Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feel the tension:



Listening to the right-wing radio:

Hannity, Hewitt, et al, are all saying that Mike Huckabee is the problem. That Huck fans should vote for Mitt.

It sounds like a way of trying to stop McCain without going on the record as explicitly anti-McCain, because McCain just might end up as the nominee.


Edwards leaving the race will probably help Obama the most:

Edwards voters divide into two camps, progressives that follow the issues, and older folks. The progressive will turn to Obama. What about the non-progressive, older folks? Well, they may not want to vote for a black or a woman, or if they do vote, they will divide randomly between Obama and Clinton.

The Democratic party harbors a small percentage of voters that are old-fashioned bigots (on race and/or gender). Who do you think they've been voting for up til now? When such a voter looked at the ballot and saw the names Barack, Hillary, and John, who do you think they picked? And who do you think they'll pick, or will they pick anyone at all, now that John Edwards is gone?


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why not?

Nader 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee

UPDATE: Nader was interviewed on Democracy Now on Thursday and from what he said, it looks like he is strongly inclined to run.


Great news everybody!

Strong general-election-candidate McCain almost a lock for the Republican nomination. Edwards dropping out. Clinton on the cusp, and working every angle to win (e.g. Michigan delegates). This presidential election is going to be one we can all get excited about. Hours and hours of listening to St. John utter the words "my friends", more red-faced outbursts from former demi-god Bill Clinton, and the mellifluous voice of Hillary at a political rally.

Who says the American political system is broken?


If Mitt wants the nomination:

He'd better shell out $10 million out of his own wallet for TV ads this week.

Amazingly, according to the Carpetbagger Report:
This may seem hard to believe — I certainly found it surprising — but the “Tsunami Tuesday” races, featuring 21 Republican primaries and caucuses, are exactly one week away, and this huge field of GOP candidates hasn’t advertised at all in any of these states.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Half-way to being 100% correct?

From the looks of things after Florida, and with the polls the way they are in several big winner-take-all primaries next week, John McCain will be the Republican nominee. As this blog said on January 9:
Welcome to the wonderful world of "change"

Where the likely November face-off will be the Democrats' establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, against the Republicans' establishment candidate, John McCain (don't let the squabbling fool you, he's completely acceptable to the money-boys).

A triumph of name-recognition, establishment press support, and money. We should all be proud.
If we're lucky, Hillary will be the Democratic candidate this fall. Right?


John McCain promises "less jobs, more wars":

Expect to hear more of that expression, courtesy of the comedy duo Pat & Joe.


Is foreclosure right for you?

Find out at


Monday, January 28, 2008

From the New York State chapter of the National Organization for Women: (emp add)
Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America,, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”
Make no mistake about it, this kind of identity politics will be a significant factor this year.

If you're interested in more commentary like that, check out NY NOW's Psychological Gang Bang of Hillary is Proof We Need a Woman President.


NBC's thumb on the scale:

Unique among the major networks, after Bush's SOTU speech, NBC had Mitt Romney on for several minutes to opine. After the Democrats' rebuttal, NBC had Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on. That's big exposure, sure to hurt John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Paul.


Kathleen Sebelius's SOTU response:

Pretty low-wattage, if you ask me. Did you remember anything she said?


Bush's fourth SOTU joke:
Since September 11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to the enemies of America.

We are engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century.
The defining ideological struggle of the 21st century is not one that challenges a bunch of suicidal, cave-dwelling weirdos. It'll be a struggle against something that emerges from China or India, or perhaps the European Union.


Bush's third SOTU joke:
"In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past 7 years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever."
That kind of statement could have been delivered almost any time in the past 500 years, anywhere in the world, under any political system.


Bush's second SOTU joke:
"Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs."
Yup, trade means better prices, but there is a substantial negative impact on domestic workers. Alas, "learing new skills" just won't fix it.


Bush's SOTU joke:
"We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control."
Health care is not a commodity, like a can of peas, and its market operates under different rules.


Super Delegates:

Those are the elected officials that get to vote in the convention which will choose the presidential nominee. Generally, they are seen as an obstacle to the prevailing political mood, since these are office holders elected in previous years, and with loyalties to the existing power structure.

As a rule, progressives don't like super delegates.

Unless you are a Hillary supporter. Guess what? Over at Open Left, Chris Bowers has a post, What Is So Undemocratic About Super Delegates?, where he tries to make the case. Excerpt:
... every Super Delegate was elected to his or her position by other Democrats, just as every pledged delegate was also elected by other Democrats. So, why, exactly, are the Super Delegates less democratic than the Pledged Delegates?
Of course, being "democratic" is not the issue. Being a fair representative of Democrats' 2008 presidential preferences is, but Bowers evades that issue. (And by Bower's reasoning, you could have a convention that is 100% super delegates and he wouldn't object.)

And there's more! Bowers links to a post at Hillary-supporting MyDD, titled Superdelegates are people too. Which also argues that they are a good thing.

Here's my point: Ostensible progressives, like the folks at Open Left and MyDD have completely abandoned concerns about fair play. They haven't complained about Hillary's move to get the Michigan delegates seated. They haven't said that Bill's charge that the Nevada caucus rules were "unfair", was a gross exaggeration. And now they are stout defenders of super delegates. You wouldn't have expected that from reading them two years ago, but now they are willing to sacrifice whatever reputation they had for integrity, all to support Hillary.


The super-duper-Tuesday:

What a shame it will take place. Twenty-two states are involved, which means that an enormous factor will be name-recognition, and not the policies or even the political appeal of a candidate will matter. Why not have a national primary on January 2?

In the past when primaries were spaced out, there was a chance that, given a competitive race, the candidates would go from state-to-state and have to connect with the people and politicians in that region. And discuss matters important to them (agriculture, trade, manufacturing). And throughout this period the voters would get a much better understanding of what the candidate was like, and what they stood for.

We need primary-schedule reform. But not to a bunch of regional primaries (too many states/voters). But a bunch of regional small-state primaries, followed by regional medium-state primaries, and ending up with large-state primaries. The notion, often presented, that because California was last to hold a primary it therefore didn't meaningfully "choose" a candidate is flawed. California matters when the race is close, which isn't very often, but that's how the mathematics works. When the race is close, as it appears to be now, it would be better for California to wait and watch and render a judgement in June. As it is, California will hold a primary next week and all the voters will know is the smattering they've picked up on the news, plus whatever big-money-advertisements shoved their way. A compressed schedule helps an establishment candidate (Clinton) or one with name recognition (McCain) or someone with lots of money (Clinton/Romney). And it's not in the intrest of progressives.


Evaluating presidential campaigns by their graphic presentation:

Do you like "flared sans"? Read about it here.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Did he learn any new tricks?

Washington Post (15 Aug 2007)
Just days after the November 2004 election, Bill Clinton pulled Rove aside at the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas. "Hey, you did a marvelous job, it was just marvelous what you did," Clinton told Rove, according to the book "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008," by John F. Harris and Mark Halperin. "I want to get you down to the library. I want to talk politics with you. You just did an incredible job, and I'd like to really get together with you and I think we could have a great conversation."


Maybe this should get more attention:

In a comment at Obsidian Wings, this observation: (emp add)

My own informal survey of California Democratic voters this afternoon (in my local L.A. bar, comprised mostly of Democratic patrons: film union guys, construction workers in the Pipe Union, self employed small business men, the female bartender in her 20s from working class Bakersfield, and a Catholic Japanese contractor from affluent Los Feliz, is that they're all supporting the Clintons (I say Clintons, plural, because a significant number said they want Bill to be involved in the daily operational decisions of governing, because they were happy with the results of his two terms in office, and want more of the same.

