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[ 14 ] January 4, 2008 |

Obama wins in Iowa–good; hopefully Edwards will finish second. Huckabee wins the GOP, with Saint McCain currently running a distant 4th with 12%, behind Frederick of Hollywood. Which I’m sure won’t stop the inevitable narrative that this is a massive victory for the Straight Talkitude Express.

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Official Non-Endorsement

[ 0 ] January 3, 2008 |

With the first caucus imminent, I guess it’s time for discussion about how we would like the primary to come out. And my answer is: it depends. To preface this, I should say that I think Clinton would be a pretty good president, and I also think she would be favored against anyone except McCain (alas, this is now looking like a big exception.) I would be happier with any of the major Dems than I was with Kerry in 2004, and I didn’t dislike Kerry. Certainly, Clinton would be infinitely preferable to any Republican opponent.

But. I can’t support her for the nomination for two reasons. The first can be summed up by Tom Tomorrow; her support for the Iraq War is both (as we saw in 2004) bad politics and bad on the merits, and anyone who thinks that Iraq isn’t going to be a major issue in 2008 is fooling themselves. The second was made well by Yglesias and Rosenfeld:

Liberal Democrats should want a nominee who is, in fact, a liberal. And liberals and moderates alike have should want a nominee who’s seen as a moderate by the median voter. Clinton, however, is a moderate who people think is a liberal. This is a terrible combination of qualities from almost every point of view — except, perhaps, for the faction of her advisers whose views are probably too right-wing to be associated with the Democratic presidential nominee, unless they can latch onto the one candidate both blessed and cursed with an undeserved reputation for liberalism. Well, bully for them. But liberals should open their eyes.

Given that there are at least two good alternatives, I just can’t see supporting a centrist candidate with a reputation as a liberal, and who also seems especially likely to mobilize what may otherwise be an undermotivated GOP base.

Since between Edwards and Obama I don’t have a strong preference, I would basically support whoever in my state had the best chance of beating Clinton. In the abstract, I would marginally prefer Edwards; he’s the best on domestic policy, although his vote for the war is a political problem (one he’s at least dealt with better than Clinton.) On the other hand, Obama seems to have a better chance to win the nomination, has formidable political skills, is more liberal than he’s perceived as being (which is what you want) and also seems to be much less hated by the press than the other two Dems. (I definitely wouldn’t bet on this to continue — especially if he’s running against St. McCain’s Straight Talkitude Express — but better uncertainty that someone we know the press will relentlessly savage all things being equal.) So knowing what I know now I would support Obama, but would happily shift to choice 1A if Edwards looks good after NH.

To reiterate, on the GOP side Romney is clearly the one to root for; he’s the least appallingly bad choice as president and would also be beaten like a rented Devil Ray in the general.

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It’s Good that Deaths Are Down in Iraq

[ 10 ] January 3, 2008 |

But that doesn’t mean the issue of the war should slip to the backburner of voters’ consciences and therefore become less important to the presidential campaigns, as has apparently happened.

I think the more the war is an issue, the better it is for the Dems. Not only that, but by ignoring the fact that the war is still a death-producing money pit, we enable it to continue as such.

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The McCain Menace

[ 30 ] January 3, 2008 |

In addition to Tom, I see that Josh Marshall — who, like me, had written off McCain’s candidacy long ago — now sees McCain as the favorite. Depressingly, I think this is right. Certainly, I agree with Josh that the GOP is now an effective two-man race between McCain and Romney, and you have to think that McCain has a good shot (although I also agree that Romney really shouldn’t be written off; he will be more acceptable to a lot of conservatives than McCain.) For reasons that Matt explains here, a McCain win would be very bad for the Dems: despite his moderate reputation he’s a fiscal and cultural reactionary with nutty foreign policy views, he has the best chance of winning of any major GOP candidate, and a McCain candidacy (especially if he’s matched up against Clinton or Edwards) would result in an anti-Democratic media bloodbath comparable to 2000. I’m definitely cheering for Romney tonight…

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Only Ten?

[ 0 ] January 3, 2008 |

Blogger and commentator Heather Wokusch lists the top-ten worst Bush appointees for reproductive health and rights — the people whose noses Bush has allowed to intrude most into your bedroom.

Her choices are spot-on. Among them: Tom Coburn, the then-Representative (now senator) who believes that doctors who perform abortions should be executed and whom Bush appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA); Lester Crawford and Norris Alderson, whom Bush appointed to run the FDA and who held up the approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception; and Eric Keroack and Susan Orr, Bush’s choices to head the Population Affairs office in the department of health and human services, the department that controls Title X funding for reproductive health services for poor women.

The only nit I’ll pick with Wokusch’s list is this: she’s got Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito as 6 and 7, respectively. While they might not be the most patently offensive choices (at least they are qualified for their posts, as opposed to Keroack), it’s clear to me that their appointments will have the longest-lasting and potentially most-destructive impacts on reproductive justice. Already we have seen their power in the Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. If this top-ten (or ten-worst) takes any account of the magnitude of impact of these appointees, seems to me that Alito and Roberts should be at the tippy-top.

