Posted by Jack @ 11:36 pm on October 31st 2008

Odd vote exchange

Straight friend: I’ll vote against your anti-gay marriage amendment (Florida Amendment 2) if you’ll vote for McCain.

Gay friend: (slight pause) Agreed.

All politics are local.

Posted by Brad @ 4:24 pm on October 31st 2008

The SCOTUS Issue

Via Sully, the New York Times Review of Books publishes an essay by Garry Willis (and others by others) on the subject.

The next president will undoubtedly nominate one or more Supreme Court justices—which, justifiably, makes some worry about the fate of Roe v. Wade. But there should be even deeper worries about the Court. Even if Roe is reversed (and that is no certainty, even with new justices), some states—perhaps many—will legitimize abortions, and others may find a ban unenforceable (more so than Prohibition). But a new justice appointed by a Republican president will with certainty create results more drastic than any affecting Roe.

When Dick Cheney was vetting the last two candidates for the Court, he did not really care about their views on abortion. He concentrated on their attitude toward the many executive usurpations of the Bush administration, and he was satisfied on this account with John Roberts and with Sam Alito.

When Charles Gibson was questioning Governor Palin, he should not have asked about the Bush Doctrine (a wavering concept, and touching only one matter, war). He should have asked for her views on the unitary executive—the question Cheney asked the Court nominees. That is what matters most to the Bush people. It affects all the executive usurpations of the last seven years—not only the right of the president to wage undeclared wars, but his right to create military courts, to authorize extraordinary renditions, secret prisons, more severely coercive interrogation, trials with undisclosed evidence, domestic surveillance, and the overriding of congressional oversight in every aspect of government from energy policy to health services.

Posted by Brad @ 3:41 pm on October 31st 2008

You’re Doing it Wrong

This is a nice ad, I think, but one can’t help but be a little perplexed at it.

The thrust of the McCain campaign, especially for the past month, has been that Barack Obama is evil and scary: a metrosexual cosmopolitan celebrity who wants to molest your children while his terrorist friends plot to kill you and his homeboy welfare chiselers from ACORN steal elections so they can then steal your money. Now, four days before the election, McCain shows the voters Obama “reaching across the aisle” to praise his rival in his best calm, reasonable, thoughtful tone.

What am I missing here? Is Steve Schmidt in the tank?

I suppose it’s an attempt to unscary McCain for moderates and Dems? But still, kind of weird.

Posted by Brad @ 2:57 pm on October 31st 2008

Election Night

Anybody have any neat plans?

Being in Chicago, I was really turning over whether going down to Grant Park for the massive rally would be worth it or not. On the one hand, I’m sure I’d be glad I did it, just to be a part of history. On the other hand, what a pain in the ass.

Apparently, however, all tickets are already gone. I didn’t even know they were available yet.

So, I will likely stay in, which I’m mildly bummed about. Any of you doing anything?

If not, judging from previous election nights, the whole blog will become a liveblog. So it might be a good place to keep in mind for your surfing. We’ll likely be putting up a lot of threads, and having a lot of fun in our tete-e-tetes. As Rojas said once, for we political junkies, election night in even the most dull of cycles is like our World Cup. Even most of those dispirited by things can’t help but get some energy going for it.

So bust out your scotch (Jack) or MGD (me) or Anchor Steam (Rojas) or wine coolers (James) and join us.

N.B. likely not much blogging the morning after.

Posted by Brad @ 2:50 pm on October 31st 2008

The Ground Game

Sean Quinn of 538.com has managed the impressive feat of, with photographer in tow visiting 50 field offices in 11 battleground states for both campaigns.

If you aren’t a regular reader there, you might have missed the progression. They wanted to chronicle the two campaigns locking horns on the ground-game levels, found but were not surprised by the disparity between the two, but then growingly disconcerted as they began to ask themselves “hey, just where are the McCain people anyway?” If they would find a McCain field office open on a weekday, it was a small victory. If they found one with more than two or three volunteers in it, it was a mild miracle. It began very quickly to seem to them that state coordinators for the McCain campaign were just drawing paychecks, versus the Obama campaign, where they couldn’t get in the door most of the time.

Worth a read.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:16 am on October 31st 2008

It Can Be Done

We all live closer to the edge than we might like to admit. If you’re like me, you do the best you can to save for the future; you put money away at every opportunity; you feed your 401k. Yet the reality remains that you are, in point of fact, one firing away from a major lifestyle change. It wouldn’t take more than a couple of months of unemployment before you found yourself substantially downgrading your accomodations, your diet, your recreational activities. And that’s to say nothing of the prospect of a major illness, which would wipe you out completely.

If the worst happened, what would you do? Where would you go? Would you be able to claw back from the brink? Or would you disappear into the underclass?

