Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Take Five

1. B. knocks me around a bit for yesterday's post in which I suggest that Tennessee's lack of a state income tax may have something to do with the state's economic strength relative to other states:

Roger says:

the lack of a state income tax is indeed a major reason for Tennessee’s relative economic strength. By the way, why is it that some of the most highly taxed states in the nation are the ones with their hands out? Check the lineup: New York, New Jersey, California…I don’t get it. They have “progressive” tax systems with income taxes. Everybody’s paying their “fair share.” Everything should be hunky-dory. What could possibly be the problem? More to the point, why is it supposedly somehow our (”our”= people who do live in those states) problem?

And I have just two points.

1. You’re lucky Rachel isn’t here, buddy, or I’d totally have her tracking down those studies that show that places like New York put more into the federal coffers than they take out, unlike us.

2. Relative economic strength? Ha, ha, ha. Check this out. When you’re trying to build a hill “Our hole is smaller than yours” is kind of beside the point.

Well, first of all, a minor quibble: I doubt this was done in bad faith, but B. left my opening hedge out of my statement, which was "It's not the only reason, but..." which I think makes my statement a little less strong than it may have seemed from her end.

But, in any case, I'll try to address her general points:

I think we have a little bit of an apples-to-oranges problem here. B. seems to be focused on the fiscal health of state governments only, while Matt Kisber--and, by extension, me--focused on general economic health. The two aren't the same, anymore than, say, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the national economy are the same (though one of the unfortunate effects of the Crash of 1929 has been to equate these two things in the American zeitgeist). There is a relationship there, certainly, but, again, they are not the same. Out-of-whack government budgets and vibrant economies are not necessarily mutually exclusive things. Nor does an in-the-black government budget always necessarily ago hand-in-hand with a healthy economy.

With regard to the oft-discussed issue of dollars-into-the-federal-budget-versus-dollars-out, I'll send the reader back to the last paragraph, but also add that a lot of that largely depends in the first place on what dollars you're counting, in the second place on the efficiency of the use of those dollars, and in the third place on how you measure the actual economic effect of those dollars. There's probably a fourth and fifth place, too, but we'll stop there for now.

Also, the numbers in those studies are often skewed by relative costs of living differences. For example, New Yorkers, say, may pay more federal income tax dollars per capita than Tennesseans (I'm just guessing here, but I suspect it's a pretty safe bet), but how much of that is due to the fact that per capita income is higher in New York, which is itself driven in part by the higher cost of living in New York?

As for the argument against my use of the phrase "relative economic strength," because almost 44 states are in the same hole, well, again, state budgets are not equivalent to state economies, but, even if they were, we need to remember that one of the central arguments made by pro-state income taxers seven to nine years ago was the this very "relative" argument. That is, that states with income taxes experienced relatively less volatility than those without. Well, I don't have the volatility numbers in front of me, but from that map B. links to, seems to me that having a state income tax doesn't seem to be doing a lot for the vast majority of the 44 states facing shortfalls.

2. Thanks, Mike! That was helpful. You know, a lot of Religious Right types love to call other folks in Camp Republican "squishes." This is apparently considered clever in some circles. May I just say that you couldn't name a bigger "squish" than Mike Huckabee? I know, I know, he talks about God a lot, so that must make him solid, right?

3. Shocker: Ex-hippie offended by Barack the Magic Negro parody of song he wrote. Actual quote: "It is almost unimaginable to me that Chip Saltsman who sent the CD, would seriously be considered for the top post of the Republican National Committee. Puff, himself, if asked, would certainly agree." Emphasis mine. You can't make this stuff up.

4. By the way, no, I'm not a huge fan of Chip Saltsman. Don't dislike him, necessarily, but I do think he's overrated.

5. Quote of the Day:

One of the main points which my liberal friends have a hard time grasping is the conservative anger at George W. Bush for not being a conservative. Faith and hope are important human traits, and pure rationality leads to a sterile and indecisive existence (as evidenced in António Damásio’s work). But all things in modest measures. One can not know the mind of a man, but on many an occasion I have wondered as to the similarity between the cosmic visions of liberal audacity and George W. Bush’s belief that if he believes it is so, it is so.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Take Five

1. From The Economist:

A fairly mundane argument posed by a black liberal about a black candidate has become, somehow, evidence of Mr Saltsman's racial insensitivity. It's not that anymore than his old boss's joke about shooting Mr Obama was racist, or Inspector Clouseau's falling down a flight of stars is a protest of their architecture. Present the opportunity for stupidity, and they grab it.

2. Didn't even bother to watch it.

3. I'm neither atheist nor agnostic but this has become of my favorite blogs. I prefer my conservatism served up without the heaping helpings of religious fervor.

4. Kisber's right. It's certainly not the only reason, but the lack of a state income tax is indeed a major reason for Tennessee's relative economic strength. By the way, why is it that some of the most highly taxed states in the nation are the ones with their hands out? Check the lineup: New York, New Jersey, California...I don't get it. They have "progressive" tax systems with income taxes. Everybody's paying their "fair share." Everything should be hunky-dory. What could possibly be the problem? More to the point, why is it supposedly somehow our ("our"= people who do live in those states) problem?

5. He'll be back. Someday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Take Five

1. Saxby Chambliss wins. Does this mean the GOP is still alive? Of course. The GOP was never dead. But let's temper our enthusiasm a bit, shall we? This is Georgia. The fact that there was a runoff at all is the bad sign.

2. Aunt B. sets someone straight. And, seriously, that was one creepy post.

3. "Well, we didn't do too well there." No, you didn't. But again, the four-decade long GOP wave across the south was going to overtake Tennessee eventually.

4. We're now polling people regarding how a person is performing a job that doesn't even really exist.

5. I don't think they should hire anyone dumb enough to want such a terrible job in the first place. But that's just me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Take Five

1. Again, so far anyway, this isn't Change. It's a Restoration.

2. But what it does do is help to confirm the "Two Tribes" theory of American politics, the one that says (more or less) that for all of the infighting that goes one, in the end most everyone with a political bent basically falls into one or the other of the two major parties ("tribes") and that power ultimately devolves to--again--one or the other groupings.

3. By the way, back in 2000 and early 2001 a lot of media types were criticizing George Bush's selection of people from previous Republican administrations. Well.

4. B. makes a good point.

5. "Didn't community-based organizations push for exactly this sort of reverse-redlining? I think they did. It's one thing to argue that they maybe weren't the major cause of the subprime meltdown. It's another for them to pose as victims wronged by the very system they worked hard to set up (including the securitization that enabled banks to keep up 'reverse redlining')" -- Mickey Kaus

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take Five

1. Gregg Easterbrook:

...[T]he mainstream media always present all economic news as bad. Higher interest rates? Bad for borrowers. Lower interest rates? Might cause inflation. Normally, the media's penchant for spinning all economic news as bad doesn't matter -- but right now it does, as pessimism more than logic seems to be driving the weak economy. Speaking as someone who pulled the election lever for Barack Obama (and whose daughter worked for the Obama campaign round the clock for months), I agree with John McCain's statement, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." They are. McCain was right! Innovation is high. Labor productivity is high. There are no shortages of any resource or commodity. Pessimism is driving the downturn, and that pessimism is advanced by relentless media negativism.

2. "Welcomes" them to do what, exactly? I mean, what could they really do? Hang out?

3. Kaus on arguments for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State:

Sorry, I'm not buying it. It seems simple to me: She can't do him much damage from the Senate, where she doesn't rank. She can do him a lot of damage through self-interested leaking from the State Department. (Here's Exhibit Z, if you needed it, from Elizabeth Drew.) If he fires her she can then run against him and make more trouble. Even smart, well-advised people make mistakes. I think it's a mistake. Or else there is some other factor at work that we don't know about (e.g., Hillary has the real birth certificate! Joking!)...

Agreed. For this and other reasons, I think this is a bad move. I don't understand what it gets him.

4. What, you mean he's not actually the president yet? You don't say.

5. Sorry I've been away for a bit. It's been all I can do to get my head around all of this ChangeTM. A Clinton in a top Cabinet position. Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Bill Richardson back in the Cabinet. Gates staying at the Pentagon. If I didn't know any better I'd think the only real change
we're getting is at the top. Which may be enough for most people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The gays are coming to your town to, um, do gay things and stuff, like, I don't know, make crafts or something.

