Posted by Brad @ 2:29 pm on October 28th 2008

Catholic Pluralism

Via Sully, a very refreshing editorial in the Catholic magazine Commonweal, taking on the idea that Catholic (and indeed all Christian) voters should become single-issue abortion machine voters. Big quote (it’s worth it):

The second reason I find Kmiec’s position helpful is that, while clearly speaking from within the prolife movement, he provides much-needed correctives to two unfortunate tendencies within that movement. The first is the propensity of many prolifers—including many church leaders—to attach so much significance to opposing abortion that they end up effectively dismissing every other issue as unimportant or of minimal importance. (Indeed, in a recent pastoral letter, Bishop Martino approvingly quoted the view of his predecessor, Bishop Timlin, that “abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign.”) While opposition to abortion is surely an important part of Catholic teaching, it does not begin to exhaust the riches of the Catholic social tradition. On the contrary, there are many other important matters—issues of foreign policy (including questions of war and peace), health care, whether and how we are going to meet our obligations to the poor, just to name a few—on which the Catholic social tradition has much wisdom and insight to contribute. To reduce Catholic teaching to opposing abortion, which many bishops are very close to doing, is to present a truncated version of the Catholic tradition, and Kmiec is to be commended for pointing that out.

Kmiec has also rightly noted a tendency among many in the prolife movement to ascribe excessive importance to the results of elections, including this one. This has long been my impression of the prolife movement. Having reduced everything to the issue of abortion, they tend to attach excessive (I almost wrote utopian) hopes and expectations to the outcomes of elections. In this year’s campaign, they appear to believe that everything hinges on electing John McCain, who will appoint prolife justices who will in turn overturn Roe v. Wade.


a McCain presidency, even under the best circumstances (at least from a prolife standpoint), is not going to result in a final or definitive triumph over legalized abortion. Yes, it would change the nature of the struggle, but the struggle would continue, probably indefinitely. And there would still remain the need to address all the other important issues confronting us, issues to which some of us do not regard a McCain presidency as the best response.

In view of all this, we would be far better served by church authorities if, instead of granting a kind of unofficial imprimatur to a particular party (as some seem to be doing), they would recognize and accept a legitimate pluralism and diversity among faithful Catholics seeking to discharge their political responsibilities in the light of church teaching. The kind of pluralism I have in mind would range from radical perspectives such as that of the eminent Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre—who contends that the two major parties are so defective that not voting is actually preferable to voting—to support for antisystem third-party candidates like Ralph Nader, to voting for Obama (as I will) on the grounds that, on balance, his administration will do more to serve the common good than McCain’s, to voting for McCain (as many others will) on prolife or other grounds.

That’s not a McCain-Obama thing, that’s a very general, and very convincing, soft reproach to the calcifying tendencies of religious authorities on the matter (and interestingly, at least anecdotally, their flocks may be leaning away from them on it).

Posted by Adam @ 9:06 am on October 28th 2008

Quote of the Day

Charles Barkley, telling Campbell Brown that he plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014:

Barkley: …I can’t screw up Alabama.

Brown: There is no place to go but up in your view?

Barkley: We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren’t going anywhere.

Barkley is easily the most thoughtful former basketball player planning on running for gubernatorial status and it’s an interesting interview in general (explaining his recent involvements in politics and his feelings on race).

Posted by Jack @ 10:04 pm on October 27th 2008

Another “Who Will They Appoint” List

I had not planned on posting this, but given the discussion in comments here it is perhaps still relevant. One of the more interesting “who would they appoint” lists comes from American Bar Association Journal. While ABAJ’s list is limited to appointees with a law degree, (damn elitists) the positions they address run the gamut. Some quite interesting picks, and the article provides biographical info as well as a short justification for why each ambulance chaser should be considered a contender. Just the list:

Attorney General: Eric Holder or Deval Patrick
Whitehouse Counsel: Robert Bauer or Mark Alexander
Secretary of State: Greg Craig
Secretary of Defense: Richard Danzig
National Security Advisor: Mark Brzezinski
Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano
FBI Director: Ronald Noble
Secretary of Commerce: Ron Kirk
Secretary of HUD: Valerie Jerrod
Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services: Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
Solicitor General: Kathleen Sullivan
White House Domestic Policy Advisor: Cass Sunstein
Secretary of the EPA: Robert Sussman
Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division: Charles Ogletree
U.S. Supreme Court:
Diane Wood
Seth Waxman
Elana Kagan
Sonia Sotomayer

Attorney General: A.B. Culvahouse, George Terwilliger or Larry Thompson
Whitehouse Counsel: Ted Olson or Trevor Potter
Solicitor General: Maureen Mahoney or Viet Dinh
Secretary of State: Joe Lieberman
Homeland Security: Frank Keating
Assistant Attorney General, Legal Policy: Reginald Brown
Secretary of Defense: Lindsey Graham
FBI Director: Asa Hutchinson
Treasury Secretary: Robert Portman
Chairman of the SEC: Andrew Cuomo
Secretary of Agriculture: John Engler
Secretary of Commerce: Mitt Romney
U.S. Supreme Court:
Lillian Bevier
Miguel Estrada
J Michael Luttig
Michael McConnel

