Friday, November 30

Why Do Missouri And Indiana Get To Have All The Fun?

SOMETHING called Politico brings us the sad news that someone called Erick E. Erickson, apparently a noted "conservative" intellectual, will not be challenging Saxby Chambliss in, I think, 2017.

And then someone, apparently figuring that the mere existence of this story did not incinerate everything decent, if anything, left in our political life, asked Erickson for an explanation.

This is, evidently, a quote. A quote from someone who someone else actually wanted to run for the U.S. Senate. Please do not operate heavy machinery within a week of reading it.
“Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign. It’d actually be really awesome, but it’d be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I’m not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable pay cut in pay and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement.”

So, a couple things, here. One, I do hope that now, now, at long last and decades late, the Republican party, or whatever's left of it with a functioning cerebral cortex and a vague recollection of the word "dignity", if anything, regrets, the way someone else would come to regret killing his wheelchair-bound grandma with a hatchet so he could pawn her Hummel collection to pay for a sex-change operation--which was botched--ever insisting that it was unfairly under-represented in the "liberal" media.

Two: the most powerful electron microscope on the planet could not discern my interest in anything about Erick E. Erickson. He is Ann Coulter without the wit, Jim Inhofe without the erudition, and Glenn Beck without the artistic discernment. Rolled into one. I wish only to take the opportunity to say this about Erick E. Erickson. There are but two reasons why the term "goat fucker" would occur to someone in the heat of the moment. The first is wordsmithery.

Erick E. Erickson is not a wordsmith.

Thursday, November 29

The Turnips Of Wrath

Stuart Stevens, "Mitt Romney. A good man. The right fight." November 28

Aisha Harris, "Glenn Beck puts 'Obama in Pee Pee', calls it art". November 28

INTRODUCTIONS, first: Stuart Stevens was the Romney campaign's chief strategist; Aisha Harris writes about teevee for Slate.  And both are brave enough to admit it.

Oh, look, hors d'oeuvres!
Glenn Beck has said and done many outlandish things in his career as a provacateur,

"Provocateur" being the alternate spelling of "guy who proved too crazy to be taken seriously, even on FOX." "Provacateur", meanwhile, is how people who take Glenn Beck seriously, and turn off Spell Check, spell "provocateur".
but yesterday he may have topped even his most clownish past antics by unveiling—and putting up for sale—a new work of art: “Obama in Pee Pee.”

Sorry, but nothing Glenn Beck, provacatuer, does will ever top things Glenn Beck did when he thought he was being taken seriously.
Brandishing his best—but still terrible—Pepé Le Pew impression,

Equating "art" with "snooty French accent"? Comedy genius. What a porvocoture!
Beck informed the audience that his own “specially brewed Country Time” in a mason jar would sell for the asking-price of $25,000,

Overpriced Art! Stop, you're killing me by proxy proovication!
The presentation, while infantile, is also surprisingly amusing.

Like Truck Nutz. Or, more accurately, like Truck Nutz fifteen years from now.
Beck’s job—like that of the one kid in elementary school who would incessantly repeat what other people said just to get a rise out of them—is to provoke as much outrage from the left as possible.

Don't most people get fired if they don't do their jobs?

Christ, lady, you should pardon the expression, if Glenn Beck had been chosen to deliver the Republican keynote address in Tampa "the left" would have erupted in spontaneous parades.

But let's just mention a couple things here, because we should. Sure, it's Slate, and there's a premium paid (for some reason) for being completely off the rails about anything. But, y'know, in 139 words there you said "outlandish" "provacateur" "clownish" "best, but still terrible" "while infantile" "surprisingly amusing" and "provoke" again. If you're that concerned about your reputation, then rethink this commitment you have to eating regularly. Or go work someplace real. Otherwise, you might consider just writing the damn story straight, then mentioning that Beck has a long, long, long way to go before the sum of the "provocations" in his "career" begin to match the outrage over Piss Christ. Or The Last Temptation of Christ. Or Jeremiah Wright. Or the Obama's fist bump. Or the Ten Commandments, Quemoy and Matsu, or the fluoridation of water. Or, you know, blackness.

By the way, maybe Slate should have spent those virtual column inches defending Country-Time ™ Lemonade.

Anyway, who's up for some post-election analysis of the Republican party? 'Bout time this got some attention:
Over the years, one of the more troubling characteristics of the Democratic Party and the left in general has been a shortage of loyalty and an abundance of self-loathing. It would be a shame if we Republicans took a narrow presidential loss as a signal that those are traits we should emulate.

Nothing like starting off the self-assessment by complaining about the ex-wife. Okay, you say "self-loathing", I say "wholesome and honest disagreements, which may result in endless quibbling but beat the hell out of being wedded to a bunch of backwoods religious maniacs who're never satisfied, and who force you to walk a tightrope over Shit Falls."
I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s green-room crowd or, frankly, of many politicians.

Or your base. You guys just can't ever, ever, give up on the Elites routine, can you?
That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought that he would win the Republican nomination.

True, except for the fact that everybody knew he'd win, that he had the most money and the closest thing to a competent staff, and was the top runner-up still standing from 2008. Which is precisely who you guys tend to nominate. Other than that, complete surprise. I figured Cain had it in the bag.
Nobody liked Romney except voters. What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement. It wasn’t our campaign, it was Romney. He bested the competition in debates, and though he was behind almost every candidate in the GOP primary at one time or the other, he won the nomination and came very close to winning the presidency.

Oh, if only he'd found sixty-five fucking Electoral votes! We should'a added six more states, or somethin'.

And for cryin' out loud, every other Republican led the race at some point---that includes three who gave every indication of being too fucking loony to lower their underwear before taking a dump--because of the electrifying dislike Mitt Romney inspired among voters.
In doing so, he raised more money for the Republican Party than the party did.

Hell, he has more money than the Republican party does. And his pals want Republican tax policy without Republican social lunacy. Writ large, anyway. They'll settle.
He trounced Barack Obama in debate.

Well, y'know, once. An occasion most people attributed to the President's poor showing than anything Romney did. In fact, his "trouncing" performance would have been food for the buzzards if it had been evaluated on its own terms.
He defended the free-enterprise system and, more than any figure in recent history, drew attention to the moral case for free enterprise and conservative economics.

Yeah, it was a brave performance, all right.
When much of what passes for a political intelligentsia these days predicted that the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan meant certain death on the third rail of Medicare and Social Security, Romney brought the fight to the Democrats and made the rational, persuasive case for entitlement reform that conservatives have so desperately needed.

Right, by explaining how different his actual program would turn out to be from Ryan's, in the event he ever got around to outlining it. Man, that political intelligentsia, though, I'm with you there. Totally wrong about Ryan's effect on the election. Have you brought him out of hiding, yet?
The nation listened, thought about it — and on Election Day, Romney carried seniors by a wide margin. It’s safe to say that the entitlement discussion will never be the same.

It's gonna be rational, fact-based, and free from plutocrat piracies? Thanks, Mitt.

(By the way, remind me again about what "Seniors" said about Social Security and Medicare on election day. There seems to be some static on the line.)
On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income.

Who knew there were enough Average Americans to swing an election?
That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters.

