Archive for October, 2008

Wanna See Something Really Scary?

Friday, October 31st, 2008

[Photo by Mykl Roventine, licensed under Creative Commons.]

Of course, this might be a better illustration of the “really scary” implications of the election – but it’s in less good taste.

Know Hope. Get Organized. Go Vote.

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 31st, 2008

[Photo courtesy of blg002 licensed under Creative Commons.]

Dreher’s Vaticination

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Rod Dreher, The Crunchy Conservative:

In other words, for this blogger [the Cunning Realist], a vote for Obama is a vote against the possibility of true and destabilizing political radicalism emerging out of the economic tsunami breaking upon us. Interesting. I see where he’s coming from. At the request of a publication I contribute to, I was asked to prepare a piece to run if Obama wins, and one to run if McCain wins. Writing the McCain piece, I was kind of surprised by how depressed I was by the thought of a McCain victory. Depressed in the sense of seeing nothing good coming from it. It’s a strange position to be in – I don’t think a president as liberal as Obama would be good for the country, but four years of McCain, coming into power just as the economy is falling off a cliff and the conservatives are falling to pieces, would be as angry and as rotten as any since Nixon’s time.

Alaskans for Obama

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I know the comparison isn’t fair – but the positive energy of this event is very different from the fear and anger at the McCain-Palin rallies.

Bad Math

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I’m beginning to think conservatives, as represented by the writers at The Corner and those readers who write into The Corner, have a selective insanity that sets in when math becomes involved in any political issue.

Yesterday, I wrote about how they were using their confusions about what the numbers in Obama’s tax plan meant to attack it. “First he said that families making under $250,000 will be exempt – and then he said individuals making under $200,000 would be exempt. What’s next?” Of course, the fact that in one instance the conversation was about families and in the other about individuals was either ignored or not understood.

Now today, Mark Steyn publishes this reader comment:

He’s raised $600 million, as you say, in small donations. So divide it by ten bucks apiece and there’s 60 million donors. If 120 million people vote on Tuesday, and he gets 50% that equals …60 million voters!

Of course, Obama has published the number of individual donors at various points in the campaign – and as of the last public statement, the number was somewhat less than 4 million. Of course, if you presume that a small donation must be – say, $10 – rather than the normally accepted lawful definition of a small donation – $200, then you can see how such sloppy math and baseless assumptions will lead you to accuse someone of massive fraud.

Socialism, huh?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Hendrik Hertzberg brilliantly rebuts the charge of “socialism” that McCain and Palin have been flinging:

The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent. The latter is what it would be under Obama’s proposal, what it was under President Clinton, and, for that matter, what it will be after 2010 if President Bush’s tax cuts expire on schedule.

And then there’s this gem from that straight-talking maverick of 2001:

YOUNG WOMAN: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?. . .
MCCAIN: Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.

Read the whole thing – and spread the word.

Fascinating Fact of the Day

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

From the New York Times op-ed written by Billy Beane, Newt Gingrich, and John Kerry:

Starbucks pays more for health care than it does for coffee.

My first question is – who the hell actually wrote this piece and thought that these were the three guys to get together to sell it? The Kerry-Gingrich thing works. But where does Beane come in, aside from thematically? I presume all three must be on some board together.

Those Republican Leftists!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

There are about 10 things to argue with in Steven Calabresi’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Let me pick one for the moment. Calabresi appeals to those who are considering voting for Obama:

The net result is that the legal left will once again have a majority on the nation’s most important regulatory court of appeals.

Sounds frightening. Of course, that does suggest that the legal right controls the Courts now.

A point of fact: 61% of judges in the various Courts of Appeal were appointed by Republican presidents. And 7 of the 9 Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. The fact that these Courts are now regularly called “leftist” seems to tell us more about how far the Republican party has moved than it does about the political leanings of the justices.

Jindal 2012

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Over at TNR’s The Plank, they’ve begun a discussion of 2012 Republican contenders.

Bobby Jindal is one candidate who I think has the chops to truly challenge Obama if he were to run in 2012- as a reform-minded governor who has strong relationships with the conservatives and christianists in the Republican party that does not contradict his independent streak and reform instincts. McCain’s maverick streak often came at the expense of his party and especially the christianist base. But I think that Christopher Orr might be right when he points out that this campaign has hurt Jindal more than any other Republican candidates

…a large portion of the GOP’s closing argument this cycle has been to stoke white, working class fear and suspicion of the Other. The dark-skinned man with the foreign-sounding name may be a Muslim, or a socialist, or a friend of terrorists, or a racial huckster, or a fake U.S. citizen, or some other vague kind of “radical.” You may never be sure which he is (maybe all of the above), but in your gut you simply don’t “know” him the way you know the other candidates. This is not, to put it mildly, a message likely to benefit Bobby Jindal.

I don’t think this rules Jindal out. Although campaign messages and narratives have a way sinking in for partisans more than actual policy positions (see the Hillary Clinton primary voters), a good candidate, the right circumstances, and the right policy messages can counteract that (see the Hillary Clinton primary voters.)

Daniel Larison (and David Weigel over at Reason seems to agree) thinks that this the fallout from the election of Obama given the campaign McCain has run would have precisely the opposite effect Orr predicts:

…never underestimate the Republican desire to get on the high horse of anti-racism and egalitarianism, to say nothing of the even greater desire to demonstrate that they are in no way racist…

I agree with that as well – but as Larison points out – this especially applies to the “elite Republicans” and less so to the rank-and-file. I think Larison undestimates the poisonous atmosphere that is motivating much of the vicious anti-Obama rhetoric and fear though – an atmosphere that McCain and Palin decided at one point to stoke.

But what I think both miss is that – although if the VP nominee had been Jindal this time around, the Republicans would have rallied to him, because racism is not inherently Republican – by running a campaign that stokes fears of the “foreign,” the Republican party has changed.

If McCain loses – and probably if he wins, but slower – the Republican party is due for a crack-up – as all the various factions fight over what vision they have for America and for their party.

Sarah Palin is clearly a contender – representing the old-style class warfare with a new wink and nice clothes. Most of the neoconservatives will back her, at least to start the 2012 positioning.

Bobby Jindal would be the new fresh face, the reform-minded christianist with an independent streak – the closest to the McCain brand without the baggage of being labeled a traitor by much of the party. He will be the candidate of the Republican elite, the candidate of David Brooks, of Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. He’ll be the guy whose candidacy will attempt to reform the Republican party with a new policy focus.

Mitt Romney would be the business candidate – and the one with the most chits to cash in. He’ll be the safe choice, the establishment candidate, the next in line.

Mike Huckabee would be the nice guy, the runner-up again. This time around, most prominent evangelicals will back him.

The dark horse, again, will be Newt Gingrich – who this year declined to enter the race after long and public deliberation.

And so, in 2012, the candidates would neatly divide the Republican party into old-style and reform, business and christianist. It’s hard to imagine someone other than Romney taking it with this crowd though. Jindal is the one to watch – the guy who would be able to pull the Republicans out of this most quickly.

What Al Qaeda Really Fears

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Paul Waldman in The American Prospect:

…what does al-Qaeda really fear? What they fear is being marginalized. They can only continue to obtain recruits, raise money, and move about as long as they maintain support in Muslim countries, both active and passive. They fear not another American invasion of a Muslim country, but an American foreign policy that makes them less relevant. They fear a decline in anti-American sentiment. They fear Muslim publics that don’t hate America quite as much, and so are unwilling to tolerate extremism in their midst. They fear losing their enemy.