Posted by Brad @ 8:47 pm on October 27th 2008

More Fox and Friends Fun

Posted by Jack @ 8:15 pm on October 27th 2008

In my mail today: Idiocy (or, a report from Florida)

Focused so heavily as I’ve been on The Race and to a lesser extent on the proposed Florida Amendments, including our own bigot amendment, I have been remiss in keeping up with the local House contests. Or rather, I have ignored them completely, and know nothing of the local candidates, save for having been subjected to a rather tiresome, predictable, and utterly uninspiring speech from one of the Diaz-Balart brothers at a military event some time ago. So 100% of my impression of the Florida District 18 candidates is based upon one flyer, received today, from the campaign of Annette Taddeo, challenging the Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo’s flyer displays such campaign ineptitude, economic ignorance, and apparent contempt for the intelligence of the electorate, that I feel obligated to vote for her opponent.

Highlights from the document:

It’s time for Independent Energy and independent Leadership in Congress Annette Taddeo will go to Washington to bring real results back to Florida

Ok bad start: Pandering, empty, predictable phrases, and focused on the energy independence myth. But I do expect that from politicians, and will ignore it as long as there is something more…

She summarizes all that is Ros-Lehtinen, “BIG OIL’S BEST FRIEND IN WASHINGTON” with three bullet points indicating that she has received $69K from big oil, and implying, though not stating our right, that she voted “wrong” on two bills: HR 1251 “Price Gouging at the pumps” and HR 3221 “Dependence on foreign oil”. If forced, based on just the titles, I would vote against these bills; they sound exactly like the sort of political pandering, feel good-do nothing legislation that might actually worsen the situation.

Taddeo then trumpets her comprehensive platform in three points, starting with… gas prices.

Protecting Floridians at the Pump
Annette will lower gas prices and end price gouging practices of Big Oil. It is absurd for oil companies to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer giveaways while hard working people in the Keys and Miami are paying more than $4 a gallon for gas

Disregard for the moment the lack of understanding she displays as to the fungible nature of oil and the rather standard profit margin present in the oil industry, ignore that no where has she proposed reducing or eliminating taxes on gas, wave away your rising objection that it is ludicrous to pin all this on the Big Oil boogeyman: It is the timing as a tactic that strikes me us ridiculous. Gas prices have been dropping for months, I routinely pass Miami stations at $2.79 or lower. Even at its peak, I can only recall one station that topped $4 for standard unleaded, and that one is in the highest rent district in Miami Beach. I’m sure there were others, but far from the majority. Given that gas has dropped so dramatically, and is now not nearly as much of an issue for Floridians, don’t you think that you might get flyers printed up with some other pandering nonsense? Maybe something on the voters minds right now? Maybe something about the financial crisis? Anything? But no, flyers that might have swayed the ignorant and uninformed three months ago are shot gunned out one week before the election while Taddeo is down at least 8 points in the polls. Good luck with that.

Point Two: Energy independence mythologizing:

Investing in Alternative Energy
Annette believes that America’s security depends on independence from foreign oil. Instead of relying on unstable countries for oil, it is time to invest in alternative energy and maximize the clean energy we produce here at home.

I can’t stand it. I can only wonder if she and all the other political animals that spout this nonsense really believes that we can legislate away our overwhelming dependence on foreign oil, or if they are aware of the impossibility, but happy to spew this populist rhetoric. I would love for us to have some alternative energy options, and as soon as they are competitive, they will blossom. That time has not yet come. Perhaps you can marginally accelerate it with tax payer funded R&D, but we all know that Annetter is not talking about just research here, we are talking about long term ethanol-style subsidies.

Getting the Economy Back on Track
By pushing for alternative energy sources, Annette’s plan will bring new high-[paying jobs to South Florida, help protect the environment, and improve our way of life in Florida.

In point one she condemned the taxpayer funded corporate welfare for Big Oil, but is now happy to provide a massive welfare program for Big ? So long as it brings “high-paying jobs to South Florida”? At least she hasn’t suggested that she opposes ear marks, that would be a bridge (to hypocrisy) too far.

Posted by Brad @ 5:52 pm on October 27th 2008

Adventuring Party Politics

As a Crossed Pond blogger, apparently I am contractually obligated to pass this along because it flips all our thresholds for election coverage, Ron Paul mentions, and non-sequitor D&D allusions. It’s an automated process, you understand; I can do nothing about it.

Posted by Brad @ 5:42 pm on October 27th 2008

Let the Purging Begin

Where do over-zealous attempts at clearing voters rolls of potential frauds and flotsams land you?

Join me, if you will, for a a big ‘ole facepalm in Georgia:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — College senior Kyla Berry was looking forward to voting in her first presidential election, even carrying her voter registration card in her wallet.

But about two weeks ago, Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.

