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.