Me too.

Posted by: Jay Jerome | January 27, 2008 at 09:50 PM
Is this a widely held view? Is it something Hillary would want to emphasise or downplay? Has Bill been involved with Hillary's activities in the Senate? Without going into too much detail, what policies that Bill signed off on (NAFTA, Habeus Corpus restrictions, welfare reform, extraordinary rendition, etc) would be continued under president Hillary Clinton? Would Bill sit in on cabinet meetings? Who's in charge?

Sounds like there is still a lot of Bill-love out there, and it's being transferred to Hillary this election year. And for Bill, a way to get around the 22nd amendment (which limits anyone to two presidential terms).

Of interest, is this tidbit:
Bill Clinton stated his opposition to repealing the amendment, but supported modifying it to prohibit former presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms, but permitting them to seek election after an intervening term.
Let's see. Bill served two consecutive terms, then left office, and now an intervening term (actually two) is over. And he's sort of running for prez. How about that?


Taylor Marsh:

There is a fairly high-profile pro-Clinton blogger, Taylor Marsh, who has been relentless in supporting Hillary. For a taste, in reaction to recent events, she has a post, Obama Would Have Voted For the Iraq War, that strains credulity, to put it mildly.

But here's the kicker. She brings in the Kennedys (no doubt in response to Ted and Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Obama) to make a point. The point? That Obama's reluctance to speak about his connections with Tony Rezko reminds her that:
"John F. Kennedy didn't want to talk about his relationship with the mob either."

Oh, and if you find yourself needing a fix of Hillory-is-great-and-done-no-wrong-campaigning, check out the comments. That's where you can find them in abundance.


Can you imagine ...

what the reaction would be if, for whatever reason, Hillary did a repeat of her "tearful" moment that took place earlier this year? Strictly to read the blogger reaction. (No, I don't want her to be upset, this is a thought experiment.) Judging from the reaction to Bill's comparing Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, which has turned even Glenn Greenwald sour on the Clintons, there would be an enormous release of pent-up frustration.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why Edwards matters:

If he wasn't on the ballot, Hillary would have appeared much stronger. As it turned out, Hillary got 27%, eight points above John "No chance" Edwards.

Not impressive.


Obama's victory speech impressed conservatives:

At least at NRO. Here are some remarks (with the nits removed):
  • David Freddoso - He is getting above the fray right now. I really think it will work for him in the future.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez - ... listening to his inspirational, rallying speech tonight it's clear and obvious that if he's the nominee, he will be tough to beat.
  • Mark R. Levin - As I watched Obama's speech, I tried to imagine an Obama-McCain match-up. And I think McCain would get his clock cleaned ...
  • Rich Lowry - ... a stirring victory speech by Obama ...
    Overall, a stunningly deft performance, and a moving one. It's the best liberal case you'll ever hear for moving on from the Clintons.
  • Peter Wehner - Barack Obama's speech tonight was simply exceptional — and a reminder of why he is one of the most remarkable political talents in our lifetime. He was able to speak in ways that seem to rise above conventional politics ...
    His capacity to touch and stir authentic emotions is remarkable.
    ... the Obama message is about unity, not divisions; and hopes rather than grievances. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, Republicans have a great deal to fear. He has tremendous break-out potential.
    ... Obama is a graceful and dignified person who draws people to him rather than drives them away. He is impossible to dislike. And when you see Obama and Clinton together, or back to back, is there any doubt who is the more impressive person — or the more formidable political figure?


NBC bias against Clinton?

For all this blog's complaints about Hillary and Bill, it should also note that on NBC's nightly news for the west coast, in reporting the South Carolina primary results, it then presented a very long portion of Obama's victory speech (which was very good, by the way). Maybe it was timing (the special west coast version in sync with the speechmaking), but it was striking. It was worth millions of dollars in terms of good advertising/PR for Obama.


One word for it:

If you read Josh Marshall's post about Bill Clinton's recent activities, especially these words:
... I don't think there are many people who are bigger fans of Bill Clinton than I am or who've expended more ink defending him and his presidency.

Back during impeachment ... He had ... obligations and responsibilities to his supporters and to the larger public.

... I feel like he's violating the compact that I have with him.
You see that Marshall is talking about one thing:
But why should that be a surprise? Bill betrayed a promise to the nation not to fool around while in office. You may think that promise was silly or unnecessary, but make it he did. And he subsequently betrayed the country. Was that justification for impeachment? No. But having a supreme ego that dismisses pledges for short-term advantage is part of Bill's DNA. The big question is, will Democrats and the nation care?


Shorter Bill Clinton:
I congratulate Barack Obama for being the 21st century version of Jesse Jackson.


The Cult of Personality:

If you read the various blog posts about the Democratic campaign this year, and especially the comment threads, you will find that in general, Clinton supporters dominate in terms of angry, barbed remarks. On the other hand, Edwards and Obama supporters are more disposed to admit their candidate's flaws (specifically with rhetoric and tactics). While they both like their candidate, they are more laidback about the whole thing. Hillary supporters, much less so. This has been evident as far back as early December, but has intensified in recent weeks - largely in the wake of various Clinton campaign acts: Bob Johnson saying Obama "acts white" aka Sidney Poitier, implying Obama was educated at a madrassa before dealing cocaine in Chicago which then paid for his tuiton at the University of Shuck and Jive, Bill saying Obama raised the race issue (!), the challenge of Nevada caucus rules.

This is most evident when looking at the reaction to Hillary Clinton's Michigan-Florida gambit. And woe to any blogger who takes issue with Clinton on this. Poor Josh Marshall gets submerged in angry e-mails for his measured criticism.

The defense offered up by Clinton supporters boils down to one thing and one thing only:
It is a virtue for my candidate to be a down-and-dirty fighter even if it causes big bruises within the Democratic party.
The allegiance of Clinton supporters is to Hillary Clinton, the person. They completely ignore her policy positions, then and now, which are at variance with a progressive agenda. They ignore her prominent role in the DLC. They ignore Bill Clinton's claim that she was part of the decision making process during Bill's furtherance of Manchester Capitalism while in office. They ignore her complete failure to be a strong voice against the Iraq War.

When it comes to domestic politics, Clinton supporters are mum about Hillary and Bill's limited support of Kerry in 2004. They are mum about Hillary's failure to provide financial support to Democrats in 2006 (unlike PACs of Obama and Edwards which did help in congressional races). And now, in the face of Bill heatedly arguing over procedures that affect about 3 delegates in Nevada, are mum about his failure to defend Gore in 2000.

So what's going on here? The explanation is that Hillary Clinton supporters are devoted to her as a person. That may strike many people as odd, since her character is not particular appealing (contrast Nancy Pelosi's dulcet tones to Hillary's annunciator-style voice). Which leads to the question, how did Hillary get so much adoration?

Setting aside those attracted to her for identity-politics reasons. It would seem that Hillary supporters are in love with her for two reasons:
  • A transference of allegiance from the former Hypnotist-in-Chief Bill towards Hillary.
  • A way of getting revenge on Republicans for their attacks on the Clintons in the 1990s.
Both items listed above are emotional and not rational. That's not something this blog is comfortable with, but that's how people often behave. And it's something that cannot be ignored.