“This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote,” a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.

But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it. Video Watch some of the concerns of voting experts »

The letter, which was dated October 2, gave her a week from the time it was dated to prove her citizenship. There was a problem, though — the letter was postmarked October 9.

“It was the most bizarre thing. I immediately called my mother and asked her to send me my birth certificate, and then I was like, ‘It’s too late, apparently,’ ” Berry said.

Berry is one of more than 50,000 registered Georgia voters who have been “flagged” because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. At least 4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.

Really soak in those last three paragraphs.

Not one to harp on the 2000 debacle, but that’s very reminiscent of “your name sounds like a felon!” purge that probably lost Gore Florida.

Posted by Brad @ 5:34 pm on October 27th 2008

Ralph Nader Wins Something

The Guinness record for most political speeches in a day.

Seriously, at this point in his political he might as well just take up plate-spinning and tour with bearded ladies.

(There’s a Cynthia McKinney joke in there somewhere).

Posted by Brad @ 5:29 pm on October 27th 2008

Obama’s Rojasianism

We’ve made hay here before about how Obama has proffered a queer view that Supreme Courts need to be “empathetic”, whatever that means. It’s hard to get too worked up about that one way or the other, given its mushiness, so it’s worthwhile to hear the former law professor and constitutional scholar go a bit more in depth.

Drudge is touting the following a Chicago NPR interview Obama did in 2001 speaking broadly about civil rights and the constitution and its interpretation. Here is the interview in question, which is, frankly, fascinating. Drudge is touting it—and the McCain campaign have picked up on it—for a remark Obama makes about how he’s broadly in favor of “redistributionist” change. Clearly, what he means is he wants the Supreme Court to enact socialism, right? That’s the roundabout “take away” one presumes Drudge wishes to imbue, in any case.

But the interview is impressive, and insightful for the man almost certainly stacking our next Supreme Court. As conservatives often give the “conservative justices” thing as their last-ditch justification for voting for a bad Republican for President, the interview is extra interesting for the downright Rojasian position Obama takes on the function of the courts as it pertains to sweeping social or civil rights changes. I have to admit, as I did in response to the Rojas post this brings to mind, that I don’t necessarily agree with Obama here. But man, it sure is refreshing to hear a potential President with this nearly unprecedented command of and thoughtfulness towards the judiciary and ensuing constitutional issues. As always, go to the Volokh Conspiracy for the rundown:

But he also seems to think that it was a huge error for activists to try to achieve more general redistribution through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (In the waning days of the Warren Court, there was a movement to try to constitutionalize a right to a minimum income.) Co-interviewee Dennis Hutchison even suggests that in pre-interview conversation, Obama agreed with him that Goldberg v. Kelley, establishing procedural protections for welfare recipients, was wrongly decided, or at least promised much more than it could possibly achieve.

Based on this interview, it seems unlikely that Obama opposes constitutionalizing the redistributive agenda because he’s an originalist, or otherwise endorses the Constitution as a “charter of negative liberties,” though he explicitly recognizes that this is how the Constitution has been interpreted since the Founding. Rather, he seems to think that focusing on litigation distracts liberal activists from necessary political organizing, and that any radical victories they might manage to win from the courts would be unstable because those decisions wouldn’t have public backing. The way to change judicial decisions, according to Obama, is to change the underlying political and social dynamics; changes in the law primarily follow changes in society, not vice versa. Again, he’s channeling Rosenberg and Klarman. And this attitude on Obama’s part shouldn’t be surprising, given that he decided to go into politics rather than become a full-time University of Chicago constitutional law professor, as he was offered. Had he been committed to the idea that courts are at the forefront of social change, he would have been inclined to take a potentially very influential position at Chicago. (And judging from this interview, he would likely have been a great con law professor, both as a teacher and scholar, and, had he been so inclined, legal activist.)

Read the rest of that Volokh post as to the “redistributionist” thing.

Posted by Brad @ 5:12 pm on October 27th 2008

Danny Finkelstein Gets It

While the Republicans in American face a sudden floor-dropping-out-from-under-them election, the Tories in England are finding themselves amidst a conservative renaissance. But it was only very recently that the conservatives there also fell precipitously and jarringly out of favour. It’s a lesson none of them are like to forget, even as their own stars are aligning once more.

This blog is all about a semi-trans-Atlantic examination of conservatism, and in particular its temporary seizure in America. So it’s fitting, for us, that the most salient comment on the matter I’ve read in awhile comes from Finkelstein. To wit, speaking of the 1997 Labour victory (and conservative drubbing that left them all but on the sidelines of mainstream politics), Finkelstein offers a commiserating post called “The Morning After the US Election”. Excerpt:

There was a feeling of euphoria in Britain that morning, a feeling of freshness and change. Even people who hadn’t voted for Blair were caught up in it. Many of them wished that they had, and his poll rating soared. Much of the good feeling about new Labour was generated in the months after their landslide, oddly, rather than in the months before it.

