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Spurious Invocation of Sexism of the Day

[ 158 ] February 16, 2008 |

I would like to think that this is too obvious to need pointing out, but as Hilzoy and Cole note, the idea that there’s some nefarious sexism lurking in Obama’s boilerplate statement that “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal” is a)farcical, particularly when one views the whole context of the remarks, and b)undermines attempts to point out the extensive and genuine sexist attacks that Clinton has actually received. And since I’m sure some conservative will pick up on this and start tutting about those feminists and their p.c. or some such, I’ll also add that as far as I can tell the group of people making this argument are best described not as “feminists” (although some may be as well) but “people who have extensively demonstrated that they’re completely in the tank for the Clinton campaign.”

…although I would like to have the context of the remark, I would agree that this is much more plausibly described as offensive, and I would hope that Obama wouldn’t use the phrase again.

…UPDATE: I should also note that, as you can see in comments, several very smart bloggers who (unlike Armando) have much more extensive records of calling out sexism than carrying water for Clinton also find Obama’s comments objectionable. So the last line of the original post no longer applies, and their arguments should be seriously considered. On the other hand, many good feminists don’t find the comments objectionable, and I’m still unpersuaded.

Economics Writers: Should Understand Collective Action Problems

[ 1 ] February 16, 2008 |

Megan McArdle cites a story finding that a fund permitting Virginians to send more money to the government voluntarily raises little revenue. What lesson does she derive from this?

This is what economists call “revealed preference”. What most of us are really in favor of is higher taxes on other people. If we wanted higher taxes on ourselves, we’d give the money to charity.

If I may be permitted to state the obvious, it reveals no such thing (unless it’s supposed to reveal the trivial point that nobody would want to pay taxes if necessary public services could be funded with money grown by magic ponies.) For some reason, a lot of conservatives think “if you think taxes should be higher, why don’t you send more money to the government?” is some incredibly clever rejoinder, but it’s deeply silly. Rather, most people intuitively understand the concept of free riding: unless you’re Bill Gates, no money you send to the government is going to pay for the provision of an important public good, and moreover it would also be very unfair for you to pay for a public good while your similarly situated neighbor with the ability to pay takes advantage of the public good without contributing. Hence, those mean Upper West Side Liberals (TM) who drove Adam Bellow to edit unreadable books for a living don’t send unsolicited money to the government but are perfectly willing to support politicians who raise their taxes and oppose politicians who cut them. This behavior is, of course, perfectly rational.

Why Is Salon Publishing This Person?

[ 0 ] February 16, 2008 |

Yet more evidence for the proposition that the answer to the question “Who’s worse, MoDo or Paglia?” is “whoever you’ve read most recently.” I won’t even get into Paglia’s fulsome praise for the cinematic genius of George Lucas…

Spinning Yourself

[ 0 ] February 15, 2008 |

I think Josh and Markos get it about right about Mark Penn, Union Buster (TM). What’s amazing to me is that given his apparent willingness to leave pledged delegates on the table Penn’s arguments that the states that have been sufficient to put Obama in a strong lead don’t count don’t seem to be mere spin. Rather, he may really think that he could lose pledged delegates by a significant margin and still win because undecided superdelegates wouldn’t act in their own interests or that anyone not already in the tank would consider a contest with one major candidate on the ballot and no campaign retroactively turned into a primary a perfectly legitimate election.

But it should be obvious to anyone thinking about it a little, let alone being paid millions of dollars for his strategery, that it wasn’t going to work. I don’t have the highest view of Democratic elites, but they’re not dumb enough to overturn a clear victory by a credible candidate. Even those who would prefer Clinton would rather unite behind Obama than effectively put John McCain in the White House by ripping the party apart through the use of elite votes or outright cheating. The Clinton campaign taking Wisconsin seriously indicates that they’ve finally understood that they’re actually going to have to win this on pledged delegates rather than by a significant margin among superdelegates or by counting the results of straw polls ex post facto, and this includes getting as many delegates as you can in states you don’t win. Whether they figured this out too late remains to be seen.

"THOUGHTS ON MEN, WOMEN, AND MARRIAGE from Kim Du Toit"

[ 24 ] February 15, 2008 |

Perhaps the scariest teaser in the Ole Perfesser’s history, which is evidently saying something. And, apparently it’s as atrocious one would expect, complete with assertions that love is sort of like double-entry bookkeeping and whining about how “a woman can get pregnant outside wedlock, and still hound a man forever for child support.” The oppression is unbearable!

