Friday, June 27, 2008

Gunplay is A-Okay!

Just remember, kids: the Dems were responsible for this. The decision was 5-4: Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Roberts, and Thomas. Two of these guys were Bush appointees. Both were appointed by a Democratic Senate minority so unwilling to fight the unified Republicans, or actually whip their caucus, that they ended up spewing out line after line of farm-fresh bullshit about "keeping their powder dry for the fight ahead."

For what, you might ask?

Damned if I know, considering they've been ridiculously ineffective as a majority too, because the Republicans actually know what a whip is for and they, clearly, don't.

So thanks, Byrd. Thanks, Pryor. Thanks, Landrieu. Thanks, Lieberman. Thanks, Murray. Thanks, Rockefeller. Thanks, Wyden. Thanks to all of you for Roberts' vote on this. And let's also thank the Democratic "gang of 14"; without you Scalia wouldn't have had enough hardliners on his side to get away with deliberately discarding half of the Amendment's language. Nelson, Landrieu, Inouye, Pryor, Salazar, and of course Lieberman: every reasonable gun law that gets tossed out thanks to this ruling might as well have been crossed out by your own pens. Good thing the Republicans didn't use that "nuclear option", huh? Then there would be no way the minority in the Senate could block the majority! The majority party could get things done!

So let's all remember their clearly deep, heartfelt commitment to the cause of the NRA, hmm? And what happens when you "keep your powder dry." Sometimes it blows up in your face.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wow. Huh.

I have no idea what Karl Rove did to tick off MoDo so much. She has a tendency to make the personal political, so maybe there's bad blood there.

But holy mackeral, take a gander at this:


Unlike W., Obama doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t make a lot of snarky remarks. He tries to stay on a positive keel and see things from the other person’s point of view.

He’s not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy’s influence and Daddy’s friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames.

Obama is the outsider who never really knew his dad and who grew up in modest circumstances, the kid who had to work hard to charm whites and build a life with blacks and step up to the smarty-pants set.

He might be smoking, but it would be at a cafe, hunched over a New York Times, an Atlantic magazine, his MacBook and some organic fruit-flavored tea, listening to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” on his iPod.

Rove was doing a variation on the old William Buckley line: “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone book than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.”

Conservatives love playing this little game, acting as if the “elite” Democratic candidates are not in touch with people like themselves, even though the guys doing the attacking — like Rove, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity — are wealthy and cosseted.

Haven’t we had enough of this hypocritical comedy of people in the elite disowning their social status for political purposes? The Bushes had to move all the way to Texas from Greenwich to make their blue blood appear more red.

I had to reread that; I kept on thinking I had somehow had some kind of crosswiring with Digby. It's definitely all TRUE, I just wouldn't expect to read it here.

So a (rare, but) richly-deserved kudos to MoDo.

Obama versus the netroots?

I'm wondering how strong the connection between Barack Obama and the "netroots" ever really was. Yes, he had a lot of supporters online, but he had a lot of detractors. His ideology was never as partisan as most Dem bloggers', and his campaign was nowhere near as blogger-friendly as the other Dem candidates' campaigns were. (He mostly stuck to his facebook-like website, which is a somewhat different operation.)

But still, however strong that connection was, I think it's safe to say that it's well and truly broken now. Forget Digby and Avedon Carol; when you've got Atrios calling you the Wanker of the Week, you have problems. And when you have an online opinion leader like Glenn Greenwald absolutely tearing you up, you have REALLY big problems.

And he had to know this was going to happen. There's no issue that fires up online Democratic base like the wiretapping issue. Right or wrong, that's just the truth. If he's willing to not only go against them, but toss out a whole bunch of silly lines about national security trumping all else, he's willfully jettisoning the a LOUD part of the base's support. He's not likely to get it back quickly, either; when even the carefully pro-partisan but non-ideological Marko Moulitsas is ticked off at you, you've got problems.

Can he get away with it? I'm not sure. It depends on whether his network really is better than the bloggers' network. One thing I am sure of: FISA wasn't worth it. He'll learn that when the Republicans go right back to attacking him. It's just a pity he couldn't have figured it out sooner.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bye George

Dammit.