And here’s the lesson for Tories. The hardest thing to absorb was this – we didn’t matter.

For the first time in years the story wasn’t about us, and our squabbles and intrigues seemed oddly silly and pointless. And we, especially those of us who had worked on the losing campaign, felt excluded from a great national party. It was a little bit like sitting in the gloomy train Woody Allen films in Stardust Memories, while in the happy train everyone is popping champagne corks.

The first step towards recovery for the Conservative party was to stop thinking that we were the centre of the universe and that what we thought mattered more than what others thought.

The Republicans are about to go through a period of self absorption and will think it is all that matters. They will only recover when they start to understand that no one is watching and that no one, except them, cares.

That realisation will be more painful than the battles themselves.

Posted by Adam @ 4:08 pm on October 27th 2008

Ted Stevens to do some porridge?

So, the verdict just came in and Ted Stevens is guilty on all counts. This presumably makes life very hard for the Republican Party in Alaska — he may recall that he belongs to that “Ted Stevens is God” chapter of that party — and one wonders how he expected to get out from under this.

Anyhow. It could hardly happen to a nicer guy.

EDIT: There’s a story on it at CNN now.

Posted by Brad @ 8:55 am on October 27th 2008

Attacking Into Syria

Looks like the Bush administration is putting a few final shots across the bow as they prepare to leave office. Yesterday, US forces made a cross-border raider, killing about ten Syrians. Syria Comment:

Syria, however, has refused to restart intelligence sharing with the US, which was broken off following the deterioration of relations in 2005. Petraeus sought to go to Damascus in December 2007 to restart intelligence sharing, but was forbidden from doing so by the White House.

Syria has been eager to restart intelligence sharing which would help to reduce cross border violations, but it demands a price – that the US recognize Syria’s assistance by returning an ambassador to Damascus. The White House has refused to do this, preferring to use sticks to force Syrian compliance. One must presume that the most recent killing of Syrians is designed to be just such a stick.

It will, of course, not force compliance, but the Bush administration must assume that an Obama victory on November 4 will force Syria to behave nicely in order to win favor with the new administration. Thus, White House analysts may assume that it can have a ‘freebee” — taking a bit of personal revenge on Syria without the US paying a price. Damascus may just have to write it off as a good bye salute from its friends in Washington.

Posted by Brad @ 7:14 pm on October 26th 2008

Pop Quiz

If you were giving out major contracts, how would you classify Lockheed Martin and Dell Computers?

Answer: As small businesses.

H/t: Kip

Posted by Brad @ 5:10 pm on October 26th 2008

Ron Paul Promises To Return When Country Needs Him Most

WASHINGTON—After piling the last of his Campaign for Liberty signs in the back of a beat-up Ford truck Thursday, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) once again abandoned his candidacy for president and rode on out toward the low western sun, but not before vowing to come back to Washington “when [the country] is ready.” “When the river swirls and the wind blows, and when uncontrollable inflation forces us to revert to the gold standard, and the Federal Reserve bank is exposed as the unconstitutional, neofascist cabal it really is, you’ll see me coming over that hill,” said Paul, leaving a dusty cowboy hat and a stack of “no” votes on his seat in the House of Representatives. “But don’t you fret, America. If you ever feel like your government is getting too big or too intrusive, just give a little whistle, and there I’ll be. I’ll be there quicker’n you can spit.” Although no one has seen or heard from the Texas congressman since Thursday, sources report the Ron Paul for President campaign has gained an additional $2.3 million in contributions since his disappearance.

Posted by Brad @ 3:45 am on October 26th 2008

Dumbest Political Analysis Maybe Ever

Mark Levin at The Corner, beginning a gem of a post:

I honestly never thought we’d see such a thing in our country – not yet anyway – but I sense what’s occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places.

I cannot even begin to deconstruct the two-faced idiocy and obscenely partisan re-writing of history contained in that single statement.

And I thought reading Kristol had left me numbed to such things…

Posted by Brad @ 3:26 am on October 26th 2008

Least Surprising Headline Ever

Plans for $700 billion bailout keep changing

WASHINGTON — First, the $700 billion rescue for the economy was about buying devalued mortgage-backed securities from tottering banks to unclog frozen credit markets.

Then it was about using $250 billion of it to buy stakes in banks. The idea was that banks would use the money to start making loans again.

But reports surfaced that bankers might instead use the money to buy other banks, pay dividends, give employees a raise and executives a bonus, or just sit on it. Insurance companies now want a piece; maybe automakers, too, even though Congress has approved $25 billion in low-interest loans for them.

Three weeks after becoming law, and with the first dollar of the $700 billion yet to go out, officials are just beginning to talk about helping a few strapped homeowners keep the foreclosure wolf from the door.

As the crisis worsens, the government’s reaction keeps changing. Lawmakers in both parties are starting to gripe that the bailout is turning out to be far different from what the Bush administration sold to Congress.

In buying equity stakes in banks, the Treasury has “deviated significantly from its original course,” says Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “We need to examine closely the reason for this change,” said Shelby, who opposed the bailout.

