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Bourgeois Scum Update

[ 22 ] February 3, 2008 |


As of Friday, I am Living the American Dream of home and/or boat ownership, as I closed on a co-op in the building that (appropriately enough) used to house the Department of Education in downtown Brooklyn. I’m looking forward to it enough to get over the fact that I really hate moving.


It’s Over

[ 28 ] February 2, 2008 |

Not that this is news, but the McCain is a mortal lock. Evidently, I got this completely wrong. What I missed was that the logic I used to defend Romney (he would have little chance running against a serious plain vanilla Southern conservative but wasn’t facing one) was also true for McCain. And, of course, McCain got lucky, in that Huckabee has some actual political skills (which, most crucially, deprived Romney of Iowa) while Giuliani was a historical fiasco beyond the point which even people who correctly understood that he never had much of a chance could have anticipated. Even Fred Thompson got out of his La-Z-Boy long enough to hand McCain South Carolina. In a field in which nobody should logically have been able to win the victor needed things to break right, and the breaks went to McCain.

This isn’t a good outcome for Democrats, but he’s certainly beatable. I still think that he would be a lot more vulnerable against a candidate who actually opposed the Iraq fiasco that McCain has supported so vociferously, but it seems likely that a majority of Democratic primary voters won’t agree with me. (Of course, given my track record this year the fact that I think Clinton remains a prohibitive favorite has to scare her campaign considerably…)

"You, Sir, Have The Boorish Manners Of A Yalie."

[ 10 ] February 2, 2008 |

Speaking of bean’s alma mater, some Yale students engage in a silent protest against advocate of torture and arbitrary executive power and Bush administration idea of a good federal judge (but I repeat myself) Jay Bybee. Good.

Today In Spurious Media Bias Accusations

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

The thing is, it’s not hard to find plenty of examples of anti-Clinton bias on the part of the EMM – ESS – EMM. However, the Times not trumpeting Clinton’s “victory” in the Pajamas Media Straw Poll Florida non-primary really isn’t the example you want to go with, unless you’re outraged that the Times didn’t put the Tigers’s stirring 2007 Grapefruit League victory above the fold of the sports page. Jarvis also claims that the DNC’s decision was “unconstitutional.” While I agree that the draconian actions against Florida and Michigan were excessive, I must admit that I’m unaware of the constitutional provision that requires parties to seat delegates for their conventions irrespective of whether or not states follow their procedures. (Maybe it’s the same super-secret provision the Court relied on in Bush v. Gore.) And to once again point out the obvious, going along with the farcical spin of the Clinton campaign and pretending that a non-election was an election does not retroactively enfranchise Florida voters.

I would make fun of the Treason In Defense of Slavery Yankee’s arguments Roy also flags except that I don’t even understand them.

LBJ: The Civil Rights President

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

I was happy to see Ted Kennedy endorse Barack Obama, but he apparently did it in at least some measure for a silly reason:

There’s more to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama than meets the eye. Apparently, part of the reason why the liberal lion from Massachusetts embraced Obama was because of a perceived slight at the Kennedy family’s civil rights legacy by the other Democratic presidential primary frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton’s LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a “meltdown” in reaction to Clinton’s comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state’s primary.

I suppose the fact that he’s related to JFK gives him marginally more of an excuse to defend his brother’s legacy, but the fact is that JFK consistently dragged his feet on civil rights while LBJ actually got the two most important pieces of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction passed. Clinton’s comments were not only unexceptionable but obviously correct.

…commenters are correct to note that the sourcing on this isn’t exactly airtight.

Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

Jake Tapper decontextualizes and distorts the perfectly clear statements of Bill Clinton.

High Contrarianism Progress Report

[ 13 ] January 31, 2008 |

You may recall Ben Wittes arguing that once Mukasey was dutifully confirmed he wouldn’t be able to stonewall because the Democrats would suddenly have more leverage him because Mukasey would…need them to accomplish some unspecified things. I was criticized for thinking that this was less than plausible. How’s it working out?

Over the course of a long, maddening day, it’s quickly manifest that Mukasey’s legal opinions have a 30-second shelf life. He won’t opine on what’s happened in the past and he won’t opine on anything that might happen in the future. When Sen. Arlen Specter—concerned about seven years of vast new claims of executive authority—asks Mukasey whether, in his view, the president “can break any law he pleases because he’s the president—including, say, statutes banning torture,” as well as FISA and the National Security Act, Mukasey replies, “I can’t contemplate any situation in which this president would assert Article II authority to do something that the law forbids.”

“Well, he did just that when he violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” Specter shoots back. Mukasey’s response? “Both of those issues have been brought within statutes.”

Specter is flabbergasted: “But he acted in violation of statutes, didn’t he?”

“I don’t know,” Mukasey replies. But does is really matter? What’s past is past.

Amazing — apparently Mukasey didn’t get the memo.

Nader: Threw The Election To Bush

[ 94 ] January 31, 2008 |

I hate to go through this again, but we have a commenter trying to claim that Nader didn’t throw the election to Bush:

*All votes that Nader received in Florida would have gone to Gore instead;

*The appearance of Nader did not lead to people registering in Florida in order to vote for Gore;

*That Gore would have had the same positions without Nader in the race that he had with Nader in the race, thus meaning that no voters would have shifted from Bush to Gore in the absence of Nader; and

*That the Republicans would not have found a way to steal the Florida election.