In fact, sometimes you want folks all fired-up for a candidate under certain political conditions. Late in Bill's term, when he was being impeached, that sort of blind allegiance was beneficial to the nation. But is it appropriate now?

That's for you to decide. However, it would appear that since the Republicans are wounded and in retreat, the Democrats do not need a gutter fighter. A gutter fighter that will defeat Republicans, yet not be progressive at all.

In any event, don't expect a Hillary supporter to be persuaded to change their mind when you tell them:
  • She's hard-core DLC.
  • She's not helped the Democratic party much.
  • Her honoring of intra-party pledges cannot be guaranteed.
  • Her advisors on economic policy matters are not progressive.
  • She's a liberal hawk.
Because they are in thrall with Hillary as a person. And they will be vicious should you confront them, because that's what dealing with a cult of personality is like.

CODA: Why this post? Because it has been instructive to watch, as the charges of unfair-play by Hillary have become more serious (and less defensible), there have been no concessions by Hillary supporters that anything is wrong. Instead, they have become more vociferous in their support. And that demanded an explanation.

As to the virtues and vices of a cult of personality, arguments can be made, both pro and con. Political effectiveness vs. progressive policies? Asset or liability when it comes to November? History reveals instances where a cult of personality has been effective and worthwhile. In fact, that's what fuels the dynastic-style of politics throughout the world. So don't expect a Hillary supporter to care about the argument that 28 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton is suffocating. But is this sort of politics desirable now?


Friday, January 25, 2008

The American Conservative reviews Jonah Goldberg's book:

[Goldberg] makes much of his discovery, for example, that the Nazis supported organic farming and animal rights and even goes so far as to admonish us to “grapple with the fact that we’ve seen this sort of thing before.” Readers can spare themselves the energy. That Nazism and contemporary liberalism both promote healthy living is as meaningless a finding as that bloody marys and martinis may both be made with gin. ... In no case does Goldberg uncover anything more ominous than a coincidence.
Even if an American species of fascism (i.e., progressivism) did lead to liberalism, as opposed to merely preceding it in time, this still would not mean that liberalism leads to fascism. For one thing, liberals are entitled at least once a century to change their minds. Even if some who we might call liberals once delighted in Woodrow Wilson’s suppression of dissent, fretted over the pollution of America’s genetic stock, or urged Franklin Roosevelt to assume dictatorial powers, today’s liberals may disown these ideas if they like. Associating modern liberals with the dubious judgments of their predecessors is an ad hominem argument, and not even a very beguiling one.


"Wow" is an understatement:


Wow. This just, well, shows a complete disregard for the agreed-upon rules of the primary process. The campaign's statement:
I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.

I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well.
Nice. Only Hillary Clinton was on the Michigan ballot. Other candidates were not, since there was an agreement not to count Michigan because it was holding a primary at a date not sanctioned by the Democratic party.

In that Michigan primary, Clinton won 73 delegates. The other "candidate", Uncommitted, won 55 delegates. But that's not a fair assessment of Michigan sympathies for many reasons.

A post at Kos says:
She makes this move AFTER Michigan has voted to give her and only her delegates. Four days before Florida, when it would be too late for anything to change what would be an inevitable, name recognition-based landslide.
Whatever you think about them, the Nevada caucus rules and the national primary rules were approved by the Democratic party. The time to challenge those rules is not days before an election or after a unsanctioned primary.

If this is how Hillary treats promises within the Democratic party, what confidence do you have that she will honor promises made to you?

If the Clintons prevail, expect Howard Dean to be out and Terry McAuliffe back in.


Government backed, intrest-free mortgages of up to a quarter of a million dollars, with $0 down:

Seems like we're headed that way. Oh, and without regulatory reform.


The Fed's folly?

From the Big Picture:
Was it a misunderstanding of their mandate, inexperience, or just plain hubris?

Regardless, it took only 2 days to learn just how ill-considered the Fed's emergency market rescue plan was: To wit, a fraudulent series of losses led to a major European bank unwinding a huge trade: Societe Generale Reports EU4.9 Billion Trading Loss.

SG's $7.1Billion dollar unwinding led to panicked futures selling on Monday and Tuesday.

Hence, we quickly learn what sheer folly and utter irresponsibility it is for the Fed to use its limited ammunition to intervene in equity prices. Their panicky rate cute were not to insure the smooth functioning of the markets, but rather, to guarantee prices.

As we have been saying for the past two days, this is not the Fed's charge. They are supposed to be maintaining price stability (fighting inflation) and maximizing employment (supporting growth) -- NOT guaranteeing stock prices.

I guess the European Central Bank has it easier: Their only charge is to fight inflation: "maintain price stability, safeguarding the value of the euro."

Tuesday's panicked 75 basis cut will prove to be an historical embarrassment, a blot on the Fed for all its days. Failing to understand what their responsibilities are is bad enough; allowing themselves to be bossed around by Futures traders is inexcusable.
For a Fed that takes forever to react to inflation numbers, it sure acted swiftly when the market was down from its 21st century highs of October (a mere 3 months ago). Maybe the Fed will take back the cut during next week's meeting.


What the New York Times would have you believe:

From their editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic primary: (emp add)
  • Hillary Clinton is "brilliant"
  • John Edwards can not hold back the tide of globalization
  • The idea of the first woman nominee is "exhilarating" [How "exhilarating" is it that we have the first black woman as Secretary of State?]
  • The Times is "hugely impressed by the depth of [Hillary's] knowledge, by the force of her intellect"
  • "Domestically, Mrs. Clinton has tackled complex policy issues, sometimes failing." [The Times does not cite any successes.]
  • Hillary "has learned that powerful interests cannot simply be left out of the meetings" on health care.
  • "Her ideas ... and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable"
Brilliant? Not really. (E.g. She doesn't know the definition of the word "congenital".)

Hillary Clinton is hard-core DLC, which is avowedly non-populist. So if she becomes president, expect to hear that globalization cannot be stopped and that the way to deal with it is to get several post-graduate degrees, in order to be more competitive with call-centers, factories, and software firms overseas that pay $3 an hour.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm not alone:

A post by The Confidence Man over at Daily Kos: (emp add)
Where the hell has this red-faced, angry, combative Bill Clinton been for the last eight years?

Did Bill get angry and demand that wrongs be righted after the Florida miscount? After Bush v. Gore? After Bush, Cheney, and Rice blew off his concerns about terrorism for 8 months? After Bush's unpreparedness for, inadequate and incomplete response to, and unconscionable exploitation of 9/11? After the unfair media and GOP attacks on Al Gore, Howard Dean, and John Kerry? After Katrina? Plame? The US Attorneys? The "lost" emails? The countless other mistakes and malfeasances of the Bush administration?

Sorry, Bill -- by remaining silent in the face of so many grave catastrophes, you forfeited your right to attack Obama. You forfeited your right to be taken seriously as someone concerned about defending the principles of the Democratic Party -- or of the Constitution, for that matter. You, more than anyone on the entire planet (with perhaps the exception of Colin Powell, who's beholden to neither the Democratic Party nor Hillary Clinton) acquiesced in the American disaster that is the Bush administration by your silence. By your lack of outrage. You could have spoken when it mattered. But you didn't.

And now, by speaking out against Obama, you implicitly argue that he is a greater threat to the Republic and the Democratic Party than anything or anyone over the last 8 years.

So shut the fuck up, Bill.
That last line is rude, and unnecessary.

