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They also predicted 2-3 additional Yankees’ titles above the CBO baseline

[ 5 ] November 3, 2008 |

Given Sarah Palin’s vast familiarity with American news sources, one would assume she’d understand that data emanating from the Heritage Foundation does not count as “independent.” Nevertheless, for the past few days she and the McCain campaign have been repeating the transparently hilarious claims that “independent” analysis has concluded that Barack Obama’s economic plan would “destroy” six million jobs. As CNN’s fact checkers pointed out, however, Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis actually claimed that Obama’s economic policies would produce fewer jobs than his rival’s.

As with most crystal ball economic forecasts, the Heritage Foundation’s predictions about job growth under an Obama presidency should probably be taken as seriously as the CDA’s prediction in 2000 that job growth would expand more vigorously under George W. Bush than it would under a Gore presidency. Specifically, they expected that Bush’s proposed tax cuts would produce 1.5 million jobs above the Congressional Budget Office baseline. Instead, George W. Bush will finish two terms in office with the slowest rate of growth in non-farm employment of any president since Herbert Hoover. The Heritage Foundation also predicted in 2000 that the US national debt under George Bush would wrap up around $380 billion by 2010. It currently stands at $10.5 trillion.

Ah, Damn

[ 5 ] November 3, 2008 |

Obama’s grandmother passes. I never tend to think it’s a tragedy when someone dies at the age of 86; we should all be so lucky. But the day before her grandson is likely to be elected President… no words for that.

Dodged Bullets

[ 7 ] November 3, 2008 |

Perhaps the most puzzling phenomenon of the Democratic primary campaign was the frequently heard argument that the candidate of Mark Penn would be the one most likely to advance a bold progressive policy agenda and stick to it. I, myself, am quite happy that Penn will not be advising the next President.

One thing to add to Matt’s broader point is that 1994 was the culmination of the Republican realignment in the South that was made inevitable by the Johnson administration. It won’t happen again to remotely the same extent in 2010 because, er, it’s already happened; there aren’t a lot of easy seats held by nominal Democrats in the south for the Republicans to pick off. To argue for a timorous agenda based in 1994 would be silly; the Dems were going to lose seats then no matter what, and there’s no reason to believe that had Clinton been (even more) centrist this could have been avoided.

Revolution Blues

[ 56 ] November 3, 2008 |

I’m already depressed about Obama’s big victory tomorrow. Maybe it’s because my dog is dying, maybe it’s because I’m tangled up in blue over matters of the heart, maybe it’s because I’m listening to On the Beach at 11 AM, but at the moment the only sensation I’m feeling about an Obama win — and I was a precinct captain for the guy — is a slight sense of a relief that Johnny Drama and Bible Spice won’t get their shot at hastening the opening of the Seventh Seal.

Other than that it’s all rearranging deck chairs on the corporate ship of state, resulting in an ever-so-subtle shift to a slightly less unjust social system, if only through somewhat less willingness to sell off the government to the highest bidders. And there will be a slightly better chance of not exacerbating the crimes of the Bush administration. But those crimes aren’t going to be repudiated, let alone prosecuted.

Iraq will remain a tactical mistake, instead of a grossly immoral abuse of national power. We’ll still have “debates” about what sorts of torture we should and shouldn’t be subjecting people to. Needless to say an Obama administration isn’t going to be interested in giving back expanded executive powers to spy on Americans without judicial oversight, or to otherwise ignore the law when it considers doing so convenient (after all, it will be doing so for good purposes).

There will still be 2.5 million Americans in prison, we’ll still be fighting a ferociously idiotic and immoral “war” on drugs . . . and there will be 10,000 editorials about how Obama must take this opportunity to “heal” the “partisan divide” in the nation (translation: Allow the rampant political criminality of the last eight years to go completely uninvestigated).

OK we’ll have a black president. That is something to be.