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Anything That Involves Goalies Wearing Toques Is A Good Thing

[ 0 ] January 3, 2008 |

Photobucket

The Winter Classic was, in fact, pretty much the coolest thing ever (albeit in both senses), providing welcome New Year’s Day relief from the exhibition games between also-ran amateur football teams. The game not only drew more than 70,000 fans but despite the competition with said amateur football games allowed the NHL to score a rare American ratings victory over Policy Academy V reruns. As King Kaufman says, this can only mean one thing: that the business masterminds in the NHL will never do it again. If someone rational accidentally obtains decision-making authority, I’d strongly endorse the argument that the Classic act as a permanent replacement for the always unwatchable All-Star game.

To add a more general point, I remember when many fans were optimistic about Gary Bettman’s NBA-certified marketing skillz but worried that he’d be bad for the game. But while from a business standpoint his tenure has been a disaster, it must also be said that the game on the ice is in much better condition than when he took over. I would especially recommend that MLB take a good look at the post-Olympic things Bettman did eliminate unnecessary lags in the action: getting jagoff linsemen to drop the puck in a timely manner, restoring touch-up offsides, waving off icings where the defending team could clearly touch the puck, etc. Bettman gets a lot of abuse and lot of it is deserved, but in the most important aspect of his job from a fan’s standpoint he’s done pretty well. If only he would get rid of the damn shootouts…

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The Next-to-Last Temptation of Christ

[ 17 ] January 3, 2008 |

Great moments in church signage, from my last night in Minneapolis:

My favorite element here is actually the “For Sale” sign in the background.

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"World’s Most Obnoxious Feminist Concern Troll"

[ 13 ] January 2, 2008 |

What should be my outrage about wrong-about-everything hack Bill Kristol getting a New York Times gig because apparently the dozens of other media outlets he seems to have unlimited access to aren’t enough is attenuated by the fact that the Paper O’ Record still employs Maureen Dowd. Melissa McEwan, Molly Ivors and Echidne deal with her latest vacuous atrocity. As usual, it involves Dowd projecting various trivial personal obsessions onto the candidates and then using this as a reasons to attack their candidacies. Frankly, I would prefer straightforward Republican hackery to this.

Strangely, Dowd largely spares Edwards this time, although if he wins in Iowa I’m sure will be back to MoDo’s Deep Thoughts about his haircuts. Speaking of which, elsewhere among the inexplicably sinecured it is indeed funny that Richard Cohen literally can’t get through one sentence of his column about the alleged mendacious lying of candidates without a mendacious lie about Edwards. As Atrios says, “it’s so awesome when the Villagers can’t even keep their fake “scandals” straight.” But, really, this makes sense; once you’ve decided that the price of someone’s haircuts or their spouse’s sex life should be major factors in determining who should be President of the United States, whether the trivia you discuss is actually true or not is largely beside the point. Indifference to truth is just on symptom of the larger problem of hiring people who don’t care about politics and know nothing about any substantive issue to write about politics on major op-ed pages.

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Spain Bleg

[ 18 ] January 2, 2008 |

Anyone know any good academic/policy oriented articles on Spanish security policy? Or, really, anything at all about Spanish security policy?

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Against The Caucuses

[ 24 ] January 2, 2008 |

Hitchens gets this right.

…and Kaus too! (via.) Apparently we’ve finally found a use for contrarianism…

…actually, scrolling down I should say that while I support Kaus’s anti-caucus position, I obviously disagree with him that they’re bad because they make the Democratic Party too liberal. They’re bad because the whole caucus/primary system is a bad way of choosing a candidate, fetishizing “retail politics” skills of little actual relevance to the modern presidency beyond all reason to justify a ridiculously arbitrary and unfair system.

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Smile! You’re on Camera.

[ 2 ] January 2, 2008 |

No, you’re not on candid camera, but you are on camera in the U.S. virtually all the time. According to a new study from Privacy International, a UK-based group, and the U.S.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, the U.S. and the U.K., along with Russia and China, have “endemic” surveillance throughout the country. The study surveyed surveillance techniques including workplace monitoring, visual surveillance, communications interception, and border and trans-border issues (among others).

It shouldn’t surprise us that we are constantly monitored. Between the PATRIOT Act’s intrusions into our data, heightened security measures at airports, and security cameras at every store, subway, and street, there’s more and more surveillance each day.

Of course security is important. But at what cost to our civil liberties and our ability to live our lives with a modicum of privacy? Seems like many other industrialized countries that also cope with the threat of terrorism are doing a much better job finding that balance.

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This Things I Believe

[ 0 ] January 2, 2008 |

Jamie Moyer is not a steroid user. His 62 mph fastball is a purely natural phenomenon.

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