Which, according to Mitt, meant those earning $250,000.
While John McCain lost white voters younger than 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. Obama received 4½million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008, and Romney got more votes than McCain.

Then his mistake was in not running against John McCain. [/rimshot]  Oh, wait, he did.
The Obama organization ran a great campaign. In my world, the definition of the better campaign is the one that wins.

In my world, the definition of "back-handed compliment" is "something some dick of a sore loser spouts when he thinks people are listening."
But having been involved in three presidential races, two of which we won closely and one that we lost fairly closely, I know enough to know that we weren’t brilliant because Florida went our way in 2000 or enough Ohioans stuck with us in 2004.

You could'a won 'em both--for real or by Court intervention--and you still would have lost, genius.
Nor are we idiots because we came a little more than 320,000 votes short of winning the electoral college in 2012.

If this isn't the stupidest notion I've ever heard repeated in politics I'm forgetting something. The idea that you could cherry-pick a winning electoral slate, then count up the votes so you win by one, just beats everything.
Losing is just losing. It’s not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it’s not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire.

Question: is there some point at which I should just stand astride History and say "These are Mitt Romney's values"? Or is that just everything he ever said, much of it contradicted by something else he said?
In the debates and in sweeping rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans. /blockquote>

So does that show where D-level celebrities try to dance.
He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America. He handled the unequaled pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry bitterness of his critics.

Yes, America will never forget his cluelessness about actual food, his neatly combed hair, and his cheerful offer to throw half of his fellow citizens under a bus and run them over.
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities.

Y'know, I like to sit back and remember my illusory childhood sometimes, too.
Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?

Good point. How many educated African Americans are there, even? And next time the media won't be conflicted, and will call a spade a spade.
Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right.

That close to Miss Congeniality. You lacked only the congeniality. And the women.
When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies,

Or voting.
it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.

Please, don't ever change.

Tuesday, November 27

Witless Protection Program

SHEESH. Weigel:
The grand master of the Bell Curve is used to liberals pointing and sputtering at his conclusions. He typically pre-empts this by burying them with research -- research they, the sort of people who believe that human evolution happened but that human biodiversity is a myth, sure have not done.

Is there some sort of prize for proving it's possible to be more than 100% wrong?

Okay, first: Murray? Murray? So he enjoyed a brief primary-season resurrection among already-desperate Republicans, including the sort of Republican who believes saying "White People are Civilization" is a mark of intellectual bravery. It didn't work. It didn't work to the extent that Charles Fucking Murray seems to've noticed, and now is trying to explain, to whom it's not clear, that Asians are actually honorary Whites, and ought to be smart enough (unlike the Coloreds) to realize which side they should be on.

Tell ya whut, Dave: when some rightist intellectual figures out how to tell Republicans why they've been so wrong about so much for so long, and show no signs of ceasing, I'll take notice. Just bringing up Murray more than a week after that last book of his is a sign of derangement. Or worse.

Second, "liberals" "pointing and sputtering"? Research?  For godssakes, The Bell Curve wasn't demolished by critical commentary. It was pre-demolished by basic research forty years prior to its publication. The only people who believed by 1994 that IQ tests measure anything quantifiable at all--let alone measure it well--were psychologists, and Murray wasn't even one of those.

Who sputtered? Really, name one. I can't think of anybody to the left of David Brooks who takes Murray seriously, and even Brooks was a little sheepish about that Decline of White People thing.

Research they "sure have not done"? I'm guessing few have studied Nostradamus, or combed the minutiae of UFOlogy, either. For precisely the same reasons.

We're already skating on the marbles of Hackitude Speedway. But "the sort of people who believe that human evolution happened "?  You mean "non-hallucinatory sentients born since the middle of the 19th century and taught a human language"? And whose "belief" that "human biodiversity is a myth" is somehow the greatest piece of pseudoscience on record? This blog certainly supports exaggeration for effect, especially comic effect, but it also believes that it should be easy, in 90% of the cases and with 90% of writers who employ it, to understand the exaggeration, and to understand what was meant. This, instead (I'm feeling charitable), is just another example of the modern fad for forcing the reader to fill in what you mean. We shouldn't believe that it takes a "sort" to accept evolution. We might grant the use of "human" there, but only on the grounds that it was needed to make a point which was wholly unneeded. Otherwise singling out a belief in "human" evolution sounds like the sort of special pleading a hopeless Evangelical makes if he gets a real high school education.

And no one says biodiversity is a "myth", nor are they required to do so in order to dispute Murray's voluminous evidence; one of his most prominent critics (and pre-critics) was the late great Stephen Jay Gould. (Gould, by the way, was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Hahvahd. Murray's a political scientist from AEI.)

It is, of course, the height of biological illiteracy to insist we have to accept Murray's racial "explanations". Especially seeing as how Murray couldn't be bothered to accept the scientific consensus about IQ testing before he spouted off. And we are left, at the end, with just another foolish qualifier designed to fit a preconceived conclusion, just for the satisfaction of claiming that "liberals think they're so smart, but their own beliefs prove them wrong." Cf "Liberals are the real racists/sexists/war mongers", "Welfare is the real slavery", et. al. It's the sort of thing that wows 'em from the pulpit; it's telling that your modern "conservative" either doesn't know the difference, or thinks everyone's in the choir.

Saturday, November 24

The Conserative Jobs Problem Begins And Ends With The Gibbet

George Eff Will, "Digesting the Twinkies' lessons". November 23

THERE'S a small misconception I'd like to clear up first: at no time have I ever seriously suggested that every problem in America was directly traceable to 1970s television, and specifically to the hiring of Barbara Walters, a commercial real-estate pitchwoman with a crippling speech impediment, to wead the news, and the popularity of Star Trek. (Granted, that prosthetic ear-festooned Space Western was produced in the 1960s, where it fell flat on its half-black/half-white face, but its popularity soared in Saturday reruns in the next decade, among people who would later idolize Ronald Reagan, and for identical reasons.) I may be a poor student of History, educated at public expense, but even I know better than that. What I meant--what is self-evident--is that this is where we lost all hope of ever solving any.

George Eff Will haberdashered his way onto the tube at the end of what cultural sadists refer to as The Disco Era. This is not a coincidence. Will was a pwoduct of that same Roone Arledge ABC News Wevowution that gave us Walters. He was there to balance the radical leftism of David Brinkley. The Reader may be wondering how it is that in the intervening decades no one in the Industry has seen fit to re-jigger the equation in favor of clinical sanity. So am I. The only answer I have is to ask if you've taken a look at the talent pool lately.  Since Walters became an anchor, every megalomaniac boob in the country thinks he's worth millions. And why shouldn't he?
Earthquakes may strike, dynasties may fall and locusts may devour the crops, but Oldsmobile and Pan Am are forever. Never mind.

Who said there are no monarchist comedians?

Listen, things are going to get worse. A lot worse. There's going to be some cursing, so you might want to back out now, unless that's what you come here for. But let's go ahead and begin at the beginning.

I've been thinking about this for a week, and asking everyone I meet:  name another instance of such a recognizable brand as Hostess shutting its doors in the last thirty years. People have mentioned cigarette brands (though they're rarely sure which brands have actually disappeared), or gas stations. No one mentioned Oldsmobile (victim of a brand-reorganization by the geniuses at GM), or any of the US air carriers, which fell victim to incontinent "pro-business" deregulation (yes, done by the Carter administration, George, but no different in effect for it). Most normal Americans seem to consider heavy industry as something separate from shampoo production.

