Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Holder Folder

In the spirit of the season, here's one of the many things I'm thankful for this year: Eliot Spitzer's hooker-a-thon. Had he not been caught, I suspect he would have been a major candidate for AG this year, although having both him and HRC arriving from NY might have been a bit much. Given what we now know about his temperament, I think we dodged a bullet.

As for Eric Holder, the one incoming concern seems to be his having commented "neutral, leaning favorable" on Bill Clinton's controversial pardon of Mark Rich. Can we dispense with the hand wringing over this, please? Let's grant that Rich, a fugitive financier who had not exactly exhausted his legal remedies (or even sought them), shouldn't have been pardoned. Fine. But this is a 2 on a 10 point outrage meter. George Bush routinely laps that a dozen times before breakfast. This "scandal" was the product of the late-90s bedwetter media era, when the MSM routinely jumped at whatever Chicken Little panic the GOP cooked up on any given day. Contributions of Rich's ex-wife to a Clinton library are mildly incriminating, at best, and Rich's crimes weren't the world's worst. No, this was a rather routine bullshit end-of-term pardon, much like Reagan's free pass for various GOP contributors, including Steinbrenner, back in 1989. Much worse was Daddy Bush's pardons of the Iran Contra figures just as the investigation was leading up to him personally--a real low point in the modern history of that power. But there was no firestorm, b/c the Dems didn't choose to make one and the press was already bored with that scandal, the sins of which were not falsity or insignificance but complexity and longevity. Expect the coming Bush pardons to be far worse, while getting little media traction. I'm lookin' at you, Scooter!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day Travel

We'll be heading to Michigan for the holiday, so don't expect any posts soon. (I know, no posts in a long time anyway.)

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lieba Culpa

Last week Evan Bayh called for Holy Joe to apologize. A number of other Dems have called his behavior "unacceptable." Just wondering, but has there been any sign of contrition from the wayward one? If there has been, I've missed it. He really doesn't seem very regretful. No, he's waving his little GOP flag around, threatening to bolt if he doesn't get his way, despite the fact that we all know this would be suicide in CT reelction ca. 2012. Not to mention that the magic #60 is a chimera: Joe's certainly not a reliable vote inside the caucus, and any number of Republicans seem unlikely to filibuster Landslide Barry anytime soon.

And yet by all accounts the Dems are about to restore his prized committee chair at Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, a post in which he has been, at best, incompetent. What, if anything, do Dems think they're getting in return here? Have they even floated a concession from His Sanctimoniousness? Am I missing something?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whither/Wither/With Her [Conservatism]

Bill Kristol's latest, on the Republican Governors Association meeting. He asks, "Who are the Kemps and Gingriches today?"

I often mock Kristol, but this is a good question. TMcD and I have been kicking this back and forth for a while now. TMcD agrees with Kristol that the next leaders of the GOP will emerge from the ranks of the GOP governors. This is a reasonable hypothesis, and consistent with recent history (1980, 2000).

My sense has been that the next leaders of the GOP will emerge from Congress. The reason is simple, namely that the current crises are matters of national, even international policy, and that it will be very hard for a governor to show leadership on, say, the credit crisis or the mortgage crisis or even the war on terror (remember that?). The action will be in D.C., and if you are in Baton Rouge, or Juneau, or Indianapolis, you're just going to be left out.

The one possible exception is health care, and reports this week that the annointed one, Bobby Jindal, is going to take on health care in Louisiana have to cheer the hearts of the GOP faithful. Of course, Romney's efforts on health care didn't do him much good, as he ran away from the issue in the GOP primaries.

Kristol's question also points to recent debates in the conservosphere about "traditional" versus "reform" Republicans. But if the best reformers, new ideas guys, you can come up are Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich . . . man. I would argue that the best GOP ideas in terms of campaign issues in the recent history of the party were probably Reagan's (in 1976 but especially 1980, i.e., "government is the problem") and Bush's
compassionate conservativism in 2000. The trouble going forward seems to be that government has to be a part of the solution to the current morass, and that compassionate conservatism is largely a failed agenda.