The "Significant" States

[ 189 ] February 14, 2008 |

Shorter Mark Penn, Union Buster (TM): “The states that vote for Obama are insignificant. In fact, the only states that count are our home state, California, Texas, and states that held straw polls we can retrospectively claim to be primaries, preferably with the candidate who would be soundly beating us if any of his victories counted excluded from the ballot.”

I can’t say that the thought of having this strategic mastermind in charge of a general election campaign fills me with great hope. It also seems to me that it would have been better for Clinton to take some of the 5 million smackers she’s paying to get advice from idiots and use that to actually advertise and/or organize in the “insignificant” states.

Straight Talkin’ Torture

[ 5 ] February 14, 2008 |

I’m not even going to pretend to be surprised that St. McCain is now facilitating the CIA’s use of techniques that are unlawful, including some that are torture even by Senator McCain’s own lights.” McCain’s public opposition to torture has been nominal when it comes to actually preventing (at least Republican) presidents from doing it for a while now. And since none of this will stop the media from almost uniformly lauding him as a principled opponent of torture with 100% more maverickitude, there’s no political (as opposed to moral) downside!

Don’t Forget About John Davis!

[ 17 ] February 14, 2008 |

Lanny Davis argues that the superdelegates were intended to be an “independent” check on the whims of those meddling voters. I’m sure this will convince Clarence Thomas, but since I’m not an originalist it seems to me that delegates are free to vote by whatever criteria they choose, which includes doing what’s best for the party, and which would therefore include ratifying a clear choice by the party’s voters. I’m also confident that this will, in fact, happen.

For comic value, though, Sirota notes this gem in Davis’s historical argument:

We were also reminded that before these reforms, the “smoke-filled rooms” of Democratic Party leaders had led to the nomination and election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy.

Jeez, countless of tickets to work with and when picking random anecdotes he can’t even identify three decent candidates? It’s this kind of rhetorical skillz that have made Davis such an effective defender of progressive values on Fox News.

The Candidate of No Substance

[ 6 ] February 14, 2008 |

Via gratifying convert to the anti-McCain cause Jon Chait, John McCain and an equally well-informed candidate discuss policy:

Great Moments In Projection

[ 7 ] February 14, 2008 |

I was set to write a post about today’s MoDo. In today’s installment, she actually writes a couple of lucid paragraphs about the “media’s” sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, while of course leaving out the little detail that she’s long been one of the major purveyors of said sexism. From there, however, she proceeds to the usual psychobabble and double standards that you would expect. Fortunately, Somerby has already taken care of it.

"The tree of progressive politics must be watered with the metaphorical blood of sellouts"

[ 7 ] February 13, 2008 |

I think this correctly assesses the significance of Donna Edwards defeating Al Wynn in the primaries last night, with the caveat that I get the sense that Wynn and a lot of blue dogs aren’t so much sellouts as just straightforward conservative hacks. Either way, while you have to live with blue dogs in conservative districts there’s no reason to tolerate them when they waste safe seats.

Meanwhile, although I am amused that Rudy!’s campaign manager has endorsed Clinton’s campaign strategy, presumably as recently consistent with his own (“1.Lose state after state by resounding margins. 2. ? 3. Victory!”), I also agree that burials of Clinton are very premature. Evidently, she’s not comparable to Giuliani, as 1)she’s actually won several important states, and 2)she’s a good campaigner well-liked by Democratic primary voters. Obama deserves to be favored because he’s generally increased his support as he’s had time to campaign (a primary reason, of course, why trying to claim that Florida can be treated like a normal primary just because lots of people voted is silly.) But Clinton can at least take a very close race to the superdelegates if she pulls of strong wins in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and these states are demographically favorable states in which she leads in the polls. These leads may evaporate as her leads in a lot of other states have, but until they actually do she has a reasonable chance of winning, and her buy option at 25 is probably a decent bet.

Potomac Tuesday Open Thread

[ 18 ] February 13, 2008 |

After New Hampshire, no blowout predictions or any such thing from me. However, VA already called for Obama.

…D.C. called for Obama at 8:00:01. This is probably not surprising.

…Democratic turnout appears to be roughly double Republican turnout. In Virginia. To put it more clearly, right now Obama is receiving more than 3x the votes of McCain. I know that the Republican race is supposed to be over, and that might depress turnout, but still…

…ROB: is it just my imagination, or is Pat Buchanan making sense? While I hope that the campaign doesn’t go negative, I think he’s right that in order to win Clinton needs to go on the attack right now. She’s not going to out-positive or out-likable Obama at this point.

…ROB: And for crying out loud, can’t either of them come up with a campaign song that’s not by U2?

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