oliver was that you can't have perfect safety outside solitary confinement.  There are certain "unsafe" things that are important to do and have done to you.  I think everybody should get punched in the face once in their lives.  Not "hit in the face with a door by accident" but punched in the face.  Because after you've been punched in the face - and it does hurt, broken noses hurt like hell - you realize that you can survive it.  It's a big deal, but it's not a Big Deal.

So, when people on the Right complain about the wussification of modern America, I'm actually fairly sympathetic to them.  This obscures the fact that they are often the biggest bed-wetting cowards around, but young people need to get knocked down, so that they can learn to get back up.

Most of the times that I've been punched in the face occurred on rugby pitches and wrestling mats.  There is a structure there that allows me to feel "safe" even as I'm getting my ass kicked.  There are limits and rules and expectations that govern behavior.  Rugby may look like a melee, but there are expectations and norms that you don't do certain things.  You don't bite or gouge eyes, even though you could at the bottom of a ruck.

But now we live in a world where parents probably won't let their kids play rugby because of concussion worries.  I probably did suffer mild cognitive impairment throughout my rugby playing years.  Or maybe I was just a 20-something year old male.  Who knows?

What worries me is that we are creating a world where we systematically reduce risk and freedom to a vanishing point.  And yet, we all know that the world is full or risk and pain and unhappiness.  Learning to deal with pain is part of growing up.  Learning to overcome obstacles is the essential quality of an adult.

I do think eventually the Special Snowflake children will adapt to a world of adversity.  And maybe their route isn't any slower to adulthood and the important realizations about the actual trials of being alive.

Still, are we losing something in our quest to give kids a safe world?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Is Kenneth The Page Thinking

After the "Don't Got To Serve No Homos" bills in Indiana and Arkansas went down in flames - glorious, fabulous flames - it seemed that the lesson was clear: Bigotry won't play in 2016 the way it did in 2004.

Well, here comes Boy Governor Bobby Jindal to support another version of tacitly legalized discrimination.  And, unsurprisingly, Jindal is catching hell.  This is exactly the sort of nonsense that reasonable Republicans want to go away.  The more the GOP is seen as peering into people's bedrooms, the less votes they are going to win with people under the age of 60.

And, let's be clear.  Louisiana ain't Indiana or Arkansas.  Louisiana has themselves some gays.  New Orleans has a large and vibrant gay community, but one that isn't historically very political.  Stirring up THAT particular hornet's nest seems a stupid move for the governor of Louisiana.  But I guess Jindal knows he's never going to get re-elected anyway, what with his state's budget collapsing as fast as his approval ratings.

Why not go all in as the GOP candidate for seething bigotry religious values?


Jon Stewart has one of his cogent pieces on disparities in American ideals.

"You can't put a million dollars in jail."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Can Ezra Get An Amen?

Ezra Klein writes a great and important piece about Social Security.

In it, he argues a position I've felt for years whenever Alan Simpson starts yammering about Social Security. First of all, Alan Simpson can STFU.  He's been predicting the demise of Social Security for decades now.  The Doomsday of Social Security tends to remain safely over the horizon.  It could probably use more funds, but we are talking decades down the road before it goes belly up.

What Klein points out is how the debate over Social Security throws into stark relief the divide between wealthy elites who make policy and the rest of the country who has to live under those policies.

I could probably work into my late 60s without much problem.  Maybe not coaching wrestling, but I can teach until they tell me to bugger off.  It isn't physical, it's mental.  My body is already showing signs of aging and breaking down - largely from a misspent youth of wrestling and rugby.  Physically, I'm a mess.  Mentally, I'm probably on top of my game, and while I will begin to decline there, too, it should be gradual and later than my physical decline.

If my job entailed physical labor, I'd be clamoring for the exits in my early 60s.

And THAT'S what Alan Simpson doesn't have a freaking clue about.  He's comfortably ensconced in air conditioned offices, sitting at conference tables and engaging in debate.  He's not waiting tables or stringing cable or working a 10 your nursing shift on his feet.

The stunning arrogance of those who propose raising the retirement age is the clearest example I can think of how wealth inequality in governance manifests in an "eat the poor" policy.