I'll just add that in 2004 it was clear that two Supreme Court positions were likely to be chosen by the next president. Where was Bill when Kerry was attacked by the Swift Boaters? (Yes, Kerry should have fought back sooner and stronger, but Bill Clinton - "master politician" - didn't weigh in.)


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Check out Ben Bernanke's blog:


It's droll.


What a country!

From the transcript of last week's Washington Week in Review: (emp add)
MS. RADDATZ (ABC News): I was at the White House today, heard the president talk about this stimulus package, which basically means a growth package to spark the economy, talking about Congress and that they'd all work together.
MR. MAGGS (of National Journal): ... all the candidates and all the economists will tell you that in the long-term, the [national debt] bomb is ticking and time is running out on dealing with what's going to be a runaway deficit problem. So $140-$150 billion, if that's the size of the deficit, is not going to make a huge difference, but it all does get dumped in there and has to be paid for some time. But let me just say, the other great thing about stimulus packages is there's now an agreement that they don't have to pay for anything. So everyone's happy in that sense.

MS. IFILL: That's a wonder. That's what makes everybody happy in Washington when something seems like it's free.
So there is a free lunch. Or something like that.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Put all your money into stocks. Now!

That's what you'd do if you believe in the bull case: (NYTimes, 19 Jan - Saturday, after a week of big declines)
... Abby Joseph Cohen, the superbull at Goldman Sachs, maintained that the Dow would roar back to finish 2008 at a level 22 percent higher — 14,750 is the number — as the economy perks up later in the year.
Twenty-two percent annual return. That's freakin' amazing. But not unexpected from a perma-bull. They just can't ever see the downside.


That Obama "praise" for Reagan:

There have been many assertions and interpretations of Barack Obama's remarks about Ronald Reagan. Was he praising Reagan? No. But he did say that Reagan had new ideas of a sort, perceived at the time as something fresh and possibly good for the nation.

To my ear, Obama was talking indirectly about Jimmy Carter. Mr. Malaise, accepting of the oil and inflation shocks of the 1970's and a general lack of optimism.

Obama, born in 1961, would have been 19 at the time of Reagan's first election to the presidency, so he probably remembers that era, and was comparing Reagan to Carter, at least in part.

And yes, Obama did imply Clinton didn't do much that was transformational. Remember, it was Bill Clinton who echoed Reagan in his 1996 State of the Union Speech:
"The era of big government is over."
Obama is right about that.


In case anybody is wondering:

This blog has been hard on Bill Clinton in recent weeks, for a variety of reasons (lies about Obama & Co., policies he supported while president). And he did the Democrats no favors when he fooled around and subsequently lied about it in the Paula Jones case and when speaking to the nation. But, to be clear, those actions did not merit impeachement or removal from office. The Republicans took a serious constitutional tool, impeachment, and used it for low partisan purposes. And for that, Republicans deserved a decade in the political wilderness (instead they were rewarded with George Bush Jr. as a two-term president).

But the past is past and as far as Bill Clinton's behavior this election cycle, he's been a turd and may very well twist the Democratic party in such a way that they lose in November.


Why a Fed cut today?

Barry Ritholtz makes some observations:
2) Equity Market Disfunction? Is it that the equity markets are not working properly? Likely not. Are rates too high? I doubt that's the reason for any of our economic woes. Then what is it – are lowered equity prices a problem?

Globally, equity markets have been in the process of “Repricing Risk” – why is the Fed disrupting that? Further, there is now a recognition that S&P500 earnings were priced way too high – especially in the event of a European and Asian slow down. That lowered “E” in the P/E adjustment is also under way.

4) How Independent is the Fed? The Fed is supposed to be an independent entity, whose mission is a) price stability (inflation) and b) maximizing employment (growth).

However, today’s action reveals an apparent third obligatory goal – protecting investors and market prices. I had no idea that back-stopping speculators and hedge funds was part of their mandate...
The markets are (properly) repricing risk, which means lowering the value of equities, yet the Fed is acting to stop that process. How odd.

Oh, and Ritholtz thinks today's cut might be followed by another 3/4% cut next week. Wow!


Good news everybody!

According to the Money Advisor on ABC's Good Morning America, we may be headed into a recession, but, to quote the advisor, "A recession has become this really bad word. It's not a depression."

So relax.

UPDATE: Welcome Atrios visitors! Had I know I'd get linked to, I would have made an audio clip of the statement - a good blogger practice to assure readers of the validity of a quote. But I did listen to it repeatedly (via TiVo) to be sure I reported correctly what she said. Took place at about seven minutes into the first hour of the program.


Can't resist another anti-Bill Clinton post:

If Bill Clinton is so hot and bothered about the Nevada caucus system that he'll get into a spat in the corridors of a Vegas Casino, then why didn't he apply himself in 2004? He could have directly injected himself into the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry. Basically attracted fire and get them completely off-message. But he didn't. Was it because it wasn't in his and Hillary political interest? Because Kerry as president would have severly limited Hillary's chances of ever becoming president. Looks like it. And if you believe that argument then you pretty much have to say the Bill Clinton, and almost surely Hillary, figured it was better (for them) to see Kerry lose, even if it meant four more years of solid engagement in Iraq.


What's interesting ...

is that tough economic times, which we apparently are headed for, are the most powerful forces when it comes to determining the outcome of elections. Yet "political types", and that includes bloggers, don't put a whole lot of time examining them for their likelyhood or impact. Not to say that bloggers should be stock market kibitzers, or that they should predict exactly when and where a crisis will occur. But, at least for Democrats, one of their key platforms is that a mixed economy, private enterprise and government and regulation, is more stable than the free-market utopia Republicans claim to honor.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Mark your calendars:

Yes, there's still a chance he will come in and save the day: (emp add)
Nader to decide soon on possible presidential run

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said on Monday he will decide soon on whether to make a another bid for the White House in 2008, eight years after playing a key role as a third party presidential candidate.

"I'll decide in about a month," he said in an interview broadcast on CBC Radio's Daybreak show in Montreal.
Go Ralph!

America needs you. Come and rescue us.


MarketWatch screenshot:
Get a load of those percentage drops for the international bourses. Minus five, eight, eleven. The India exchange is halted. DOW futures down almost 500 points.

And how about that story title at the bottom, "Warning signs point to recession". You think so?


Apparently John Edwards was in the Democratic debate tonight:

But you'd never know it from the blogs. There, it's all Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama.


From the looks of things:

Politics will not be the main topic of discussion this week in the blogs or newspapers. (Unless Bill Clinton can manage to out-outrage himself.) The stock markets and related worries seem to be on track to totally dominate the news. What's peculiar is that the markets were tremendously optomistic, reaching new highs in October, after the debt/solvency problem emerged earlier that year. And now the markets look as if they are headed into full-blown panic mode.


It belongs to everybody:

Something of a ruckus is happening because a senior Hillary Clinton advisor is accusing Obama of brandishing a "right wing talking point". What is Obama brandishing? According to the senior advisor, that Bill Clinton is fibbing. Lying, in other words.

That's the Obama reaction to recent remarks by Bill about the Nevada caucuses, as well as Obama's stance on issues and suitability for being president. Obama is saying that the former president isn't telling the truth.

So, is the Clinton advisor correct to say Obama is using a "right wing talking point"?


