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[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

I can’t add much to what Greenwald says here and Wheeler argues here, but the Obama administration’s use of Yoovian theories of arbitrary executive authority are indeed appalling.

The Political Value Of Ideas

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

I think that Chait is basically right here, especially where “new ideas” are concerned. There is a caveat, which is that ideas and quality of governance aren’t entirely inseparable; a Bush administration that didn’t have such catastrophically bad ideas as the invasion of Iraq and upper-class tax cuts as the only substantial economic policy wouldn’t have left the Republican candidate as vulnerable (and this is especially true in the 2006 elections, before the economy completely tanked.)

Just a wild guess

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

I’m betting that according to Larry Kudlow this means we need to deregulate the markets and cut taxes.

2012 Too Early for Huntsman?

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

Jon Huntsman certainly has an interesting strategy for making it through the 2012 GOP primary; it seems to be based on the assumption that the Palin-Huckabee-Jindal crazy wing of the party (which seems to represent ~70% of the party) will be divided enough to allow Huntsman to win several of the early primaries by occupying the center. Because of the structure of the Republican primary system, he could potentially build up a nice little delegate lead. Alternatively, Huntsman could just be hoping that the party establishment, perhaps chastened by additional losses in 2010, comes to its senses regarding the rightward drift.

There are several potential problems with the strategy. The first problem is that Huntsman won’t be the only candidate to occupy what passes for the centrist position in the 2012 primary; Mitt Romney will by all accounts be there, and Mitt will once again bring the money. The second is that, in all likelihood, the crazy wing will burn down to one candidate pretty quickly, and whomever that candidate is will then proceed to crush Huntsman (or Romney) for the rest of the primary season. And while I do think that the establishment will eventually rein the crazies in, I don’t think it’ll happen until 2016 at the earliest; the mantra for 2012 will still be “we lost because we’re not conservative enough”.

Then again, I’m glad I never published the post I wrote in 2005, with the excerpt “Wes Clark should coast to victory in the 2008 Democratic primary, but can he beat George Allen in the general?”

Coup in Guinea-Bissau…

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

Or something, anyway:

Army troops shot dead the president of the tiny west African country of Guinea-Bissau early Monday, following a bomb attack that killed the army chief of staff, according to diplomats in the region.

News reports said army troops blamed the president, João Bernardo Vieira, for the death of the army chief, Gen. Batista Tagme Na Wai, who died in an explosion on Sunday night. Diplomats, who spoke in return for anonymity under customary rules, said the president was killed at around 5 a.m. in an attack outside his house and the country’s borders had been closed. “Nobody knows who is in charge,” one diplomat said. “Nobody knows what the army will do.”

Apparently, Guinea-Bissau has become one of the major points of transit for drug trafficking into Europe. The consequences of having lots of money and drugs transiting through the territory of a relatively undeveloped state are predictable. On a minor personal note, I represented Guinea-Bissau in a Model UN “light” exercise way back in high school. That really doesn’t mean anything, aside from the fact that I pay more attention when the name Guinea-Bissau passes through the NYT.

Takin’ it To the Streets!

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

Some teabagging in NYC. I think it’s fair that when you can attract 200 fine crackpots citizens in a metropolitan area of only 18 million, you’re dealing with a political force more devastating than Unity ’08 and the Victory Caucus put together.

Just A Reminder

[ 0 ] March 2, 2009 |

Anybody who thinks that salary caps reduce ticket prices is economically illiterate, and the Maple Laffs (“the arrogance of the Yankees with the post-LBJ accomplishments of the New Orleans Saints!”) are just the latest example of that. (Not that there’s any problem with raising ticket prices to what the market will bear if it hasn’t been accompanied by a recent massive public subsidy, but all the mention of ticket prices as a justification for the disastrous lockout is a joke.) Salary caps have nothing to do with increasing competitive balance or lessening ticket prices; they’re about putting more money in the pockets of the owners, period.


[ 0 ] March 1, 2009 |

It’s hard to be a contender for “most apparently unwatchable movie released this week” when yet another attempt to turn a video game into a movie hits the screens, but the latest attempt to make a dumbed-down middlebrow Short Cuts about an Important Social Topic — this one about immigration — sure seems to be giving it the ol’ college try:

Crossing Over is an L.A.-based ensemble social-problem melodrama for people who thought Crash was a bit too subtle.