If the Big Three hadn't contested every safety and environmental regulation that came down the pike, and insisted on building cars like it was 1959 all over again, maybe it would be 1959 again. And the effect of religio-deregulation on the airline industry is too famous to bear repeating. That isn't what happened to Hostess, or the Twinkie.
But about the death of Twinkies: Write obituaries in the subjunctive mood. Like Lazarus, but for a reason more mundane than miraculous, this confection may be resurrected.

Maybe because Twinkies have $68 million in sales in 2012? Are we not, at the bottom, talking about six different management companies ("job creators") who have not been able to turn a profit or stay out of bankruptcy ("government intervention") in a decade despite having bankable, national brand names in their line-up?

And are we not, at bottom, really refusing to talk about the fact that the only way any of these entrepreneurial geniuses the Republican party (to name just one) lionizes can make enough money for themselves is by slashing costs to zero? That's not financial genius, it's third-grade arithmetic.
In any case, the crisis of Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of Twinkies, involves two potent lessons.
First, market forces will have their way.

Fuck that. Fuck all the fucking excuses made for Hostess, even before they found the union to be the ultimate Out. With people like you, that is.

This is the goddam history of brand management over the past thirty-five years, even since Reagan opened the floodgates of speculation. I'd like to know what grocery store brand has suffered. I'm sure there's a few, but it's not sugar-laden corn-syrup-laden Coca-Cola, or Pepsi. It's not Oreos. It's not Keebler, Little Debbie, or Moon Pies.  How'd they escape those market forces? I'm pretty sure what Philip Morris and Reynolds were doing in the 80s--they kill off their customers almost twice as fast as Wonder Bread does--namely, using their market placement to expand into other soul-deadening lines made all the financial papers at the time. Did they sleep through that at Hostess, or did the whole healthy eating thing just sneak up on them? If market forces beat th' fuck out of Hostess isn't that plainly the fault of management? All six of 'em?  Or do they only get the glory, and you've found a way to blame that on the Teamsters, too? The Fuck. Do not try to tell me that an honest man, an honest company, an honest management team could not take the Hostess line and turn a profit. It's beyond insulting.
Second, never underestimate baby-boomer nostalgia, which is acute narcissism. The Twinkies melodrama has the boomers thinking — as usual, about themselves: If an 82-year-old brand can die, so can we. Is that even legal?

Number of Baby-Boomers who ran the Roman Catholic Church while its employees helped themselves to the rectums of young acolytes, with impunity: Zero.
Hostess, which had 18,500 employees making and distributing more than 30 brands made in 36 plants, had been in and out of bankruptcy several times since 2004. Its terminal crisis began Nov. 9, when thousands of members of the bakers union went out on strike to protest wage, health-care and pension cuts imposed by a court.

A bankruptcy court which swept aside lawful contracts in order to facilitate profiteering, something Hostess' employees had already gone through before. The court didn't exactly cover itself with glory, or competence, in this one, any more than the various vultures who had hold of Hostess for a decade did.
The bakers objected to a 17 percent increase in their contribution for their health-care benefits.

Ah, the vaunted George Eff Will dedication to honest discourse. As Seen On TV, in the Carter-Reagan Debates. A 17% increase in their health-care contribution on top of a 26% pay cut, which followed a 21% pay cut the last time they had to play the Bankruptcy game.

Let's raise taxes an equal amount. Twice. And see what the Leisure class has to say. Fuck you.
Amazingly, Washington did not offer Hostess a bailout. This discriminatory policy may be a constitutional violation — denial of equal protection of the laws.

I'll bet this killed when you test-marketed it at a Heritage Foundation luncheon. In 1978.
Granted, it was not big in the technical, crabbed, hairsplitting, narrow-minded way that “big” is normally understood, as a boring matter of mere size. It was, however, big in what matters most — in boomers’ minds. They fondly remember opening their Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy or Davy Crockett lunchboxes at school and finding Twinkies nestled next to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made of Wonder Bread (another endangered Hostess species). Stendhal said that the only way ice cream could be better is if it were a sin. Boomers, a generation of food scolds, became adults who considered Twinkies and other sugary things sinful. They should be shedding scalding tears of remorse.

Who th' fuck are you even arguing with anymore, George?
Anyway, why GM and not Hostess? The Troubled Assets Relief Program, a.k.a. TARP, was passed to rescue financial institutions. But Washington reasoned: “What’s legality among cronies?” So soon TARP was succoring GM, which was not a financial institution. It was not even a car company. It was a health-care provider unsuccessfully trying to sell cars fast enough to generate enough revenue to pay health benefits for its employees and approximately twice as many retirees.

TARP, a Bush administration program which sunk no one knows how much money into rescuing the global financial markets, (mostly) American division, from the global financial crisis created by the global financial markets, mostly American: legal and good, because finance. Rescuing the American auto industry, an Obama administration program now repaid by its recipients: illegal, and bad, because "conservative" theory.
Hostess had in its far-flung operations 372 collective bargaining agreements with various unions that had sought and received — shed no tears for complicit management — some interesting benefits. The Teamsters liked the rule that bread and pastries might be going to the same place but must go in different trucks.

Okay, first, nobody loves a good Wall St. Journal rerun than I do. But tell me: how many management contracts did Hostess administer? How many separate health and benefit plans did they total?  How much were they increasing upper management wages all along, through two bankruptcies? Not much interest in those figures on your side, is there?

But those are the people who were in charge. All along those were the people in charge. If Hostess couldn't afford to operate thirty-six plants that produced more than thirty brands, then maybe it could have spun some of 'em off. Y'know, what th' hell, maybe Wonder Bread could be made by the Wonder Bread Company again. The way the Founders intended.

And I'm not here to defend the Teamsters, or analyze union contracts, nor to regurgitate whatever the Journal claims about 'em. But I do shop in grocery stores--that'd be Hostess' major client--and I bet they like having bread delivered separately from pastries. In fact, I'll wager most of 'em would insist on it.
The market said that Hostess as configured made no sense. If, however, Twinkies and perhaps other Hostess brands retain value, the market will say so, and someone will produce them. Probably in a right-to-work state, which is how “entrepreneurial federalism” (another Boorstin phrase) should work: Business moves to states that make it welcome.

Right. Because if there's one lesson we can all agree on in this, it's that given free rein, Hostess' management will be a roaring success. The Market tells us so.

Monday, November 19

And This Time We Mean It

ONCE More with Feeling: it is, without question, the election of Ronald Wilson "Gipper" Reagan which marks the beginning of the decline of the American Empire, though it had been busy shooting off its toes for the previous three-and-one-half decades. It's the election of Reagan, or more precisely, the mass-market mythologizing of him which began with the assassination attempt a couple months into his presidency, and took wing when the absurd claims about his scam economic program happened to coincide with an uptick in the business cycle (if by "coincide" one means "precede by two years") which marks the point at which a functional voting majority of Americans decided to pull the lever for Pure Horseshit That Makes Us Feel Better About Ourselves over trying to correct some of the dumbass moves we'd made after WWII made us a military superpower.