I’ve recently had the opportunity to read two excellent books on this subject. The first, You Want Fries With That? by Prioleau Alexander, is the story of an advertising executive and ex-Marine who dropped off the corporate fast-track and decided to pursue life in a variety of menial occupations, ranging from full-time pizza delivery to construction to trail boss on a recreational horse-riding trip. Alexander writes with wit and insight, but one never gets a sense of desperation from him–it’s clear at all times that he can use his considerable intellectual resources and his extensive network of contacts to vault from job to job, or out of the escapade entirely, whenever he chooses.

By far the more interesting is Adam Shepard’s Scratch Beginnings. Shepard goes whole-hog. A recent college graduate, he wipes his resume clean, picks the name of a city out of a hat, and buys a train ticket there, carrying a sleeping bag, a gym sack, the clothes on his back, and $25. His mission: without using any of his contacts, any of his education, or any resource other than what’s in his bare hands, to end a yearlong experiment with a full time job, a reliable car, $5000 in the bank, and a furnished apartment.

Shepard doesn’t cheat, and he doesn’t spare the reader the gruesome details of life as a homeless man. His is not an experience any sane American would voluntarily choose to repeat. And yet…his story is tremendously affirming in the respect that he does indeed manage, to a considerable degree, to lift himself up by his bootstraps.

And so do other men in Shepard’s circumstance; their stories, as told by Shepard, are as interesting as his own. It must be noted that Shepard does not, by any means, disprove the thesis that getting out of poverty is brutally hard; his own good health and his borderline-insane work ethic prove preconditions to his rise, and it is impossible to close the book without recognizing that some people in America live in dire poverty due to circumstances (health in particular) that they can’t control.

And yet…he makes it. And so do others. With the help of genuinely dedicated charity professionals, and a market of labor opportunities second to no other on earth, people in Adam Shepard’s situation do indeed lift themselves up from the very bottom. Not to riches, perhaps; but to comfort the rest of the world would envy, and to greater opportunities for themselves and their children.

It happens every day. It is a tribute both to our nation and to the remarkable individuals who make the journey.

Posted by Brad @ 10:54 pm on October 30th 2008

The Reason Scorecard

The preeminent libertarian magazine right now polls its members as to who they’ll be voting for…and the results are fascinating.

Sort of a little hard to parse some of the answer, but by my reckoning, the results are:

Barack Obama: 15
Bob Barr: 12
Not Going to Vote: 6
John McCain: 4

Posted by Brad @ 10:02 pm on October 30th 2008

And One Last F You For the Cheap Seats

From this

this:

The campaign is now seriously examining a late surge into the state. That may include ramping up TV advertising, on-the-ground staff or even deploying the candidate to stop there. Obama is scheduled to make a Western swing late this week, making an Arizona visit possible.

to this. An email to all Obama supporters in Arizona:

I had to write you to share some news you may not have heard.

The Arizona Republic is now reporting that a series of new polls show us “neck and neck” with John McCain in Arizona. According to the Republic, Senator McCain is “struggling in his own backyard.”

Arizona is his home state. He should have a comfortable lead with voters who’ve known him for nearly three decades. That says all you need to know about the strength of Barack’s message and the grassroots movement we’ve built.

With Election Day just 5 days away, this surge of support for Barack couldn’t come at a better time. But we have to act immediately to take advantage.

Sign up right now to join our grassroots effort. Help turn out voters any time between now and Election Day, November 4th.

In response to the news, John McCain is now blanketing Arizona — his own home state — with negative and misleading “robocalls” to voters.

It’s a desperate move, but we need to respond and keep our momentum going. If enough of you take the time to get involved and do your part, we could pull a real upset.

The way to do that is to talk to Arizonans face to face, and let them know the importance of their vote in this election. But we’ve only got 5 days left to do it.

Supporters like you have put us within striking distance. Now it’s time to pull off what no one expected.

Sign up and join in the final push to make history in this election:

http://az.barackobama.com/AZvol

We’ve got a real chance now, but we can’t do this without you.

Thanks,

Jon

Jon Carson
National Field Director
Obama for America

Not sure an Obama visit would be a good idea—but it’d be juicy.

Posted by James @ 9:24 pm on October 30th 2008

Murtha’s money problems.

Seems Meatsack Murtha is pleading for dough to compete for his seat in the brothel.

“We need to raise another $1 million to compete,” his campaign fundraiser Susan O’Neill wrote in the e-mail obtained by The Hill. “We need money immediately.”

satire

In a separate snail-mailing that the the Murtha campaign hoped would reach the older and more backward constituents of his district that are too dumb to run a computer, they tried to play down some of Murtha’s recent comments that have ridiculed many of those he represents.

“Senator Murtha regrets that he has offended any of the inbred country bumkins he strives so hard to bring home the pork for. Unfortunately his statements were taken out of context and have been twisted by his opponent to make the Senator appear aloof and out of touch with the bitter, gun-toting, religious hillbilly wingnuts that he cares so much about. Senator Murtha is asking that, although most of you probably live in tar paper shacks and can’t afford shoes for your illiterate kids, that you collect a few extra cans and bottles along the side of the road when you are raising your beer money, and send what you can his way.”