I guess the proper place to end this would be with this classic Colbert testimony before Congress.


What happened in the Mediterranean recently is appalling.

And it isn't over.  As the Middle East and Northern Africa spiral into chaos, more and more people will try to escape that chaos.  And they will try to escape to Europe.  And Europe isn't interested in having Africans and Arabs living among them.  For all their enlightened social policies, Europeans are still as racist as any other group of people, still as tribal, still as exclusionary.

All of this means that it's time for Europe to take on responsibilities in its backyard that traditionally have been abandoned to the US.  As Obama - rightly - pulls America back from its role as world policeman, Europe and other regional actors will have to step up.

I'm sure the GOP will scream that this is diminishing America's greatness, but as Iraq showed, you are only as great as people think you are and continued flailing isn't going to impress anyone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Interesting Read

Here's a piece on the "burnouts" of the '80s.  Think Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club.

It makes a case that the burnouts were nothing more than a marginalization of working class Americans that was going on in Reagan's America.  Their parents lives were turning to shit and so would their's.

Today, the article argues that the 1% are actually the marginal.

If that's true - and I'm not saying it is - then perhaps we are at a pivot point culturally and economically.

I'll wait and see though.

Thanks, Obama!

This woman was a Congressman and for 15 minutes a GOP presidential frontrunner.

Koch Suckers

Apparently one invisible primary is over and Scott Walker won.

You can't hardly be a GOP Anybody without a Somebody letting you know that you have access to their billions.  And now Scott Walker has the biggest Somebodies on his team.  Having the Kochs in your corner doesn't guarantee that Walker will be the nominee, but tradition has it that the GOP tends to fall in line behind the "Establishment."  It is an open question who the "Establishment" in the GOP is anymore, but the Kochs are certainly in the discussion.

Jeb "JEB!" Bush is running the same sort of campaign that Hillary ran in 2008 and Mitt ran in 2012: I'm inevitable; give up.  But Walker is a legit candidate - in his own way - and having the Kochs back him is an important milestone in his candidacy.

Walker probably looks stronger to the Kochs than he actually is.  His victory in the recall election probably has more to do with the difficulty of having a successful recall than any broad endorsement of his policies.  And if Clinton runs a more economically populist campaign - as there are signs of her doing - then Walker's anti-union policies won't be helpful in exactly the sort of Rust Belt states that the Kochs think he might pick off.

Walker has a plausible claim to being the frontrunner, along with Bush and improbably Ted Cruz.  Rubio and Paul are hanging around the periphery, but those three top guys each have their own constituency.

Walker represents the Libertarian Plutocrats, like the Kochs, who want to turn the government into a funnel of resources to them, while denying those resources to everyone else.

Bush represents some of the Old Line Fat Cats, the Wall Street bankers, who don't want to muck about in the Culture Wars, but want their Corporate Government back.

Cruz, most fascinatingly, represents the seething Tea Party Id that thinks the world is on fire and might be secretly pleased that it is.

Rubio represents...hell if I know.

Paul's constituency is Republicans who like to smoke pot and visit prostitutes.

So, why not Walker?

Monday, April 20, 2015

So Much Derp

So the idiot who beat Eric Cantor is back in the news.  He says providing people with subsidies to buy private health insurance is akin to totalitarianism.  Someone showed him that light map of the Korean peninsula where the North is dark and the South is light.  So he concluded that if we help subsidize people's insurance, we will wind up like North Korea - a dark and impoverished land bereft of hope.  We should be more like South Korea with its vibrant free market economy.

Of course, South Korea has a universal, single payer government run health care system, but since when has being notdumb ever stopped these yahoos.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chait Does Details

This is a nice breakdown of the hyper-partisan nature of politics today.  And this is why Chait (and I) think Hillary is a clear favorite, whereas historical models call this race a toss-up.

What was interesting is the idea of "negative partisanship" whereby professed "independents" are in fact highly partisan because of their antipathy towards the other party.  Fox News claims a lot of "independent" viewers, but those are just people who hate Democrats but don't identify as Republicans.