The centerpiece of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act is the “troubled asset relief program,” or TARP for short. Critics note that tarps are used to cover things up. The money was to be devoted to buying “toxic” mortgage-backed securities whose value has fallen in lockstep with home prices.

But once European governments said they were going into the banking business, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson followed suit and diverted $250 billion to buy stock in healthy banks to spur lending.

Bank executives hinted they might instead use it for acquisitions. Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, said this development was “beyond troubling.”

Posted by Brad @ 3:07 am on October 26th 2008

Biden To The Fire

Chris at the Liberty Papers links to the following interview of Joe Biden by an Orlando TV station.

Biden is clearly expecting softballs, and instead gets “Are you a Marxist?” and the like.

The interviewer apparently decided that the way to make for a “tough” interview is to ask the questions with the most anti-interviewee premises possible. She’s wrong, of course: you make a tough interview not by being a dick or by transcribing the talking points of the most vitriolic opponents and putting them in question form, but by intelligently probing the interviewee where you feel them weakest. I’m sure that she and the station manager are advertising how hardball they are, but honestly, it’s just an example of being lazy and confrontational for the sake of it—a curious variant of “gotchya” journalism where the point isn’t the answers, but the questions, and more importantly, the hoped-for reaction (is the question “how are you not like Karl Marx?” really expected to inform?). But whatever, she’s welcome to her YouTube fame for it and certainly entitled to ask whatever she likes.

Following the interview, the campaign canceled an interview Jill Biden was slated to do for the same affiliate. Which is also entirely their prerogative.

But while this clip is making the rounds among right wing sites as apparently a knock on Biden, here’s what strikes me about it.

Obviously, he’s annoyed by the questions…but he answers them.

Now, watch that clip, and try to imagine, for a moment, either Sarah Palin or John McCain or for that matter GW Bush in a similar situation.

Maybe it’s just me, but after watching it, I find myself thinking a bit better of Biden, not worse. He comes off…well, like the adult in the room.

Posted by Brad @ 9:44 pm on October 25th 2008

Sign O the Times


Myers Research (D) & Grove Insight (D). 10/23-24. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)

Likely voters

McCain (R) 44
Obama (D) 40

Early voters (34% of the sample)

McCain (R) 46
Obama (D) 47

Sample is 40 percent Republican, 33 Democratic, and 26 percent independent. ASU has its own survey coming Monday, and they’ve hinted at similar results.

Posted by Brad @ 8:56 pm on October 25th 2008


Guess who Ashley Todd, the woman who perpetrated the “B” carving beat-down hoax, was a supporter of during the Republican primaries?

Just guess.

In March, Ms. Todd was asked to leave a grass-roots group of Ron Paul supporters in Brazos County, Texas, group leader Dustan Costine said. He said Ms. Todd posed as a supporter of former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and called the local Republican committee seeking information about its campaign strategies.

“She would call the opposing campaign and pretend she was on their campaign to get information,” Mr. Costine said last night. “We had to remove her because of the tactics she displayed. After that we had nothing to do with her.”

About a month earlier, he said, Ms. Todd sent an e-mail to the Ron Paul group saying her tires were slashed and that campaign paraphernalia had been stolen from her car because she supported Mr. Paul.

“She’s the type of person who wants to be recognized,” Mr. Costine said.

The bright spot: you heard that right. She was asked to leave a Ron Paul Meetup group for being too crazy. Good job Brazos County.

In related news, that same Post-Gazette article has the best news article conclusion I’ve seen all year.

On her MySpace profile, where her screen name is “Italian Pajamas,” Ms. Todd gives her occupation as “Being a badass.” Next to her picture, she references the title of a song by the group Panic at the Disco: “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her cloths (sic) off,” but adds to it “but its (sic) better if you do.”

Among the books she lists as favorites: “The Scarlet Letter.”

Give a golf clap to Post-Gazette staff writers Michael A. Fuoco, Jerome L. Sherman and Sadie Gurman for that one.

Posted by Brad @ 8:44 pm on October 25th 2008

The McCain-Palin Schism

A lot of rumblings about it this weekend, and Marc Ambinder’s blog in particular has been fascinating not so much for what he’s posting, but for the reading between the lines that you can do (as an embed, he basically has to make sure he doesn’t fall into a black list, so he has to be a little coy about what he can say). Nevertheless, it appears to be real, judging from the amount of “anonymous insiders” who are apparently coming out of the woodwork to start the backbiting. It’s quickly becoming reminiscent of the last months of the Clinton campaign during the Wolfson-Penn, only there’s still 10 days to go in the race, and, of course, it’s not between campaign insiders, but the two candidates heading the ticket and their respective staffs.

Ambinder, who has bent over backwards to let the senior McCain staffers speak to his reporting on record, nevertheless can’t help but title his latest post “McXplosion”.