Anyway, be prepared! Get the DVD now! For a "suggested donation" of just $49.95, you too can "order a 5 pack and put this vital information in the hands of your local officials, pastors and other community leaders." Hop to it!

Take Five

1. So I finally get around to checking out this supposedly terrible blog post by Bill Hobbs, which has normally sober liberals (well, Christian Grantham probably doesn't quite qualify for the "sober" label; let's go for "liberal with a good buzz") all up in arms and, well, I guess I don't see what all the fuss is all about. Yes, it's pretty obvious to me from the post that Hobbs is skeptical of the proposed "Big Three" bailout, but it's not some fire-breathing to-hell-with-all-the-workers post. It is indeed, as he states, an "analysis."He even talks about how there are some Republicans who support the bailout concept.

2. I also find it odd that the folks who are calling Hobbs out seem to be equating "bailout" with "workers not losing their jobs." Well, a bailout alone probably isn't going to change anything. It will just delay the inevitable for a short while unless major changes are implemented as part of the package, some of which Hobbs alludes to in his analysis.

3. Having said all of this, I still think it's a really bad idea to allow your communications director to continue his own "independent" politically-oriented blog while he is in your employ. He can say his opinions are "his own" all he wants to, and the party can say the same thing, but in reality those are just academic points. From the point of view of most people, the person who is your communications director is making statements on public matters that, it is reasonable to surmise, are also the opinions of the party itself. Seems to me that creates more problems than it's worth, but I guess that's just me.

4. Right, it's all about union busting. Maybe for some people, but for most of us it's about avoiding the possibility of throwing any more money down a black hole. And, pray tell, why do you think the Democrats are so gung-ho about doing this anyway? You think the union influence in the national Democratic party has nothing to do with that? If you want to make the broad-storke assertion that Republican opposition to a bailout is all about "union busting," well, fine, suit yourself. But you can't then deny that institutional Democratic support by and for unions isn't playing a major role in this debate.

5. Barack Obama and the future of country music.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Take Five

1. Change.

2. Hope.

3. Noted local economist Mike Byrd doesn't seem to understand the difference between automobile manufacturers and financial institutions. Here's a better comparison. Bonus: It's from NPR! I therefore assume it will appeal to his refined urbanite sensibilities.

4. What am I supposed to be seeing here? Is it the color scheme?Tthe layout at the top? I guess it's the color scheme and the layout. OK.

5. Conservative identity politics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Take Five--Tennessee Titan Analogy Edition

1. From Tom Humphrey:

The current chairman of the budget subcommittee is Democratic Rep. Harry Tindell of Knoxville, who, by the way, does not like the panel's "black hole" nickname. When [Rep. Stacey] Campfield was suggested as a possible successor conversationally the other day, he shrugged his shoulders in rather philosophical fashion.

"I think people rise to the occasion when they are placed in a position of responsibility," he said. "Things have a way of falling into place."

I am no fan of Campfield's, but--and this is something I was hoping to get around to last week but didn't, in no small part because he reminded me (yet again) what a dunderhead he can be--I say most definitely make him chairman of something. Campfield is not a guy with a lot of grey area, so you've got to figure one of just two things are going to happen when he's actually given real responsibilty for governing:

Possibility 1: He completely flames out. Spectacularly so.

Possibility 2: He actually rises to the occasion and does a bang-up job.

Don't dismiss Possibility 2! When Campfield gets mind focused on something, he can be quite effective. (Whether you might want him to be effective at what he's trying to do may be another story.) Having him take the reins of some underperforming committee or subcommittee may be exactly what's needed to whip it into shape. He also appears to have no real life whatsoever outside of (as Humphrey calls it) Legislatorland, so he'll have all the time and energy in the world to do some good if he is so inclined. Added benefit: with actual repsonsibility on his plate, he won't have as much time to annoy the leadership from the backbenches. Sometimes, like, say, Kerry Collins, you just need to be put in the right situation to finally grow up and and act like an adult.

But what about Possibility 1? Couldn't he screw up royally? Yes. But so what? It's just a committee chairmanship. The fate of the free world does not hinge on much of anything the Tennessee House of Representatives does. And, anyway, the power of the Speaker's office can effectuate any mop-up work that may be needed if things go horribly awry. Plus, if Campfield does indeed screw up, Speaker Mumpower can say to Campfield's enablers fan club something along the lines of "Hey, I gave him a shot. He blew it. Can't blame me." And move on.

Tennessee survived Brenda Turner as a legislative chairperson. It can survive a Chairman Campfield, too.

2. You know, while the current Tennessee Republican Party leadership most certainly deserves its share of the credit for getting the party to majority status, there were a lot of people before them working to get things to this point. There was a time, for instance, when only one person--the terrific Bill Dunn--was the only Republican House member with the guts to publicly vote against Jimmy Naifeh as speaker while everyone else--including Jason Mumpower--timidly hit their little green "Yes" buttons. And many others have done yeoman's work at the party offices over the last two decades, toiling in obscurity, but also slowly and surely making very real progress.

The current party leadership is like LenDale White: it gets the credit for punching the ball over the goal line. But it was the Chris Johnsons of the party that got the ball all the way down the field in the first place. The current folks would be wise to remember that.

3. Goofy Tennesseean headline of the day: "Bankruptcies snuff out Tenn. small businesses." Well, yes, bankruptcies often have a way of doing that.

4. Why did Barack Obama win? When a mere 12% of the population "strongly approves" of the imcumbent president, and that incumbent president is a member of the other party, that can grease the skids pretty well. One thing to watch for: what happens when W. leaves the scene?

5. Good review for the Obamas on 60 Minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yup, That's About Right

McCain's and Davis's and Schmidt's decision to pick Palin was a huge political gamble. But that's the thing about gambles: you don't know beforehand how they're going to turn out. If Palin had proven during the course of the campaign that she was up to the job of being veep and maybe even president, it's a gamble McCain may well have won. But because she clearly demonstrated that she wasn't up to the job, the gamble backfired and the move wound up actually costing McCain votes. It's sort of pointless for pundits/journalists/whatever to hold McCain et al accountable for the Palin pick at this point, since the voters already did.

-- Jason Zengerle

Take Five

1. "Boy, was I wrong." That pretty much sums up Wes Comer's entire blog, doesn't it? He should just leave that up there.

2. I'm pretty sure it's spelled "vulture." Geez...could you at least pretend to care? It's called a dictionary. Get one.

3. Well, he's consistent anyway, inasmuch as he applies the same standards to the employment of random gossip that he does to that of the English language. Regardless of whether he is ever found to be actually legally liable for anything at all in this particular matter, anyone who continues to defend this man-child of a state legislator has a long road back toward any measure of credibility.

4.All right, enough of that. Haven't heard from Bob Krumm an a couple of days. That's why I've had to go slumming for a bit (see numbers one, two and three). Bob, please come back.

5. Card check. BOHICA.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Five

1. This guy was Sarah Palin before there was a Sarah Palin. It's just that he was is populist-style Democrat so folks didn't take as much umbrage.

2. Gregg Easterbrook:

Reader Barbara Grunwald of Clovis, Calif., reports, "I watched the ESPN interviews with the presidential candidates during halftime on 'Monday Night Football' the night before the election and loved Barack Obama's answer to the question of what one thing he would change about sports if he could. Obama said he wanted a college football playoff; John McCain, asked the same question, gave a serious reply about steroids. Obama had it right -- and I'm a Republican who voted for McCain. He understood that sports is entertainment, not serious. The whole point of sports is to create an alternate universe in which we care, passionately and loudly, about things that don't matter at all. We hate having real life intrude on the sports page: we don't like hearing about steroids or real-life matters, those are for the news pages. Obama gets that sports is about relief from reality. As soon as I heard their answers, I knew Obama would win."

3. Does anyone even bother to read The Tennessean anymore? Why?

4. Trey Parker on the election episode.

5. Gosh, it's really hard to understand why some people might have thought that folks wanting to preserve same-sex marriage in California might have had a bit of an anti-religious bias. Really, really hard to figure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Here's the tally from the Daily Dish as of 1:16 PM CST:

Number of posts on Sarah Palin, a person with zero chance of being president at any point in the next four years: Five.