But it's not only a right wing talking point. Remember Clintion lied to the nation and in court (leading to disbarment). So it's true. Saying that Bill Clinton is a liar is:
  • A right wing talking point
  • A centrist talking point
  • A left wing talking point
All can agree. Finally! Something to bring the nation together. David Broder must be pleased.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

What he said:

Anonymous Liberal on the predicament the Democrats may find themselves in.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Good summary of Nevada / So. Carolina results:

In a comment at Open Left: (emp add)
McCain vs Clinton. Ugh.
Today sucked (for me).

I am left to hope that Romney can pull the upset on McCain; if Thompson and Huckabee deflate after today, and Giuliani rises at all, it's possible.

And I'm left to hope that Obama can beat Hillary, though I don't have any realistic way to imagine how he does it, other than unforced errors on her part, or a big swing into his column by various establishment players who don't want Hillary atop the ticket (redstate Dems, possibly Gore or Edwards, etc). Anyway, I'm not sure there's anything he himself can do to save himself, unless he can really pull out a sharper critique of Clinton and the Old Establishment in the next couple of weeks. And for a campaign that has been so consistent in its message, to pivot now would be a difficult maneuver to perform credibly.

Ugh. The least inspiring candidate on our side and the least odious candidate on their side would normally mean I'd turn my attention to Congress, but that particular combination atop the ticket is the most limiting for us downballot as well. I think Clinton will win of course but not with the wave of independent support that could bring us an extra-big Congressional wave.

Ugh. Bad saturday for me.
But hey, it's great for the Clintons, and that's all that matters, right?

I've said for years (going back to the mid-90s) that the Clintons are bad for the Democrats. Now watch them prove it.


If Edwards stays in the race:

He may not get the nomination, but that's not all that is at stake. There are party platforms to agree on (of limited value, but still meaningful). And there are party rules that could be changed to allow for a more progressive voice going forward. The nomination isn't the only thing at stake.



If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, or looks like she will get it, expect to hear a lot more about Bloomberg running for president. That's his "in", given hostility towards her on the left, mixed feelings in the middle, and fierce opposition on the right. And double the odds if Romney gets the Republican nod. Bloomberg fits in with the Judeo-Christian tradition, Romney does not.


The Bill Clinton BS tour continues:

Fresh off of 3 lies earlier this week:
  • That all he knew about the Nevada caucus rules was what he read in the newspaper.
  • That the caucus rules give culinary workers five times the representation of others.
  • That giving casino workers the same ability to caucus as others who aren't working on Saturday is "unfair" (because he compared casino workers to a third, much smaller, group of people)
He's at it again. Bill Clinton now claims that a union organizer, following Bill in the casinos, was leaning on culinary workers to vote Obama. That Bill witnessed voter suppression:
Today [Friday] when my daughter and I were wandering through the hotel, and all these culinary workers were mobbing us telling us they didn’t care what the union told them to do, they were gonna caucus for Hillary.

There was a representative of the organization following along behind us going up to everybody who said that, saying 'if you’re not gonna vote for our guy were gonna give you a schedule tomorrow so you can’t be there.'
[to caucus]
That's incredible. Who is going to engage in voter intimidation in the presence of the former president along with his entourage (press, Secret Service)? If Bill is going to make claims like that, he should back them up, but he didn't.

Greg Sargent, adding to the comment thread of his story writes:
I meant "eye opening" in two senses -- both that the charges themselves are "eye opening," but also in the sense that it's eye opening that Bil would make them...
Another commentator:
He's a former President, and he's going around attacking a fellow Democrat with rhetoric and charges that seem plainly dishonest.
I can safely predict one thing: If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate in November, there will be little enthusiasm for her. She'd probably win (the economy will be bad) but it will be a shallow win, without the kind of big-majorities in the House and Senate that are needed for substantial reform.

Okay, might as well put it out there. Why do people like Bill and Hillary so much? To me, they're unpleasant for a variety of reasons (Hillary is unlikeable* and conservative on many issues; Bill is unlikeable* and a 24/7 bullshitter who did real damage:
  • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (aka welfare reform, which has some odious provisions)
  • Financial Services Modernization Act which is part of the reason we have today's banking problems (repealed Glass-Stegall)
  • The give-away of the electromagnetic spectrum to the television companies. Think of what kind of political reform we could have if the digital spectrum was granted along with a must-carry-for-free-rule for political ads. It would greatly reduce the power of money in politics.
  • Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which weakened Habeus Corpus
  • Bill's active opposition to helping out while the Rwanda slaughter was going on (not only did he do nothing, he declined to provide transport vehicles that the UN was asking for, which were ready-to-go and would not have required U.S. troops on the ground).
  • His support of free-trade agreements.
  • His failure to live up to his pledge to the nation, that he'd keep his pants on while president. (And as long as he was going to violate that pledge, his reckless actions were pure selfishess - he couldn't have a tryst with a thirty-five year old lawyer from the Commerce Department who knows how to stay mum?) I don't care about the moral issue, but Bill wasted the time and energy of Democrats for at least two years with this.
Those policies that Bill Clinton endorsed had a negative impact on regular folks and the poor. Sure, the economy did well, but does that mean he's given a pass on everything else?

* - Hillary unlikeable because of a sense of entitlement. Running for Senator from New York overwhelmingly because she was a spouse of a politician was audacious. Bill is unlikeable because he lies in your face.

CODA: Supporting the Clintons today because of unfair attacks by Republicans in the previous decade is not smart.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Good for the establishment:

David Corn writes:
When Supersized Tuesday first materialized, political observers made the obvious observation that it would favor any candidate with big bucks, extensive organization, and/or establishment backing.
Which Democratic candidate benefits from that?


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Goldberg's Thesis:

Partly inspired by a review by Michael Ledeen (via MY), we can confidently assert that Jonah Goldberg's latest book is designed to support the following viewpoint:


How do you jump-start the economy ...

When it's performance the last four years was based on phantom wealth?

The problem is this: The vast majority of people did not see their intrinsic (labor) value rise because:
  • Globalization puts the hurt on labor.
  • Productivity gains were not distributed evenly between business and labor (partly due to the weakness caused by item 1 above)
  • Unlike the 1990s, the United States has not invested in education and R&D in fields that would put the country one step ahead of the rest of the world*
Instead, asset inflation (houses) were the fuel for growth; it was unstainable and bound to reverse. So now we're supposed to "fix" the problem with a stimulus package?

*it may not have been able to even if it wante to, since technical/economic breakthroughs are hard to plan for.


Why you can't trust Bill Clinton:

Regarding the upcoming Nevada caucuses, there are three groups of people to consider:
  • The vast majority who do not have to work on Saturday.
  • Casino workers who have to work on Saturday.
  • Non-casino workers who have to be at the job on Saturday.
The rule, approved last year, to allow casino workers to caucus at their work locations was instituted to give them the same ability to caucus as the vast majority of Democrats (category 1 above).

But Bill Clinton now argues against allowing that because:
"... it [would] be easier for [casino workers] to vote than anybody else in Nevada that has to work on Saturday.
And therefore is unfair. But Bill has decided to look at fairness between the latter two groups of caucus attendees, and not between two largest groups (which matters most).

This kind of shoddy argumentation goes on all the time, and anyone can do it. Take a proposed action and then, ignoring the broadest measure of equality, focus on some tiny aspect that is unfair.

Here's the question for you all: Why is Bill Clinton held in such high esteem by Democrats? Why don't they react negatively to his BS?


4,950 word profile of Ben Bernanke in NYTimes magazine:

For this Sunday, but available now.