Reagan was the candidate of 1) Jim Crow Wasn't Really All That Bad, And Should Have Been Allowed To Die Out Naturally, Subject to States' Rights; 2) We Weren't Allowed To Win in Vietnam; 3) Environmentalism is Just Another Name for Godless Communism; 4) Ours is a "Judeo-Christian" Nation, and its twin corollaries, 4a) Jesus says no abortion, and 4b) the modern State of Israel is, in fact, our magical mystical 51st state. That is, the up-to-the-minute trends in right-wing dipshittery, coupled with the usual collection of antifluoridationist nuts and Gilded Age capitalist rapine. And bonus hippie punching. Delivered affably.

Tell me, really, that this isn't essentially the Republican platform  of 2012, and all the years in between. Whazzat? I left out No Taxes and National Debt? Yes, because those are to the Republican party what bikini-clad nubiles are to the producers of domestic beer. Got nothin' to do with the product, but they do draw in the rubes. Taxes? Republicans don't pay taxes. Debt? Who raised the debt more than Reagan? Bush II?

So someone tell me why anyone would believe, fall for, or pay any attention whatsoever to Republican make-over talk? What could possibly come of it?

Sure, there's been sufficient amusement in Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio complaining that post-defeat Mitt is unfortunately making the Republican party sound like Republicans. There's wizened mage Ted Cruz claiming Romney "French-kissed" Obama (is he unaware of the True "Conservative" talent that Romney defeated in the primaries?), and Mike Huckabee blaming Republicans for stabbing poor Todd Akin in the back, in defiance of all polling numbers.

Or this, which is the stupidest thing ever published in English.

But the real problem, if you ask me, hasn't been the ~10% of the electorate Reaganism managed to add to the "Conservative" coalition. It's so-called moderates, or centrists, who seem convinced that these people make so much noise they have to be on to something.

Consider Anne Applebaum.

After quickly dismissing, by cabbie proxy the idea of Republicans should consider the Hispanic voter (and sneering at Karl Rove's "voter suppression" line as an unfortunate appropriation of a standard liberal fantasy), Applebaum urges Republicans to return to their imaginary roots (apparently, dating to that imaginary amalgam of the 1950s and the 1880s they seem to inhabit): sensible Immigration reform (!), Public Healthcare (!!), higher gasoline taxes (!!!), conservation and budgetary austerity! (The last she's required to borrow from the Tories. But, really, if you already live there, is it stealing to lift a toothbrush? Or a couple of place settings?)

Do I hear scoffing? Well, 1) John McCain, Mr. Conservative himself, co-wrote the McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, a piece of pre-campaign compromise he'd be repudiating less than a year later, when he needed actual Republicans to vote for him; 2) Ezra Klein, Mr. Conservative himself, has pointed out the the Heritage Foundation touted the individual mandate back in 1989; and 3) Charles "Merkwürdigeliebe" Krauthammer, Mr. Conservation himself, is for higher gas taxes (to offset eliminating income taxes, but leave us not mar a beautiful dream).

With this historical template in place, with this solid foundation of True "Conservative" values as a jumping-off point, one wonders how the Republican party so suddenly veered off the road into such frankly gauche displays of common yahooiganism. One tries to figure out why Mitt Romney, Mr. Patrician himself, found it necessary to stoop to such things (before righting himself, of course) like a common job applicant.

And one wonders what Republican party Anne Applebaum, born the year Barry Goldwater took over the party, has been looking at the last half century.

Thursday, November 15

Your Alternate Bobby Jindal Translator

"WE must be all-inclusive; we must convince 100% of Americans to agree with the precise same ideas Mitt Romney defends so inelegantly."

Personally, I like Jindal as 2012's answer to 2008's Mitch Daniels, the guy who Republican insiders know will never become the nominee, and thus can come out and speak some semi-unpalatable truth ("social issues on the back burner!") designed to convince Beltway insiders (yet again!) that the Rockefeller-ish Republicans have some room to maneuver, at least electorally. With--and this is equally important--absolutely no intention to really do so, and no chance they could if they did.

I do hope the Reader appreciates as much as I Jindal's pledge that his party wants to make it possible for all Americans to join the middle class. 

By the way, thanks to David Weigel for breaking away from the fast-breaking Benghazi news long enough to cover Romney's comments. But:
Romney understood, and understands, that these people want to believe that poor voters are being exploited by Democrats and forced to vote themselves more benefits. It's a theory that undergirds a lot of conservative election analysis. Let's not just write off Romney as some gormless dweeb.

1) Is it not time to admit that "conservative election analysis" is not much of a cover? And 2) isn't "gormless dweeb", like, a contradiction in terms? Though it might actually describe Romney.

Wednesday, November 14

Wednesday Olio: Hey,The 1990s Called Edition

• In 1997, Lt. Kelly Flynn, the first female B-52 pilot, was discharged from the Air Force for adultery. As you may imagine--or will, once you consider that this was during the Clinton administration--the story made all the papers. Not being a student of the Uniform Code of Military Justice I remember, at the time, being astonished to learn that adultery was a courts martial offense. Or rather that--since I read the fine print--it constitutes one under certain circumstances. And among those circumstances are a) the rank of the accused (the higher the rank, the more serious the offense); b) the military status or connection of the other party (Flynn had an affair with the civilian husband of a woman in Flynn's command); and c) the effect on the military (Flynn's fame made her affair news; the fact that it was news made it a more serious offense. To the Air Force).

So, look, I understand that coverage of the Petraeus Affair Affair is inevitable.  I suppose this means we have to see Peter King's big ugly trash-fish head open up and discharge words, and we must wonder anew how Diane Feinstein got to Washington. There's no reason to ask where news judgement has gone. But fer chrissakes: it's no mystery why the FBI was keeping a criminal investigation secret (it's called "the law"), and there's no real puzzlement over the motive for Petraeus' resignation (which, evidently, came only after he learned that the matter would become public): the man's a fucking four-star general. He may be retired, but the fact that he conforms to a military sense of justice should not come as a surprise. Especially to media types who spend so much time fellating all things military.

• Meanwhile, Brian Williams found it necessary to evoke the famous generals of WWII in order to place Petraeus in historical perspective. Is there some sort of Tom Bwokaw virus still active at NBC?  (And am I the only one who remembers Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf ?)

• This, however, is a crime.

• One more thing: why is an affair a potential security risk, while having an Honorary Ambassador and Socialite to CENTCOM, who wears pearls bigger than her head, is no big deal?

• Thanks again to local Channel 8 News for bringing us, in the same week, a) the story of the Navy veteran who was flying the flag in front of his house upside down (which, he explained to the camera, he would have been doing "no matter who won the election", thereby proving that he wouldn't), and b) the Jim Shella report on the big Indiana secession petition at story, the latter despite the fact that most of the names on the petition that Shella checked weren't people from Indiana.

Fer fuck's sake, if these are stories then cover them as stories, if anyone remembers how that's done. If you're gonna stick a microphone in the first yahoo's face, ask him why he flies the flag if he doesn't respect its rules of etiquette. Ask him how he would have felt if Our Nation's First Responders had been involved in a high-speed crash rushing to his "emergency".  (By the way, when this routine appeared after the 2008 elections, I spotted one at the office of a local cemetery and called to complain. My mistake. I should have called 911.)