/satire

Posted by Brad @ 7:50 pm on October 30th 2008

A Big Bucket of Crazy

Has to be seen to be believed.

I only link it for its sheer obsessiveness.

Short version: Barack Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X. No, seriously.

And when I say that’s the short version, I mean it…

Posted by Brad @ 5:22 pm on October 30th 2008

The Economist Goes Obama

Interesting endorsement from a publication we all here seem to respect.

They have previously endorsed John McCain.

The most thoughtful bit is that the McCain we all mostly like is not the McCain that is running anymore, and that fact simply cannot be ignored or brushed away.

That, however, was Senator McCain; the Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.

Meanwhile his temperament, always perhaps his weak spot, has been found wanting. Sometimes the seat-of-the-pants method still works: his gut reaction over Georgia—to warn Russia off immediately—was the right one. Yet on the great issue of the campaign, the financial crisis, he has seemed all at sea, emitting panic and indecision. Mr McCain has never been particularly interested in economics, but, unlike Mr Obama, he has made little effort to catch up or to bring in good advisers (Doug Holtz-Eakin being the impressive exception).

The choice of Sarah Palin epitomised the sloppiness. It is not just that she is an unconvincing stand-in, nor even that she seems to have been chosen partly for her views on divisive social issues, notably abortion. Mr McCain made his most important appointment having met her just twice.

Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.

[…]

There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.

Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.

Posted by Brad @ 10:23 am on October 30th 2008

The Problemitization of Georgia-Russia

Glenn Greenwald has been in a fascinating blog feud with Reason’s Kathy Young over the Russia-Georgia conflict. At issue? Greenwald has claimed that American media and political figures are artificially massaging the conflict into a “Good vs. Evil” paradigm, overwhelmingly giving the impression of spunky freedom-loving democracy Georgia getting invaded by horrible fascist Russian empire, when the reality is a lot more convoluted, at best. Kathy Young contends this amounts to apologizing and making excuses for Russia (her article is titled “Sympathy for the Devil”). Greenwald fired back in this exhaustive piece making the case that it’s not excuse-making when you adopt a complicated perspective to a complicated state of affairs. I think it’s clear from both articles that young is desperate to hold things to a binary, and that Greenwald is indeed pushing for a problematization of Georgia’s media narrative (i.e. he probably leans against them as being the helpless victims here).

All of that is required reading on the subject. Greenwald, today, also adds an update.

Today, the BBC announced they believed they had evidence of Georgia committing war crimes in the attacks on South Ossetia,

Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.

Research by the international investigative organisation Human Rights Watch also points to indiscriminate use of force by the Georgian military, and the possible deliberate targeting of civilians.

Indiscriminate use of force is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and serious violations are considered to be war crimes.

The allegations are now raising concerns among Georgia’s supporters in the West.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has told the BBC the attack on South Ossetia was “reckless”.

He said he had raised the issue of possible Georgian war crimes with the government in Tbilisi.

The evidence was gathered by the BBC on the first unrestricted visit to South Ossetia by a foreign news organisation since the conflict.

Be very, very wary of any “eye-witness” accounts of most anybody in that region, and it’s unclear to me they have any evidence beyond that. But still, truth usually isn’t served very well when it has to go through a narrative filter, particularly where the good/evil designations are already pre-ordained.

Posted by Brad @ 9:49 am on October 30th 2008

Why Vote?

A compelling answer. PSA from North Carolina:

Posted by Adam @ 10:01 pm on October 29th 2008

All Hail the Phillies

I was writing my endorsement when baseball came on.

My boys, the Philadelphia Phillies, have won the World Series. My efforts to support a safely losing team — a task Rojas, as a Kansas City resident, achieves with ease — have failed.

Oh happy day. This will, however, not be a good substitute for the spanking my guy, John McCain, is going to get next week.

Posted by Jack @ 9:49 pm on October 29th 2008

I endorse Barrack Obama for President. Someone here had to.

Previously, on TCP Endorsements:
Events have forced my hand: TCP’s original intent was that three of the blog founders would post endorsements that would reflect the roughly balanced divide amongst our group as a whole. Thus, we anticipated perfect symmetry with an endorsement each for McCain, Obama, and Barr. We all know how that turned out. Given James’ surprise endorsement of Obama and subsequent buyer’s remorse retraction, no sign of Brad’s highly anticipated opus, and Rojas’ implicit challenge that obviously no one at TCP supports Obama, I am stepping in. Also, Brad asked that I throw something up so we look less like idiots.

I endorse Barrack Obama for President of the United States. As a temporary and last minute substitute endorser, I simply refer you to my original Obama endorsement for the Democratic nomination, and provide the following as additions, updates, and reemphasized points.