Says one Palin source:

“The campaign as a whole bought completely into what the Washington media said — that she’s completely inexperienced,” said a close Palin ally outside the campaign who speaks regularly to the candidate. “Her strategy was to be trustworthy and a team player during the convention and thereafter, but she felt completely mismanaged and mishandled and ill advised,” the person said. “Recently, she’s gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts.”

Says another:

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

Says someone loyal to McCain:

A second McCain source tells CNN she appears to now be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser, “she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

And so on.

Bad juju all around, it sounds like. The campaign is doing an okay job keeping a lid on it, and undoubtedly campaign trail reporters are salivating over the story, but still, it’s become at least somewhat clear that Palin and her people are looking to 2012, and McCain and his people are already grousing over 2008.

Posted by James @ 6:44 pm on October 24th 2008

Pond Scum

Pond Scum 10-24-2008

Posted by Brad @ 4:53 pm on October 24th 2008

Don’t Look Now

Lost in the noise this week was a poll showing Obama ahead in Montana.

Lost in even the noise of that particular story was the third place finisher in that poll:

If this year’s presidential election were being held today, for whom do you think you would vote?

Barack Obama 44.4%

John McCain 40.2%

Ron Paul 4.2%

Bob Barr 1%

Ralph Nader .7%

Why, that just so happens to be the exact difference between Obama and McCain.

Why, that’s just how the Republicans lost their Senate majority.

David Weigel has the story and its implications. I’d only add to it that it’s likely the ghost of Ron Paul that’s keeping Nevada as such a headache for McCain.

And yes, Paul appears on the ballot in Montana thanks to a curious Constitution Party schism.

Posted by James @ 3:27 pm on October 24th 2008

Best Headline of the Week

Sarah Palin Draws Large Crowd in Beaver


Posted by Brad @ 2:10 pm on October 24th 2008

Dear Leader in New York City

I’m philosophically opposed to term limits but pragmatically in favor of them. By that I mean I agree with the arguments against them in anything approaching an ideal, open system, but the fact is our system is so far from an ideal, open system, and the thumb-on-the-scale favoring major-party incumbency so significant along so many spectrums that I think term limits, in practice, do more good than harm.

That said, even hard core opponents to term limits have to be a little aghast at Bloomberg and the NYC City Council’s cynical dispensing of them.

The long and short of it: NYC voters in 1993 voted on referendum (overwhelmingly) to enact term limits. City council didn’t like it, put it to a re-vote in 1996, it was also affirmed then. Bloomberg has decided that the city is too broken to risk new management (!), and sells it to the city council that they themselves will get to keep their seats. The council votes with him, overruling voters, and they also vote to not allow it to go to referendum again. An AP poll shows 89% of NYC voters disagree with the council decision.

The one bright side: public opinion is quickly turning towards a “throw them all out” mentality. Still, brass balls from the local reps in New York City. They deserve what they get.

Posted by Brad @ 2:00 pm on October 24th 2008

Was Palin a Defensible VP Pick?

I’ve gone out on a lot of limbs this cycle, and I have to toot my own horn and say I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong (I’m willing to toot that horn because it is not always or even mostly the case). But one of the things I keep mulling over was my endorsement of Sarah Palin for VP. Looking around the field of potential short listers or dark horses in June, when I made that endorsement, she really seemed a potentially electrifying, ship-righting sort of pick. Of course, that comes with a few very critical caveats. I didn’t have any opportunity to vet her, and my endorsement presupposed she would pass. But mostly, I endorsed her as part of a pretty particular strategy, and a pretty particular way of utilizing her. And from day one, I’ve been vaguely horrified at how both the campaign managed her (or, more to the point, didn’t), and how severe the blowback against her was (though I’m pretty philosophical on that, and deem it, ultimately, to be as much a function of that mismanagement as anything).

But even I have to admit that I don’t deem Sarah Palin to be qualified to President, and by extension Vice President. I, like most, have been amazed at the whole not-ready-for-prime-time nature of her. And more than that, I would have hoped she would have been primarily used as a libertarian populist sort of candidate, whereas she has instead become the glamour candidate, the low blow candidate, and the anti-intellectual social conservative candidate. Her pick, despite my endorsement, made me less likely to vote for McCain (for the record, my esteem of the Biden pick, which I also endorsed, has only grown). And I think it goes without saying by now that Palin, in an objective sense, has proven to be a bad pick. Hindsight and counter-factuals are 20/20, of course, but I can’t shake the idea that the race would be a lot less cartoonish—and probably a lot more living up to its billing as “the best foots forward”—with a Pawlenty or even a Lieberman pick (where McCain proved decidedly unmaverick in clearly being pushed off his far-and-away #1 choice).

All that said, it’s with mild interest that I read the “in the know” blogs at present, and am beginning to pick up the rumblings of firing squads forming in insider GOP circles. Palin herself is subtly going off the farm a bit, and some insiders (and McCain staffers) are apparantly of the opinion that she’s starting to swing the knife back at McCain a bit, setting herself up for 2012.