The result in fact is less "partisan" and more "ideological" and tribal, as more and more the parties separate ideologically.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Please Proceed Governor

Jeb "JEB!" Bush is interested in raising the Social Security retirement age.

Now, if you're a lawyer or a career politician and lobbyist, there is no reason why you shouldn't keep working past the age of 65.  And maybe there is a way to reward people who defer beginning their Social Security payments and working later into life.

But the millions of Americans who do some form of physical labor?  From collecting garbage to waiting tables to farming to construction?  Screw them.

There is a well-documented disconnect between people like Bush and the reporters who write about politics and the majority of Americans who struggle to make ends meet.  The elites don't "get" what it's like to struggle from paycheck to paycheck or to crawl over the finish line to retirement.  Frankly, I don't really either, but I am willing to make the empathetic effort.

Social Security isn't in trouble.  It's not.

But please proceed to tell the American people - especially that nice Christian woman in Ohio who would otherwise vote for you but wants to retire when she turns 65 - that you want to screw with their Social Security benefits.

See how that works for you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Blue Wall

I've already come out as agreeing with Jon Chait that Hillary is the favorite in 2016.

Vox laid out some reasons why Hillary might not be the favorite.

Foremost is the idea that Hillary will be running for Obama's third term, and that's hard, historically.  However, if that's true, the lack of an intraparty challenge is a huge advantage for Clinton.  When incumbent presidents are challenged within their party (1912, 1968, 1980, 1992) they lose.  Obama isn't running, but Democrats will be able to unify around the idea of a third term protecting Obamacare, keeping America out of Middle Eastern wars, changing the Supreme Court and trying to prevent a full-bore plutocracy.  That matters.

Another argument that Nate Silver makes is that fundamental change rarely really occurs in American politics, which is true until it isn't.

They show this chart:

It shows the lack of landslides in the last 30 years (since 1984).  In fact, we have become much more polarized as a country, with Red States and Blue States, City and Country.  Part of the population is irrevocably Democratic and part is irrevocably Republican.

And the Democratic part is bigger, at least in terms of population.

Republicans can and will have an advantage in the House, because they can win rural districts 55-45 while Democrats win concentrated urban districts 80-20.  But while that means the GOP can send a Republican majority House delegation from Pennsylvania, it doesn't mean Scott Walker can beat Hillary in Pennsylvania.

If we make the following states toss-ups (NH, FL, OH, VA, WI - for Walker) but leave MI, MN, CO, NV and NM as Democratic states (which I think is a good bet), then Democrats START at 252 electoral votes.  That's just be being the Democratic candidate.  If the GOP nominates Bush or Rubio, Clinton wins Wisconsin in her sleep (262) and probably NH (266).  That means either Iowa, Ohio, Florida or Virginia gives her the presidency.  Frankly any state of any size: Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona...You name it.

The presence of a Republican Wave in 2016 would be predicated more on a Democratic collapse than a Republican resurgence.  A second recession, a scandal, a military humiliation...That's what the GOP is banking on to win.

What Class Warfare Really Looks Like

As Hillary rushes to embrace Elizabeth Warren - and not in an Alice B. Toklas sort of way - the GOP will inevitably raise cries of "class warfare" as Clinton talks about middle and working class incomes and wealth vs the 1%.  Clinton is smart to do so, and even GOP hopefuls have given lip service to wealth inequality.

But once you get beyond the rhetoric of people like Mitt Freaking Romney (of all people) you can see that the GOP really has no intention of doing anything but making the problem worse.

Kansas has just engaged in a round of poor shaming, designed not to prevent fraud but to associate government aid with things that it shouldn't be used for.  By suggesting that people are using their aid to buy lingerie (Does underwear count?  Let's check!), they are creating the image in people's minds that this is what aid is spent on.  It's a classic repeat of the "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" trope from the Reagan era.  Forms of drug testing is another act of poor shaming.

The operational assumption behind these programs are that being poor in America is too easy.  You just cash those huge aid checks and go buy your t-bone steaks, your tattoos and your malt liquor.  Who needs a job?

