Archive for the 'posts by Frederick' Category

Byrd out, Inouye in.

November 10, 2008

Byrd resigns his chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee because at 90 he is too frail and senile to do the work required in this momentous term.  Very well.  But replacing him is Senator Inouye, 84.  Change!



Let’s get scared!

November 1, 2008

… is the name of a feature on Harry Shearer’s Le Show which I will appropriate here to bring you this, from the Guardian (coincidentally, one of Shearer’s favorite papers):

Dozens of suspected terrorists have attempted to infiltrate Britain’s top laboratories in order to develop weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and nuclear devices, during the past year.

The security services, MI5 and MI6, have intercepted up to 100 potential terrorists posing as postgraduate students who they believe tried accessing laboratories to gain the materials and expertise needed to create chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, the government has confirmed.

Breaking news update

October 31, 2008

Dana Perino is, well, actually kind of less hot the last few days.  She has been looking weary.  As the New Zealand Herald blog reports, the election is taking a strain on her.

On Saturday she sent out an email advising White House correspondents and that President and Mrs Bush had exercised their right to vote early ahead of next week’s Presidential election. After she got numerous emails and calls asking whom the President and First Lady had voted for, Perino, shot out a snippy reply.. The subject header was, “I find this hard to believe.” And her email said: “But so many reporters have asked just who the president voted for, I guess I have to make it clear. For months the president has said he supports John McCain for president and of course he voted for him.”

Which is why she’s looking like this:

A story in photogaffes and the lack of them

October 30, 2008

This blog cares about how people look.  Well, I care.  You’d have to ask Akhbar himself.  I care because it is an ugly truth that a person’s beauty matters so much to success.  The Onion, as ever on the vanguard of important issues, recently ran this piece:

Obama would not be a major party’s candidate for president if he actually had that birthmark.  To the contrary, one measure of his ‘serenity’ is that there aren’t any photographs of him looking anything other than serene, or judiciously concerned, or sternly focused.  He just doesn’t produce photographs of that kind.  In this he is like Reagan.  I have been trying to find the original of a quote I can only paraphrase.  It was by a lefty photographer who was given an opportunity to take pictures of Reagan in the White House.  And he said what he’d tried to do was take awful photographs of him by using terrible angles, poor lighting, and not letting the President get ready.  But when he got home and developed the photos, Reagan look terrific in all of them.  I think Obama would be the same way.

Meanwhile, McCain is a photogaffe factory the likes of which has not been seen on the national stage since Hillary Clinton.  When this election is over we will do Hillary and McCain photogaffe retrospectives.

More of Ruffini being execrably wrong

October 30, 2008

Who else remembers this Ruffini gem written at the time of the bailout, in which he argued that House and Senate Republicans should vote against it:

God Himself couldn’t have given rank-and-file Republicans a better opportunity to create political space between themselves and the Administration. That’s why I want to see 40 Republican No votes in the Senate, and 150+ in the House. If a bailout is to pass, let it be with Democratic votes. Let this be the political establishment (Bush Republicans in the White House + Democrats in Congress) saddling the taxpayers with hundreds of billions in debt (more than the Iraq War, conjured up in a single weekend, and enabled by Pelosi, btw), while principled Republicans say “No” and go to the country with a stinging indictment of the majority in Congress.

This creates pressure on the “change” message. If this issue is made controversial, and Obama is not the first to make it an issue, how exactly is a Washington deal backed by  Bush’s Treasury Secretary “change?”

A bailout may be inevitable, but so to can be the political benefit for Congressional Republicans if played correctly.

Leave aside the astonishing moral void at the core of his thinking.  Focus instead on just how beautifully wrong he was.  Recall that House Republicans did vote against the bailout bill and thus impeded it for a week.  Subsequent polling showed that by wide majorities Americans blamed the Republicans as responsible for the delay.  The result was a bailout bill passed with near unanimity by a triumphant Democratic party and a chastened Republican one.  Obama’s numbers improved throughout while McCain and the Republicans appeared heartless, erratic, and needlessly Machiavellian.  So, sweet job Ruffini!

‘Haiku Pundit’ explains the Republican position on taxes

October 30, 2008

Conservative poetblogger Haiku Pundit explains Republican tax policy in 34 syllables:

Raising taxes when
the economy is bad:
a bad idea.


Raising taxes when
the economy is good:
a bad idea.

But aren’t we all Keynesians now?  In which case poem B is correct, but poem A is not.