Points made:
  • He's smart (MIT grad student).
  • He's an "academic".
  • His hero is Milton Friedman.
  • He's facing a lot of problems all at the same time.
  • "Bernanke is aware that he ... has a profound ability to affect the political landscape this year."
  • He wants to be known as a great central banker. [Who wouldn't?]
  • A wage-and-price spiral similar to that in the 1970s would be a political nightmare for the Republicans.
  • He was late to recognize the severity of the subprime mortgage crisis.
  • The Fed has very little influence over most of what makes the economy tick, like improvements in productivity, educational levels or whether commodity prices are trending higher or lower and so forth.
  • "The shadow of the czarlike Greenspan lingers over Bernanke, and as Greenspan has been promoting his memoirs and has otherwise been keeping visible, it is unlikely to go away."
  • [A history of various Fed chiefs is presented.]
  • Paul Volker is 6-foot-7.
  • Bernanke grew up in the small town of Dillon, S.C.
  • Ended up at Princeton.
  • He has to be careful what he says in public.
  • The Open Market Committee gets along well under Bernanke's leadership.
  • Jim Cramer, the high-voltage CNBC stock tout, gloated, “The Fed has got your back,” [and implied] gleefully that the Fed would protect investors at all costs.
  • Bernanke has clearly moved toward a policy of stimulus.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why is this clown on CNN?

Glenn Beck says FDR "was one evil son of a bitch" and wishes he could "slap [his grandfather] across the face for liking FDR".

In a historical ranking of presidents, by conservatives, FDR comes out at number 3.

What's next? Dissing George Washington and Abraham Lincoln?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Get ready for some real fun:

From the Telegraph (UK):
ECB warns crashing dollar may stop Fed cuts


Monday, January 14, 2008

Good put-down of Jonah Goldberg:

here     And with a Mussolini quote I'd not read before.
Granted that the 19th century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the 20th century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the “right”, a Fascist century.
Have you noticed that when Goldberg responds to attacks on his book, he very often engages in pure ad hominem? (And with weird conservative insult words: "bandersnatches")


Just askin'

Why haven't we heard any remarks from Obama supporters making subtle and veiled references to women candidates being "weak", "emotional", or "ditzy"?

But we have heard, on numerous occasions, comments from Clinton supporters that suggest various black pathologies (drug use, ability to shuck n' jive)?


The Republicans will get their wish:

From the looks of things, in November it will be Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain.

A recent California poll shows Hillary Clinton with 50%, Barack Obama with 35%, and John Edwards with 10%. McCain is also ahead. California is a huge source of delegates. And don't forget, that many of the super-delegates for the Democrats are pro-Clinton.

This boils down to, yet again, two establishment candidates. What's amazing is that dispite all the unhappiness with the Iraq War, the likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, has maintained virtual radio silence on the war from the beginning.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

  • Barack Obama: "I am MLK"

  • Hillary Clinton: "I am LBJ"

  • John Edwards: "I am RFK"

  • Bill Clinton: "I was JFK"


Chris Matthews makes it to Yahoo's Most Viewed News:

Story title: Chris Matthews a target for Clinton fans. Excerpts:
NEW YORK - He's become the target for critics who think a backlash against the media played a part in Hillary Clinton's surprise win in New Hampshire. Chris Matthews laughs off that idea, and insists he has a lot of respect for her.

The MSNBC "Hardball" host had more explaining to do after Clinton's victory when he said that the reason Clinton is a candidate for president "is that her husband messed around." "I do like the fact that `Hardball' is a heat-seeker," the rapid-fire political commentator told The Associated Press. "My job is to provide excitement and to bring it into the show and have people argue about things that they would normally argue about."
Matthews said he believe it was a time of great sensitivity in America and that nerves are rawer now over gender than race. People are looking for ways to make statements and criticizing him is one way to do it, he said.
Who made "nerves rawer over gender"?

Could it be Chris?


Friday, January 11, 2008

Bill O'Reilly on Chris MAtthews:

From Media Matters:
On the [January 9] edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly had aired a video clip of Matthews' comment on Clinton's victory in the January 8 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, in which Matthews said: "Let's not forget -- and I'll be brutal -- the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit." O'Reilly called Matthews' comments "rough" and stated: "[T]hat is a personal attack. And it is questionable whether a network should allow that or not."
When a bully-boy like O'Reilly says Matthews is out of line, that's really something.


WSJ: No tax cuts for poor and middle-income people, but cuts for the rich:

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... From the Wall Street Journal editorial page:
We've been saying for some time that the economy could use another tax cut....
Fancy that.
If you read the editorial, it's not simply saying there should be tax cuts for all (which is the likely initial impression), but that there should not be cuts for those at the bottom. Instead, cuts for those at the top are best. Excerpts:
We've been saying for some time that the economy could use another tax cut, so perhaps we should be pleased that Washington is suddenly talking about a fiscal "stimulus." The challenge now is getting politicians to distinguish between policies that actually "stimulate" and the equivalent of dropping hundred dollar bills from helicopters.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is leading the charge for the Democrats, pushing what he calls a "timely, targeted and temporary" tax rebate of $250 per tax filer, and $500 per couple. The White House is floating its own rebate of $500 or so for families with taxable income of less than $100,000 a year. Mr. Summers says his plan would put money in the pockets of "those who would go out and spend it."

Or not. Mr. Summers is pushing a version of single-entry Keynesian bookkeeping, which holds that if the government hands out cash to workers they will spend it and "stimulate" the economy. But the money the government would thus "inject" in the economy has to come from somewhere. That is, it has to be raised in taxes or borrowed, which means it is taken from someone else in the private sector. Under more accurate double-entry bookkeeping, this stimulus is likely to be minuscule.
If Democrats really wanted to spare a President Obama from a first-year economic problem, they'd promise to make the 2003 tax cuts permanent.
[keeping low rates on capital gains and dividends]
A proposal to bring the U.S. corporate rate into line with the rest of the world would help, and even better would be an across the board cut in income taxes to 30% from 35%. That would be real recession insurance.
So, instead of hundreds of dollars for lots and lots of people, the WSJ would rather see the top rate cut yet again, to 30%.

Also, if the WSJ want's to get all "accurate double-entry bookkeeping" on us, where the hell are they on the deficit, national debt, and unfunded Iraq War?


"The autobahn was fascistic"

So says Johan Goldberg. Well, if that's so, then the following are also fascistic: (government built and owned transportation routes)
  • Interstate Highway System. Don't foget, it was Eisenhower who championed its creation.
  • Panama Canal. Teddy Roosevelt's pride.
  • Cumberland Road (1811) "one of the first major improved highways in the United States built by the Federal Government"
  • Wilderness Road. "in 1775 [Daniel] Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky." "In 1792, the new Kentucky legislature provided money to upgrade the road."
Now to be clear, Daniel Boone was not a fascist. However, Kentuckians of 1792 are another story. Clearly, they were fascists, 130 years before Mussolini came to power.


Listen to the Krug-Man:

In today's essay about how Europe is doing pretty well, economically, we read:
Since 2000, employment has actually grown a bit faster in Europe than in the United States — and since Europe has a lower rate of population growth, this has translated into a substantial rise in the percentage of working-age Europeans with jobs, even as America’s employment-population ratio has declined.
Europe could "solve" this problem of higher employment rates with immigration. Just like here in the good old U.S.A., where additional bodies (legal and illegal) help cut into labor's bargaining power - especially at the low end. Why doesn't Europe follow the United States? They're missing out on an opportunity to further imbalance the employer-employee power relationship.