Foreign Policy
This was the easiest area to mark on my presidential scorecard, with Obama’s reasoned diplomacy towards world affairs far outpacing McCain’s repeatedly emphasized bellicosity, interventionist preferences, and near constant saber rattling. I do not expect Obama to pull out of Iraq within a year, nor do I think such a rapid exit wise; but I do expect he will exercise a far more conservative approach to international relations. His mere election will serve as an immediate soft power generator, particularly among the developing nations and the Middle East, and will signal a changed America more willing to consider actions other than unilateral confrontation. I hope and expect that his actions in office will reflect a careful approach that, unlike his opponent, does not see armed conflict as merely a means of achieving your diplomatic goals, only faster. I am not ignorant of the possibility that Obama will involve us in peace keeping or peace making adventures in situations like those in Darfur, but I reject in the strongest terms comparing a willingness to participate in multinational operations of that nature with McCain’s reflexive tendency towards bombing runs and his personalization of every strategic opposition into a good versus evil narrative. As a former commanding officer told me: not every problem has a kinetic solution. Unless you are John McCain.

Judicial Appointments & the Supreme Court
My second easiest area to score. With Bush having appointed Alito and Roberts, thus shifting the court balance from a very loose 5-4 left lean to a 5-4 right stance, and given the ages of the remaining members in the minority, I see potential Supreme Court nominations alone as nearly enough of a reason to vote for Obama. Conventional wisdom and the considered opinions of avid court watchers suggests that the next three vacancies will most likely come from the liberal side of the court divide, and I tremble to think of the lasting damage that three more Republican appointees would do. Given that Bush’s appointees were clearly selected for their extraordinary deference to government authority, rather than the any clear social conservative positions preferred by the religious right sector of the GOP base, any further move along this line would seriously hamper efforts to roll back our surveillance state and reestablish ante Bush civil liberties. In light of Obama’s recently popularized 2001 interview discussion of constitutional law, I would expect that his court nominations will be far from the radical left candidates that occupy the nightmares of conservatives, but rather standard, if left leaning, appointments that will merely maintain the current status quo. I leave for another paragraph the economic and fiscal implications of this interview.

Personality & Temperament
I contrast Obama’s clearly evident intellectual curiosity, well-considered opinions, and preference for challenging advice to both the insulated bubble environment occupied by our current executive of the last eight years, and to the reactionary temper and personalization of conflict that define McCain. Personality and temperament only take you so far, but they enhance the likelihood of hearing contrary advice and improve the chances for reasoned discussion. I believe Obama has demonstrated far better judgment than his opponent, and in the choice between experience and judgment, I’ll take the latter every time. Exhibit A in the Obama-McCain judgment death match: Vice Presidential choice.

Palin
No single action or choice more clearly demonstrates the abject failure of imagination, narrow-mindedness, and ineptitude of the modern GOP and McCain campaign than the selection of Governor Palin as his running mate. An extraordinary failure to properly vet the Alaskan governor precluded McCain from realizing the nature and extent of her retrograde social views, anti-intellectual populism, and breathtaking ignorance regarding national and international issues. While the early hysteria and rumor mongering from the left proved well overblown, the candidate herself has proven so inadequate and unsuitable that conservatives have ended their support for McCain in droves, frequently citing Palin as either their primary motivation, or at least as a final nail in the coffin. I am entirely sympathetic.

Civil Liberties
By all rights, this should have been McCain’s category; it was his to lose, and lose he did. As measured by any civil liberties organizations I could find, Obama outscores McCain. And yet McCain’s early opposition to and statements against torture, delivered with the weight of one who had actually experienced it, and standing as he did against an overwhelming Republican tide in favor of it, earned him my respect and gratitude. Then he caved, and the equation shifted back to standard measures. Additionally, the McCain of 2000 aggressively distanced himself from the social conservative culture warriors among the religious right. The McCain of 2008 kowtowed to them at every turn, and I have no reason to believe that he will cease such deference. I am accused of overemphasizing “social issues” and a certain brand of civil liberties at the expense of property rights and free market purity: guilty. I make no excuses; I come to my libertarian ideology, loose as it may be, from a much more solid civil libertarian perspective. I do not think that Obama is a civil libertarian dream candidate: far from it, but he is significantly superior to McCain in this regard.

Republican Party Ideology, Platform, and Control
I, like nearly every libertarian or small government conservative giving even tepid support to Obama, hope that continued repudiation of the GOP at the polls will result in a reexamination of the party’s principles, platforms, areas of emphasis, and agents of control. While I don’t expect the GOP to rise from the ashes entirely devoid of the neo-conservative interventionism, theocratic influences, massive government movement conservatives, and unitary executive fantasies; I do hope for a return in principle to Goldwater-style government, resurgent libertarian influences, a more tolerant view of the full range of individual rights, and noticeably less emphasis on social conservative cultural warfare. Perhaps we are all projecting, and the GOP base will entrench even further, nominating Palin in 2012. But the disasters of the last eight years have come home to roost, and continued rejection at the polls will force, perhaps later rather than sooner, a change. Adapt or die, cause what you are doing right now ain’t workin’, you betcha.