Number of posts today about Barack Obama, a person with a near-100% chance of being president as of January 20, 2009: Six. And that's being extremely charitable, since two of these posts are simply links to other pundits giving their advice to Obama and one is he mere mention of the possibility of the Obama children being guest stars on Hannah Montana.

Take Five

1. Phil Donahue and Bruce Bent: separated at birth?

2. A week later and we're still talking about Sarah Palin. I understand why people on the right are still talking about her, but why are people on the left still talking about her? It's over. Her side lost. This may be difficult for you to do, but the time is going to come when you will have to start actually covering the Obama presidency beyond its mere level of historicity. He may actually be doing things that are important. Give it a try!

3. Barack Obama doesn't concern me. Never really has, not too much anyway. It's everyone else I'm concerned about, especially the mainstream media, which is known for its bowing to the politically correct altar. Seriously, if you were a reporter at a mainstream media outlet, and you were watching as layoffs and cutbacks were going on all around you day after day, would you want to be the first one of the bunch to go out on a limb and knock the nation's first black president down a few notches, even if he really deserves it? Hell, especially if he deserves it? Yeah, me neither. Are you among those who think Republicans had an Emperor's New Clothes problem with Sarah Palin? You may not have seen anything yet.

4. Not exactly a shock.

5. No winners.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Take Five

1. Dear Andrew, your guy won. Please get over this. It's pathetic. Also a little creepy.

2. Lileks:

The lesson, as always, is that things change. Things will change again. And I expect that the GOP leadership will conclude that since things do change, they can sit back and wait for it to happen again. Which is a recipe for ensuring that the next such map has a thin red line like the one you used to use to open a Band-Aid.

3. Media Obasm headline at The Tennessean.

4. George Will:

Some of the Republicans' afflictions are self-inflicted. Some conservatives who are gluttons for punishment are getting a head start on ensuring a 2012 drubbing by prescribing peculiar medication for a misdiagnosed illness. They are monomaniacal about media bias, which is real but rarely decisive, and unhinged by their anger about the loathing of Sarah Palin by similarly deranged liberals. These conservatives, confusing pugnacity with a political philosophy, are hot to anoint Palin, an emblem of rural and small-town sensibilities, as the party's presumptive 2012 nominee.

These conservatives preen as especially respectful of regular — or as Palin says, "real" — Americans, whose tribune Palin purports to be. But note the argument that the manipulation of Americans by "the mainstream media" explains the fact that the more Palin campaigned, the less Americans thought of her qualifications. This argument portrays Americans as a bovine herd — or as inert clay in the hands of wily media, which only Palin's conservative celebrators can decipher and resist.

These conservatives, smitten by a vice presidential choice based on chromosomes, seem eager to compete on the Democrats' terrain of identity politics, entering the "diversity" sweepstakes they have hitherto rightly deplored. We have seen this movie before. Immediately after the 1972 election, some conservatives laid down the law — the 1976 Republican nominee must be Vice President Spiro Agnew.

5. Religious Right, R.I.P.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Class Acts

"Sarah Palin didn't even know that Africa was a continent. She's twice as retarded as Trig."

-- commenter "KC," here, obviously some some kind right-wing nutcase.

"Sarah may be gone but now we have the Black Widow or as their own may call her First H o."

-- commenter "Yahtzee," same place, obviously some kind of left-wing moonbat.

And that, ladies and gents, is why I don't do comments. Want to be an asshole? Do it on your own blog.

Take Five

1. For the last time, Barack Obama is not America's first black president. This was America's first black president. He was even assassinated but then returned to life to sell car insurance, making the whole Messiah business also completely passe. Really, it's a shame that Americans don't know their history.

2. Mickey:

How About At Least Making Them Choose? So the UAW wants a $25 billion bailout and an end to the secret ballot ... Because Wagner Act unionism clearly worked out so well for Detroit.

3. So I'm listening to Rush Limbaugh for a few minutes yesterday, largely because Jim Rome was interviewing someone I didn't care about, and I was quickly reminded of the reason I don't listen to Limbaugh very much: the callers. This guy calls in all pissed off, saying that he's a 59-year old lifelong "conservative activist" and by God he's so tired of Republicans like John McCain who are just "Democrat-lite." If McCain likes Democrats so much, he should just go be one. We don't need people like him in the Republican Party, only "real" Republicans. And so on. Limbaugh, to his discredit, essentially agreed.

Well, you know what Mr. Lifelong Conservative Activist? Screw you. John McCain has more honor, dignity and, yes, sheer class in his left big toe then you have in your "lifelong conservative activist" body. What does it take to be a "conservative activist" anyway? Do you make a few phone calls for a political campaign every other October? Did you slap an "Impeach Hillary" bumper sticker on your car back in 1993? Call some liberal a communist traitor on some half-assed blog somewhere? Really, to be a political "activist" of any stripe is a pretty damned low threshold. Basically, you have a political opinion, you do something about it, and bingo! You're an activist! Such magnificent service you've done for all of us. Certainly makes hovering on the edge of death for five-and-a-half years in a prison camp on behalf of your countrymen pale in comparison.

Sure, purge John McCain. Go ahead and purge anyone who's not completely doctrinaire. Sponsor a pogrom for the independent-minded. That's the way to build a majority. Cripes.

4. No.

5. Question authority.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Saving Sarah

Amen. This is nasty business and I'm speaking as someone who gets knocked a lot for being an "elitist" myself by self-styled "conservatives" for no other reason, as far as I can tell, than that I use big words from time to time, don't talk about religion constantly and can be a little snarky.

The NAFTA thing I can sort of see. But I find the Africa story rather suspicious. (Frum thinks so, too.) But who the crap cares about the bathrobe business? I've sort of assumed all these guys see each other in casual circumstances anyway. I mean, they basically live together for months. Hell, Franklin Roosevelt once walked in on Winston Churchill stark naked.

So, up yours Nicolle Wallace. And here's hoping no one ever hires you for a political campaign again. I can't believe anyone would be stupid enough to do that, but who knows. If you think picking Sarah Palin was a bad choice for Vice-President, fine, but rest assured that that would be nothing compared to any candidate ever picking you for anything above campaign office janitor inthe future.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Take Five -- Election Hangover Edition

1. How to get to 60: 1) Entice Snowe and Collins to come across the aisle. Can't imagine that would irritate their constituents too much. 2) Offer John McCain a position in the administration (such as Secretary of Defense), after which the Democratic governor of Arizona appoints a Democratic successor to McCain. That gets you close, right? Yes, I realize this seems far-fetched, but then consider how out of the realm of reality things feel right now. Really, would it be so hard to appeal to McCain's general sense of honor, duty and so forth to get him to do that? And, seriously, what is McCain going to do in the Senate now? McCain can wind down Iraq while giving Obama cover on his right. Stranger things have...well, you know.

2. President Barack Hussein Obama. President Barack Hussein Obama. President Barack Hussein Obama. This is going to take a while.

3. As of 2:53 AM, there is absolutely no mention of the GOP takeover of the state legislature on the homepage of the Tennessean.

4. Come on Minnesota, please don't saddle the country with a Senator Al Franken. Democrats, you don't want that either, do you?

5. I said O 54%, M 45%. It came out O 52%, M 47%. I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations To The Tennessee Republican Party

Holy crap, they actually did it. Finally, the Tennessee House of Represenatives has caught up with the rest of the South.

Congratulations to Barack Obama

Ohio has been called. It's over.


OK, this is getting out of hand. Andrew Sullivan says to read this and "have a good cry." I say read it only if you want your half-digested lunch all over your desk.

I hope to God this fever passes soon and everyone can start treating Barack Obama as a president instead of the Second Coming of Christ. People: he's just a guy. And what you did was push a button and vote. That's all. Give it a rest.

Another Reason To Get Excited About Barack Obama

In the future, "Hey, I voted for Barack Obama!" will be every white person's get-out-of-racism-free card. It's perfect: 1) a real racist (at least, an anti-black racist) would presumably not vote for a black man for president and 2) it's completely unverifiable! Perfect! It's like saying you were part of the French Resistance in 1943.

Hey, you should always look on the bright side.