Prediction Wars: Drum vs. Ambinder

October 30, 2008

Kevin Drum made a prediction a few days back:

Apropos of nothing in particular, I want to go on the record with a prediction that Sarah Palin will disappear into a well-deserved obscurity after the election is over. She is not a “comer.” She is not the future of the Republican Party. She will not run for president in 2012. In fact, she won’t maintain any kind of serious national political standing at all. At best, she’ll spend the next few years being a celebrity starter at NASCAR races and speaking at Republican prayer breakfasts. At worst, she’ll be an occasional butt of late night comics.

Palin is lazy, ill-informed, contemptuous of policy, and way too convinced that everybody in the country is dazzled by her folksy energy and thousand-watt smile. Yes, the diehard GOP base is rapturously in love with Palin and her media mockin’ ways, but that’s more a reflection of the base’s future, not hers. Palin is a three-day wonder who’s already a month past her sell-by date, and on November 5th she’ll disappear to Wasilla for good.

On the other hand, Ambinder says Palin is the frontrunner for 2012, here and here:

And here, both Palin and Huckabee have a built in advantage. The GOP base, by and large, will not blame Palin for McCain’s failure to win the election — if, of course, he fails to win the election. The base seems to love her.

The question is whether her political recalibration will be enough by 2012 to sustain a political majority outside the Republican Party.  Mike Huckabee doesn’t need to rethink himself all that much — a few positions here, a few positions there, some emphasis in different corners — and he might well present himself as the most electable conservative candidate.

again, i come down on the side of palin here. i’m guessing that the GOP primary is going to be all about telling the base that it’s not their fault, and palin is going to be second to none on that score.

Who will be proven right?  The Enlightened Despot will remember the predictions, and in 2012 we will know.

Voter fraud vs. voter suppression

October 30, 2008

Matthew Yglesias, second best liberal blogger on the internet, is the person who first made this argument: although conservative pundits get really exercised about voter fraud, I mean really very distraught, they can never point to any actual voter fraud.  None.  It’s really amazing.  Once you are on the lookout for this trend, it’s unmistakable.  Go to the Corner, where their anticipatory grief therapy is pre-bitching about voter fraud.  They are all about it.  But there are no examples this side of LBJ and the Daley machine.

In contrast, there is voter suppression going on all the time.  There are many specific examples from this cycle alone.  I personally would love a moral equivalence because it fits nicely with my theory that politicians are all crooks.  But in this case there is no equivalence to be had.  For example:  Charlie Crist has gotten much well deserved credit for expanding early voting from 8 to 12 hours per day in Florida.  In contrast, Georgia has put the kibbosh on 12 hour days.  (The difference: Crist hates McCain.)  But there is simply no moral reason to close the polls after eight hours if people can’t get in to vote.  None.  It’s simply denying people the right to vote.  It is naked voter suppression.  It’s unbelievable to me how unbalanced this issue is.

Andrew Sullivan being right, then wrong.

October 29, 2008

Andrew Sullivan has a very interesting post that starts out sensibly and veers off into the impossible.  From section a):

It’s very encouraging to see thugs like Chavez and Putin get the wind knocked out of their sails a little; and obviously many Americans are relieved to have some relief in their budgets. But the sad truth is: only high gas prices will ever wean us off Middle Eastern oil and provide the real market incentives to pioneer non-carbon energy. Falling oil prices could derail a serious move toward energy independence, which will be achieved in the end by the private sector, not the government.

This is absolutely correct.  Other than policy wonks and econerds, few people think that the ‘energy crisis’ means anything other than “I have a crisis in paying to fill up my fucking gas tank”.  But this is what makes the second half of the post so implausible.  It begins:

My own view is that the one thing the government can do right now is keep gas prices high, by raising gas taxes. We now have a golden opportunity.

Indeed?  This is the time to raise fuel taxes?  That’s going to go down a treat with the electorate.  I can only imagine the demagoguery the Republicans could whip up, even given that they would be wrong.  And what if prices stay low for another year while the economy improves dramatically and unexpectedly, thus allowing the political possibility of a new tax?  Well by that point the ‘energy crisis’, as understood by most Americans, will have passed because they will be able to fill their tanks for a reasonable amount of cash.

So, better to go with Sullivan’s plan A, and let the markets take care of this problem.

Internal Polling

October 29, 2008

Yuval Levin, Corner luminary, puts up a post about internal McCain polling:

The Wall Street Journal today publishes an internal McCain campaign polling memo from yesterday. Bill McInturff, the campaign’s lead pollster, paints a rather different picture than the one we’ve seen in most media polling, and suggests those media polls will begin dramatically to tighten in the next day or two.

I’m ready!