Sunday, December 14, 2008


If you're waiting for the punchline, that was it. Stay tuned, I'm sure video will be forthcoming.

EDITED TO ADD: As predicted:

Say what we will about soon-to-be-disgraced-former-President Bush; but the dude has reflexes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Defending Joe Lieberman

I've done it before, and it seems I'll have to do it again: defend Joe Lieberman. As you surely know, Joe broke party lines (sort of... he is technically an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats) in supporting John McCain for President. So now, Democrats want to at the very least strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and at the most kick him out of the caucus completely. All this while the new head of the Democratic party (and the Free World, for that matter) is preaching unity and reconciliation. Nice juxtaposition there, Harry Reid.

Honestly, Americans went out and voted for hope, change, and unity, and the first matter of business for Senate Democrats is figuring out how to kick out the guy who didn't agree with them. That isn't the Democratic Party that I voted for.

Now, I understand that discipline is an inherent part of party politics (which is why a two-party system is inherently flawed, but that's for another post). As a commenter on a Politico blog put it: "What good is a party when you have members who feel that they can behave any way that they want and get away with it. That's not a party we can believe in." I do find it ironic that this character is using the "...we can believe in" phrase in support of old-school partisan politics, but who knows, maybe it was sarcasm.

I guess my point is this: it is ridiculous to think that every person in the Senate will fall neatly into one of two categories. Very few people believe entirely in the Republican or the Democratic agenda, but we expect Senators to do so. Even though I disagree with Joe Lieberman from time to time (I say "from time to time," because really, he is still a pretty reliable Democrat when it comes to most issues), I think he is a good example of what a Senator should be. He does what he thinks is right, not what his party thinks is right. Of course, if you're Harry Reid, and your goal is to push through the Democratic agenda, you don't want people doing what they think is right, if that would mean opposing that agenda. But again, Joe Lieberman is still supportive of the Democratic agenda when it comes to most issues. I don't see what good the Democrats do themselves by, at the least, publicly shaming him, and at the most, kicking him out of their club. It all seems rather childish to me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Will going negative work for McCain?

There's been a lot of hub bub in the World of the Politicos lately about the closing gap between McCain and Obama in national polls (Rasmussen even had the cajones to release a poll showing McCain leading - albeit by a statistically insignificant 1%). It isn't clear (to me at least) why this happened, but it is worth considering that McCain's nasty Paris Hilton/Britney Spears ad was released just days before this sudden closing of the gap (According to Rasmussen, Obama was leading by 6% on July 26 - that's a 7% move in a matter of ten days. Although, to be fair, Rasmussen seems to be gaining notoriety - in my eyes, at least - for releasing polls that are clearly outliers). So, it's worth asking: will going negative win the election for McCain?

Well, no. I don't think anything other than a meltdown by Obama will win this election for McCain. But, I think McCain would have a better chance of winning if he stayed positive - in other words, if he stayed the McCain of the 2000 campaign. I'm not naive; I know that negative campaigning works. But, I think there is a limit to how negative a candidate can go. Remember when Mitt Romney was the golden boy of the Republican Primaries Season (before any of the primaries actually happened, that is)? Granted, he probably wouldn't have won had he stayed positive (that whole Mormon issue was tough on him), but I think he shot himself in the foot by going so negative. He became labeled as "The Sleaze." Okay, maybe I'm the only one who called him that, but the perception abounded. After he slimed McCain, he had to do a lot of backtracking to make it seem like he didn't actually go negative, and people saw right through that. I think people are going to see through McCain's claims that he is a positive, bipartisan maverick and label him "The Sleaze" if he keeps running negative (and irrelevant) ads.

It certainly isn't helping McCain that Obama isn't taking the bait. He is responding with ads that simply say "That isn't true. Here is what I really stand for. Let's get beyond old-fashioned negative politics." McCain's negativity has allowed Obama to hone in on what has been a talking point throughout his whole campaign: we need a new kind of politics. If McCain wants any chance of winning, he can't give the Obama campaign ammo. In essence, he needs to play their game.

Monday, August 4, 2008

To the Editor: Fire William Kristol

When The New York Times decided to add conservative political commentator William Kristol to its op-ed columnist line up, I was not pleased. The idea was that a good op-ed page should present a multi-faceted view of the issues facing the nation. Known for being a "liberal rag" and the butt of most "liberal media" jokes, The Times' editorial board felt it necessary to give a token right-wing nut job a weekly column. In theory, this is fair enough - we liberals always rag on FOX News for being a pawn of the far-right wing of the Republican party, so we should promote fairness and balance, right?