(In honor of the great man, there are seven words I'd like you to yell. If you're a fan, you'll know which ones I mean.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obama: Jettisoning the Netroots?

Digby thinks so. And I find it hard to disagree.

Let's be clear: the Democratic party is Obama's party now. He not only has the coattails in the fall, but has unmatched fundraising potential, enough that everybody HAS to listen to what he has to say. So if the Dems pass FISA, it's because he wants them to pass FISA.

Is it his Lieberman-Kyl? Not sure. Probably not, considering the timing. But it IS going to be something that he needs to deal with, and is going to severely limit his ability to "pivot" without alienating progressives so badly that they'll start treating his as the next Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3

It finally came out, and I'm using it. VERY nice. Smaller memory footprint, and the rendering engine is snappier than anything I've used to date. Not sure about all the features mentioned on the promo site--they seem to be buried somewhere in the menus--but the whole-page zoom is really impressive as well, with an implementation similar to (but slightly superior) to IE.

Olbermann as "One Angry Man"

There's a great piece about Keith Olbermann at The New Yorker, talking about the issues he's had and the success he's gained from being both unashamedly honest about his opinions and willing to publicly antagonize people like O'Reilly.

Best bit? Probably when he was called into his bosses' office after submitting a script telling Pres. Bush to "shut the hell up." When asked why he'd use that phrase, he said "because I can't say 'shut the fuck up' on-air". The line stayed in.

(Also, the man can't drive for medical reasons, and hates to fly. One of your more immobile journalists, then, and even more surprisingly good for that.)

Russert

My apologies for the gap; unfortunately it was unavoidable.

So here's my comment on Russert: while I didn't think that he was always fair to his interviewees, and had a closer relationship to the research boys at the RNC than I would have liked, he was still a powerful interviewer and had an equally powerful effect on the entire Washington power structure. He was taken too early, made some damned good TV, and will be missed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Go Franken!

He's the Democratic Nominee in Minnesota!

Coleman's taking shots at Franken's past writings, but you know what? He's a comedian. He's a pretty damned good one. And these days, aren't comedians the ones we're turning to to tell us what's really going on?

(Jesters, kings and all that.)

In any case, anything's better than another warmed over oilman (R) like Coleman in the Senate. Here's hoping Wellstone's old coalition agrees.

Comedy

Looking for some laffs?

Mark Penn is blaming fundraisers for the Clinton loss. The message was "fine", supposedly, though I'd argue that advocating something as unwieldy as "ready to be president on Day One" already shows you have some problems. Instead, he argued that Clinton simply didn't raise as much money as Obama:

While everyone loves to talk about the message, campaigns are equally about money and organization. Having raised more than $100 million in 2007, the Clinton campaign found itself without adequate money at the beginning of 2008, and without organizations in a lot of states as a result. Given her successes in high-turnout primary elections and defeats in low-turnout caucuses, that simple fact may just have had a lot more to do with who won than anyone imagines.
No mention was made of the campaign's various problems and conflicts, though I guess that makes sense considering the major conflict was "when are we going to kick Mark Penn to the curb?"

What really made me laugh about this little op-ed, though, is that he managed to blame the one thing he wasn't really responsible for. Bad messaging? Well, that's polling. Ignoring caucuses? That's strategic planning. Strife within the organization? That's management. All those things were his job in one way or another.

But fundraising? That's somebody else's job. So, according to Penn, it's the problem.

"LOL".

Saturday, June 07, 2008

It Was a Good Speech

Clinton may not be preznit this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if she's got Senate Majority Leader coming. Maybe not in 2008, but 2010 sounds like a good bet.

(Reid wouldn't like it. Unfortunately, Reid ain't been the most effective guy as of late.)

Think Tank Effectiveness

I hadn't read Tim Lambert's blog for a while, and I really should. It's always a good read, especially if you get a hankerin' for a good old fashioned rhetorical beatdown, especially on climate change.

