Shorter Verbatim Ron Paul: “Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal. If similar in-depth studies were conducted in other major cities, who doubts that similar results would be produced? We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational.”
I know he’s right on the war, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that he’s a crank reactionary.
Well, the Democratic Party certainly had some winners in the 2004 election:
Behind the scenes, they were fighting over the lucrative fees for handling Mr. Kerry’s television advertising. The campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, became so fed up over the squabbling that she told the consultants, led by Robert Shrum, one of the most prominent and highly paid figures in the business, to figure out how to split the money themselves.
Divvy it up they did. Though the final tally has never been publicly disclosed, interviews and records show that the five strategists and their firms ultimately took in nearly $9 million, the richest payday for any Democratic media consultants up to then and roughly what the Bush campaign paid its consultants for a more extensive ad campaign.
Mr. Shrum and his two partners, Tad Devine and Mike Donilon, walked away with $5 million of the total. And that was after Ms. Cahill, in the closing stages of the race that fall, diverted $1 million that would otherwise have gone to the consultants to buying more advertising time in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to defeat Mr. Bush.
Imagine what Shrum would get paid if he ever won elections! It’s good that the Dems are trying to reduce the fees, because the extent of the money that goes to consultants is ridiculous given the number of companies that could otherwise compete for the advertising and the utter lack of accountability.
Of course, it’s possible to defend Shrum narrowly in terms of the 2004 election; if anything, Kerry did a little better than structural models would predict, and certainly he wasn’t an inherently great candidate. Indeed, the only federal election Shrum lost that he should have won was 2000 (and even that one wasn’t so much lost as won by a narrow enough margin that it could be swamped by the archaic American electoral system.) But this defense makes it even more clear that the money being paid to consultants is completely irrational. Campaigns simply aren’t that important in terms of who wins elections, which not only means that consultants aren’t terribly important but also that it’s very difficult to evaluate their performance even within the narrow range in which they can matter. Anybody who acts as a consultant long enough, especially if they also do a lot of local races, is going to rack of some wins, and will also always have an excuse if they don’t win. There’s no good reason for political consultancy to be this kind of resource-eating cartel.
It is pretty amazing that Jonah Goldberg would note that the rabidly homophobic Nazi Party also contained a substantial number of homosexuals and use this to draw an analogy with…modern liberalism. In fact, of course, by Goldberg’s Hitler-was-a-vegetarian logic because he’s a modern Republican he is therefore also a fascist. Granted, Goldberg and his allies prefer making gays second-class legal citizens, vulnerable to employment and housing discrimination, and fomenting hatred for political benefits as opposed to castration, torture, and murder, but according to his underlying premises these distinctions are irrelevant to whether or not you’re a fascist…
But never has a fascist argument been made in such detail or with such care.
Obama pulls slightly ahead in New Hampshire. Hey, I’d be happy to be wrong…
Shorter Ross Douthat: The fact that a woman living in subsidized housing in New Orleans has a big T.V. means that there couldn’t have been any racism in Ronald Reagan’s invocation of apocryphal “welfare queens” with “Cadillacs,” and “strapping young bucks“* buying “T-Bone steaks” with food stamps. The logic is unassailable!
*Note: flagrantly racist term used only below the Mason-Dixon line, but I’m sure welfare recipients in New Hampshire weren’t strapping!
The Clenis (TM) — now so powerful that he can control the GOP nomination:
The reader was convinced that none other than Bill and Hill were Huckabee’s ultimate backers. Given how divisive Huckabee is, how well they know know the passions of the Evangelical community (and deep anger there, if my inbox is any guide), and the magnitude of money in Bill’s “library fund,” well, it’s as plausible an answer as any to “how the hell did this happen?” Huckabee is the candidate easiest for any Democrat to knock off, by a long shot. And there goes the GOP coaltion for a long time to come. Now that would be quite a Clinton legacy.
Aside from the high comedy (Huckabee being propelled by Bill Clinton’s money would be rather more convincing if Huackabee actually had any money), the crackdown of GOP elites against Huckabee is instructive. After being told how immensely popular reactionary cultural positions were and how the Democrats had no choice but to throw most of their constituencies under the bus and let the Angry White Men have their way, conservative pundits now claiming that running someone who actually believes this stuff rather than somebody who cynically exploits a minority faction would be electoral suicide. I think the lesson is obvious.
Via Will Bunch, apparently Circuit City was begging some of its laid off employees to come back. Awwwww. As he concludes about the companay’s strategy of firing its competent workers, “[s]ince then, I’ve pretty much done any electronics shopping at Best Buy — and so does everyone else, apparently.”