The first, and most important, claim is of course transparently wrong; not every single Nader voter would have had to vote for Gore, just enough to throw Florida to Bush. And according to Nader’s own data, this was the case:

Nader is at his slipperiest on the issue of whether his campaign tipped the election to George W. Bush. The evidence that he did so is unambiguous. First, by repeating his charge that there was no significant ideological distance between the two major-party candidates, Nader helped bolster the message of Bush, who sought to blur unpopular Republican positions on key issues. Second, by peeling off substantial blocks of liberals in states such as Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin, he forced Al Gore to devote precious time and money to shoring up states that would (if not for Nader) have been safely Democratic, leaving him fewer resources for swing states such as Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. Third, and most directly, Nader won 97,488 votes in Florida. Appearing on a talk show after the election, Nader cited polls that showed that, had he not run, only 38 percent of his voters would have backed Gore versus 25 percent for Bush. Strangely, Nader held up these numbers as a defense against the spoiler charge. Yet the very data cited by Nader, if applied to Florida, shows that he took a net 12,000 votes from Gore — more than enough to hand the state, and the electoral college, to Bush.

So it’s clear that Nader fulfilled the only significant goal of his campaign and threw the election to Bush. The other points made in Nader’s defense are no more persuasive. On #2, if anyone has evidence that Nader’s relentless vilification of Gore and claims that which candidate was elected didn’t matter caused a net positive number of people to register and vote for Gore let’s see it. On #3, 1)again there’s no evidence whatsoever for this having an effect, 2)the states in which an alleged hard turn to the left in Gore’s rhetoric which no Naderite noticed at the time would have been likely to have a net benefit were states Gore won so overwhelmingly minor shifts in rhetoric would have made little difference, and 3)the rhetorical point cuts both ways; how many people did Nader dissuade from voting for Gore with his nonsensical claims that he was indistinguishable from Bush? And on #4, this cannot be known for certain, but we do know that Republicans didn’t steal any other state in which the Dems won a narrow victory. If the Democrats came out ahead in the initial vote count they almost certainly would have held on, especially since the nature of electoral system means that recounts would work in the Democrats’ favor. GOP malfeasance doesn’t let Nader off the hook. And finally, to pre-empt this coming up in comments, the fact that Nader wouldn’t have been able to throw the election to Bush under a more rational electoral system is completely irrelevant to anything.

If Nader doesn’t run, no Bush. It really is that simple.

Edwards Postmortem

[ 14 ] January 30, 2008 |

Dana and Tom have good posts. To expand on one of Tom’s points, I think Edwards is a lesson in the perils in trying to become president from the Senate, especially from something other than an incredibly safe seat. He built up a bunch of votes that contradicted his current positions, and he had to leave early because he couldn’t risk losing.

I believed at the time — and still do — that had the Iowa caucus in 2004 been held two weeks later 1)Edwards would have won, 2)he would likely have won the nomination, and 3)this would have been the best outcome (although whether he would have beaten Bush, who knows.) As Steve says, in this year he never had a chance given the competition but had a salutary effect on the race.

Democratic Florida Postmortem

[ 32 ] January 30, 2008 |

There was no Florida Democratic primary. Although the high turnout in a non-primary was heartening for Democratic prospects in November, the results are wholly meaningless as there was no campaign and no delegates at stake. Changing the rules ex post facto and claiming delegates for a specific candidate would be unambiguous electoral fraud. And whether the disenfranchisement of Florida Democrats for violating party rules was justified or not, it was agreed to in advance by every Democratic campaign — including the one now trying to pretend that a real election was held. Seating delegates for a particular candidate would not enfranchise Florida Democrats, since they still would not have had the opportunity to vote in a real contested election with actual stakes. The only actual remedy for the party’s decision would be to hold a real competitive primary at a later date, period.

… UPDATE BY ROB: This is the Clinton campaign manager reacting to the initial decision to exclude the Florida and Michigan delegates: “We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role.” So no, this isn’t about the Clinton campaign fighting the DNC to empower the benighted masses in Michigan and Florida; the campaign supported the DNC’s decision up to the point it became in their interest to want to change the rules. Also see Ezra.

GOP Florida Postmortem

[ 10 ] January 30, 2008 |
  • On the wonderfully ignominious collapse of Rudy!, I think Noam Scheiber gets it right: “Was Rudy’s strategy flawed, or was it the candidate? I say the latter. Rudy spent a good chunk of time and money in New Hampshire in November and December. The net effect was to move his numbers down.” Right. Claims that Giuliani’s problem was strategy ignores not only the substantial amount of time and money he spent in New Hampshire but the fact that he effectively pulled out early for good reason; he was cratering. It’s hard to see that just doing the same thing would have suddenly started working. The Florida firewall strategy had no chance of working, but that’s because nothing can work when active campaigning actually hurts your numbers. It should also be noted that Giuliani was never a genuine frontrunner; you’d think that Lieberman 2004 would have made it clear that national polls well in advance of the primaries mean virtually nothing, but some people apparently have ot be reminded every four years.
  • John Holbo wonders how conservative pundits who have been attacking John McCain relentlessly (“perhaps not more liberal than Obama?” These people are nuts…) will deal with his impending nomination. It should be easy for conservatives to get over their McCain issues since overall he was always the most conservative of the major candidates, but of course if these pundits were rational they would already see that. I think he’s leaving out the most obvious one, though. If the Democrats give the GOP the gift of Clinton, which still seems very likely, these pundits can pretty much ignore McCain and focus entirely on Hillary Clinton’s purported Trotskyism, murder and drug running operations, “shrillness,” her husband’s penis, etc. This almost exclusively misogynist resentment plus Clinton derangement strategy may not be enough — ask Bob Dole — but it’s clearly where the conservative punditocracy is headed.

Fox News Follows The Trajectory of Their Favorite Candidate

[ 11 ] January 30, 2008 |

Hitching your wagon to Rudy! really wasn’t a great idea…

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