Here, again, I think health care is the major stumbling block. (Ironic that we're discussing Kristol, who led the fight against the Clinton plan so long ago.) It doesn't seem that market-based solutions can address the problem(s). McCain's tax credit solution was premised on the need to get Americans to demand less health care. But I think that that is a very hard slog politically. Expectations are expectations. You can't get folks to accept less of something once they've become very accustomed to a certain level. If that's all the GOP can come up with, then they are in trouble.

So let's see what Jindal can do with health care. Also, let's watch the House GOP for emerging leaders. It's not Boehner, it;s not Lundgren. I can't believe that it's Cantor, but maybe Pence. He might be your next "Kemp" or "Gingrich." He already has the white hair. And he's much better on teevee than Cantor.

If you read the column, btw, Kristol still loves him some Palin. Her appeal, um, still alludes me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Verb Tense

Here's David Brooks this morning: "Is this country going to slide into progressive corporatism, a merger of corporate and federal power that will inevitably stifle competition, empower corporate and federal bureaucrats and protect entrenched interests?"

Well, we wouldn't want a merger of corporate and federal power, no siree. We don't want any powerful corporate and federal bureaucrats. And you can take your entrenched interests somewhere else, mister. It's good that Brooks is warning us against "what could happen if we aren't careful"!

Seriously, do they have an op-ed page editor at the NYTimes? Seriously.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Look O's

For TMcD, mostly. That's a big logo change, no? Some how the bird is a bit more . . . dynamic? What? Of course, the major change is that the new away jerseys actually say "Baltimore." Here's a great post on that.

Cesspool on the Potomac

Well, Lisa Simpson was wrong. The cesspool is the Potomac. A new report out says that the Potomac is growing more polluted. The culprits are development and combined storm drain-sewer systems--i.e., building more, laying more concrete and blacktop, with an increasingly inadequate infrastructure. Maybe this is a candidate for some of that stimulus?

Btw, the National Triathlon--those folks swam the Potomac. No thanks.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Basic Decency

This piece in the WSJ makes the point that I see as coming to define the end of the Bush years. Sure, he was an awful president, sure, he made some major mistakes, but, but, but! He's personally decent. Towey: "Count me among those who will miss him and his bedrock decency."

Gerson: But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency -- a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.


I guess it helps to have friends, or political minions, who are speechwriters and can try to buck up your public image by stories of how "decent" a person you are. And I guess there is value in being nice to the people who work for you, remembering their kids' names and shit like that. But in a major world leader, that's small potatoes. Not even a virtue, as leader qua leader. Regardless of how good a man (or woman) one might be, one can still be a bad, or evil, leader.

How many have died as a direct result of the acts of this decent man?

I would think that the newspaper editors of the world would have the basic, nay, bedrock decency to protect us from this kind of nonsense.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sympathy For She-Devil

Methinks #3 has a little crush.

Come on! Can't have a little fun at the Wasillabilly's expense? Where's your humanity, man? She has so earned this. Dems spend so much time on the receiving end of GOP-fueled media mockery that I can't imagine why anyone would begrudge us a little titter at the GOP it-grrrl getting roasted by GOP-fueled media mockery. Every revolution devours its own children.

Thoughts on the Country of Africa

TMcD may get his wish, and Sarah Palin may be made into a joke by the folks who pushed her for vice president. But, lke Atrios and Campbell Brown (did I just type that?), this whole thing turns my stomach. It's one thing for the tenacious one, or for me, to mock the Palinator. Hell, we never supported her candidacy, we never said moronic things about how she was qualified to be veep.

But for anonymous leakers inside the failed McCain campaign to do it. Sheesh. There's simply no way to know which of these stories are true, and which are the product of the same fertile imaginations that gave us "Barack Obama is a socialist" type lies for weeks. And there's no way to hold the folks doing this accountable, if they are lying.