Again I Say, How Could You Not Like This Guy On A Personal Level?

Via Kaus, here's Barack Obama on saggy pants:

I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. ... [snip] Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face, that you don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear -- I'm one of them.

Now who would you rather hear that from--Bill Bennett or Barack Obama? Better question: from whose lips would this have a more positive effect on the intended audience? Heck, even Bill Cosby couldn't pull that one off, and he tried.

Just For The Record

Sticking with the ticket I punched at the window 12 days ago:

Popular Vote:

Obama 54%
McCain 45%
Other 1%

Electoral Vote:

Obama: 348
McCain: 190

Take Five -- Sliding Land Edition

1. If -- when -- Barack Obama wins tonight, remember that he will do so in large part because he is, quite simply, a much, much, much better candidate than John McCain, which is how this usually works out. He had better answers than McCain did (note = "better" just means sounded better, not necessarily better policy-wise), he came across better to average voters than McCain did and, in many ways, he came across as much more presidential than McCain did. Does this mean he will be a better president than McCain would? Dunno. But he's got the candidate part down pat.

2. George W. Bush beat John McCain in 2000. He did it again this year.

SO IF, AS SEEMS LIKELY, MCCAIN LOSES TOMORROW, people will be blaming him and Sarah Palin. But let me point out that the Republican Party has been exhibiting a bizarre death wish since 2005. And you can't blame either of them for that. . . . -- Glenn Reynolds

4. Every "yes-McCain-can-win" scenario I'm reading seems to have the following as its underlying theme: that there are these hordes of (presumably) white voters out there who are either not telling pollsters what they really think or they are not being counted at all. I don't see it. I will say that I would not surprised to learn that Obama won the total "early vote" and McCain wins--or at least draws even--with today's vote. It won't be enough.

5.James Lileks has brought his Screedblog back, just in time. I'm going to need it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Radical Marriage

OK, I knew something else was bugging me about that Robin Smith bit and it just dawned on me.


But Smith points to the overwhelming vote on a gay marriage ban amendment in Tennessee two years ago as evidence that the state is still firmly conservative.

“That’s not real moderate,” she said.

OK, what? This makes no sense to me. A vote for "traditional marriage," which is what that vote was for most people (and how it was framed by conservative supporters), was not a "moderate" vote? Well, what the hell was it then? Isn't support for traditional marriage about the most moderate, mainstream thing there is (even Barack Obama won't touch the issue with a 40-foot pole)? Indeed, isn't the whole basis for the argument--that is: "this is the way we've always done it"--pretty much "moderation" in a nutshell? The reason the vote for traditional marriage was so overwhemling was precisely because it was the moderate position to take.

I had no idea that the traditional, different-sex marriage I'm presently in--and the overwhileming support for same among the Tennessee polity--was such a radical departure from the norm. Methinks she doesn't know what moderate really means.

Are Intellectuals Allowed In The Republican Party?

Perhaps not in the state party anyway.

I realize that that's not exactly what Robin Smith is saying, but it's close enough for discussion purposes. Plus, she's never been the greatest communicator in the world, so you kind of have to read between the lines to get her real meaning. I think I do.

I've said it before; I'll say it again: a political party needs intellectual energy to remain viable. Intellectuals develop ideas; ideas become policy options; policy optons become messages; messages become campaign themes; campaign themes attract voters; voters award parties with their votes.

To choose simplistic populism over intellectually-oriented conservatism is to choose George Wallace over George Will. George Will may not have won any elections himself, but the intellectual tradition of which he was (and remains) a significant part makes up a vital part of the national center-right coalition the GOP relies on every four years. George Wallace did win elections, but later on he himself repudiated much of what he had once built his political career.

You want to purge intellectuals from your ranks (or simply make clear that they are unwelcome, which amounts to the same thing)? You do so at your own peril.

Take Five -- Tempered Optimism Edition

1. It's true. He did. And--I truly mean this--Sarcastro has been the most accurate predictor of the twists and turns of this election since the beginning. Better than any of the talking heads. He deserves a commentator's job.

2. Yes, I'm sticking with it. I think I would probably switch a few of the states around, but, yeah, once I post a prediction, I usually stick with it.

3. But...I am hoping against hope for a better outcome. At least, I think a McCain come-from-behind victory would be a better outcome. I could make the counter-argument just as easily.

4. Just to make things interesting:

Your posts on some polls in Pennsylvania that show McCain within reach emphasizes what some readers need to remember, that a lot them aren’t seeing the pointed end of the McCain campaign unless they live in a targeted state and are a targeted voter. If you have the right demographic and you are in a key state, you have gotten getting six or seven mailers that are extremely good negative pieces (covering all those issues that a lot of conservatives think McCain isn’t hitting hard enough on). You have also gotten six or seven taped phone calls from Republican leaders and ordinary citizens and the messages are good. You are also hearing radio ads about “congressional liberals.”

The RNC is claiming 64 percent more contacts like this than in 2004 and I think that’s probably accurate. And the 2004 effort was impressive – RNC was praised for it. This is bigger.

And if you live in a targeted state you are seeing McCain TV ads. Lots of them. For all the talk of the Obama advertising advantage, McCain is outspending Obama by 10 million in the last ten days of the campaign. That isn’t well known. And they are good spots on McCain’s public service, the economic message and in what the McCain camp calls “Joe the Biden”, which quotes Biden about testing a new president.

More generally, McCain seems to have controlled the issue dynamic issue coming out of the last debate. The polls are all showing Joe the Plumber and his question has penetrated voters’ consciousness. And McCain and Palin and the RNC have actually been using the word “liberal.” (One amazing thing about both Bush campaigns is that they never really used the worst brand in politics against the Democrats. They steered away from the “l” word.) And this isn’t like 1992 or 1996 when the Republican message never broke through.

One final point to keep in mind about McCain’s campaign. The public measures a candidate on personal qualities and his stands on the issues. But they also want to see how he runs a campaign – for them it’s a sign of whether he can handle a presidency. McCain was able to recover from losing his lead when the economic crisis hit and come back from a lackluster second debate and then developed a good message for the last debate and rest of the campaign. And his campaign has made smart strategic decisions about spending their money. McCain is finishing strong; he’s showing will. At a subliminal level, voters pick that up.

5. And, then for the other side, here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Her Vote Counts Too

As a Republican, one of the ongoing things I've had to live with over the years is the stereotype that Republicans--and those who vote for Republicans--are just not very bright. And that Republicans make it a point to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Well, let me just say that this person (the one in the video) isn't going to be winning any IQ contests in her lifetime either. And you know she's not the only one out there. Indeed, without all of those folks who actually believe that all of their financial problems are just going to suddenly vanish after Barack Obama's victory on November fourth, Obama wouldn't stand a chance of winning.

Just remember that next time you want to talk about what idiots Republicans--and those who vote for Republicans--are. The truth is that both parties have to appeal to morons. Because morons vote too, especially in presidential elections.

Take Five -- Happy Halloween

1. Are you a Republican feeling low? Perhaps this incredibly optimistic outlook will cheer you up. Though, it should be noted, it predicts a Barack Obama victory, so don't get too excited. Plus the Republicans get their butts kicked in the Senate and the House. Still, it's actually more optimistic than what you've been seeing. Seriously. Of course, it's also from Human Events.

2. A reasoned take on the Khalidi video business.

3. Headline on the Tennessean Web site: "Some in Missouri town find Obama revolting". Where is it listed? Under "Nashville Area News."

4. They make Rush Limbaugh look like a mobster in this picture. Probably intentional, by both the photographer and Limbaugh.

5. Ten horror film sites.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Take Five -- Five Days Until The End

1. Aunt B. cried in her car after voting for Barack Obama. I guess I don't get that. I mean, I can see why a black voter would (and presumably some do) get that emotional about voting for Obama, but I don't see why a white person would. Feel good about it? Yeah, maybe. But cry? Huh. I don't know. I'm not saying she's wrong to have done that--emotional reactions are what they are. But it certainly does lend credence to the idea that Obama wins hearts rather than minds. Which, of course, usually wins elections.