And if Shella wants to laugh off extremist crazies, maybe he could have followed the nigger in the white house meme instead.

• Forget it, Jake, it's Saletan:
That’s a neat fusion of conservative impulses: realism about human nature, skepticism toward naïve laws, attention to cultural consequences. You can see, in these reflections, how the GOP gradually reconciles itself to same-sex marriage.

Okay, forget the notion of the Republican party once again "reconciling" itself to social change, sometime after being crushed by the falling wall it was on the wrong side of and trying, until the last minute, to prop up. Which will, once again, be achieved by having Frank Luntz cleverly alter its rhetoric. This, after all, has "worked" so well in the past. I'd just like to know where, besides "inside the minds of moderate Republicans", "conservatism" has demonstrated a realism about human nature, or a skepticism about the efficacy of law, which is anything more than an extension of its temporal political interests? I've been listening to this shit for at least forty years, and I'd like to know when it goes into effect. "Conservative" realism about human nature consists of the heartfelt belief that all lower classes are greedy pickpockets with the sexual mores of feral cats, and its estimation of the naiveté of legislation depends on whether the law in question provides basic healthcare or forces a woman to hear that a fetus "can feel pain" before she can obtain an abortion. "Conservatives" supposedly start off with a metaphysical certainty about the imperfectability of Man (the one philosophical question the natural sciences have conclusively answered, while no one was looking, apparently). This translates into an unshakable conviction that nothing we can do will ever improve the lot of the Poor, but also, somehow, into the argument that we needn't bother making sure the wealthy don't steal anything that's not nailed down and surrounded by lawyers.

How is it that this is still being repeated? And forgive me for repeating myself, but that's not a philosophical position. It's a symptom.

Monday, November 12

The Carousel of History

I AGREE with almost everything Ross Douthat said in his Sunday column, and a good deal of what he said here the day after the election.

We can conclude from this:

1) There was recently a national election in which Republican results did not match Republican's estimation of their self-evident superiority.

2) That we are somewhere between that election and the opening of the next Congress, where the Republican leadership will, within a month, rewrite the story, to Ross' eventual satisfaction. 

The Reagan coalition is dead! Is that not the same Reagan coalition Douthat announced the demise of in 2008?

Anybody happen to see the slightest bit of evidence that Young Ross actually believed this between February 2009, when the Teabag Nation "revolutionized" the Republican party, and two days before the election?  

Takes him until the penultimate paragraph Sunday to allow as how the money men who run the GOP aren't exactly eager to see it revolutionized again. It's interesting how in 2009 few people, and almost no pundits, realized that money called the shots in Republican circles, ain't it?

I will give the man credit: that Day After piece was almost poignant in its description of the near-unanimous Republican conviction that the Obama Presidency was self-evidentally a failure. 

Sunday, November 11

Buck Up. You're The Party Of Tradition. So Wait Two Months And Then Act Like Nothing Happened, The Way You Always Do.

George Eff Will, "A reformed Republican party". November 9

Jennifer Rubin, "What went wrong? Lots." November 9

Kathleen Parker, "The party that doomed its nominee". November 9

LEAVE us dispense with "Pulitzer" Parker first:  the idea that Poor Mitt was driven too far right by the crazies in the primaries is, by now, an old man with a long beard. Not ten or eleven months old; four years and eleven months old. After 2007's Most Blatant Pandering Operation Ever Seen in American Politics almost got him the prize in spite of himself, and 2010's midterms, which proved once and for all time that the country is one big seething Teabag, was there really some expectation that Mitt Romney was going to be anything else this time? If moving toward the Even Less Hinged end of the Republican spectrum was such an awful idea, then Mitt Romney was twice an awful candidate. Similarly, if pointing out something this trite, at this late a date, constitutes Republican punditasting, then your party is even awfuller. I'll be happy to agree that the Republican primaries may've cost Mitt Romney the election. Except it was the 1980 primaries that did it.

Rubin, we need not mention, is eminently disposable, sorry that the Brilliant CEO's people let him down, and eager that we all know that the Obama campaign ran "really nasty ads in Spanish" which were apparently too shocking to translate and too numerous to need citation. Plus, there was a hurricane which lasted eight or nine days, and threw the challenger off so much more than the incumbent, who might've lost instantly had he been one-quarter as incompetent as the last Republican president. Whatever his name was.

[And, by the way, how many Republicans now complaining that Obama "unfairly looked good" after Sandy complained when George W. Bush finally crawled out from under his desk on 9/15, and posed with a bullhorn and a prop fireman? Answer: zero.]

Rubin is, or was, a Romney campaign stovepipe, merely, though she has some helpful advice for Paul Ryan there at the end, and, no, it's not "find another line of work". But George Eff Will, of course, is our leading right-wing intellectual.
The election’s outcome was foreshadowed by Mitt Romney struggling as long as he did to surmount a notably weak field of Republican rivals.

[Full non-disclosure: including one advised by your wife]

You say "notably weak", I say "typical".  That field didn't get there by happenstance. It wasn't an historical aberration. That was the Republican party on display in the primaries, the one you've cultivated since 1980, if not 1964.

He struggled because he wasn't much stronger than the rest of that crowd, because he wasn't liked or trusted by the rank-and-file, and because, whether you like it or not, there are serious reasons why normal people do not care for Mitt Romney.
His salient deficiency was not of character but of chemistry, that indefinable something suggested by the term empathy.

Bosh. Empathy doesn't require personal chemistry. It actually requires character. Something which is not measured in net worth. Usually the opposite.

And fer cryin' out loud, Mitt Romney made so many 180º turns between 2007 and 2012 we now say that Jim Rockford "pulled a Romney", instead of vice-versa.
Many voters who thought he lacked this did not trust him to employ on their behalf what he does not lack, economic understanding.

Somebody call me when the Republican party figures out that working people not trusting capitalists to operate in other people's interest is not a paradox.
On Feb. 11, 2011, the person who should have been the Republican nominee

Sure, the first step in reformulating a defeated political party is to demonstrate your separation from reality.
laconically warned conservatives about a prerequisite for persuading people to make painful adjustments to a rickety entitlement state. Said Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels: “A more affirmative, ‘better angels’ approach to voters is really less an aesthetic than a practical one. With apologies for the banality, I submit that, as we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit.”

I've had plenty to say here over the years about the PR bullshit, and the voodoo, behind Mitch Daniels' Indiana Miracle. You can choose to still believe in it--but act fast, it's crumbling as we speak--but no one can possibly imagine he could pull those tricks at the national level. Daniels didn't have to close any military bases or mothball six carriers. He could--with a fully compliant legislature--cut Indiana departments by whatever percentage he chose (and get away with it, in the short term, by laying off that debt on local governments). Had he stood on the national stage (I mean, had he stood on a box on the national stage) he'd have done so with the same hocus-pocus and lack of specificity that Romney tried to get away with. I'm not convinced he'd have beaten Romney, for that matter, let alone been a better nominee in the general.

But forget that; this call for "being liked" is just an attempt at conjuring Zombie Ronald Reagan as the solution to your problems. Mitt made clear what your problem with most Americans is--you don't like 'em. You don't think they're smart enough to understand this. Likeability is not merely a question of your score on a personality inventory.
And (the party needs a nominee) who tilts toward the libertarian side of the Republican Party’s fusion of social and laissez-faire conservatism.