Marc Ambinder has a great bit of insider ear-to-the-cattle-trail reporting on this subject, and others related. But, by way of stepping on my mea culpa, I think this bit remains true:

A Sunday morning quarterback still makes a persuasive argument for picking Palin. In this environment, the Republican candidate could only win if he consolidates his base and wins a majority of persuadable votes; the Democrat simply has to turn out Democrats. Though McCain at one point wanted to pick Joe Lieberman, he’d have cut a leg from the stool and replaced it with one that, aside from his party affiliation — independent Democrat — has no real appeal among independents anymore. One step backward and no steps forward. By the time the news began to leak out that McCain wanted Lieberman, the trail balloon was also leaky. Republican delegations made it clear that they’d walk out on McCain. We still don’t know why McCain decided that the risk wasn’t worth taking — that’s for another Draper piece — but we know that he suddenly shifted back to someone who had impressed him early on, someone who, at the time, could check the two boxes: excite Republicans and convert independents and persuadables.

Whether the vetting was complete or rushed, whether Palin and her advisers were completely forthcoming about her record…. again, wait for the Draper piece. The point here is that the choice was defensible.

The nature of risks is that they’re risky. I think the Palin pick was a smart play, that has gone horribly, horribly wrong pretty much across the board, save the notable exception that it did indeed prove electrifying and base-consolidating, though even that effect appears to be wearing off. Still, I can’t help but feel a bit of shame that I advocated for her, only to see the Frankenstein monster created out of her on the campaign trail. It’s not been as big a disappointment for me as the larger McCain campaign has been, but it’s up there. “She coulda been something…”

Oh well. There’s always Mark Sanford.

Posted by Brad @ 1:25 pm on October 24th 2008

Quote of the Day

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

– Alan Greenspan, testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Stop helping, Alan.

Posted by Adam @ 5:22 pm on October 23rd 2008

Woah. Some people really are crazy

Common-or-garden mugging in Pittsburgh turns into political beating and facial mutilation once the mugger sees that the victim is a McCain supporter.

A knife-wielding man robbed a Texas woman and etched a “B” into her face after he saw a John McCain bumper sticker on the woman’s car, Pittsburgh police said.

Ashley Todd, 20, of College Station, Texas, was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street in Bloomfield just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her, put a knife to her throat and demanded $60, police said.

Todd handed the man $60 she had in her pocket and stepped away from him, investigators said. The man then noticed the bumper sticker on the woman’s car, which was parked in front of the ATM. The man became very angry, made comments to Todd about McCain and punched her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground, police said. The man then carved the “B” into Todd’s right cheek.

Holy sick bastard, Batman. This (assuming it happened as reported) is a new low after the McCain supporter getting bashed in New York and an Obama supporter getting bashed in Wisconsin. It doesn’t make any difference — we already know that some people are violent tools and it seems reasonable that some of those care about politics — and it doesn’t say anything about the sides, but I suppose this is as close to a human interest story as I get.

Also, I note that this happened after Brad left Pittsburgh and also note that he’d have gotten his arse kicked anyhow.

Posted by Jack @ 5:15 pm on October 23rd 2008

Conservatism WTF Conference Agenda Items

As Brad pointed out in yesterday’s Conservatism WTF post, Christopher Buckley is but one of a growing number of conservatives that are proposing serious soul searching in light of an assumed crushing defeat at the polls next month. Rod Dreher riffs off of the Christopher Buckley quote:

“The smart ones in the movement should get together right after the election at the Greenbrier or the Homestead, you know, where they typically have these kinds of get-togethers, and have a long dark night of the soul,” he says. “And I’ll tell you what the conference should be called: Conservatism–What the F-ck?”

Dreher solicits agenda items for this hypothetical post mortem election conference of conservatives in which they might do some collective soul searching in which participants address the ideological and policy errors that led to the electoral failures since 2006. His challenge to commentors and other bloggers is to devise an agenda of topics that includes “a session that holds your own particular sacred cow up to critical examination.”

Rod’s list:

I. “After Market Fundamentalism: What Conservatives Got Wrong About the Free Market, and What We Should Defend Even Though The Market Is Flat On Its Back”
II. “Traditionalists and Libertarians: Can Fusionism Be Saved? Paths to Renewing the Relationship”
III. “It’s The Culture, Stupid: Conservatism Beyond the Culture War — Prospects for an Anti-Political Politics of the Right”
IV. “Neglected Sources of Conservatism Wisdom”
V. “Smart Green: A Conservative Approach to The Environment”
VI. “Conservatives vs. Republicans: Ideals vs. Practicality”
VII. “The Conservative Bubble: The Lies We Told Ourselves, And How to Be Honest Going Forward”
VIII. “The Lessons of Iraq: Conservative Foreign Policy in an Age of Limits”
IX. “Populism and Elites: Why Both Need Each Other”
X. “The Benedict Option: The Promise and Peril of Dropping Out”
And my Sacred Cow Session:
XI. “Is the Religious Right Still Politically Relevant? Theoconservatism Amid Popular Acceptance of Gay Marriage and Abortion Rights”