UPDATE: Braisted responds. He says he didn't cry after voting but may on Election Night, assuming Obama wins (actually, I suppose he'll cry if Obama loses, too--probably much harder). Well, that I kind of get. Braisted's been with Obama since the beginning. That would be the culmination of a long political battle which he was a part of and on which he spent a great deal of personal energy. Plus he really believes in the guy, while B really doesn't, since she admits (to her credit) that she has doubts about him. So I still don't get why the simple act of just voting for Barack Obama would bring a white person to tears.

2. Sarcastro sees an angle on that Sedaris quote that I had completely missed.

3. Sabato sees a landslide in the offing.

4. "Outlook: If Tuke is a praying man, he might qualify for a miracle. Otherwise, Alexander would seem to be a shoo-in. Aside from a certain potential in Shelby County and in Davidson County (Nashville), Tuke, whose name recognition remains minute, has limited prospects." - Jackson Baker, Memphis Flyer

No. John McCain has limited prospects. Bob Tuke has a snowball's chance in Hell.

5. My Phillies won. Awesome.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Didn't Vote For Him, But...

...seriously, how could you not like a presidential candidate who does stuff like this?


It ain't over 'til it's over.

Take Five -- Six Days To Go

1. Note to many Dems/liberals/lefties: you know that David Sedaris squib about the "chicken" or the "platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it"? It's not nearly as funny, clever or incisive as you think it is. Also: undecided voters aren't generaly impressed by hearing one of the candidates they've been mulling over (and who, whether you like him or not, has a biography as impressive--indeed much more impressive to many people--as your guy's) compared to a "platter of shit". Presumably, they don't think John Mccain's comparable to a platter of shit. If they did, they wouldn't be so undecided, would they?

2. You know who we haven't heard much from lately? Michael Moore. Good plan!

3. Actual opening quote from Dana Stevens, absolutely horrendous movie critic for Slate, in her explanation of her vote for Barack Obama: "I wasn't going to include any reason why—because duh..." Seriously: "Duh." This is a grown woman writing for a major publication with an ostensibly intellectual bent. And, naturally, she follows it up with the Sedaris bit. I have little doubt she's also extremely condescending about Sarah Palin in her casual conversations. She probably shouldn't be. Duh.

4. Tightening...

5. The most popular piece of conventional wisdom on the right is that Obama doesn't close well. Well, sometimes the conventional wisdom is correct: he doesn't. Seems so long ago now, but it's still worth noting that the man essentially limped over the Democratic primary finish line in June. Of course, he also still won in the end.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why I Love Matt Drudge

A headline both full of meaning yet completely meaningless at the same time:


Well, sure they could. I mean, you know, not bloody likely, but sure they could. And it would be one of the biggest stories of the decade, behind only 9/11 and Katrina.

It would also be hilarious to watch these guys squirm after basically having called this election three weeks in advance.

Here's hoping, at least on my end.

Take Five -- 8 Days Until Democratic Hegemony

1. "KausFiles Goes Rogue!" Doesn't Mickey Kaus pretty much always go rogue (probably part of the joke, you see)? That's what make him so interesting. And so gosh darned lovable. Here's a bit on alleged GOP vote suppression:

I still don't see what's so terrible about the practice of "caging," when a party sends out "out nonforwardable mail" and "uses returned envelopes to question the eligibility of the addressees." Presumably the evidence provided by the envelopes can be rebutted, and the Democrats could do the same in Republican districts. The adversarial system at work! ...

2. Do I think I overestimated Obama's take last week? Probably. And hopefully! But I'll go down with that ship. Still seems ugly to me.

3. I suspect that after the fever passes (around November 10th) people will look back and see the last few weeks as one of the lowest points in modern mainstream media history.

4. Running the clock out, that's all.

5. Go Phillies! One more to go.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crystal Ball UPDATED

Popular Vote:

Obama 54%
McCain 45%
Other 1%

Electoral Vote:

Obama: 348
McCain: 190

McCain takes only AK, ID, UT, AZ, WY, SD, NB, KS, OK, TX, AR, LA, IN, KY, TN, MS, AL, GA, SC and FL.

This has all the earmarks of Reagan '80 (read especially the "Background" section) all over again, just going the other way. This is going to be very ugly (or very glorious, depending on your point of view).

John McCain doesn't deserve this, but the timing is what it is. Life would be better had he won in SC back in 2000. At least, that's what I think anyway.

UPDATE: In hidsight, I might make a couple of changes--MT, ND and WV to McCain and FL to Obama. Which is actually even worse, electorally speaking.

Take Five -- 11 Days To Go

Well, let's just call this "Take One" today, because Charles Krauthammer says it all for me on this, a day on which I think Obama may take as much as 54% of the popular vote:

Contrarian that I am, I’m voting for John McCain. I’m not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it’s over before it’s over. I’m talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they’re left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.

I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe — neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) — yelling “Stop!” I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I’d rather lose an election than lose my bearings.


The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic, soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who’s been cramming on these issues for the last year, who’s never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign-policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of “a world that stands as one”), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as “the tragedy of 9/11,” a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign-policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts, but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008



I am still pessimistic (from my point of view). But still...huh.

P.S. Check out which religious group has 27% of its voters that are "Not Sure.".

Take Five -- 12 Days To Go

1. Maybe it's because it's early, but I've read this column three times now and I still don't understand it. Looks to me like she spend the whole time talking about how it shouldn't be easy to change the Metro charter by referendum and then concludes by discussing two amendments to the Metro charter that would be improvements to the charter, amendments that are going to be put into the charter by referendum. I guess I'm missing something, but then, I live in Brentwood now, so I guess I really don't give a flip.

2. Not convincing.

3. Definitely worth reading.

4. Also worth reading.

5. Indeed, Sarah Palin is not stupid. Anyone who thinks Palin is stupid really has no idea what a stupid person really is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Take Five -- 13 Days To Go

1. Tennessee: Lame Hacking Capital of the World

2. A complaint I'm starting to hear more and more that's getting old: that a lot of black voters are just voting for Barack Obama just because he's black. Well, yeah, probably. And really, can you blame them? Not me.

Now, in a perfect world, we wouldn't have this sort of thing going on, but in a perfect world the vast majority of American whites wouldn't have treated black people as a homogenous (and inferior) group for 300-some-odd years. Really, why should anyone be surprised that they themselves (or any members of a race so treated) treat themselves the same way? It's going to take a long time to flush out those wounds and get ourselves to equlibrium. The good news: should Barack Obama win, that's just a giant step in the right direction.

3. Something that occurred to me last night: 24 has dropped off the radar screen lately, but there was a recent time when it was the bane of liberals and lefties. But you know what? 24 was groundbreaking in a major way, featurng not just one buit two black presidents as major characters. The West Wing? An old white guy. Just saying.

4. Non-elitists for Obama.

5. Thsi race remains closer than it appears. But what the McCain campaign lacks is a real ground game. He's got the hope that a 21st century version of Nixon's old "Silent Majority" is sitting out there. Indeed, that's really his only hope.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Take Five -- 14 Days To Go

1. To be filed in the Let's-(Gently)-Irritate-Aunt-B Department:

From Mickey Kaus

Recommended: Tim Noah's 2001 piece on William Ayers' memoir Fugitive Days. A searing and timely review! Noah certainly seems like another pro-Obama Democrat who wouldn't have served on a board with Ayers. He describes Ayers as "self indulgent and morally clueless" and generally treats the ex-Weatherman as a pathetic joke. ... Is Noah really 100% comfortable with a Democratic candidate who didn't? ...

2. A presidential endorsement sure to resonate in flyover country.

3. This cracked me up.

4. Andrew Sullivan continues his (hopefully temporary) descent into blog-o-madness.

5. Apparently, violating a woman is funny. Who knew?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bill Ayers, Through Another Prism

This is probably not original with me, but it's still worth thinking about...If you are someone who just can't get why some people have an issue with Obama's supposed non-relationship with William Ayers, suppose everything about this story were the same, except for two major differences:

1) Instead of being a member (or whatever you call it) of the Weather Underground, suppose instead that he was a member of a group that bombed (or wanted to bomb) abortion clinics, and

2) Instead of it being a Democrat tied to this individual, suppose instead that it was the Republican candidate.