This of course fails to look at how little people on aid actually get and how hard it is to find work if your name is Shanique or Da'Quan.  While there might be some people who prefer the dole to a paycheck, that often has to do with how meager the paycheck is.  If you're working 30 hours a week at minimum wage, how do you afford day care?

If you really wanted people off welfare and into work, make it easier to find work.  It's already pretty hard to be poor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bill Kristol's Nightmare Comes True

A Tea Party You-Tube host has said he might vote for Hillary.

The reason is exactly what Kristol said back in 1993 when Hillary was trying to give us all universal single-payer health care.  If the Democrats can provide a functioning health care system is will create a real and lasting benefit that people will like and reward them for at the polls.

So fuck those people, wrote Kristol.

In the end, I bet Mr. Webb decides to vote for a Republican, but maybe not.  Maybe there are a bunch of, yeah, white, working class conservatives who really like the fact that they can afford health care.  The archetypal GOP voter is a working class white man.  Maybe a mechanic or a carpenter, who can now afford to open his own garage or work on his own, because now he can afford health insurance.

The evidence is mounting that Obamacare works better than its designers hoped (probably because those designers wisely chose to downplay its possible benefits).  Eventually that will add up to a bigger electoral issue, if the GOP can't get beyond "REPEAL, REPEAL, REPEAL."

Four Hours Of Sleep

So I'm going to outsource to Jon Chait:  Why Hillary is going to win.

I think...yeah...pretty much.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Marco!" "Rubio!"

I guess we are supposed to be focused on Marco Rubio as the GOP's Great Brown Hope.  The arguments for Rubio are thus:

He's an excellent retail politician.  His disastrous response to the SOTU notwithstanding, he can apparently really nail his stump speech.  He's a "communicator" which seems like a no-brainer for a presidential candidate, but Rubio is apparently pretty adept.

He's young and photogenic.  And Cuban.  He presents a picture of the GOP that is largely at odds with the reality of it.  The GOP is overwhelmingly white, rural and old.  Rubio is none of those things.  If he can convince GOP voters to support him, he can put forth a "new face" of the GOP.

But here are the arguments against him.

He was an apostate on immigration reform.  When the GOP got thumped in 2012, smart Republicans looked at the demographic picture and despaired.  So they decided to move to the center to try and pick off some Hispanic and Asian votes.  Rubio was their standard bearer.  But Washington strategists were out of step with the GOP base, and immigration reform died before the Tea Party's sputtering racism and xenophobia.

Rubio has since move right on immigration, but if that issue becomes a litmus test, it helps Scott Walker and hurts Bush and Rubio.

His fiscal plan is insane.  Now, that hardly distinguishes him from any other GOP candidate, but Rubio is sort of selling himself as the young, Paul-Ryanesque policy wonk.  He's aligned with the Reformicons trying to find a new message for the GOP.

But when your tax plan is as regressive as his, and as fiscally unsound as his...How do you square that circle?  If the press ever starts looking at the details of his plan, he could lose that Reformicon luster.  That opens the door for Walker and Bush, who have been governors.

You can make a good case that Rubio represents the GOP's best hope in 2016.  He's young and somewhat charismatic.  Bush isn't young. Cruz and Walker aren't charismatic.  Rubio moves beyond the stale arguments of a Bush or Clinton restoration.

But it remains to be seen whether GOP voters will support him and whether he truly is ready for prime time.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Still Tired

Now, some people won't want to acknowledge that the choices in the 2016 election are as stark as I've asserted. Political commentators who specialize in covering personalities rather than issues will balk at the assertion that their alleged area of expertise matters not at all.  Self-proclaimed centrists will look for a middle ground that doesn't exist.  And as a result, we'll hear many assertions that the candidates don't mean what they say.  There will, however, be an asymmetry in the way this supposed gap between rhetoric and real views is presented.

This paragraph by Krugman is the most important point to be made about American politics right now.  Both parties do mean what they say, for the most part.  Maybe not rhetorically, they will fudge their words.

But their policy proposals?  Those are what they really want to do.

And the GOP's are unpopular.

Which Hillary?

I disagree with Amanda Marcotte's point.