Update: This post represents a localized and transitory mental state, and not an impeccably objective analysis of the actual state of the world. Although it might be that too . . . (I sure hope not. Favorite all-time Neil Young line: “Though my problems are meaningless, that don’t make them go away.” This has always struck me as perfect description of low-grade depression, or the postmodern condition, or possibly both).

What A McCain Court Would Be (And What It Wouldn’t)

[ 8 ] November 3, 2008 |

Since we haven’t heard much about the courts in this election, I suppose it’s worth noting that given the likely retirements of Ginsburg (75 year-old cancer survivor), Souter (69, hates D.C. and isn’t crazy about the job) and Stevens (in college when the word “damn” could generate national controversy; may have seen Cap Anson play live) and the fact that the other federal courts are already stacked with Republicans, a McCain presidency would have far-reaching and very bad consequences for the judiciary that would extend for decades. If you don’t believe me, believe the usually Panglossian Jeffrey Rosen.

Since an Obama win that would preserve the current conservative majority for a while is more likely, it’s worth pointing out that while his overall argument is correct and useful I think Rosen is actually overreaching a little. He writes:

It’s true that certain kinds of conservative nominees would change the Court more dramatically than others. Activist conservatives, who yearn for the resurrection of what they call the Constitution in Exile, would be far more likely to challenge Congress and to strike down a range of federal regulations, from health care and the environment to the economic bailout. By contrast, deferential conservatives, who believe in judicial minimalism across the board, would generally uphold laws passed by Congress as well as the states.

Leaving aside the fact that it’s primarily liberals, not conservatives, who use the “Constitution in Exile” label, I still think that this is misstating the impact of conservative appointments to the courts. I’m not worried about even a McCain-fortified Court ruling major New Deal regulatory programs unconstitutional, and even if they were to do so this would work out about as well as it did in 1935; the Court is not going to survive a struggle against strongly committed legislative and popular majorities. They might overturn Roe and a few other Warren/early Burger precedents explicitly, but will no embark on a major challenge to the basic framework of the federal government. A more conservative court would be much more likely do more of what’s it already doing. Not to overturn the Civil Rights Act on commerce clause grounds, for example, but rather to interpret statutory language in ways that make it much more difficult to bring lawsuits (and hope that, as with Ledbetter, institutional veto points can prevent legislative majorities from responding.)

Which bring us to the second problem, which is relevant no matter who wins the election: the conflation of “minimalist” and “deferential.” One has nothing to do with the other. O’Connor, an arch-minimalist if there ever was one, is also about as far from “deferential” as you can get. And this is precisely what caused Rosen to miss the boat on Roberts. As Alito and Roberts demonstrate, it’s perfectly possible to be a formal “minimalist” and a doctrinaire conservative “activist.” And precisely because minimalists are less likely to make bold pronouncements or explicitly overrule precedents, they’re likely to accomplish similar things while insulating the court from political retaliation. And because they aren’t attached to grand jurisprudential theories, minimalists are also likely to be if anything more consistent about reaching conservative policy outcomes.

In other words, if anything Alito and Robetrs are more dangerous to American progressives than Scalia. Whoever is appointing the next round of federal judges, it’s important to remember this and not be distracted by implausible fears of a “Constitution in Exile” returning.

KY Race Tied in Internal DemCherry Picked Poll

[ 0 ] November 3, 2008 |

Yeah, yeah, I know; probably about as reliable as the “tie” that Rick Davis sees in Iowa. Nevertheless…

Word from the Lunsford campaign is that someone is robocalling in the late hours pretending to be from the Dems. Hardly surprising or unexpected, but still slimy.

…adjusted; the numbers cited weren’t internal, but rather were the most optimistic of recent polling.

Bellwether Battleships

[ 0 ] November 3, 2008 |

The Iowa class battleships (Wisconsin, New Jersey, Iowa, and Missouri) have a chance to go as a bloc this year. This has happened more often than you’d expect; all four went for Clinton in 1992 and 1996, for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, for Nixon in 1968 and 1972, for LBJ in 1964, and for Ike in 1952. In comparison, the South Dakota class (South Dakota, Indiana, Alabama, and Massachusetts) have only voted as a bloc twice; 1980 and 1984.