Now do you kind of get it? You can talk all day about just how intimate this relationship between Barack Obama and Ayers actually was or is. That's a fair discussion. But don't pretend like it's not an issue. You know that if this were about John McCain instead of Barack Obama, and, say, Eric Rudolph instead of Ayers, that Democrats would be going absolutely ballistic.

And, rightly so, no?

UPDATE: B's dissent here. I may have a response; I may not. Depends on available time. As usual, though, her post is worth a read.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barring Something Astronomical, This One's Over

One, two, three strikes and you're out, as they say. These debates were McCain's last hope and he couldn't pull it off.

Well, one upside for those of us of the Republican stripe is that a Democratic sweep will remind middle-of-the-road voters that Democrats have their problems, too. It will be very interesting to see some of the stuff these guys try to push through in the early days of 2009. A little scary, too, from an economic perspective. Card-check anyone?

I'm (more or less) an employment lawyer by trade, so things are officially looking up for me. As for the rest of you, the ones out there who actually produce goods and services people want to use and enjoy, not to mention those who pay those people who actually produce goods and services people want to use and enjoy, as well as those who provide the capital for the people who pay those people who produce the goods and services people want to use and enjoy, well, good luck with that.

UPDATE: The Gallup "shock" poll, showing McCain only two points behind, was released a few hours after this post. That's helpful. In truth, I do think this is a lot closer than we're supposed to believe it is, but the pessimistic side of me usually wins the day on these sorts of things.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Steyn v. Sullivan

I've been on an Andrew Sullivan hiatus going on two months or so now, after since it became abundantly clear that Andrew had completely given up on even the faintest pretense of objectivity in this election. I do "stop in" from time to time (in the hope--thus far always dashed--that his sanity had returned), but I'm instantly repelled, espcially with regard to pretty much anything he writes about Sarah Palin.

Thus I about fell out of my chair in laughter when I read this gem tonight from Mark Steyn:

"Jim Treacher notes he posted the above some days before the excitable Frank Rich started going on about "Weimar-like rage" and Paul Krugman warned of the Republicans' "insane rage" and the Head of Obstetrics over at The Atlantic Monthly took his head out of Governor Palin's birth canal long enough to apply his forensic skills to "the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn*-O'Reilly base" "stoking" and "fomenting" the rage in order to bring on the assassination of Obama.

Sorry, but that's awesome. I guess it takes a Brit to really pop a Brit. (Well, Steny's actually Canadian, but what is Canada really but basically Great Britain with hockey?)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Goodbye, Sarah Palin

Well, that's done. Look, I like Sarah Palin. I'm not among those who say that she's not ready for the national stage, etc. I think she's more than ready for the national stage, but perhaps not as a vice-presidential candidate. She'd be a great Secretary of the Interior, say, or a Secretary of Energy or some such. But what the heck, here she is, and in any case she is to my mind no less qualified to sit around waiting for the Big Guy to kick over then certain other recent vice-presidential candidates I could name. (For you folks on the left who enjoy ripping on Sarah Palin: seriously, there is very little difference between her and John Edwards other than their politics. He was all about style over substance; so is she. And his foreign policy experience? None, just like her.)

But history tells us that once the VP debate is done, so too is the VP candidate, who now gets shipped off to places like Ocala, Florida and Ripon, Wisconsin to rally the troops. For the balance of this period, attention now shifts to the fellas at the top of the ticket. So, goodbye Sarah; we'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I realize This Kind of has a Hit-and-Run Feel to It, but....

You know, this is the most favorable climate for Democrats nationally since 1974, yet their candidate can so far only manage a single digit polling lead over the Republican candidate. And this is before most people are even paying any real attention to what's going on.

If I were a partisan Democrat, I'd be extremely concerned. Seriously, how can you screw this up?

NOTE: One could argue that Obama's numbers will go up once more people DO start paying attention to what's going on. But that's not the way it usually works. In the early stages, more people tend to stake out the "soft" default position, which right now would be the Democratic candidate. Then, as the day of reckoning gets closer, a lot of those people defect. this cold be a different kind of year in that respect, but I doubt it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Take Five: Back from the Dead

1. Where did I go? Eh...blame the writers' strike. Yeah, that'll work.

2. Victor Davis Hanson takes down Pat Buchanan. Buchanan and his acolytes are quite full of themselves these days with all their "you-should-have-listened-to-us-about-Iraq" whoopin' and hollerin'. But the problem, at least in large part, was always the messenger.

3. In late January or so, but in any case at some point before Super Tuesday, Sarcastro predicted an Obama v. McCain general election in a private email to me. I tell you, the man is an oracle.

4. That Michelle Malkin! What a wit.

5. In all honesty, I had never much watched Bill O'Reilly in the past, not because I had anything against him but because his show aired at an inconvenient time for me--right smack in the middle of kiddie bedtime.

But my schedule has recently shifted and so I've watched the show quite a bit and...I must say...

I don't get it. And, By "it" I mean the hatred for the guy by lefties. Quite honestly, I've seen him take on blowhards on the right just as much as he takes on the whackjobs of the left. I mean, yeah, he's "of the right," as it were, but he's not knee-jerk about it.

Anyway, I'm going to keep watching. Maybe I'll finally see some sign of this right-wing demon I keep hearing about.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

Question: What kind of world do we live in when a guy like Tim Russert must pass while a guy like George Stephanopolus continues to take up valuable airtime?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Congratulations to Barack Obama

You don't have to be a Democrat to recognized what's been accomplished here. It's something never before witnessed in our nation's history, something I certainly never thought I would ever see in my lifetime:

Someone with a great deal of class defeating a Clinton.

I mean, I could certainly see a Clinton getting beaten, but only if the victor got down in the gutter with them.

Were I not such a nasty ol' Rethuglican in the tank for John McCain, I would pull the lever for Barack Obama on that basis alone. Hell, part of me thinks he deserves the White House on that basis alone.

For those who think that Barack Obama isn't man enough to take on our enemies in the world, consider this: the man beat the Clinton Mafia (well, hopefully anyway; I realize they may never die for good). Better than any Republican could do.

Friday, May 2, 2008


“Some people say John McCain isn't conservative enough. But there's more to conservatism than low taxes, Jesus, and waterboarding at Gitmo," - P.J. O'Rourke

Courtesy: Andrew Sullivan

Disagree? Well, vote for Chuck Baldwin! And good luck with that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Still Around

OK, yes, it's been awhile. Too much going on.

Anyway, I just had a thought: who would ever have thought there'd come a time when Hillary Clinton would be the conservative Democrats' choice?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Take Five

1. Oh I get it now, see, if you don't support Obama, you're supposed to really go off on his speech, never mind that it was possibly one of the greatest high-profile speechifying efforts given by an American politician in a generation, and certainly better than anything we've ever heard from Bush I, Clinton or Bush II.

Me, I'm with Charles Murray, who has borne more than his share of race-baiting slings and arrows:

I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.... But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.

Seriously, I really wonder about today's conservatives. Have we gotten to the point that we can't even appreciate a great speech, even when it's given by someone we oppose?

2. Along these lines, Wes Comer really isn't very thoughtful is he? I honestly had some (waning) hope for him ever since he started gracing us with his presence, but I've now officially given up. (By the way, what's with the getup Comer puts Obama in? What's he going for there?)

3. Hey! Wes was a big supporter of Mike Huckabee. Wonder what he thinks about this quote from his guy:

And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

Mike! You sell-out!

4. The other thing I'm finding really irritating is this conservative-ish "defense" of Geraldine Ferarro, which, I suppose to be fair, is less a defense of her than it is an excoriation of political correctness and so forth. "Well, it's true!" is the going refrain.

Well, yes...and no. There is no doubt that part--indeed a big part--of Barack Obama's appeal is his race, in the sense that his election--even his mere nomination--would be a history-making enterprise. But to suggest that, essentially, his race is the whole reason for his appeal, which is where I think she goes in her statements, trivializes him and his candidacy to nothing more than some black guy who happens to be running for president, as though just any black guy could accomplish what he has by virtue of nothing more than his being black.

And to draw the comparison between herself in 1984 and Obama now doesn't help either. He's working for his shot all on his own. She was just tapped by some old white guy to be his running mate in a largely doomed campaign for no better reason than that she pees sitting down.