A Few Words About Redistribution and Socialism
I take it as given that Obama will pursue an increase in federal government spending in support of, among other things, entitlement programs, and that these policy initiatives, backed by a Democratic dominated Congress, will result in less efficient government, tax increases, and fiscal burdens. I reject in the strongest terms the suggestion, echoed by our James, some libertarians, and many conservatives, that Obama will radically alter the existing redistributive nature of our government system into European style socialism, or even a new New Deal. I can add nothing substantial to the extraordinary comment thread discussing this likelihood in light of Obama’s statements about redistribution in the 2001 NPR interview. I concur with the wide array of conservatives and libertarians that see Obama’s “redistribution” comments as rather mundane and mainstream. I am willing to accept an incremental increase in tax, entitlement programs, and the size of the federal government in exchange for the other advantages delineated in paragraphs above. I encourage you to read the comment thread linked, including the numerous sources Brad and James provide. If you still believe that Obama will institute radical socialism, then I can provide nothing further. I will join your opposition if he moves in that direction. Until then, the evidence supporting this fear seems, at very best, highly imaginative distortions.

Finally, my entering argument for any national political contest is that we are better off with split government and the resulting legislative gridlock. My support for Obama is despite this belief. His superiority over McCain and the need to undue the damage wrought by the last eight years are so great that Obama has dragged me from my natural inclination.

Admittedly Illogical Coda
I view all of the above as my logical argument for Obama, but confess to an illogical, emotion-based motivation as well. I appreciate that the election of Obama would say something positive about the rational growth of our national conscience in the area of race relations and equality, but this is of minor import. Such sensitivities, in light of the extraordinary cult of personality around Obama, lead too easily to the inappropriate projection of one’s own beliefs onto the candidate, and a reactionary attitude too willing to defend his faults. What I refer to instead is the pleasure I will take from this election acting as an unadulterated rebuke to the irrational fear mongering among the far right edge of the blogosphere; those who willingly and aggressively trumpet every ridiculous lie or gross distortion that enters their email box. So too, I look forward to calling the bluff of what passes for mainstream conservatism’s “party uber alles” mentality as they lay the groundwork for yet another dolschtosslegende. Witness RedState.com’s front page story that not only castigates all those conservatives who rejected McCain, or even criticized aspects of the campaign, but states unequivocally that “we will never again trust their judgment” while laughably, in the same post, trying to maintain the illusion of a big tent party and ideology. The list of traitors is a who’s who of conservative pundits and commentators. Because what’s needed now, after two disastrous elections and the lowest Presidential approval rating in history is more of the same, more perceived enemies, and more purging. Jesus wept.

Posted by Brad @ 8:04 pm on October 29th 2008

Barack Obama: Buy My Product

His thirty minute infomercial is on right now; tune to just about any major station.

Posted by Brad @ 6:49 pm on October 29th 2008

Meghan McCain Goes Negative

~sigh~.

Posted by Brad @ 5:38 pm on October 29th 2008

Norquist and the Kristol Syndrome

Kos points out a choice quote from Grover Norquist in 2004 that I wasn’t aware of.

Arguing for the need for conservatives to hold their noses and re-elect Bush in 2004, and the reality that, as he titles the article “The Democratic Party is Toast”, Grover writes:

Writing in The Washington Monthly [in 2004], conservative icon Grover Norquist delivered the party line (and D.C. conventional wisdom) of what a George Bush reelection meant:

“Redistricting in Texas and throughout the country ensures that Republicans will continue to control the House through 2012. Over time, the Senate — thanks to those wonderful square states out west — will trend toward 60 Republicans as the 30 red states elect Republicans and the 20 blue states elect Democrats. The anomaly of four Democratic senators hailing from Republican North and South Dakota will come to an end, as will the Republican-held Senate seat in Rhode Island,” he wrote.

As if he hadn’t stepped out on a long enough limb, Norquist kept going, “A Bush-Cheney win will lead to Republican governors from Colorado, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York to compete to be the most Reaganite governor — a positive result no matter who wins. And a Bush-Cheney win in 2004 will leave Terry McAuliffe and Bill and Hillary in complete and unchallenged control of the Democratic Party at least through 2008. This is good for the Republicans, if not the republic.”

Bonus: the curious hodgepodge of lines of reasoning for voting for Bush—he lists increased gun ownership, more people investing in the stock market, less government workers, and less labor regulation as primary voting issues for that cycle—and the great, gaping void of the rest of the stuff he apparently considers not important enough to discuss (war, gay marriage, government spending, civil liberties, etc.) sounds suspiciously like the curious hodgepodge of lines of reasoning and blind spots the same brand of fiscal cons are making to try to rationalize pulling the lever for McCain today. But maybe that’s just me (probably is).