I'm all for fairness and balance, and I think intelligent authors like David Brooks can certainly bring some balance to such an unabashedly liberal op-ed page. The problem is that Bill Kristol just isn't a very good writer. Now, I'm no literary genius, but I'm not writing for The Times, either. Kristol's columns, unlike Brooks's, are rarely thoughtful - that is, they hardly ever shed new light on an issue. His columns read like talking points sent out by the McCain campaign. The title of a recent column was "Be Afraid. Please." The object of the proposed fear was, of course, Barack Obama, or more specifically, the havoc Obama would bestow upon America if he were President while the Democrats control Congress. Mr. Kristol extols the benefits of divided government, noting with an un-Times-like lack of eloquence,

You really should be alarmed about a President Obama rubber-stamping the deeds of a Democratic Congress next year. A President McCain, on the other hand, could check Congressional appetites — as well as work across the aisle with a Democratic Congress in a bipartisan spirit where appropriate.

Yes, because divided government has worked so well since 2006 when the Democrats won control of Congress. Given Senator McCain's recent shifts to the more extreme right-wing of his party and his appalling lack of dignity, there is no reason to suspect that his White House would be any more willing to cooperate with a Democratic Congress than the current administration. Moreover, with Kristol's logic in mind, one might have expected to see him campaigning for Democratic candidates for Congress in 2006, arguing that an unchecked majority is bad for democracy.

Maybe I missed it.

And today, Kristol provided us with what I'm sure he thought was some brilliant insight with his article titled "How to Pick a V.P." I guess we can overlook the fact that he doesn't even touch on the choice Obama faces (that would just be asking too much). What we cannot overlook is the fact that he is just regurgitating what the cable news networks have been saying for weeks now. Oh, Mitt Romney would bring useful executive experience to the ticket? Bobby Jindal would represent the new era of the Republican party, echoing the Obama campaign's call for change? Tim Pawlenty would please staunch conservatives who don't want McCain to try any funny business with his pick? Meg Whitman would provide "outsider" cred while appealing to women?

None of these are revelations. These points have all been made numerous times by the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC and FOX News and so on.

So, it's not just that Kristol is preaching a thoughtless, uninspired, trite sermon on conservatism. Worse, his thoughtlessness is about two to three weeks behind the rest of the media.

Times, I understand what you were going for hiring Kristol, I really do. But, he's been a failure. He's not doing the job of presenting a thoughtful, informative, provocative conservative voice for the op-ed page. If you want another conservative voice, use your own David Brooks as a model. But it's clear to me - Bill Kristol is no David Brooks.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How low will he go?

You know, I used to have a great amount of respect for John McCain. In 2000, when he got slimed by the Bush campaign as being father to an illegitimate black child, I was outraged. My outrage was increased by the fact that this tactic actually worked. It's this kind of politics that keeps good men from becoming President.

So, to see Mr. McCain resort to the same kind of slimy tactics really turns my stomach. First, he blamed Barack Obama for high gas prices. A ridiculous claim to be sure, but at least it's related to politics. His latest ad, featuring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears is simply inexcusable. Bob Herbert has a good op-ed in The New York Times today about how this ad injects race into the campaign.

Referring back to an infamous ad in 2006's race for the Senate seat from Tennessee, Herbert states...

Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise.) Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.

Now, McCain is accusing Obama of playing the race card. Apparently McCain can make quasi-racist ads, but when Obama suggests that McCain is painting him as "The Other," he's the one who's injecting race into the campaign. As Herbert points out, "[Obama] does not want the race issue to be front and center in this campaign. Every day that the campaign is about race is a good day for John McCain."

It seems the media is finally hounding McCain, making him answer the charges that his ads are, well, revoltingly negative. His response? "I don't think our campaign is negative in the slightest... We're having fun and enjoying it."

Oh, okay. As long as you're having fun doing it, it can't be negative.

I'm seriously wondering if this guy might have Alzheimer's. Has he really forgotten who he was eight years ago? I miss that John McCain.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Posting Schedule

Dear readers,

Allow me to apologize for the sparsity of posts in recent weeks. Both Fz and I have been extremely busy with the final semesters of our senior year at Ursinus. Given the intensity of my workload and other time commitments, I'm afraid that I won't be able to post very often over the next few months. However, this summer after graduation, I'll be able to jump right back in as the election heats up. Thanks for your time, faithful readers!