5. Well, John, all of this is helping you quite a bit, isn't it? Good. Go out and raise some cash.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Now, that's what you call a speech.

Damn he's good.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hi Ho Cherry-O!

Of all the defenses coming from Barack John Wilkes Booth Obama supporters regarding Rev. God Damn America, this whole bit about "cherry-picking" is some pretty weak sauce. These excerpts are not just little dinky cherries. These are some big ass ripe-'n-juicy cherries. Any one of these statements by itself would pretty much mark the speaker as a radical in the eyes of most reasonable people. Taken altogether? Well.

But...but...but...are parshioners responsible for what comes out of the mouth of the fella in the pulpit? No. But this is a little different from, say, your wacky uncle. You cannot, after all, pick your family. But you can pick your church.

By the way all you Obamaphiles: I actually like the guy. But this is some serious stuff. Do you honestly think that, come "let's-choose-the-head-of-the-American-government-not-to-mention-the-Commander-in-Chief" time, the average American voter is going to go for a fella whose long-time minister/friend/sort-of-mentor preaches "God Damn America!" to his flock?

That ain't gonna fly in flyover country.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is It Over?

This kind of thing is what people in the business world would call a "dealkiller."

You want to know what the killer quote in the story is? It's not even anything the minister says. It's Obama himself, to wit: "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial."

Uh-oh. The Sister Souljah train came......and there it went.

There had to be something out there that the Clintons knew about and were counting on to come to light that would justify their continued arrogance as the "real" frontrunners. Maybe this was it.

Take Five

1. Predictable. Not to mention pathetic. And boring. At least Stacey Campfield has some entertainment value.

2. If you're someone who left a message on this woman's MySpace page...really now, shouldn't you find something better to do with your time? I especially enjoy the commenters calling her a "homewrecker." Riiiiight. First, she's a prostitute (and a singer!), not a mistress. Second, he's the homewrecker, not her. If it weren't for people like him, there would be no market for people like her.

3. I saw Geraldine Ferraro on television last night and her reaction to this whole thing is fascinating. She really doesn't seem to grasp just why she got stuck in this particular briar patch. I think she truly believes that just because she's one of the "good guys," that she's allowed to say stuff like that without the usual opprobrium.

Rush Limbaugh is enjoying himself over the whole matter. And he has every right to do so.

4. Of course, it's the Republicans' fault. I knew somehow it had to be.

5. The Tennessean uses the power of the Web to put forth an investigatory examination of the state of local education.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Take Five

1. Who's "we" Kemo Sabe?

2. I finally watched this video. I wonder how many people would even know that that's John D. Rockefeller at the end of the morphing sequence (right before it reverts to Barack Lee Harvey Oswald Obama)? Or care? Seriously, what kind of person, here, in 2008, gets worked up over John D. Rockefeller?

3. I meant to say something about this a while back, but I ran across an exchange between Rush Limbaugh and a caller who was whining (and, yes, "whining" is the correct word) about John McCain. Her main point was that she was tired of hearing over and over about McCain's sacrifice and heroism in Vietnam. Rush agreed (naturally--one of the enduring myths about conservative talk radio is that callers are always blindly echoing the host; in fact, it's usually the other way around) and said he was tired of hearing about it, too. It's not relevant, blah blah blah.

Is this really the road we want to go down? Are we that deranged? Anyway, what a load of crap. Experiences relating to the Vietnam War seemed to be awfully relevant to right-wingers in 1992 and 1996 (Bill Clinton's draft dodging), in 2000 (Al Gore's life in the "trenches" as a wartime "journalist"), and, lest we forget, and most notoriously, in 2004 (the Swift Boaters' whacking of John Kerry). Now, all of a sudden, Vietnam doesn't matter? When did that happen?

4. You know who really pisses me off? J.P. Morgan.

5. Snow. Finally.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Take Five

1. Lost in all of this hoo-ha, I think, is one salient point: Barack Hussein Obama's name (which I put in full here because it is contexually relevant) is a major political liability. Now, before one of you half-wits go off saying Abramson's ripping on Obama's name and thinks it's a problem, let me assure you of this: it's not a problem for me. Nor is it a problem for many people. But it will be a problem for some people, more than enough, for instance, to swing an election.

In politics, the name is the brand. Just as people buy goods and services based on the brand name alone, so too do they consider the "brand name" in the voting booth. This is especially true in presidential politics, which attracts a lot of casual voters, i.e., voters who wouldn't know (or even care) about the details of Barack Obama's health care plan but do notice that he shares a name that is eerily similar to that dude who got those crazy people to fly those planes into the World Trade Center as well as a name that is exactly the same as that Saddam guy in Iraq.

This, not personal offense, is the real reason that the Obama camp is miffed about this stuff (I would imagine that, at this stage, he is well beyond being personally offended by shots at his name): because they know it matters at the gut level to many people. That's also the real reason it gets brought up by his opponents: it's low-hanging fruit. Doesn't make it right, but it is effective.

2. The idea of Andrew Sullivan getting a scolding by the likes of David Oatney is laughable. I often wonder whether some of these people ever really take a step back and read what they write.

3. Have I ever mentioned how much I like this guy?

4. Rob Huddleston has become a much more tolerable read of late. And even though he still shows signs of an overly inflated sense of self-importance (see, for example, "After the Roger Clemens hearings last week, I advised Members of Congress to lay low for a while..."), overall, he seems to be a lot more grounded than usual. Maybe fatherhood has had a positive effect.

5. Speaking of fatherhood, as the father of a five year old, I know A LOT about Hannah Montana, more so than I do about, say, the multiplier effect. Not proud of this; I'm just pointing it out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr., R.I.P.

By the Editors of National Review

Our revered founder, William F. Buckley Jr., died in his study this morning.

If ever an institution were the lengthened shadow of one man, this publication is his. So we hope it will not be thought immodest for us to say that Buckley has had more of an impact on the political life of this country — and a better one — than some of our presidents. He created modern conservatism as an intellectual and then a political movement. He kept it from drifting into the fever swamps. And he gave it a wit, style, and intelligence that earned the respect and friendship even of his adversaries. (To know Buckley was to be reminded that certain people have a talent for friendship.)

He inspired and incited three generations of conservatives, and counting. He retained his intellectual and literary vitality to the end; even in his final years he was capable of the arresting formulation, the unpredictable insight. He presided over NR even in his “retirement,” which was more active than most people’s careers. It has been said that great men are rarely good men. Even more rarely are they sweet and merry, as Buckley was.

When Buckley started National Review — in 1955, at the age of 29 — it was not at all obvious that anti-Communists, traditionalists, constitutionalists, and enthusiasts for free markets would all be able to take shelter under the same tent. Nor was it obvious that all of these groups, even gathered together, would be able to prevail over what seemed at the time to be an inexorable collectivist tide. When Buckley wrote that the magazine would “stand athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!’” his point was to challenge the idea that history, with a capital H, pointed left. Mounting that challenge was the first step toward changing history’s direction. Which would come in due course.

Before he was a conservative, Buckley was devoted to his family and his Church. He is survived by his son Christopher and brothers Reid and James and sisters Priscilla, Carol, and Patricia. Our sadness for them, and for us, at his passing is leavened by the hope that he is now with his beloved wife, Patricia, who died last year.

This Blog Authored By Arthur Roger Abramson III

Yep, that's my full name. A little ostentatious, no? The "III" makes it sound to some like I'm some kind of blue-blood, which is not true (I am happy that I was never saddled with "Trey," which wouldn't have worked well with "Abramson" anyway). And as for Arthur, as wonderful a name it may have been for my grandfather, it's a little dated for the 21st century. For a few years, I tried to go professionally by "A. Roger Abramson" to differentiate myself from my father, but "A" is a clumsy letter for these purposes, and I finally gave it up after the 100th half-wit made the "Is this "A Roger Abramson or THE Roger Abramson?" joke.

So, plain old "Roger Abramson" it is. And this fella's name is Barack Obama, which in itself is problematic enough without adding the "Hussein" bit.

Go after his positions, not the name he was stuck with. There's plenty there. If you can't knock him off on substance, you don't deserve to win.