Good luck with that one. All you need is a Republican nominee who overtly disagrees with the majority of your electorate? George, maybe what you need is a different electorate.
Most voters already favor less punitive immigration policies than the ones angrily advocated by clenched-fist Republicans...

Y'know, the unfortunate thing there is that this isn't just a cockeyed policy favored by hotheaded Republican activists. It's the Republican national platform, and it's inextricably joined to any number of racial and class-warfare stances which are the main attraction of your party for a big chunk of those voters.

By the way, wasn't this what the Teabaggers were supposed to be all about?  No more culture war, just metaphysically proven economic policies?
The speed with which civil unions and same-sex marriage have become debatable topics and even mainstream policies is astonishing. As is conservatives’ failure to recognize this: They need not endorse such policies, but neither need they despise those, such as young people, who favor them.

So hate the sin but love the sinner? Yeah, why don't you try that?

Once again, you're not talking about some accidentally unpopular policy choice; you're talking about a cherished tenet of people who believe with Divine intensity that they are right, no matter what. They're an important Republican constituency, and you're not going back to the days of St. Ronnie when you could just take them for granted. Tell us how you do this. Tell us which Republican stands up and tells the religious right to stuff it.
And it is strange for conservatives to turn a stony face toward any reconsideration of drug policies, particularly concerning marijuana, which confirm conservatism’s warnings about government persistence in the teeth of evidence.

Really? I must've hallucinated Nancy Reagan. And hippie punching.

Listen, neither party has been reasonable about drug decriminalization. And both have been wholly wrong, and utterly misguided. Neither party is going to collect any chips on marijuana.
With much work — the most painful sort: thinking — to be done, conservatives should squander no energy on recriminations.

The Republican party will be doing plenty of thinking; problem is that what it needs to do plenty of is re-thinking. Which ain't gonna happen. Money talks.

And by the way, what're all the complaints about the weak primary field and the damage culture warriors do the party if not recriminations?
Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients,

Oh, snap!
they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism’s vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events — ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state’s metabolic urge to bully — will deepen this vocabulary’s resonance.

Problem with that is that every so often you get the opportunity to expand the vocabulary, and instead you expand the state. That part of it you approve of.
As the stakes of politics increase with government’s size, so does voter engagement. And 2012 redundantly proved what 2010 demonstrated. The 2010 elections, the first after the Supreme Court’s excellent Citizens United decision liberalized the rules about funding political advocacy, were especially competitive. Social science confirms what common sense suggests: More spending on political advocacy means more voter information and interest. The approximately $2 billion spent in support of this year’s presidential candidates — only about two-thirds as much as Procter & Gamble spent on U.S. advertising last year — surely contributed to the high turnout in targeted states.

Y'know, George, I love that Proctor & Gamble routine nearly as much as you do, but unlike you I sat through in twice now in Indiana, and lemme just tell ya, if this is the sort of thing that increases interest in voter information you can fucking have it. It's pure shit-slinging and simple-minded sloganeering with no fear of analysis or consequence. On both sides. It enriches local media, and so makes it even less interested in free, fair, and open discussion. Which is the sort of thing I thought principled conservatism was in favor of.
Media and other “nonpartisan” — please, no chortling —

Oh, snap!
dismay about “too much money in politics” waned as seven of the 10 highest-spending political entities supported Democrats and outspent the three supporting Republicans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citation? Who complained about "too much money in politics" then changed his tune because the Democrats were the ones being bought off? According to the Wall St. Journal, I mean.
The advocacy infrastructure being developed by both sides in the post-Citizens United world will, over time, favor the most plausible side, which conservatives know is theirs.

So, why were you soul-searching, again?

Friday, November 9

A Modest Proposal

DR. Tony Bennett, you're about to join the ranks of the unemployed in Indiana; I'm not sure what your wife has been doing since unfair publicity and the liberal media drove her to resign her sinecure with the charter school industry. 

If there's one thing the education reform movement has been clear about, it's that the single key to improving education, the sine qua non of student achievement, is having great teachers. In fairness--I'm trying, seriously, to be fair to you, but I didn't lose my mind overnight--you reformers have been as unclear as to what constituted greatness in a teacher, let alone how this could be quantified, cultivated, and installed in every classroom, as you have been about the evidence for the claim. But even unreasonable people can agree to disagree. 

You're a smart man, a Doctor; I think you might see where this is headed. Unlike Joel Klein, now supervising Rupert Murdoch's textbook wing, or Michelle Rhee, luxuriating in tax-free cash and (I suspect) waiting for Hollywood to call, it's time you showed that reformers are serious, not pocket-stuffing opportunists and laughing cynics. Hoosier values. Personal responsibility. Service.

It's time you--and your wife--went to work as school teachers.

Not administrators. Not celebrity volunteers. Teachers.

And don't worry. My Poor Wife says that after the first couple months, spending every weekend doing meaningless "reform" paperwork which will never be seen again gets to be second nature. 

Thursday, November 8

Goodbye To All That. For About Two Months. [Now Updated With Math!]

George Eff Will, "And the winner is: The status quo". November 7

READER, consider the Dallas Cowboys. (There are two reasons why you might not want to consider the Dallas Cowboys: a) you aren't a football fan, or b) you are.)

The Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Ltd., is the most valuable sports franchise in the United States, and second in the world. It's owned by Jerral Wayne "Asshole" Jones, who made his money by being born wealthy and increasing it. Mr. Jones is therefore what is known, in some circles, as a "jobs creator", though he created neither The Dallas Cowboys, nor the search for natural resources, his other hobby, and cannot perform either highly remunerated function without assistance. No one I'm aware of argues that either pursuit would go unfunded if Jones did not exist.

And Jerry Jones is widely, if not unanimously, considered to be the worst human being to own a professional sports franchise. Even if you don't know anything about professional sports franchises, just imagine what the competition must be like.  He is also the General Manager of Cowboys football operations. As with everything else he touches, Jones has been highly successful at this. So long as other people were doing the work.

The Cowboys suck, but they're worth billions. The Cowboys are worth billions, but it's the taxpayers who built the largest domed stadium on earth so they'd have a place to play. It was projected to cost $650 million, and actually cost $1.3 billion, give or take a few fabrications.

Now, then, let's talk entitlements:
America’s 57th presidential election revealed that a second important national institution is on an unsustainable trajectory. The first, the entitlement state, is endangered by improvident promises to an aging population. It has been joined by the political party, whose crucial current function is to stress the need to reform this state. And now the Republican Party, like today’s transfer-payment state, is endangered by tardiness in recognizing demography is destiny.

Okay, look. I know the election was hard on you. I realize that you didn't predict "The Status Quo" was going to win the election, unless by "Status Quo" one means "The White Guy." But pull yourself together, man. If you're going to be the intellectual heir of William Fuhbuckley's Church Latin as a Grammatical Weapon wing of the party, then try to maintain the sacred tradition of Making Sense. That's either three institutions, the entitlement state, political parties, and the Republican party, making two in all, or the piece has an infestation of misplaced punctuation and And nows. Is the strain of insisting that 100% of whatever national debt figure you make up is due to social programs which are in fact trust-funds, not "entitlements", finally getting to you?
Perhaps Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election on Sept. 22, 2011, when, alarmed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s

[Full non-disclosure: with the assistance of your wife, which you didn't reveal until after Perry went down in flames, although, since you didn't do it ahead of time, that really only left you 25 minutes]
entry into the Republican nomination race, he rushed to Perry’s right regarding immigration, attacking the Dream Act.