Till later,

Monday, January 28, 2008

The down side of Obama's South Carolina Victory

As you likely know, Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary. Big time. But, there is perhaps something troubling behind the numbers. He attracted 80% of African-American voters (who made up over 50% of total voters) while attracting only 25% of white voters. This can be seen a number of ways. First, some may suggest that South Carolina white Democrats are racist. While probably not outrightly true, they may "favor" whites over blacks. Second, some may suggest that Bill Clinton's racial discussions turned South Carolina into a race war. Third, some may suggest that Bill's mentions of race turned the entire process forward into a race war.

I like to think there isn't a race war a-brewin'. Obama has made it a prerogative to not be pigeon-holed as "the black candidate." However, it seems that Clinton (Bill, at least) is trying to do just that. Take, for instance, when he compared Obama's victory in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's victories there in previous nominating contests. Clinton is implying, "Yeah, he won, but these South Carolinians were dumb enough to support Jesse Jackson!" Or, alternatively, "South Carolinians only voted for him because he's black." Either way, the Clintons are trying to downplay the victory.

I think the Clinton strategy has been working relatively well. Obama seems to have lost some of his sparkle and most of his momentum. I anticipate big wins for Clinton on Feb 5, although, if this really does become a race for single delegates, who knows what could happen?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Paul/Kucinich '08?

So, I was perusing the ol' Facebook yesterday, when I stumbled across a political discussion calling for Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich to team up as President and Vice President (or vice versa). Of course, I think this is a bad idea because I think they are both insane, but they are insane in completely different ways. Which brings me to a realization (I actually realized it a long time ago, but bear with me): Ron Paul's supporters have no idea what he stands for. Let's fill them in.

Indeed, as far as I can tell, Paul and Kucinich agree on the War and a few other homeland security/foreign policy related issues. And that's about it. Let's go through some issues, eh (here's a plug for - where I'm getting my information)?

Bush tax cuts

Kucinich - repeal for top 1%
Paul - make permanent

Tax code reform

Kucinich - work with existing system
Paul - cuts everywhere

Estate tax

Kucinich - keep
Paul - repeal

Capital gains tax rate

Kucinich - increase
Paul - lower

Cap-and-trade system

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Nuclear power?

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes

Raise CAFE standards?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Support ANWR drilling?

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes


Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Mandatory healthcare coverage?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

2007 SCHIP expansion

Kucinich - supported
Paul - opposed

Border fence?

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes

Path to citizenship for illegal immigrants?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Abortion legality

Kucinich - yes (using Roe standards)
Paul - leave to states

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes

Fed. Funding for Stem Cell Research

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Increase Minimum Wages

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Increase farm subsidies

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Partial Privatization of Social Security

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes

Increase the cap for income taxed for SS?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Gun control

Kucinich - require licenses
Paul - no further restrictions

Assault Weapons Ban

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Same-sex marriage?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

Civil Unions?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

"Don't ask, don't tell"

Kucinich - no
Paul - yes

Increase social welfare programs?

Kucinich - yes
Paul - no

There, I hope we have enlightened any of you who thought a Paul/Kucinich or Kucinich/Paul Administration would be a good idea. Please learn what your candidates stand for before giving them your support. Don't simply support a candidate because he is "trendy."

Although, "The Adventures of Ron and Dennis" could make for an entertaining reality show if this writers' strike doesn't get resolved.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

But at least he looks good on Law and Order

In light of Fred Thompson's poor showing thus far in the Republican primaries, a Thompson staffer from an early primary state dishes the dirt:

Here are some other things missing from the campaign:
1) a finance chair
2) a clear chain of command
3) top-down loyalty
4) a candidate who was willing to campaign for more than 4 hours at day
5) direct mail
6) a college student coordinator
7) a media strategy
Other than that, the campaign had everything.

How John Edwards is Hindering Change

During the New Hampshire debate, it was clear that John Edwards considered Barack Obama something of an ally in his fight for change and that he considered Hillary Clinton no more than a determined advocate of the status quo. Well, John Edwards, by stubbornly refusing to get out of this race (maybe he'll bail after South Carolina), is giving the status quo pretty good odds of prevailing.

It's rather simple, really. The Democrats are divided into two camps: the ones who want change and the ones who trust the establishment (of course it isn't really that simple, but that's how the media is spinning it, so bear with me). Well, the change voters have two candidates to pick from: Barack Obama and John Edwards. The establishment voters have only Hillary. So, by splitting the "change" vote, Edwards is giving Hillary a better shot at victory. Polls have shown that Edwards supporters overwhelmingly choose Obama as their second choice. So, if Edwards were to drop out, Obama would see a huge jump in his numbers, probably securing the nomination in the process.