John Schwenkler gets into the spirit of things with his list:

1. Conservatism: Is there any such thing?
2. Rethinking Reagan: Things we should have learned from the Eighties … and didn’t
3. Conservatives and the academy: If we really aren’t the “stupid party”, then why can’t we show it?
4. Conservatism after virtue: Can the rule of law save our souls?
5. War: What is it good for?
6. We’re getting warmer: Articulating a conservative response to climate change and ecological degradation
7. Homeland insecurity: Rethinking the surveillance state in the post-post-9/11 world
8. Focus on the family: Toward a new conservative anti-politics
9. Free markets: Rhetoric vs. reality
10. Fare thee well: Conservative responses to globalization and the decline of the welfare state
And my sacred cow:
11. Is “federalism” just another word for “slavery’s fine by me”?

Conservatism’s WTF Conference is a useful, healthy exercise that will not, unfortunately, happen. Instead, as Clark Stooksbury at The American Conservative points out, we are much more likely to see a National Review’s Cruise topic list along these lines:

Liberal Media: threat or menace.
Remember Bill Clinton, wasn’t he awful?
Did we discuss Ayers, Acorn, Rev. Wright, etc. enough?
Why haven’t we bombed Iran yet?
We would have won if we had only nominated Romney or Thompson.
Some people were mean to Sarah Palin.
Will Obama bring back big government?

So, I solicit your additions to both the earnest Dreher topic proposals, and the unfortunately not a parody list from Stooksbury.

Posted by Brad @ 2:56 pm on October 23rd 2008

How McCain Can Win

Remember when the race was looking relatively close, and a number of GOP operatives were asking “Why isn’t Obama running away with it?” They aren’t saying that anymore.

But two good posts to call your attention to, making bottom-of-the-barrel arguments for how McCain might still be able to pull out a win. It’s pretty pie-in-the-sky, but frankly, so are McCain’s chances.

On electoral strategy, Ambinder makes the argument.

The Republican Party has built a presidential election machine that is tested and proven, the argument begins. Its voter database, Voter Vault, has 150 million potential Republican voters listed, each with dozens of psychographic datums appended.

The Party knows how to turn out Republican voters in red states. The Democratic Party has no record of turning out sporadic Democratic voters in presidential years in red states. It is not reasonable to assume, therefore, that Democrats can really turn out the voters they say they will, while Republicans have a record of turning out habitual Republican voters. How can Democrats build good and accurate voter lists in these red states?…

Obama isn’t breaking 50% in Ohio and Florida. It’s hard to imagine a big shift to him in the final ten days, when the mind is concentrated, when imponderables come into play.

Colorado is tough… but Pennsylvania is doable.

Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri will all revert to partisan form. Already, McCain’s campaign has factored in census + 1 turnout for African Americans, and there are plausible scenarios under which McCain wins.

The idea being hope for a hold on all Bush states, fight hard in OH and FL, give up NM and IA, pray that CO, VA, NH, and the rest stay red, and make a single-state push in…Pennsylvania.

Nate Silver notes that there’s no good reason to think PA is competitive, and it likely rests on just blind hope on McCain’s part. But like I said, blind hope is about all that’s left.

In terms of message, Mike Murphy is correct in noting that a hodge-podge of scattered appearances and trifling arguments or bland party lines isn’t going to do it. His suggestion?

There is no state by state way to break out of the campaign’s current spiral. Trips to Iowa will not do it. McCain has to go global with a big closing message. So, why not…

Strip down the state by state media budget and use the money to follow Obama’s lead with a prime-time 30 minute TV address? McCain direct to camera. And for God’s sake don’t make it another raging attack on Obama. Instead offer a mini mea culpa for the negative tone of the last three months. Then pitch the strong bipartisan sheriff of Washington argument. A non-tax and spend liberal plan to fix economy. Offer hope and leadership.

Follow this broadcast up with two more 30 minute prime-time shows over the final week; both should be town halls with McCain in the arena facing real voters asking him very tough questions, not softballs from local GOP plants. After the 30 minutes in prime-time, let each town hall show continue for another half hour live on the internet so interested viewers can watch even more and make a web donation to the RNC. Cut the schedule down — sorry Waterloo, IA — to give McCain significant time to really prepare for each show. And spend big bucks to bring in top Hollywood pros and first rate production values. Risky yes, but a big message move aimed at the entire country is the best option now.

Of course, McCain has tried to advance that argument in spots, but it’s gotten lost in his own noise machine. I agree though, making a final, cohesive, global closing argument is the way to go. Campaign stops in Iowa and New Hampshire and Missouri aren’t going to cut it.

It’s a small chance, predicated on not much, but it’s a chance. It also allows him to end the race on a good foot for the future of the party, an argument to move forward with, rather than descending into death throes and backbiting in the last week of the race and leaving the party in a total vacuum, as now appears to be pretty likely.

Posted by Brad @ 1:40 pm on October 23rd 2008

Palin in 2012

Marc Ambinder makes the case.

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