P.S. This brings to mind a question I've had for a while. Where did Robin Smith come from?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take Five

1. Matt Pulle versus one of the worst blogs in the local blogosphere.

2. I'm sure that John McCain's advisors are convening right now to consider what, if anything, they can do to win over the highly influential Mark Rose. (Hey! Glen Dean thinks people just rip on Mark Rose because he's a committed Christian. -- ed. Yeah, that's the reason.)

3. "He is essentially an honorable person, but he can be imprudent."

(By the way, The New York Times ripping John McCain hurts him how exactly? More please.)

4. It's an older post, but I have to confess to some surprise over Sarah Moore's negativity toward John McCain. She strikes me as the sort of Republican who would dig him, or at least not actively dislike him. Interesting.

5. Universal health care.

Monday, February 18, 2008

For the Record

John McCain's most significant contribution to America:

Five-and-a-half years in the Hanoi Hilton.'s most significant contribution to America:

"My Humps"

Just saying.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Take Five

1. Seeing Hillary Clinton (and, by extension, Bill) twist and sway in the wind is a thrill to behold. For this alone, I consider this election year a success.

2. Even if you don't like Barack Obama's politics how could you not like him? In that sense, he is a bit like Ronald Reagan.

3. Huh? Doesn't a "50 percent chance" mean one out of two, in other words basically a coin flip? That's actually a pretty high probability as these things go, no? What am I missing here?

4. Republican voters tend to be happier because they draw from a "happier"--or, perhaps, more content--demographic. That's one reason why they're conservative: they kind of like things the way they are, at leat partly because it's working for them. Just my opinion anyway. There are certainly other factors at work, though, and the receding is not to imply that there's something wrong with that attitude. Perhaps thing sare working for them because they're doing the right things in life which others might try emulating.

5. I'm hearing some talk about having J.C. Watts as John McCain's running mate under the theory, I suppose, that he's black, and will serve as a counterweight in that respect to an Obama-led Democratic ticket, if that happens. I think this sort of thing has a high potential for backfiring. It will look like McCain just stuck him on there because he's black, which, frankly, wouldn't be far from the truth. It would look like the worst kind of cynical tokenism and would only bolster Democratic prospects. McCain just needs a VP with whom conservatives can be happy and who doesn't otherwise weaken the ticket. Someone who could bring his or her state into the GOP column wouldn't hurt either, but I'd consider that a bonus.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Lion Speaks

Some good advice for John McCain as he seeks to unite the grumpy factions of the party, courtesy of Winston Churchill:

In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will

It's the third one he sometimes has a hard time with.

Take Five

1. Remember all that big talk back in 2000 about how "the people" should always decide, how "every vote should count" and so forth? Well, I'm kind of wondering how that's going to go down if Obama ultimately ends up with a lead among "regular" delegates but the "super" delegates go to Hillary, thus giving the nomination to her. You wouldn't be able to blame George Bush or the Supreme Court for that one.

2. Hell, I think he should have sued. I've never been all that impressed by the Flyer and this incident didn't help. They essentially handed the guy and what there is of his coterie a giant baseball bat to whack them with any time they choose. Nice work.

3. He's obviously choosing to be gay.

Poor bastard.

4. Get a load of the Tennessee Congresspersonage on this list of stars.

5. Baptist of the Year.

And Kathryn Jean Lopez Beings Praying to the Patron Saint of Deep, Deep Depressions

Congratulations to U.S. Senator John McCain.

And, please read:

A Memorandum for Our Conservative Colleagues

Some thirty years ago, we and thousands of other grassroots conservatives helped a man then deemed a "maverick conservative" take on the established order in Washington and the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan's run for the nomination in 1976 nearly succeeded in denying a sitting president another term.

In the mid-1970s, the GOP was crippled by corruption, and betrayal of conservative principles had brought the party to its knees. Expectations of a firm and principled stand against the Soviet Union had been converted to the misty-eyed policy of "detente." The reigning Republican Establishment considered Reagan an interloper, an ill-informed and a somewhat primitive and uninformed one at that.

While the Establishment embraced "detente" with the Soviets, Reagan rejected it as unrealistic, a flawed and dangerous approach to a powerful and determined adversary. The Reagan concept, founded on the principle of peace through strength, was that the United States possessed the resources, human and financial, and the determination, ultimately to persuade the Soviet Union and its allies to give up the quest for world domination. Reagan believed that American power must be wielded cautiously but decisively in the pursuit of our national interests. That power, he believed, emanates from the American people, and not from a few powerful elites.

In short, Reagan challenged the reigning Establishment and in so doing, remade the Republican Party, at least its base, into a movement that for thirty years challenged the status quo rather than merely embrace it.

In the intervening years since the Reagan presidency, a new status quo, inconsistent with mainstream conservative principles and actions, has taken hold in the Republican Party, promoting practices, programs and principles inconsistent with the Party's character and traditions. Just as Ronald Reagan did in his time, John McCain now challenges this Establishment "orthodoxy."

The Old GOP Establishment said terrible things, untrue things, about Ronald Reagan. Some in this new Establishment are also saying terrible and untrue things about another maverick conservative, John McCain. Reagan was a threat to the Establishment; so, too, is John McCain. Reagan did not waver, holding fast to his basic principles. John McCain now soldiers on, espousing conservative principles. Some conservatives disagree.

Because the US corporate income tax rate is uncompetitive and counterproductive, and causing job loss, John McCain backs a corporate tax rate of 25 per cent, spurring investment in equipment and new technology. Lowering corporate income tax rates will strengthen the demand for dollars and fight inflation and recession simultaneously. He wants to make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent and repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. John McCain’s pro-growth stimulus plan is precisely what our economy needs today.

Senator McCain knows that true conservatism is rooted in the people, which is why in the recent candidate debate at the Ronald Reagan Library, he declared himself a "Federalist." McCain knows what the Founders and Reagan knew; the ultimate goodness and dignity of American citizens is the repository of what makes America great and special.

In 1974 Ronald Reagan addressed the very first Conservative Political Action Conference held in Washington. Reagan brought as his guest someone of whom both he and Mrs. Reagan had grown very fond; a young American Vietnam War hero, Lt. Commander John McCain, who had been so terribly tortured while in captivity for six years in Vietnam.

As long-time Reaganauts, we are proud of our work over these many years, helping to advance conservative principles, and as "certified" Reaganauts, we are proud to stand with another old friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, John McCain, who is our best and safest choice in 2008. Some fellow conservatives find it hard forgive past positions on campaign finance or other matters. When you stop to reflect, however, with whom—among those out there—are we going to be more secure in terms of domestic security than with John McCain? Who has greater understanding of and experience with the foreign policy and national security challenges we will face than John McCain?

We urge you, fellow Reaganauts, to join in supporting a man of character, conservative temperament, a "maverick" in the Reagan tradition who has and will continue to stand up to the corrupt elites in Washington, and will not join them.

That man is John McCain.

Sincerely, yours in the cause,

Dick Allen
Frank Donatelli
Peter Hannaford
Jack Kemp
Craig Shirley

Richard V. Allen was active in all national Reagan campaigns, and from 1977-80 was Reagan's Chief Foreign Policy Advisor, then first National Security Advisor in the Reagan Administration. Awarded the Reagan Revolution Medal in 1983, He has been active in conservative circles since the early 1960s.

Frank Donatelli worked in all three of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns and was White House political director for the last two years of the Reagan Administration. He is a former Executive Director of Young Americans for Freedom and was a founding director of the National Conservative Political Action Committee.

Peter Hannaford's association with Ronald Reagan dates from 1971 when he was appointed vice chairman of the Governor's Consumer Fraud Task Force. Pete had senior positions in the 1976 and 1980 Reagan campaigns. Five of his nine published books are about Ronald Reagan.

Jack F. Kemp was a Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan in 1967, served as a Member of Congress from 1971-89, and co-authored the Kemp-Roth legislation (Reagan's tax rate cuts). He is known as a long-time friend to Reagan in his national campaigns, and has held many leading positions in American conservative organizations. He served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1989-93.

Craig Shirley, author of Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All, has been President and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. In 1980, Shirley managed a critical independent campaign in support of Reagan after he lost the Iowa Caucuses to George H. W. Bush. Shirley is now authoring Rendezvous with Destiny about Reagan’s 1980 campaign.