Or, looked at another way, maybe he lost the 2012 election when your party went batshit crazy in 1964. Or 1946. Romney didn't try to flank Perry on immigration just out of the blue. He did so because Mitt was the guy with the money, the guy with the campaign organization, the guy with the entitlement to the nomination, being the highest-ranking loser from the previous campaign still standing, who had just one drawback: Republicans hated him.

And they hated him because he was a "moderate" or a Fellow Traveler. Yes, as the brilliant political thinker Chuck Todd pointed out yesterday, Romney chose to attack Perry on immigration. But that's because it was the only place Perry was weak with the Republican voter. He was Guns n' Jebus all the way otherwise. Blame Romney, but blame a Republican party where a collection of encephalopaths dominate your national stage. I'm not convinced Romney isn't one of 'em. But let's face it, he wasn't going to attack Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Jeb Bush, George Bush, or Ronald Reagan for being certifiably insane or moronically doctrinaire, was he?
He would go on to talk about forcing illegal immigrants into “self-deportation.” It is surprising that only about 70 percent of Hispanics opposed Romney.

No it isn't. If our domestic political life proves anything it's that you can buy off 30% of any demographic with a promise of potential job promotion. Except African-Americans, who have a slightly different historical take on that.
In 2012 — the year after the first year in which a majority of babies born in America were minorities — Hispanics were for the first time a double-digit (10 percent) portion of the turnout. Republicans have four years to figure out how to leaven their contracting base with millions more members of America’s largest and fastest-growing minority.

You mean "some way other than addressing the entitlement of the wealthy which is their core belief".
Romney’s melancholy but useful role has been to refute those determinists who insist that economic conditions are almost always decisive. Americans are earning less and worth less than they were four years ago; average household income is down $3,800;

Finally concerned about income inequality, are we?
under the 11 presidents from Harry Truman through George W. Bush, unemployment was 8 percent or more for a total of 39 months but was above that for 43 Obama months.

And under FDR it was over 14% for eight years. I'm reminded of the time in the old Batman teevee series when the Penguin ran for Mayor of Gotham City against Batman, and won after pointing out that every time one saw his picture in the paper he was surrounded by police, but every time one saw Batman he was surrounded by criminals. The national voting population has not been quite so easy to fool. Make a note of it.
Yet voters preferred the president who presided over this to a Republican who, more than any candidate since the Great Depression, made his economic expertise his presidential credential.

Funny how that never gets listed as his big mistake.
Voters littered the political landscape with contradictions between their loudly articulated discontents and their observable behavior.

"Dog Bites Man".
Self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals 2-to-1 in a nation that has reelected the most liberal president since Lyndon Johnson and his mentor Franklin Roosevelt.

Okay, first, again with the language thing, George. It's "since Lyndon Johnson".  In fact, it's never "since x and y", unless those items were chronologically linked. If you wanted to bring up FDR the time to do so was with those "inexplicable" unemployment numbers, though, agreed, that risked tipping off one or more of your readers that previous Republican administrations might bear the responsibility for having thrown those millions out of work in the first place.

Second, we've already entered the Realm of Historicalisms with the unemployment numbers, and it's going to be our recurring theme. Assuming we could quantify Barack Obama's "liberalism"--he's a fucking centrist Democrat, aka a Rockefeller Republican--that little insight compares him to exactly two Presidents: Jimmy Carter, the centrist alternative to Good Sense that Democrats were profoundly hoping for after George McGovern, and Bill Clinton, leader of the post-Carter Let's Move Right and Win Elections movement. And Carter was "more liberal" than Obama, in many ways, but I guess you've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of running against him again. [Full disclosure: I've been wrong about that before]
After three consecutive “wave” elections in which a party gained at least 20 House seats, and at a moment when approval of Congress has risen — yes, risen — to 21 percent,

1) It couldn't have fallen, not without employing integers, anyway, and 2) it's from the simple expedient of remaining invisible during a national election. You think it's on an upward trend? Go ahead and be obstructionist again, then. Dare ya.
voters ratified Republican control of the House, keeping in place those excoriated as obstructionists by the president the voters retained.

Funny how there's no "wave" in the first even-year election since the 2010 Census. Just a coincidence, probably.
Obama is only the second president (Andrew Jackson was the first) to win a second term with a reduced percentage of the popular vote, and the third (after Madison and Woodrow Wilson) to win a second term with a smaller percentage of the electoral vote.

So what? Elections are elections, not sports records books. We could spend time pointing out that Madison was elected under the old electoral college rules, that Wilson was the electoral benefactor of a three-way Republican split in 1912, or that George W. Bush couldn't possibly have been reelected had his percentage of the popular vote dropped even further below even. Barack Obama was elected--by mandate proportions--in 2008 due to a massive rejection of the Republican party. He wound up in a somewhat closer race in 2012 due to a masterful rear-guard action by the excoriated obstructionists of the Republican party. But he won. Full stop.
A diminished figure after conducting the most relentlessly negative campaign ever run by an incumbent,


For crying out loud, George. If you've got to cry in your beer, at least use a fucking coaster.
he has the meager mandate of not being Bain Capital.

For a lot of Americans that's a major accomplishment. I'm guessing it wouldn't have been a meager mandate had Romney won on it.
Foreshadowing continuing institutional conflict, which the constitutional system not only anticipates but encourages, Speaker John Boehner says of the House Republican caucus: “We’ll have as much of a mandate as he will.”

Lemme just say this: one can either celebrate the obstructionist nature of the Federal system, or bemoan it. What one cannot do, and remain an honest public figure--not that it isn't too late for you, George, by three decades--is bounce between the two depending on whose ox is getting gored.
The electoral vote system, so incessantly and simple-mindedly criticized,

Uck-fay oo-yay.
has again performed the invaluable service of enabling federalism — presidents elected by the decisions of the states’ electorates — to deliver a constitutional decisiveness that the popular vote often disguises.

Says the man who, one paragraph ago, was trying to wish away this year's results.
Republicans can take some solace from the popular vote. But unless they respond to accelerating demographic changes — and Obama, by pressing immigration reform, can give Republicans a reef on which they can wreck themselves — the 58th presidential election may be like the 57th, only more so.

Lemme say that this "demographic change" routine is a fine one, assuming one has no desire to examine just how the Republican "message" is playing, or what the Republican "program" is accomplishing.  Hispanics didn't swing Ohio, or Virginia, to Obama. It's not a voting bloc which suddenly became liberal when Mitt Romney spoke without foresight. You can't demonize working people, demonize minorities, demonize liberalism, and make your entire program the reduction of taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and still compete for those votes. I'm sorry this is apparently something you're congenitally unable to fathom. Nevertheless, it is.
This election was fought over two issues as old as the Republic, the proper scope and actual competence of government. The president persuaded — here the popular vote is the decisive datum — almost exactly half the voters. The argument continues.