Here are my predictions:

Obama 378
McCain 160
Senate+8
House+20

May God strike me down if I’m wrong on the Presidential call; seriously, it would be a lot less painful than living through four years of McCain-Palin…

Election Picks

[ 0 ] November 3, 2008 |

Just for fun, I guess it’s time to make some election calls:

  • President: Obama 326, McCain 212 (Obama gets all Kerry states + NM, CO, NV, OH, VA, IA, NC)
  • Senate: Dems +7
  • House Dems +31
  • Regardless of the outcome, Mickey Kaus will claim that voters really prefer divided government, and their top priorities are draconian immigration policies and busting teacher’s unions.

Somehow, I feel most confident in that last one…

The GOP Didn’t Always Pulled Out, But It Never Aplogized

[ 7 ] November 3, 2008 |

Nice to see that the GOP is abandoning most of its efforts to retain/take House seats in New York State. Even better, they wasted a lot of money here before doing so. This includes normally solidly Republican Staten Island; whatever the morality of his various actions, the country does owe Vito Fossella one big favor…

Scrambling for the lifeboats

[ 12 ] November 3, 2008 |

A friend of mine was telling me today that the US Attorney’s office in Denver has just hired several fairly high-ranking Department of Justice lawyers as Assistant US Attorneys. What’s notable about this is that it’s very strange for high-ranking DOJ types to take AUSA positions out here in flyover country, instead of getting some white-shoe law firm gig or something along those lines. An AUSA job is a nice catch for a fresh-faced recent law grad, but for somebody who has been a muckety-muck in the DOJ it’s a big step down.

The reason is simple: under the Bush administration, a lot of high-ranking DOJ positions went to people with, shall we say, dubious resumes but excellent ideological credentials. Now they can’t get good private sector jobs, so they’re getting the best jobs they can find in the government, using those ideological connections while the getting is good.

Of course in a world where the former Attorney General of the USA can’t find a job, it’s not surprising that a lot of his underlings can’t either.

Kind of ironic dontcha think? I always thought it was the latte-sipping libruls who couldn’t get jobs in the “real world.” Or at least that’s what my email inbox indicates.

Update: To be clear, these are people high up enough that their jobs are political appointments, i.e., they’ll be replaced by a Democratic administration.

The Folly of "Fetal Rights" Initiatives

[ 0 ] November 2, 2008 |

Sarah Wildman explains.

It should also be noted that Colorado’s ridiculous Prop 48 — which would give constitutional rights to a zygote — is favored by John McCain and is also extremely unpopular. Nonetheless, I somehow doubt that after McCain loses both Colorado and the election we’re going to get a series of thinkpieces about the GOP needs to abandon their unpopular positions on abortion if they want to win. Although it must be conceded that failing to pick Tim Kaine was a devastating blow to the Democrats’ chances this year…

The "Town Hall" Pre-Emptive Whine

[ 18 ] November 2, 2008 |

I believe that this crap was also a centerpiece of McCain’s SNL appearance yesterday. Of course, the idea that McCain had to run a dishonest campaign centered around inane trivia because Obama wouldn’t agree to the precise debate schedule he requested has always been risible on its face. But it’s particularly hilarious to see The Dean swallow the whining given that 1)there was a town hall debate, 2)McCain performed abysmally, and 3)as Steve says, the McCain campaign continued to be centered around idiotic guilt-by-distant-association smears and the claim that a 39% marginal tax rate McCain supported less than a decade ago is “socialism” while 36% is “America first” after the magic of the town hall debate happened. If this “stop hitting yourself” argument seems plausible to you, it’s probably a sign that your op-ed slot needs to be turned over to someone capable of basic reasoning.