The reason is probably that Europe is less a consumer-fanatic society. In the United States, low consumer prices (for goods and services) is the summum bonum, before which all else must bow.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Contra Cox:

Over at Time's excellent Swampland, Ana Marie Cox writes critically about Romney's political strategy:
... their new argument also depends on a myopically numeric approach to reading political trends, i.e.: "After a strong second place finish in Iowa and a tremendous rally to finish in second place in New Hampshire, Gov. Romney has won the most votes of any Republican candidate."

Yes, he did. By this strategy, he could continue to lose every primary, but still get the most votes over all... which is great, except that isn't how the primary system works. Does anyone have a PowerPoint we could show him on that?
It is how the primary system works (at least substantially; there are some winner-take-all states, but in most cases delegates are chosen proportional to votes received). It's Ms. Cox who needs a PowerPoint show to inform her that, while candidates may be strong in select portions of the country, winning states here and there, it is often best to have a party's presidential candidate with the largest vote total nationally.

Because, you see, it's a national election for president. And national totals matter. Anna is the Queen of Innumeracy.

CODA: Yes, the Electoral College system considerably distorts a simple vote-total winner strategy, but in general parties look to candidates with national appeal.


Obama could run for president in 2032 and still be younger than McCain is today:

Both born in August, McCain in 1936, Obama in 1961. A twenty-five year difference. So there are 7 chances for the guy:
  • 2008
  • 2012
  • 2016
  • 2020
  • 2024
  • 2028
  • 2032
Does that election in 2032 seem far-away? Sure it does.

Consider this: An issue that year, if it is an issue, will be that the Social Security Trust Fund will cut payments ten years in the future.


Mike Gravel is in the wrong party:

From Mike Gravel to teens: Say 'yes' to drugs (7 Jan)
NASHUA, N.H.—Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska hasn't been heard from for quite some time in his quixotic quest for the Democratic presidential nomination ...

... Gravel on Sunday night appeared at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter to speak to its high school students and showed no sign his campaign had gone up in smoke. Indeed, in a contest of booze versus pot, Gravel said light 'em up.

"I'm sure a lot of you have tripped out on alcohol," Gravel told the students. "It's a lot safer to do it on marijuana."
Shouldn't he be in the Green Party?

This is why the turnout of college students was less-than-expected in New Hampshire, resulting in a smaller turnout for Obama. It was less get-out-and-vote, and more light-up-and-toke. Hillary's "tears" had nothing to do with it.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Not a happy guy:
This was Chris Matthews this morning, while saying:
"Let's not forget, and I'll be brutal. The reason she's a U.S. Senator, the reason she's a candidate for President, the reason she may be a front-runner, is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be Senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win it on the merits. She won because everybody felt, "My God, this woman stood up under humiliation." Right? That's what happened. That's how it happened.

In 1998 she went to New York and campaigned for Chuck Schumer, as almost like the greiving widow of absurdity. And she did it so well, courageously. But it was about the humiliation of Bill Clinton."


Welcome to the wonderful world of "change"

Where the likely November face-off will be the Democrat's establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, against the Republican's establishment candidate, John McCain (don't let the squabbling fool you, he's completely acceptable to the money-boys).

A triumph of name-recognition, establishment press support, and money. We should all be proud.

And kudos to all those low-information independent voters that made the previous year of near-endless debates and campaigning absolutely worthless, since policy doesn't matter a whit. You voted for "straight-talk" McCain, since he's such an authentic person, and for Hillary, because of fond memories of Bill. That's using your noggin!

November is looking like a race where the Washington Post will be happy with either as a winner. And we'll be in Iraq for 10 more years.

UPDATE2: Yes, the Washington Post loves McCain and Hillary Clinton. From Wednesday's editorial:
Mr. McCain offers a ... clearheaded approach to the threat of Islamic extremism and unwillingness to abandon his support for the war in Iraq, even when it threatened to cost him his bid for the presidency, are admirable ...

... Ms. Clinton ... has .. a sophisticated understanding of the dangers and opportunities the United States faces in the world. [...] ... Ms. Clinton has had the more sophisticated approach [than Obama] to how to deal with Iraq
UPDATE: And explanation of sorts for this voter behavior from Tapped:
... I saw up close just how uninformed the average voter is when it comes to policy. (And remember, an Iowa caucus-goer is part of an elite group of just 11 percent of eligible voters!) I heard that John Edwards seemed to really love his wife. That Hillary Clinton would bring Bill back to the White House, where he belonged. That Barack Obama was charismatic. I would press voters to tell me what policy proposals they were drawn to. This question was often met by a reassertion of just how honest, hard-working, or attractive Candidate X was. Other times, people told me they liked Candidate X's "health care" plan. What about it did they like? Well, it was a plan. And health care in America is messed up.
I simply do not understand this. Do people care if they "like" their accountant or opthamologist? Or do they care is said person is capable and can lay out a plan (i.e. policy) that is best suited to accomplishing a goal? Make no mistake about it, we are still in a period where likeability rules (i.e. personal attractiveness). It helped Bush Jr. tremendously, and we can all see how well that worked out.

Things will have to get a lot worse before people sit up straight and understand the basic issues of the day, but that will take a long while, especially with a press willing to misinform.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Barry Goldwater, 20 years ago:

From an interview in the 25 April 1988 issue of the New Yorker: (p70)
"Women have lived in the shadow of men for centuries, and it's not easy for them to step out of that shadow. Some of the best people I've served with in politics are women. One day, we'll have a woman President - not because she's a woman but because she's demonstrably better - but I won't be here to see it. They criticized Pat Schroeder for crying when she pulled out of the Presidential race. Well, if you haven't got any emotion you're not worth a dime."


Jonah's goal:

There is a glowing review by Rich Lowery of Jonah Goldberg's latest book. Interestingly, the purpose of Goldberg's effort is neatly summarized in the sub-title:
Liberal Fascism
A conservative slur no longer.


It's that time again:

Yes, it's that time again. The bizarro time when a stray remark by anybody, Edwards, Clinton (Hillary or Bill), Romney, McCain, Obama, et al suddenly dwarfs months of campaigning and policy statements. Did Bill Clinton mumble thoughts about his wife's campaign? Did Edwards fail to say something (congratulate Obama on Iowa) or say something wrong (about Hillary's "moment" yesterday)? Did Romney accuse McCain of promoting amnesty, or did he take it back - in the approved manner?

Add to that the depressing sight of low-information voters - often torn between voting for Obama or McCain (!) - and the general noise that is horse-race reporting, and it's enough to give up on democracy.

What a circus.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Illogical Scalia:

If you can stomach it, listen (mp3) to PBS' News Hour segment on the Supreme Court hearing about executions.

Here's the problem.
  • The issue is if the current 3-drug protocol amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. In other words, is the punishment cruel (i.e. unnecessarily painful).
  • Scalia first characterizes opponents of the 3-drug protocol as wanting to "choos[e] the least painful method possible", which was not what they were arguing. As the NYTimes put it, he's a fan of cruelty.
  • When told that the issue is torture, Scalia then redefined torture as "the intentional infliction of pain", which it isn't. Torture is torture, no matter what the intentions are of the correctional officials.
  • Scalia also objects to sending the case back to the lower courts for clarification, because it would mean "a national cessation of executions. We're looking at years. We wouldn't want that to happen." He wants executions, even if further study would show the present system to be unconstitutional.
This post isn't about the death penalty. It's about Scalia's dishonest argumentation to further an outcome he prefers. That's the problem.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hillary got a bad rap:

John Cole says it best.