So I'm calling a Sarah Palin moratorium here. TMcD can still post on her, if he wants, but I'm moving on. If she actually says stoopid things, and I see them on teevee or in print, I may comment. If there is reliable news on things she does, going forward, and it's interesting, I'll post on it, if I feel so inclined. But I'm staying away from this toxic train wreck, the rumors and the nonsense.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Moment

I joked with friends yesterday that my wish list included McCain making a gracious concession speech, which his supporters would boo. Sometimes you do get what you want. (Stay classy, GOP.)

But seriously, this is one of those days when I don't want to think about how we got here--and it's been a rough eight years that made this possible. And I don't want to think about where it's going--there are cycles in life, every 24 hours the world turns over on someone sitting on top of it. I just want to enjoy the moment.

It's an Obama Nation!

Credit where credit's due: the tenacious one appears to have predicted EVERY state correctly. NC and MO are still tight enough that they could flip. But for now, I'm money, baby. When all is said and done, I think #3's prediction of a 7 point pop vote spread will hold up (vs. my 8), but I got closer on the low % vote for third parties. Also, a pretty good record on Senate pics. Franken behind, but there will be a recount, I assume. And who could have guessed that Alaska would send back convicted felon Ted Stevens? Oh well. Good thing Palin stuck by him.

A couple of other points. First, how can we talk about this as a "post-racial" election when the dividing line was basically the confederacy? McCain won the "southern" parts of the country. Obama won the non-south and the parts of the south that are no longer so "south": northern Virginia, Yankee Florida, etc. NC was encouraging, though. That's a "new south" for you. The real meaning is that, thanks to that carpetbagger Bush, the "southern" politics that took over much of the rest of the nation in 1968 no longer has much of a hold outside the south.

Second, there's a lot of talk about whether this is a "center-right" country, despite evidence of a Dem sweep of Congress and White House. Steve Benen lamented the punditocracy's indifference to counter-evidence on this claim. But what he doesn't really get is this: for conservatives, this is not a claim based on empiricism but is instead made on identity politics. It has to do with how they've defined "American" in distinction from "European" (damned socialists!). Our being a right-leaning nation is a non-falsifiable claim, and it is one that mainstream journalists have largely internalized. That will not change any time soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting with Bee Means Celebrity Interactions

So I took Bee with me to vote this morning. We waited in line 55 minutes here in Capitol Hill! It looks to me like four or five precincts vote at the local polling place, and it was jam packed (inflating that Obama popular vote margin?).

We got to skip ahead in line, based on last name (???), and as we walked past the line of other, less fortunately named, voters, there was Donna Brazile, Gore campaign manager and ABC talking head (extraordinaire). So we stopped, Donna shook Bee's hand (more like Bee shook her finger), and Donna Brazile commented on Bee's grip (which is excellent). She said that Bee should run for president (based on her grip) and that she would come out of retirement to work on her campaign.

Now that's a strange first voting experience, huh? I wish that I had had my camera for a picture of Bee with Donna Brazile.

I have to comment that voting in D.C. is a strange experience, beyond the celebrity interactions. We vote for president, but then what? There are a bunch of make-believe offices--non-voting delegate, shadow senator (?), shadow House member--where I don't vote. (I don't vote for made-up offices.) Then there was the City Council at-large, this time for the seats that are more or less reserved for a non-Democrat. So I voted Republican (a pro-gay rights GOP candidate, this is D.C. after all) and D.C. Statehood-Green for at-large. "D.C. Statehood Now!"

There were also unopposed candidates for school board and ANC representative (that's a long story). But I also don't vote in unopposed races. So it was a quick ballot for me: president, city council.

All Signs Now Point to an Obama Victory

In the history of the franchise, the final pre-election game of the Washington Redskins has predicted the winner of the presidential contest 17 out of 17 times. If the 'Skins win, the incumbent party holds onto the White House. If the 'Skins lose, then the voters toss the bums out and the out party wins the White House. Well, last night the 'Skins lost,23-6 to a surprising Steelers team led by . . . back-up QB Byron Leftwich after Big Ben was knocked out with a shoulder injury.