But one particular piece really grabbed me. It's on global warming deniers and conservative think tanks. Here, check it out:


Matt Nisbet reports:

A new study by a team of political scientists and sociologists at the journal Environmental Politics concludes that 9 out of 10 books published since 1972 that have disputed the seriousness of environmental problems and mainstream science can be linked to a conservative think tank (CTT). Following on earlier work by co-author Riley Dunlap and colleagues, the study examines the ability of conservative think tanks to use the media and other communication strategies to successfully challenge mainstream expert agreement on environmental problems.

(Clarification: A couple of readers thought Nisbet was saying that one particular CTT was linked to 90% of the books. Nisbet means that 90% of books can be linked to CTTs.)

It wasn't the finding itself that really interested me per se, but what it implied.


See, what it implied is that conservative think tanks are really, really effective. There's a gigantic gulf between the scientific consensus on global warming and the public's perception that there's a problem, but there's an even bigger gulf between the public's perception of the problem (the public largely agrees that it's an issue and that it's anthropogenic) and Washington's debate over the problem, which still has a LOT of out-and-out deniers holding sway. Logically the flood of science in favor of anthropogenic climate change should have washed away this nonsense long ago, yet here we are, with a "debate" that still manages to go on, somehow.

Yes, they're really that good at this!

You wouldn't think so. You'd think that it'd be transparent that they have an agenda and would be distrusted for it. They're absolutely OPEN about having an agenda, and almost as open about being part of the conservative movement. Yet they still have a massive effect.

And, if you think about it, it's a greater effect than you might suppose. Climate change is pretty cut-and-dried. If they manage to make a "debate" still happen on that, just imagine how much they've perverted the discussion of issues that aren't as clear! Sure, we're used to them having a big effect on, say, social and foreign policy. But that's just it! You have to wonder just how screwed up the Washington consensus on these other issues is because of these guys?

No grand conclusion, and this is hardly a novel insight. Just food for thought, especially about what progressive/liberal think tanks might be able to accomplish, given proper latitude and funding.

Friday, June 06, 2008

"All of these issues can be traced back to one source: hubris"

Good breakdown of why Clinton lost on TPM, by Big Blue that draws on a (surprisingly good) analysis by the WSJ on the subject.

So, what killed her candidacy? Well, three things really, according to BB: "she ran with a message that was out of step with the mood of the electorate, she failed to consider that she might face a genuine challenge from one of her opponents, and she dismissed a slew of states as unimportant." Some of that was her fault, but a lot of it was from Mark Penn being an idiot who doesn't understand that polls can change and doesn't know how to run a primary campaign:

(Italics are from the WSJ)

Clinton couldn't get the message right because she was running an "incumbent" campaign. Who runs an incumbent campaign for an office for which you haven't even been nominated yet? So, we end up with Clinton talking about experience, when the country is really looking for someone to just steer the ship in a new direction. Saying you've been on deck the whole time while the captain's been slaloming through the ice bergs is probably not the best way to approach the issue. And who was the architect of Clinton's messaging? Why, her chief strategist and sole pollster, of course. It's not just that Mark Penn got it wrong, it's that plenty of people in the campaign had it right, but were rebuffed.

Before her January 2007 debut as a candidate, the senator's team wrangled over how to portray her. Ms. Solis Doyle, communications director Howard Wolfson, media strategist Mandy Grunwald, policy chief Neera Tanden and senior strategist Harold Ickes wanted to promote her as a candidate of change -- the first woman president -- her Washington years notwithstanding. They also wanted to counter the candidate's high negative ratings among the general population by revealing the witty, engaging woman they knew.

Mr. Penn, by contrast, believed that voters would need to perceive Sen. Clinton as tough and seasoned enough to be the first female commander in chief. Emphasizing her gender too much, he argued, would undercut that. He also said Sen. Clinton would look weak if she apologized for her 2002 war vote, though it was especially unpopular in Iowa.

When one insider pleaded during meetings in 2007 to humanize the candidate, witnesses say Mr. Penn responded: "Being human is overrated."