Hillary should be "Bad Ass Hillary" from time to time.  Especially in debates with the GOP.  She should pick some fights and go to the mattresses from time to time.

But first, I find it ironic that Marcotte - a feminist - is urging Hillary to act like an alpha male.  Her opening video was adept precisely because Hillary didn't put herself front and center.  She can be the "b$%^* who gets things done", but she can also be the grandmom who wants to listen to YOUR problems.

Hillary Clinton doesn't have to be all things to all people.  But she has to be appealing.  Her husband and her former boss have an undeniable charisma.  She doesn't offer that.  She offers competence.  I get that this is what Marcotte is asking she project.  But she needs to be warm, empathetic and, maybe most of all, quiet.  She needs to be a listener.

I think that will play very well. Because when was the last time a politician listened?

Sunday, April 12, 2015


The worst kept secret in politics over the last seven years was that Hillary Clinton would run for president in 2016.

And yet, when she announced, she managed to do so in a surprising way.

What was so surprising was that she managed to make a video that was fresh, interesting and emotionally engaging.  One of the things that sunk her in 2008 was the prosaic, unimaginative thinking of her campaign.  She surrounded herself with hacks like Mark Penn and Lanny Davis and the Obama team ran circles around them.

If she can create a media team like the one Obama had, she could finally become a candidate worthy of the president she can hopefully become.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This (Virtual) Wall

Obama met with Raul Castro today, in the second meeting between a US President and a Castro (if admittedly, Castro the Lesser).

The article notes that the dropping price of oil has hampered Venezuela's efforts to prop up Cuba with subsidies from their oil sales.  Once again, we can see how falling oil prices have undermined autocratic regimes.

Oil provides a way to fund a government - often lavishly - without having to engage your population.  No taxation without representation can also mean no representation without taxation.  The thaw in US-Cuban relations can probably be cast in some degree to the inability of Venezuela to subsidize Cuba.  Instead, Cuba will have to tap into more market economics, and that means opening up to the largest economy in the world.

The sting of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis needs to be taken out of our relations with Cuba.  It's time to let the past die a little.  In Havana and in Tehran.

If Obama spends the next year and a half "resetting Cuban and Iranian relations, that could be a major accomplishment.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Inside Info

I don't often have real inside information, but I do when it comes to Joe Sestak.

Senior Democrats don't want Sestak to be the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania Senate seat.  The reason stated in the article is that Sestak defied party leaders in challenging Arlen Specter, who had switched parties back in 2009.

From what I've heard, it may be because Sestak - and in particular, his brother - are terrible campaign strategists and not very adept retail politicians.  The brother basically ran off needed expertise for fear of losing control of the campaign.

Pennsylvania is a crucial pick-up opportunity, and Democrats can't let Sestak blow it again in this blue state.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April Is The Cruelest Month

I got nothing to add.  Weather sucks, busy as hell and it's still open season on African Americans, as long as no one has a camera.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Progressive's True Fight

For Democrats who are upset with the coronation of Hillary Clinton...sorry.  She's going to be the nominee.  Kudos to Sanders and O'Malley for raising important issues, but HRC will be the nominee.

Progressives should stop obsessing over an Elizabeth Warren candidacy that isn't going to happen and start opposing Chuck Schumer as Senate Majority Leader.

Harry Reid could be an infuriating ally during some of the early days of the Obama Administration, but he more or less "got it".

Schumer is a slightly less odious version of Joe Lieberman.  He's hawkish in the Middle East and way too close to Wall Street.  Defeating him - either Dick Durbin or, yes, Elizabeth Warren would make nice alternatives - should the rallying cry of Progressive Democrats for the next two years.

Magical Thinking

Josh Marshall is right.  The main objections to the Iranian deal is that it doesn't come with magical sparkle ponies.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This Is Extraordinary

This is as good as anything 60 Minutes has done recently.

Mainly because dick pics.

Things About Which I Have No Shits To Give

I don't really care that Jeb "JEB!" Bush registered as a Hispanic in 2009.

As Bush himself said, "I don't think I fooled anyone."  If anything it was a slip-up.