Add to this the Phillies World Series victory (Dems do better historically when the National League team wins the World Series), and all signs point to an Obama victory.

Not that I'm superstitious. But that Redskins thing is scary. (If true. Btw, I heard this on ESPN Radio, so it may not be true.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Radio Free Murfreesboro III

Another podcast from your friendly neighborhood political scientist, taped on Friday morning, run on Sunday morning on WMOT, Nashville's Jazz/NPR station. Click on the date to link to the recording. Seems to be about an election that may be coming up soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Media Bias? Or Selection Bias?

This NYT photo slideshow of NYC marathon runners expressing their political views has an interesting problem. Only ONE McCain-Palin supporter. (That must have been a long 26.2 miles, no?) But he appears on the web page promoting the slideshow.

Hmm. An effort to balance the coverage? Because there couldn't have been an 11-1 tilt in favor of the O-Man out there, could there have been?

Photo Essay: Election 2008 in U Street-Logan Circle

So in the U Street-Logan Circle neighborhood, there seems to be quite a bit of excitement about the possibility of an Obama presidency. I walked around this afternoon and snapped some photos of posters around the neighborhood. I also took some of the t-shirts for sale at the flea market at Florida Avenue and 9th St NW, but none of those look very good. The point is that there are all these t-shirts, which are really designed by black folks for black folks, celebrating Obama. These shirts either link Obama to MLK or celebrate, very clearly, the possibility of a black First Lady. I'm just saying, Michelle is on a lot of these shirts.

For some reason (i.e., my inability to use Blogger) these posted in the reverse order of the one I intended. But whatever. I thought that those of you in other parts of the country might enjoy seeing what the weekend before the election looks like in an urban area.

Btw, there are also any number of t-shirts one sees on the streets. Didn't take any pictures of those.

Just to be clear: I didn't see any McCain-Palin posters, or I would have included those. I don't think there are many GOP voters in the U Street neighborhood.

13 Miles

This morning's run: Constitution Avenue to the Capitol, west on the Mall to Lincoln, then south into West Potomac Park, then East Potomac Park to Hains Point, then back up the channel side, turn right at Maine Avenue to go by the Fish Market and SW Waterfront, then M Street to South Capitol, turn right, past the ballpark, over the Douglass Bridge to Anacostia Park, along the river to Pennsylvania Avenue, across the Duke Ellington Bridge, then onto Kentucky Avenue back to Lincoln Park. Almost exactly 13 miles. At a respectable 8:30/mile pace, in one hour, 50 minutes, and 30 seconds. That may not sound fast, but that would translate into a three hour, 41 minute marathon, which is quite respectable, if you ask me.

As you may remember, I trained for that half marathon in September that was canceled because of tropical storm Hannah. But to be honest, I'm probably in better shape now than I was then, at least marginally. (Of course, my race pace is faster; but that was a trail race, so who knows what I would have actually run it in.)

Part of the reason for this is that I have a new training strategy. I've gone from running five days a week to just four, but I have not reduced my overall mileage (I aim for 30 miles/week; this week I am one mile over the goal). So I run six miles three times a week and then aim for 12 miles on Sunday. Running four days a week gives me three rest days a week, which is very valuable in that it increases my recovery. I used to try for 10 miles on Sunday, and I used to run four miles twice a week and six miles twice a week. But those four mile runs were wearing me out.

It's funny to put it that way, but the marginal difference b/w a four and a six mile run is not that great--the six takes a bit longer, but the time it takes to get dressed, shower after, etc., is the same. But the extra day of running is hard on the body--especially as you approach 40.

Taking an extra day off, and making one of the fours into a six and the 10-mile long run into a 12, I actually feel fresher. I do violate the "long run should not be more than 30 percent of your weekly mileage" maxim, but I think that that rule applies when your long run is really long. I.e., more than two hours in length.