Here in Los Angeles, and reading the east-coast blogs that had already seen the Democratic debate on Saturday, one was led to expect some sort of bizarre outburst by a crazywoman. So, naturally the thing to do was watch the exchange at 9:35 PM. But there wasn't anything there, really. So why the fuss? Well, nobody really likes Hillary. The press, Andrew Sullivan, rival campaigns.

It's hard to believe that the "must see" YouTube clip will have any effect, short or long term.


The outrage at 9:25

Everybody's talking about the Obama-Edwards-Clinton confrontation that took place at about 9:35 PM during the Democratic presidential debate, but almost nobody is commenting about what ABC was doing prior to that moment. As Mark Kleiman notes:
I'm not sure why ABC News thought it important to start every segment of the debate with a video segment embodying a Republican talking-point, or why Gibson thought it his place to reinforce those talking-points in direct debate with the candidates.
And how! At 9:25, Gibson took the debate to domestic issues, and framed it with this: (emp add)
GIBSON: I'm going to move on to domestic policy. How much the government is spending, How much you would spend with the programs you propose, promises you've made. And some of that is entitlements. A little background - ABC's Betsy Stark.    [video segment followed]

STARK: Every hour of this new year another 400 baby boomers will turn 60, swelling the ranks of those soon eligible to collect Social Security and Medicare. The forecasts are foreboding. By 2017 the Social Security surplus runs dry, and the system begins in taking less tax revenue than it pays out in benefits. For Medicare the problems are even more severe. By 2013 the program's Hospital Insurance Fund is expected to fall into the red, and the insurance premiums seniors pay for doctor's visits and prescription drugs are projected to keep rising. Many young American's simply assume there will be nothing left for them to guarantee the security of their old age.

screenshot     mp3
To most people, the expression "run dry" means "empty". But in fact, in 2017 the Social Security Trust Fund's surplus will not have even reached is largest size:
Social Security Trust Fund
  • Projections are that current receipts will continue to exceed expenditures until 2017 (according to Charles Blahous, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy).
  • Thereafter, there will be a shortfall that will be made up by withdrawals from the Trust Fund, although the Trust Fund will continue to show net growth until 2025 because of the interest generated by its bonds.
To clarify. The Social Security Trust fund has two income streams: tax receipts and interest on bonds. It has one expenditure stream: to retirees. ABC would have you panic because, even after piling up a huge surplus and before that surplus has reached its maximum, in 2017 one income stream to the fund will be matched by the expenditure stream. And what really matters, the ability of the fund to pay benefits, isn't scheduled to be a problem until 2042.

When misleading statements like those Betsy Stark peddled are believed, it's no surprise that, as she put it, "Many young American's simply assume there will be nothing left for them to guarantee the security of their old age."

UPDATE: The Daily Howler reviews the same misleading segment.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

"Change" = youth:

Look at the candidates in the Iowa caucuses, in the order they finished, along with their ages:
Order Republican age Democrat age
1 Huckabee 52 Obama 46
2 Romney 60 Edwards 54
3 Thompson 65 Clinton  60
4 McCain  71 Richardson 60
5 Paul 72 Biden 65
NOTE: Bill Richardson (DOB '47 Nov 15) is three weeks younger than Hillary Clinton (DOB '47 Oct 26)

Pretty remarkable, huh?


Did America lose because of America?

Or something like that. Consider Fox News Channel's text banner (from Think Progress):
Let's take a look at some numbers from the Iowa caucuses:
  Turnout         Populist Total
Republican 120,000 Huckabee 34% 40,800 Paul, 10% 12,000 52,800
Democrat 220,000 Obama, 38% 83,600 Edwards, 30% 66,000 149,600
Total 340,000         202,400

* - Is Ron Paul a populist? He's definitely anti-establishment.

So, 60% of the voters in the Iowa caucuses went for a populist (50% if you exclude Ron Paul's constituency). Who the hell is Fox kidding?


Friday, January 04, 2008

Jonah Goldberg undermines the entire thesis of his book:

Reacting to a mixed review of his book at the WSJ by Fred Siegal, Goldberg writes:
More important, almost all of the liberals who formed the top-tier of the New Deal were, in effect, liberals in name only. They abandoned the word "progressive" not because they ceased being progressives but because America stopped liking progressives. Siegel doesn't even attempt to rebut the pages upon pages of hardcore compulsion these progressives utilized in the New Deal long after this supposed rejection of Wilsonian compulsion took place.
So, all the "evidence" that liberals were part of FDR's Fascism is nugatory since they weren't liberals, but instead, progressives.

So why is the book called Liberal Fascism?


Stealing the other candidate's slogan:

In 2000, John McCain was considered a reformer on issues like campaign spending and lobbying reform. He was a "reformer". The Bush campaign reacted, with Karen Hughes suggesting that Bush bill himself as the "Reformer With Results", even though no reforms were specified. Apparently merely being governor of Texas while a health-care bill passed without his signature, was enough to merit that label.

Now it's 2008 and Obama is calling for "change". And the Clinton campaign has stolen that expression.

Will it work?


Think about the economy:

If, as seems extremely likely, we will be knee deep in a recession come election day in November, what kind of candidate will do well? Or poorly, for that matter?

Huckabee is Mr. Folksy, and in a world where international trade and finance will be key, probably will suffer. He just doesn't come off as a detail guy, but rather as a provincial, which can't inspire confidence when considering the complex economic mess we will be in. So, the Democrats might want Huckabee to be the Republican presidential candidate this year.


Obama fatigue:

I've already got it.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Site notice:

Many posts have the former mayor's name spelled Guiliani instead of the correct Giuliani. Some have been corrected, but not all of them.


Post-Iowa thoughts:

  • Obama - Better than I expected. Unfortunately, this guy doesn't get to me at all and I have concerns about his chances in the general election. Looks like Oprah can move voters (alas, that's the world we live in: celebrity matters more than policies).
  • Edwards - Would have liked to see him come in first. Hope he keeps in there.
  • Clinton - If she were to drop out, something she won't ever do, that would "clear the air" and it would be fascinating to see Obama vs. Edwards, debating policy and politics. Clinton always struck me as an obstacle for Democrats - there mostly by virtue of her association with Bill (unlike, say Pelosi who worked for years to get where she is). But Hillary was a "name" as they say, and there are lots of minimal-information voters out there who she could hope for.
  • Dodd - Sorry to see you go. Keep fighting for the rule of law.
  • Biden - Gone too. Now he can go 24/7 attacking Republicans.
  • Huckabee - Even though he's pretty conservative, he doesn't get the love from the Club for Growth or Limbaugh. Why? In any event, Huckabee will be endless trouble for the Republicans, especially now that he's won Iowa.
  • Romney - Probably the least bad Republican, but doomed by his religion. His Iowa showing demonstrates that money and organization gets you something, so Mitt could be with us for a long while.
  • Thompson - Go Fred! If anyone asks you what you can accomplish by doing nothing, tell them, "Third place in Iowa".
  • McCain - Apparently coming in fourth is a victory in the eyes of some pundits. They should be reminded that politics is a horse race and that there is no payout for fourth place.
  • Paul - Ten percent of Iowa means ... ?
  • Giuliani - Still warming up the engines, flight set to take off weeks from now. But by then, will there be anyone to step on board? Rudy's game plan seem to be to anticipate another tragedy somewhere in the world, so that people are reminded of 9/11 yet again.