Posted by Brad @ 4:15 pm on October 29th 2008

Tip of the Hat to Charlie Crist

Finding diamonds in the rough in the last week of the campaign, can I just give a brief shout-out to Florida Governor Charlie Crist?

I still don’t believe Crist is ever going to get serious consideration with the Republican base—the rumors of his sexuality are just too dogged for him to get around or for Republicans to want to have to deal with in a nominee—but he clearly felt a bit miffed that he wasn’t given very serious consideration as VP. Stories are currently circulating (including by me) that Crist is, in the final weeks, turning the knife a bit in the McCain campaign. And that may be true. But the battles he’s picking are, in fact, battles in which he is entirely, 100% on the side of right.

He was about the only establishment Republican to eschew the talking points on Sarah Palin and admit that she probably wasn’t very helpful on the ticket. He was also the only establishment Republican, in a very critical position, who refused to sip the “ACORN threatening democracy in America!” Kool Aid, acknowledging that in his state, where accusations against them were rampant, he felt that concerns about voter fraud were being overblown for political purposes. He was, of course, correct.

And now that Florida is facing a deluge of early voting, leading to long lines and perhaps a suppressed voter turnout, Charlie Crist decided, undoubtedly to the RNC’s consternation, to ovveride a 2005 Republican law signed by Jeb Bush that curtailed early voting hours. Crist decided to issue an executive order extending them. He said, of the decision, ‘It’s not a political decision, it’s a people decision.”

And so it is. It goes almost without saying that the Republicans would like a depressed turnout. The less voters the better has been the Republican strategy for awhile. And it may well be that, if Crist’s decision adds a significant amount of votes cast, it could well be the tipping point that moves Florida into Obama’s column.

And yet, it was also unquestioningly the right thing to do. In this, he is proving himself to be the anti-Katherine Harris.

I’ve been pretty cool to Crist, but I have to admit I’m warming to him considerably. Maybe it is just a grudge thing, or at least maybe that’s a part of it, but regardless of his motives, he’s resisting the foxhole mentality that most Republican governors would give in to in moments like these, and is instead speaking plainly and with calm principle, and making the right calls.

Good on Governor Crist.

Posted by Brad @ 3:18 pm on October 29th 2008

Joe the Plumber Update

The continuing facepalm saga of Joe The Plumber continues.

Today at a rally in Ohio, Sarah Palin introduced him personally:

“He’s a fellow Alaskan, and he’s a fellow military man who has served our country proudly. I’d like you to meet him.”

Joe the Plumber—who is not named Joe and is not a plumber—is also not an Alaskan or a veteran. Pretty soon I suspect he’ll be floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee based on his extensive common man legal background having already served on the Fuller court between bouts of marching with Martin Luther King and winning a bronze star in the Korean war for saving unborn babies from Arab communist mercenaries.

Andrew Sullivan’s reaction is priceless:

Palin ups the ante and describes this Republican activist who’s voting apparently on the Israel issue as a veteran and an Alaskan. Why the fuck not, I guess?

Posted by Brad @ 3:02 pm on October 29th 2008

The Democrat’s Soft Touch on Sarah Palin

We said a lot here, in the first week following Sarah Palin’s unveiling as the Vice Presidential nominee, about the immediate onrush of over-reach hysteria from the left.

I think it’s worth revisiting how the Democrats have approached her in the two months since that week.

Xpostfactoid has a good post on the subject that reminded me. Namely, the Obama campaign, even in that first week, after the first six hours more or less went mum on the Palin subject. After about a week, almost all of his institutional campaign and surrogate machine followed suit. And since that time…well frankly, the Obama campaign has been about the least critical mouthpiece on the Palin question, following, in order, liberal blogs, mainstream media, conservative blogs, and now McCain insiders. Obama and (mostly) Biden and their surrogates and staffers…nary a word.

The post that got me reflecting on it:

Palin sinks under Obama’s light touch

The polling evidence is overwhelming that Sarah Palin is dragging McCain down. And the reason is simple. While Democratic news junkies may be convinced that she’s a Putinesque thug (see the Troopergate report), a quasi-fascist demagogue (whipping up mobs to violent fantasy) and a Christianist kook (accepting a laying on of hands from an avowed anti-semite to protect her from witchcraft), most Americans view her simply as likeable but unqualified…

If Obama were McCain, he would have hammered Palin’s unreadiness home–along with her sinister demagogic rhetoric–in speeches and ads. But the Obama campaign, and Obama himself, pretty much kept hands off. Obama’s only criticism of Palin that I can recall was in the third debate, embedded in his quasi-defense of John Lewis’ attack on the McCain campaign’s incendiary attacks…

Obama & co. let Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric and most of all Tina Fey do the necessary. They let the process work. Anyone who’s ever been unprepared for any test who saw the Couric clips knew that Palin was completely out of her depth. The Obama campaign simply left that image unfiltered.