Okay, then. I look forward to you treating the question as an age-old argument, as opposed to the usurpation of "Real America" by foreign ideas and collectivist envy. Just as you look forward to your party convincing the Hispanic population to vote your way. It's a nice, clean kink, isn't it, George, to wish for something that ain't fucking gonna happen?

[Update: I was a bit rushed this morning; I glanced at Will's second-term vote math, found it a bit fudged (imagine), but had to leave it for later. It's later. First, under no accepted definition of the terms was Obama "only the second" man to win a second term with a reduced percentage of the popular vote; Grover Cleveland joins Andrew Jackson as having previously earned the distinction. Yes, Cleveland's terms were not consecutive, but I missed the disqualifier if Will intended it. FDR also won two terms with a smaller percentage of the popular vote (and Electoral College totals) than he received in his first term, or than he received in the term previous, but got higher totals for his second term than his first. We could quibble there about his third and fourth terms not being his "second", but they otherwise fit the argument; which way of doing things skews the view?

So: Barack Obama is the seventeen man elected to more than one term as President, a feat which has actually been accomplished nineteen times, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected four times. Jackson, Cleveland, Roosevelt (twice) and Obama did so with reduced percentages of the popular vote from the previous. That's 26% of the total. Madison, Wilson, Roosevelt (twice), and Obama won with decreased percentages of the Electoral College total. That's 26% of the total. Not the usual pattern, but not so rare as hen's teeth. Barack Obama is the only man to win election a second time with both totals reduced; perhaps the next Republican majority in both houses of Congress will pass a Constitutional amendment voiding the occurrence in the future, the way the Twenty-second amendment closed the barn door after Roosevelt died. And just like that one they can try to repeal it when Zombie Android Ronald Reagan runs afoul of it thirty years later.

Obama's the only left-handed Kenyan ever to win two terms, as well. I suppose Will's also got a problem with that. ]

Wednesday, November 7

Wednesday Olio: Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry? Edition

• My morning penance was watching Morning Joe. Specifically with the panel of Chuck Todd, David Gregory, Michael Steele, and the withered Prairie husk of Tom Bwokaw. I'm not sure why Steele was there. I'm not sure why he's anywhere. (Okay, yes I am. He's the face of Republican diversity and reasonableness. To whom? )

Scratch Steele and despair! Is there a greater illustration of the depths of trouble this country is in that those three NBC political geniuses? There is nothing whatsoever that FOX News can do, nothing a roomful of Jonah Goldbergs could accomplish (if anything), which begins to approach the fluid-sucking toe fungus which is the NBC News operation. Todd and Gregory, both, are to political discourse what Lester Holt is to diversity.

Lord, the blather! Romney "would have won if he'd just gotten McCain's percentage of the Hispanic vote" (Todd). This of course is simpleton's math--these guys really don't want to learn anything from Matt Silver--but the real point is that it's at the service of the Beltway insider idea that Republicans are the natural rulers of this country, if they can just somehow manage to jettison their voters. 

• John Boehner is still alive! Who knew?

• Best election news I've ever gotten in Indiana: Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett, Ed.D, takes it in the shorts! 

Two things, here: first, Bennett had the job because his predecessor, Suellen Reed, a well-liked Republican, was run out of town by the Daniels machine, the better to put the "reform" movement in place to sluice the juice.  And, two, this one's gonna be a lot tougher to explain than the Mourdock loss. Bennett lost because he's a bully and an asshole. And a transparent one, at that. 

• Bennett had all kinds of money, most of it from Charter School Ponzi Schemes, Inc. He was all over the teevee, in ads that touted his experience (the same experience which had taught him, somehow, that teacher's don't need education degrees, or much else in the way of qualifications). Two days ago I heard some teleprompter reader mention his opponent, Glenda Ritz. I happened to be in the room with my Poor Wife.

Me: Y'know, I knew he was running against a woman, but I didn't even know her name.

PW:  Teachers know it.

• Ritz:  “As I traveled across the state, it was clear that Hoosiers don’t want their tax dollars going toward the privatization of our schools,” she said. “And they don’t want their teaching and learning environments to be about teaching to the test, resulting in grading of our schools with a flawed A to F accountability model.”

• I do hope that someone's going to publish the collective campaign musings of David Weigel. Is he now exposed as Ross Douthat without the religious mania? If I buy you a sword, Dave, will you fall on it?  Just kiddin'. Cheer up. Maybe Michele will run again.

• Ed Henry, on FOX, reporting from Obama headquarters: "The crowd is near pandemonium now, despite the fact that employment is hovering near 8 percent."

• I went to bed early, got up in the middle of the night, watched a bit of the teevee (enough to see and hear the enormous crash behind Tom Bwokaw, who'd been speaking about Jack Welch's twitterings, because what else is there, which caused Brian Williams to suggest that it might have been Welch shooting himself), then got up for good at 5. So I'm not quite clear about it, but the "The people have clearly spoken for the sort of bipartisanship over-paid Beltway punditasters prefer" started early. Would that have been the storyline if Romney had won? Or does it just apply to Democrats? The people have been saying very clearly for years that they don't care much for the punditocracy, either. When does that take effect?

Tuesday, November 6

In A Nutshell, Appropriately

JIM Shella, the Dean (Broder) of Indiana political reporters, asked last night about the prospects for the Donnelly-Mourdock race sez Donnelly's in the driver's seat, adding:
A race we thought was about Lugar Republicans turns out to be about another group: women.
So, congratulations, Sisters! You've proven to be of equal value to a storyline. At this rate, in another twenty or thirty years, who knows? Political reporters might actually begin asking questions that speak to your interests, instead of accidentally being on hand when one of your white male overlords accidentally steps on his dick. 

Thursday, November 1

Back Home Again

ONE of the small pleasures of the Indiana political season--there aren't any large pleasures, unless you count Richard Mourdock's moment in the national limelight--is the campaign of Dr. Tony Bennett, Ed.D, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Union Busting. This was, by the way, an appointed position until Mitch Daniels came along and improved everything. For people who sell ad time.

Bennett is Just Another 21st Century Public Education huckster. He's got ads everywhere; his opponent has none. He's not only raked in boatloads of "campaign contributions" from every Reform Pirate out there, his wife was puling down large green consulting with the charter school industry until they decided that looked bad when people exposed the fact. He's a transparent liar and a bureaucratic bully who, unlike most public education "reformers", actually taught school, and administered one, and so knows just how full of shit the whole thing is.

Bennett came to town yesterday to inspect the schools he took over a year ago. The occasion was the state handing out its phony Letter Grade to Schools bushwah. (Which, by the way, is now causing Indianapolis' suburban school superintendents to howl like the wind about the unfairness of the system. Those're the same superintendents who were absolutely silent while that system was used to muscle local control away from inner-city schools two years ago.)

My Poor Wife's Failing School miraculously received a B, and Bennett was on hand to stage a pre-election photo op congratulate them on suddenly educating our youth. She was heading to the auditorium for his appearance when she was passed by a colleague headed the other direction.

"You're not going to hear Dr. Bennett?" she asked, fully enjoying the "doctor" part.

"Don't have to. I already have a dick," he said.