If John Edwards is sincere in his call for change, he will drop out of the race as soon as possible in order to actually give change a fighting chance. On the other hand, if he wasn't lying when he said he was in this until the convention, then all my bets are on Hillary getting the nomination.

Who knows, maybe Obama will offer Edwards the veep spot if he agrees to drop out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Future Is Bright

So says Alexander Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution:

People used to think that more population was bad for growth. In this view, people are stomachs--they eat, leaving less for everyone else. But once we realize the importance of ideas in the economy, people become brains--they innovate, creating more for everyone else....

In the 20th century, two world wars diverted the energy of two generations from production to destruction. When the horrors ended, the world was left hobbled and split. Communism isolated much of the world, reducing trade in goods and ideas--to everyone's detriment. World poverty meant that the U.S. and a few other countries shouldered the burdens of advancing knowledge nearly alone.

The battles of the 20th century were not fought in vain. Trade, development and the free flow of people and ideas are uniting all of humanity, maximizing the incentives and the means to produce new ideas. This gives us reason to be highly optimistic about the future.

The main thrust of Tabarrok's argument is that economic development worldwide will drive technological development and help all of mankind. However, his point that more people = more innovation can also apply to situations within individual nations. I guess it's a good thing, then, that the United States is experiencing a baby boomlet:
The fertility rate among Americans has climbed to its highest level since 1971, setting the country apart from most industrialized nations that are struggling with low birthrates and aging populations.

This also reminds me of the one of the most fantastically bad policy arguments put forward in recent memory:

A WEST Australian medical expert wants families to pay a $5000-plus "baby levy" at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 a child.

Writing in today's Medical Journal of Australia, Associate Professor Barry Walters said every couple with more than two children should be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child's lifetime.

Walters looks at children purely as consumers of natural resources. Tabarrok's article, however, reminds us that these children could well be the ones to discover a new source of alternative energy or some other environmental breakthrough. Currently, the Australian government gives new parents a $4133 baby bonus. Now that is a smart policy. A vibrant Australia with a birthrate at least at the replacement level would certainly be better positioned to deal with the environmental challenges of the 21st century than a rapidly aging Australia burdened with a shrinking population and a crippling dependency ratio (which would be the inevitable fruit of Walter's policy). This lesson can apply to any developed nation. Have babies! It's good for the environment!*

*Eventually. On average. After all, maybe your baby will be a dim-witted, carbon-dioxide emitting machine. Like me! But if enough people have babies, someone's going to pop out an Einstein sooner or later.

What is this, 1980?: A Look at the Reagan Factor

It seems every Republican debate and stump speech has turned into a "Reagan Off," a test of courage to see who can invoke the name of our Dear Lord, Ronald Reagan, the most.

There is no clear winner yet.

So, what's with the nostalgia over Reagan? Well, rumor has it the so-called "Reagan Coalition" (although, I would suggest that Nixon had more to do with building the modern Republican party than Reagan, but I guess Republicans don't want to idolize Nixon...) is falling apart. This coalition is loosely composed of three groups of people. The CEOs, the Bible Thumpers, and the Warmongers. In the recent past, Republican candidates have been able to satisfy all three crowds. George W. Bush, for instance, is a businessman who feigns Evangelical Christianity while promoting hawkish policies. Everyone is happy.

Too bad for them W has to go. This coalition has not been able to rally around a nominee. Mike Huckabee satisfies the Bible Thumpers, but the CEOs hate him (what is this populism bullshit!?). John McCain plays well to hawkish crowds, but the Jesus Freaks and the businessfolk don't trust him (he's against tax cuts and he likes gays! Or something...). Mitt Romney, the penultimate Businessman, can't win over evangelicals ("Don't Mormons believe that the devil is Jesus' brother?" - Mike Huckabee) and he doesn't have the military experience that the hawks like.

So, what is a Republican to do? Invoke the name of Reagan, of course! I think the logic here is that by repeating Reagan's name, a candidate might be able to fool these factions into thinking he is the most like Reagan and thus able to hold the coalition together.

I think Mitt Romney could come the closest to holding the coalition together. While he lacks military experience, he at least speaks in a hawkish manner ("Let's double Gitmo! YEEHAW!") And while evangelicals don't really trust him, he does promote very evangelical arguments. So, if the coalition gives Romney a chance, he might be able to hold it together.