Credit Where Due

Karl Rove sure didn't pull any punches on FNS this morning, did he? His electoral map isn't that different from anyone else's. When asked if McCain can still win, his answer: "A very steep climb," or words to that affect. He seems to be taking his "analyst" role pretty seriously, at least recently.

Panelist Brit Hume endorsed Rove's electoral maps ("roughly 300 EVs") and said nice things about the Obama campaign (and David Plouffe).

Bill Kristol? He tried to sound optimistic: "You only need one path to victory." But he admitted that that path is "not likely," in the end. Btw, I love Kristol's red tie with gold and white stripes--this is the second time he's worn that tie on the show.

Now I Really Feel Bad

So a few weeks ago I wrote this post on why many folks find the sabermetric mindset in baseball somewhat unsettling--because it discounts the "pretty good" or the fan favorite, the over-achiever, the gy with "hustle," (not the hustler,) players that the average guy finds it easier to identify with than the superstar.

But now I learn, from Thomas Sowell's latest, that I really should feel bad about myself. It turns out that Barack Obama is "someone who has actually accomplished nothing," in Sowell's words.

Damn. Obama has a Harvard law degree, was president of Harvard law review, has practiced law, has written two books, has been elected state senator in Illinois and U.S. Senator from Illinois, and has been nominated by the Democratic party as its presidential candidate. If that's actually nothing, then I really am a L-O-S-E-R. For real.

I understand that Sowell is upset at the likely outcome of Tuesday's election, but that doesn't excuse his saying patently ridiculous things.

Predictions 2008

I've been waiting on #3 to do this post to no avail. Maybe he'll man-up in comments. So, without further ado, here are my predictions for Tuesday:

Pop Vote: Obama 53% McCain 45% (Bob Barr finishes 3rd, ahead of Nader)

Electoral College: Obama 364 McCain 174
Obama will hold all Kerry states from 2004 and add CO, FL, IA, IN, NC, NM, NV, OH, VA.
McCain will win AZ, GA, MO, MT, ND, among the "swing states."

In key Senate races, Dems will pick up 7 seats:
AK: Begich beats Stevens
CO: Udall beats Schaeffer
NC: Hagan beats Dole
NH: Shaheen beats Sununu
NM: Udall beats Pearce
OR: Merkley beats Smith
VA: Warner beats Gilmore

It will break my heart, but Al Franken will lose a narrow race to Norm Coleman in MN. In other sad news, Mitch McConnell will hold on in KY, and so will Saxby Chambliss in GA.

Dems will pick up 21 seats in the House.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What Would "Worse" Look Like?

No, this isn't speculation on how a McCain administration would turn out, although partisan bloodbath certainly seems like a reasonable answer to that question. Instead I'm thinking about a meme I've been hearing a lot lately, including from the usually sensible Eugene Robinson and Michelle Bernard, that says Palin has been "getting better" on the campaign trail. Really? REALLY?

How's this for a better explanation for the illusion that she's getting better. No frickin' interviews! Zero press conferences! After all, the media swooned over her convo speech just as they now talk up how "electric" she is on the stump. Well no shit. She's throwing red meat into the pit bull pen. Floating butterflies in a loony bin. Tossing a negro into a Klan rally. You get the point. In the old days, we called this "demagoguery," and, yeah, it tends to be "electric." And nobody gets to ask questions. So no opportunities for Evita P. Agnew ("Spirita Peron"?) to humiliate herself by not being able to name a single newspaper. I also get annoyed with the whole "liberals need to take her charisma seriously" rap from Robinson, et al. Dude, we take her seriously. We know she's got Napoleonic ambitions in her addled snakes-on-a-brain. That's why we MOCK her. The best way to avoid underestimating her dangerousness is to turn her into a national joke. She is dumb, and she is vicious, and she is corrupt. We need to set that narrative in stone, and I mean now.