Mark Schmitt gets this exactly right:
As an observer of politics, and commenter on it, I almost entirely share Krugman’s and Edwards’ diagnoses. I appreciate the conflictual nature of politics. I don’t think there’s some cross-partisan truth; I understand that the Republican conservatives are intractable. I know those advantaged by the current structure of power are determined to preserve it, and the well-funded campaign to destroy any possibility of progressive governance will be as intantaneous and intense as anything in 1993. I’ve tried to spell this out as clearly and aggressively as possible, especially to counter the tendency among elites to imagine that the good old days when Republicans and Democrats worked together selflessly and put ideology aside to solve the nation’s problems are coming back. (Or that they were so great to start with.)
But let’s take a slightly different angle on the charge that Obama is “naïve” about power and partisanship. Suppose you were as non-naïve about it as I am — but your job wasn’t writing about politics, it was running for president? What should you do? In that case, your responsibility is not merely to describe the situation exactly, but to find a way to subvert it. In other words, perhaps we are being too literal in believing that “hope” and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure. Claiming the mantle of bipartisanship and national unity, and defining the problem to be solved (e.g. universal health care) puts one in a position of strength, and Republicans would defect from that position at their own risk. The public, and younger voters in particular, seem to want an end to partisanship and conflictual politics, and an administration that came in with that premise (an option not available to Senator Clinton), would have a tremendous advantage, at least for a moment.
To accept the obvious truths that politics is about conflict, that many political disputes are incommensurable, and that partisanship is therefore not inherently a bad thing does not mean that repeatedly emphasizing conflicts is an effective rhetorical strategy. To take Obama’s rhetoric on this score at face value is silly. It’s overwhelmingly likely that he understands perfectly well the nature of the GOP, but also understands that “the current GOP is horrible and we should therefore kill them and then salt the earth so it can never grow again” isn’t an effective means of appealing to swing voters.
..and as for political efficacy, the fact that Obama substantially outperforms Clinton against anybody seems definitive.
Made more than ably by Dana Goldtstein.
It is important to remember that, although he was (like Barack Obama) right on the war and supports some other good positions (anti-War (on some classes of people who use some) Drugs), he holds many more crackpot positions, and his libertarianism and federalism seem to stop where women’s rights begin.
I’m appalled that a young liberal writer would be so squishy about the kind of Tough Measures needed to stop the Icelandofascist Menace. Stop them before they support Matthew Barney’s art again!
Via Lauren, Teresa Valdez Klein finds celebrity gossip hack Perez “Castro Is Teh Dead!!!111!!1!” Hilton calling Jamie Lynn Spears “trailer trash” and exclaiming that “Bitch is begging for her job!” Ha-ha!
My question: how many of the men attacking Spears weren’t having sex at age 16? OK, well, probably a substantial number. To be more precise, how many of the men attacking Spears wouldn’t have had sex if they actually knew someone with the misfortune to be a willing partner? Given that I suspect the answer is somewhere in the order of “none,” all of these people need to shut the hell up.
And what Lauren says:
What our celebrity subject will soon find out is that despite trying to do what is best for one’s particular family in one’s particular place in a particularly controversial situation, “taking responsibility” doesn’t actually mean what people say it means. In the end, doing what’s right for you doesn’t matter if the “correct” decision was to stay classy by quietly terminating the pregnancy and going forth in the wave of paparazzi like nothing ever happened at all.
Of course, if she had obtained an abortion she would still be a white-trash immoral slut. Hopefully this will teach her to be a teenage boy next time!
In addition to pressuring U.S. Attorneys to pursue isolated cases of vote fraud for which there was no actual evidence, the DOJ made sure to delay the investigation of actual systematic electoral theft which may have won the GOP the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race before the slime would be spotted on GOP elites:
The Justice Department delayed prosecuting a key Republican official for jamming the phones of New Hampshire Democrats until after the 2004 election, protecting top GOP officials from the scandal until the voting was over.
An official with detailed knowledge of the investigation into the 2002 Election-Day scheme said the inquiry sputtered for months after a prosecutor sought approval to indict James Tobin, the northeast regional coordinator for the Republican National Committee.
The phone-jamming operation was aimed at preventing New Hampshire Democrats from rounding up voters in the close U.S. Senate race between Republican Rep. John Sununu and Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu’s 19,000-vote victory helped the GOP regain control of the Senate.
Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party, said the delay spared Republicans embarrassment at the peak of the campaign because a pending deposition would have revealed that several state GOP officials knew about the scheme, which was hatched by their executive director, Charles McGee. The delay also stalled the case beyond its statute of limitations, depriving Democrats of full discovery, he said.
Meanwhile, Blue Girl points us to the forthcoming book How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative. Alas, I suspect it may serve more as a GOP instruction manual than as a cautionary tale…