But, of course, it's worth noting that Mitt Romney couldn't beat Pee Wee Herman in a general election. So, I don't know what the Republicans can do.

I guess wait eight years until America is sick of Democrats and try again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaking of Insanity....

Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Huckabee:

He says: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”

Words fail me.

UPDATE 1: When he talks about changing the Constitution, Huckabee is specifically referring to constitutional amendments to outlaw gay marriage and abortion.

UPDATE 2: The Republican establishment is petrified at the thought of Huckabee winning the nomination. Business conservatives and so-called national security hawks within the Republican party have been happy to use the religious right to win elections. But they certainly do not want them in charge. Here's a choice quote from Andy McCarthy of NRO:

Huckabee is made to order for the Left: his rhetoric embodies their heretofore lunatic indictment that we're no better that what we're fighting against. Let's "amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards"? Who needs to spin when the script speaks for itself? Where has Huck been for the last seven years? Does he not get that our enemies — the people who want to end our way of life — believe they are simply imposing God's standards?

More Evidence of Dr. Ron Paul's Insanity

I've thought for quite some time that Dr. Ron Paul is insane. For me, it only took a brief look into his archaic views of economics and the constitution (I guess Dr. Paul wants to go back in time to when the Supreme Court defended the "right" to employing children in coal mines). For many of my peers, though, Dr. Paul's views have struck a chord (I really can't figure out why).

Well, more proof has emerged that he really is, and has been for quite some time, insane. In the past, Dr. Ron has published the Ron Paul Political Report, the Ron Paul Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, and the Ron Paul Investment Letter. These newsletters have been found to contain many troubling (to say the least) passages. One refers to Dr. Martin Luther King as "a world-class adulterer," a "lying socialist satyr," and "the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."


This one speaks praises of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK.

In 1990, Al Sharpton and some friends staged a rally in favor of renaming New York City after Martin Luther King. Now, renaming such a major city after anyone (no matter how great) seems rather foolish to me, but the Ron Paul Political Report took it a step (or twenty) farther. The article suggested that NYC be renamed "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," or "Lazyopolis" instead.

Apparently Dr. Paul doesn't just hate blacks. He hates gays, too. In the Political Report, he writes, "I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities." He continues, "The largest blood bank in San Francisco succumbed to political pressure and holds blood drives in the gay Castro district, where people give at three times the usual level. Either they are public spirited, or they are trying to poison the blood supply." (emphasis added)

In the Survival Report, he writes that gays try to get AIDS because "they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.

Naturally, Dr. Paul claims no knowledge of these articles.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Word or Two on Racial Tensions

Up until recently, the biggest "racial moment" in this election season occurred months ago when Joe Biden called Barack Obama "clean," sending Al Sharpton into something of a tizzy while Obama politely took it as a compliment. Well, that's all changed. And in such a historic election, we knew it would.

I'm sure you've heard about Hillary Clinton's remarks about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson (find a refresher here). In short, she stated that it took a well-seasoned politician (LBJ) to get the dreamer's (MLK's) ideas put into action. So, she is LBJ, and Obama is MLK? Or, she is LBJ, the Democratic Party is MLK, and Obama is... I don't know what. Either way, comparing one's self to Lyndon Baines Johnson does not seem like a wise strategy.

So, anyway, the Obama campaign is saying that Hillary (and Bill, too) are downplaying the importance of civil rights activists like Dr. King. Hillary is saying that she is simply being pragmatic, that Dr. King was a great man with great ideas, but those ideas needed someone sympathetic to the cause within the system in order to get them to become a reality.

Really, Hillary is right. Civil rights legislation wouldn't have been passed without a president fighting for it. But, there's an important caveat: a president wouldn't have been fighting for it without activists like Dr. King fighting for it. So, it's rather circular. MLK wants change, pressures LBJ. LBJ enacts change. LBJ wouldn't enact change without MLK's pressure. So, who is really responsible for civil rights legislation?

It's a stupid question, isn't it?

Sure is. The answer doesn't really matter, and Hillary was rather stupid for throwing the question out there in the first place. I mean, come on! It's basically as if she is saying "Hey, you remember that famous civil rights activist, MLK? Yeah, I don't want to be like him. I want to be like that guy who tried to take credit for his work."

Seriously. Comparing yourself to LBJ? What the Hell is the matter with you, Hillary? You'd be better off continuing your habit of taking credit for your husband's eight years.