The author notes that some, James Fallows (and myself) expressed at the time that just leaving it alone was the best way to handle it. Certainly, liberals in general have not “left it alone” by any stretch, but neither have regular American voters, the media, etc. The difference is the Obama campaign has pretty well cleaved itself from that, and precisely nobody can really attribute her current drag on the ticket or the image of her that has solidified being as a result of any concerted Obama effort. They stepped out of the national debate on it almost entirely, and the voters and media did the work (and the McCain campaign largely let them).

It was both the right thing to do and the politically wise thing to do. I said, pretty vocally at the time, that I was mightily disappointed by the left on the Palin thing.

Worth revisiting to note that it’s pretty hard to find any criticism of the Obama campaign on the matter. It’s an example of the Obama campaign tone living up to its hype (and not for want of target, opportunity, or potential return). The rare instance of a campaign not taking the bait, and doing the right thing, and profiting from both.

Just throwing that out there.

Posted by Brad @ 2:05 am on October 29th 2008

Music Video of the Week

Been awhile, but we could probably all use some chilling out.

I’m still not even sure what to call it, but for lack of a better phrase “Americana folk” is one of my favorite genres of music. I’m a nut for it, from Civil War era tunes to Pete Seeger to the bevy of great “vintage folk” artists around today.

One of the recent greats was Dave Carter, who, with Tracy Grammer, wrote and performed some tunes that would have fit just as well in 1808 as they do in 2008. Dave passed away in 2002—too soon—but he left some great music for those interested in seeking it out.

This song is about dyin’, but not dyin’ easy. It’s instrumental until about 2:45, but be damn sure to stick around for the words.

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer – When I Go

Posted by Rojas @ 12:09 am on October 29th 2008

This is still the scariest thing Barack Obama has said about the judiciary.

we need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

Seriously…the man said THIS, and we’re concerned that he might also favor income redistribution?

Posted by James @ 11:16 pm on October 28th 2008

Stand back up.

I would like to thank Brad and his bevy of apologists that try to justify with Kool-Aid stained tongues the socialist agenda, made formal by Obama’s own words of late, that they claim has not only been made known by the O campaign from the get-go, known by the American electorate, but actually is a cornerstone of mainstream American economic opinion; and has been for decades. Please.

I’m sorry, but I can’t do this. This isn’t even a lockstep march anymore; it is a zombie conga line. Nope. Ix-nay on the ombie-zay for this guy. The alternative doesn’t thrill me, but this has just gotten too frickin’ weird when Libertarian Paulites are tongue-kissing people that defend and even advocate bigger government , more spending , and wealth redistribution. Paying taxes to pay for people/companies in the private sector that do productive things for “the government” (aka us) is not wealth redistribution, it is the free market. It is not always fair and never will be, but when you try to be fair winners lose and losers win just long enough to lose again. No.

Bitch at me all you want, but the risk reward aspect of this changed when I got a real gander at the extent of the clone army I am expected to enlist in. Libertarians defending increased taxation, spending, and wealth redistribution? WTF? Sorry, but I would rather be on the losing side of an election than on the wrong side of history.

I hereby withdraw my endorsement of Barack Obama and, albeit without great enthusiasm, return my vote to John McCain. My guess is that both elevators will be going down for a while, but my instincts tell me to be on the one that isn’t full of the living dead. So sue me.

Posted by Jack @ 11:12 pm on October 28th 2008

Stunning Election Development: TimeCube Guy Endorses McCain

An extraordinary October suprise.

At the risk of my life, I must issue a GRAVE WARNING to my fellow Americans – about a
potential Civil War between millions if Obama,
the Black candidate, is elected President of the
United States, displacing the white president –
inducing America to become a Black Nation.
There are some whites who cannot accept this,
especially during the drastic hardtimes ahead,
and will initiate a spark of violence that will
spread over the Earth like a wildfire. The
World is now on the verge of such a threat,
and the World condition is highly volatile.
This is most likely the test Biden mentioned.
Neither candidate mentioned RACE for its
beyond their expertise – so they just let it
happen – slaughter like never seen before.
I fear if Obama wins, America will lose.
Now, what will you do to avoid such a hell?

Dr. Gene Ray, Cubic and Wisest Human.

For those unfamiliar. Radenko pales by comparison.

Posted by Brad @ 9:40 pm on October 28th 2008

“The Purpose of the State is to Redistribute Wealth”

Bam. In relation to the spirited discussion we had here, even ka1igu1a at Freedom Democrats agrees with me:

Memo to Jack and James over at The Crossed Pond, the Raison d’être of the State is to redistribute wealth. That’s what it does. Redistribution is hardly an exogenous impersonal duty that needs to be imposed by the courts since it is, in fact, enshrined in the 16th Amendment of the Constitution. And it should be noted that the supreme court, in the Dred Scott decision, allowed the most egregious example of redistribution in US history when it allowed some to coerce labor from others and allowed full confiscation of the fruits of such labor.