The most memorable scene is also among the most maladroit ever committed to film, a liquor-store robbery that begins with people getting splattered over the walls and builds to an earnest dialogue about the “sublime promise” on the faces of immigrants about to take the oath of citizenship. The scene is a career-killer. The whole movie is, in a way.

And yet, I also believe Edelstein when he says that “it’s better than Crash.” It’s always worth remembering that, overrated as Slumdog is, the Academy has done far, far, far worse. I mean, when you have history behind you like 1)Masturbates With Camera winning over GoodFellas, and 2)MWC not even being the worst movie nominatedI’d have to say that giving a Best Picture to an entertaining movie that peters out after an hour is one of Oscar’s better years.


[ 0 ] March 1, 2009 |

Tanned, rested, and ready!

Notes from Newt

[ 0 ] February 28, 2009 |

I’d like to feel sorry for people on Newt Gingrich’s e-mail list, but I really can’t.

A lot of these e-mail messages are deeply wonkish, written in single-sentence paragraphs without punctuation or capital letters. It’s almost as if you can see Gingrich twittering away at a Starbucks while doing calculations on a wrinkled napkin. On Thanksgiving Day, for instance, in an e-mail message one recipient shared with me, Gingrich fired off a riff on an idea by Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas, who had suggested that, instead of a stimulus bill, the party propose a payroll-tax holiday. “FICA and personal income tax combined are about $160 billion a month (you might want to check my math),” Gingrich wrote to a group of Congressional allies. “So if Pelosi proposes a $700 billion stimulus spending package in January, we could propose a 4-month tax holiday as the alternative.” In a separate e-mail message to his own aides, he wrote: “Think of no personal or corporate income tax and no fica tax for a year as a stimulus package. Am I nuts in rome or is the contrast startling.”

You could add the clause “like a crazy person” to the end of every sentence in that paragraph, to say nothing about the rest of the article. That said, I can’t object to the idea that Newt Gingrich has refurbished himself as the new intellectual genius of the Republican party. With a second baby due at any moment in my household, I’ll happily seize upon any reason to sleep peacefully for the next few years. I’d be especially pleased if Gingrich will agree to keep endorsing such winning notions as, say, John McCain suspending his campaign to single-handedly address economic issues he openly claimed not to understand. Comparing McCain’s defeat-ensuring move to Eisenhower’s October 1952 declaration that he would “go to Korea” was a magical moment.

The Day Each Year that I Get to be Joel Surnow…

[ 0 ] February 28, 2009 |

The 2009 Patterson School Crisis Simulation has ended. Coverage of the simulation was provided by the UK School of Journalism, and can be found here (start with the very bottom post and work your way up). The story was this: A Panamanian flagged, Pakistani owned container ship named MV Straat Malakka was seized by pirates after an extended firefight. The RFS Pyotr Velikiy responded, and began to escort the merchant ship to port. Hijinks ensued.

We divided the Patterson class into the following teams:

United States:
Department of State

Islamic Republic of Iran:
Revolutionary Guard
Foreign Ministry

Somali State of Puntland

United Nations International Maritime Organization

Note that the exercise was intended solely for educational purposes (for both Patterson and School of Journalism students), and reflects no particular position on Iran, the United States, Russia, or pirates.

We Could Never Be This Fortunate…

[ 0 ] February 28, 2009 |

This would be awesome, but there’s just no way…

Already in conflict with his party’s leaders, Sen. Jim Bunning has reportedly said privately that if he is hindered in raising money for his re-election campaign he is ready with a response that would be politically devastating for Senate Republicans: his resignation.

The Kentucky Republican suggested that possible scenario at a campaign fundraiser for him on Capitol Hill earlier this week, according to three sources who asked not to be identified because of the politically sensitive nature of Bunning’s remarks.

The implication, they said, was that Bunning would allow Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to appoint his replacement — a move that could give Democrats the 60 votes they need to block Republican filibusters in the Senate.

I do kind of like how the old man is playing hardball, though…