If it drives the base more howlingly mad, I guess it's kind of funny, but really this is a nothingburger.

Let's move along, folks.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Hate Sports

Braves trade away their closer for ANOTHER minor league pitcher.

Happy Easter, everybody else.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Feed The War Pig

Hillary Clinton has two major drawbacks among the Progressive Left.  She is too close to Wall Street, and she has a history of hawkishness.  The reason she was not elected in 2008 is largely about her support for the Iraq War Resolution in 2003.  That gave Obama the opening he needed.

Of course, when compared to whomever the GOP will vomit forth, Hillary will be Elizabeth Warren melded with Noam Chomsky.

The Iran nuclear agreement is a great place to start.  The GOP has basically made Binyamin Netanyahu their Secretary of State and National Security Adviser already.  And their joint position can be boiled down to this:

1) Iran can't be allowed a nuclear program of any kind, because they are untrustworthy.

2) Negotiations are pointless, because... untrustworthy.

3) Somehow we will still magically prevent Iran from getting a weapon, without negotiating.

Of course, you don't "negotiate" with your friends.  You do so with your adversaries.  And the Iran deal is a really, really good deal for the rest of the world.  If they can hammer out the sanctions relief soon, they can basically end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

But the GOP is pretty much  resorting to their Oppositional Defiance Disorder when comes to Obama.

What will be interesting to see - Clinton has already come out in favor of the deal - is whether anyone's vote will be changed by the GOP's increasing bellicosity.

If it is Clinton v Bush, then Dubya's Mideast adventures might become fertile ground for a difference between the two.  I have a hunch by the fall of 2016, ISIS will be collapsing.  And I can't imagine foreign policy will have a massive impact on the election anyway.

But if the GOP becomes the party of war, it makes Clinton's relative hawkish past seem much less relevant to the "Democratic Base" that currently is holding her at arm's length.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Have This All Wrong

I've been a sap, a dupe, a buffoon.

I should be a conservative.  First, I will create parlor has been taken, maybe a florist shop.

Then I will refuse to serve homosexuals.

Then I will shut down.

Then I will fund my kids college with the help of Glenn Beck.

Quick: Give me an accomplishment of Sarah Palin.  Give me a legislative feat of Ted Cruz.  Give me an election that Ben Carson has won.

And yet the money rolls in.

A fool and his money + the internet = early retirement.

Indiana Is Alabama With Snow

No evidence that the woman took the drugs, but she miscarried, so let's get her 20 years in prison.  For a miscarriage.

Remember though, there is no "war on women" by conservatives.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

This Is A Big Fucking Deal

I've only skimmed the Iran nuclear deal, but it looks pretty darn solid.

Of course, the right in the US and Israel will go bug f&%$ crazy over this, but this is a really good deal.

It not only limits the number of centrifuges, but the type.  That's pretty huge.

Maybe Politics Isn't Entirely Broken

Indiana looks like it's going to retreat from the more radical provision in its "religious freedom" law. And Asa Hutchinson sent the Arkansas bill back to his legislature.

All of this is at least in part because Big Business isn't really into controversy.  Their opposition mattered more than principled LGBT activists, though those activists put the squeeze on those businesses.

But ultimately, you can say that the system - roughly speaking - worked.  Democratic pressure has led representatives to change their behavior.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wish I Could Say This Was An April Fool's Joke

Cruz has vaulted into legitimate contention for the GOP nomination.

Maybe not so surprising...

Hoosier Daddy

Mike Pence should be a yoga instructor, given the knots he's tying himself into around this law.  But what's fascinating is that Pence is struggling to come up with an explanation that doesn't amount to, "But gays are icky and so, yeah, we want to discriminate against them."

Indiana Republicans are desperately trying to keep the law without keeping the law.  They are getting ripped to shreds over this.

Meanwhile, of course, conservatives want to remind us that THEY are the real victim here.

And every GOP presidential candidate is supporting the law.

And Arkansas is about to join Indiana with one of these laws on the books.

What's fascinating is that this is clearly becoming a losing hand, but they just don't seem to know how to fold it.