As The Volokh Conspiracy notes, Drudge’s headline is a non-story. If you accept the legitimacy of the State, then you necessarily accept the legitimacy of income/wealth distribution. The dynamics of such redistribution in terms of the formation of the political classes and the productive classes is at the heart of the libertarian class theory critique of The State.

I will add, I certainly understand the impulse to be horrified at that—welcome to libertarianism. And once again for the record, I agree with that. But welcome to the late 19th early 20th century. And as far as redistributionist schemes goes, Obama’s tax plan is also pretty goddamn moderate (decreasing taxes for 90%, and only letting Bush era tax cuts expire on the rest, returning them to Clinton levels). As Sullivan adds:

A simple question. I’m a flat taxer, because I don’t believe the government has any business punishing people for getting richer. But I don’t think that people who support the kind of punitive taxation that Obama does or Cameron does in Britain or Reagan did in 1986 is a “socialist.” Is it now the McCain campaign’s assertion that anyone who isn’t for a flat tax is socialist? I should add that if Obama is a socialist, Richard Nixon must have been a commie.

That does not make redistributionism a good idea (do I have to underline that? Because I swear to God I will). But it does add necessary perspective. Those of us being browbeaten to accept that Obama is a closet Marxist the likes of which this country has never seen just strike a queer note to me. He seems like a pretty mainstream—even moderate in (significant) spots—Democrat to me, just better at articulating it as a vision.

Posted by Brad @ 5:32 pm on October 28th 2008

The Christian Science Monitor Goes 2.0

The CSM, which is a phenomenal newspaper, is now the first major newspaper in America to cease daily print, and instead turn into a print weekly, with the bulk of their daily operations moved online.

The Christian Science Monitor, which turns 100 years old this year, is announcing on Tuesday, Oct. 28, that it will cease daily publication next April. The newspaper will shift to a weekly print format while increasing its emphasis on its Web site, says its editor, John Yemma.

In doing so, the Monitor will become by far the most prominent newspaper to scale back its print edition substantially.

Huge news. These are interesting days for media and journalism watchers. Everybody seems to agree that “the news” as we know it (and have known it, for the 400 years newspapers have been around) is over; nobody seems quite sure what new form its historic function will take. Exciting times.

Posted by Brad @ 4:36 pm on October 28th 2008

Quote of the Day

While we’re discussing it here (sort of), I thought I’d pass along this quote from libertarian standard-bearer Reason:

Tax cuts or no tax cuts, a party that can be roused in time of deep crisis only by fear and tribalism—a party that a supposed moderate is now deeding to its most extreme elements—can scarcely serve as a safe home to liberty or the voters who cherish it.

The article doesn’t even get into the full picture of it, but that’s a start.

Posted by Brad @ 3:47 pm on October 28th 2008

Associated Press Death Watch

As I’ve discussed here and elsewhere, the Associated Press has been on something of a steep decline lately. Part of that is simply market realities, much of it is based on editorial and marketing direction. Regardless, many newspapers are signing off from the wire service. The latest:

Top executives and editors from several major dailies in the Northeast, dissatisfied with The Associated Press, met recently to discuss the formation of a content-sharing agreement that in several cases would serve in place of their AP agreements, E&P has learned from top executives at three of the papers.

A “Northeast Consortium” of newspapers, which will include New York’s Daily News and — at least at the present time — is said to include Newsday, The Buffalo News, the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., and the Star Ledger of Newark, N.J., among others, is weeks away from announcing a content-sharing arrangement that will include both stories and photos […]

One executive who spoke on condition of anonymity and who attended the “summit” of New York-area papers, held in Manhattan within the past two weeks, cited cost savings, more timely exchange of content, and what that executive called “a new spirit of cooperation” as the primary motivations for such an undertaking. This source referred to the “Draconian terms” of the AP, which last Thursday responded to newspapers’ concerns by announcing further rate cuts and restructuring.

Posted by Brad @ 3:25 pm on October 28th 2008

The Coverage of McCain is More Negative Because McCain’s Campaign is Worse

A refreshing rejoinder to the whole “fair and balanced” view of journalistic objectivity—close to my heart—from Politico.

Before answering the question, indulge us in noting that the subject of ideological bias in the news media is a drag. The people who care about it typically come at the issue with scalding biases of their own. Any statement journalists make on the subject can and will be used against them. So the incentive is to make bland and guarded statements. Even honest ones, meanwhile, will tend to strike partisans as evasive or self-delusional.

Here goes anyway.

There have been moments in the general election when the one-sidedness of our site — when nearly every story was some variation on how poorly McCain was doing or how well Barack Obama was faring — has made us cringe.

As it happens, McCain’s campaign is going quite poorly and Obama’s is going well. Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own.

The whole piece is thoughtful and well-argued, and a must-read for those that like to harp on the liberal/conservative MSM.

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