Yes, when you're candidate already has an image of being a mechanical, poll driven poltician of limitless ambition (and I'm not saying it's a fair characterization), then the last thing you want to do is take some of the edge off that by "humanizing" her. My theory is that Mark Penn undervalues the quality of being a human being -- long considered a necessity to even be eligible for public office - due to his clearly alien origins. I mean, just look at this guy? If he was born on Earth, then I'm the king of Spain. That guy hatched from an egg, no two ways about it.
No argument here. That said, the hubris was still mostly Clinton's. She didn't thing Obama was a threat.

Then again, why would she? She had pretty much the entire Democratic machine in her pocket. She had most of the big-fish donors in her pocket. She had the big states' democratic machines in her pocket. Plus, she's Mrs. Bill Clinton. How the HELL could she lose with all of that?

And that's the thing. It wasn't a bad assumption. She would have crushed anybody else. But Obama's people knew the game, knew what they were up against, and (most importantly) figured out how to beat it.

Don't have the machine on your side? Great! Go populist, because you'll always have people willing to help if you run AGAINST the machine. That's especially true if you build your own machine (like, say, on the goddamnedest campaign website I've ever seen) to employ these people to help build a movement.

Don't have the big fish? Great! Get lots of little ones. Whales eat microscopic krill and they're huge, why not use the same principle? So you build THAT into your website too.

Don't have the big states' machines? Fine! Go after the little ones, with all those nasty little caucuses that the Clintons disdain.

Mix all that with a campaign manager who is an actual genius, unlike the overrated Karl Rove, and Clinton's hubris was badly, badly misplaced. She had no IDEA what she was up against.

And, I suspect, neither does McCain.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Speaking of stuff on TNR

Holy crap, did Pat Buchanan really write a book saying that it would have been better to let Hitler conquer Europe because he'd have killed off all the commies?

Let me get this straight. Jeremiah Wright is pilloried because he said some mean things about American foreign policy and a tertiary connection to Farrakhan, whereas the guy who cheers on Hitler gets on TV on a regular basis?

And people think that ISN'T somehow wrong and/or racist?

Also Without Comment: TNR

A quotation:

A Sports Parable

A statement from Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars:

I wanted to say a few words about the Michigan Solution. No, not that travesty of justice. I'm talking about a fair, common-sense resolution of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some in the media are declaring the series over because the Boston Celtics have won four of the six games played so far. But I don’t understand why, with a series this close and hotly contested, anyone would want to shut it down before we play a seventh game and have all the results in. As anybody who follows the NBA knows, a seven-game series would be good for the league, and the added competition would make the eventual victor, whomever it might be, a stronger opponent against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

It’s no great surprise that some are trying to push us out of this series. From the beginning, it’s been clear that the media and league elites have been looking for an exciting new face, instead of a team, like ours, that has proven its mettle by making it to the Conference Finals six* years in a row. We saw it in the Western Conference as well, where officials and news outlets made clear they were sick to death of the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs and behaved like cheerleaders for the media-darling Lakers. Heck, they almost managed to persuade fans that a hokey, small-town act like the New Orleans Hornets was a legitimate contender. It is safe to say that this has been the most rigged coverage in modern sports history.

But back to the series in question. Yes, Boston has won four games and Detroit only two. But it's hard to imagine a more arbitrary and undemocratic way to determine this series’s outcome than "games won." It is, after all, a bedrock value of the game of basketball that all points must be counted. But how can that be the case when every point beyond the winning point is ignored? There are literally dozens of layups, jumpers, free throws, and (yes, even) dunks that our opponents want to say don't count for anything at all. We call on the NBA to do the right thing and fully count all of the baskets that were made throughout the course of this series.

Once you abandon the artificial four-games-to-two framework that the media has tried to impose on the series, a very different picture emerges, with the Celtics leading by a mere 549 points to 539. Yes that’s right, the margin between the two teams is less than one percent—a tie, for all intents and purposes. This is probably the closest Conference Finals in NBA history, though I will thank you not to check on that.

How do we determine a winner in a series so historically close? First off, let's look at these so-called "free" throws, which are anything but. Who decides when these are to be awarded? Hard-working working-people like you and me? No, it's the officials, the league bosses, the elites. So no counting the free throws--unless and until (and I sincerely hope you guys are listening) the refs start breaking our way again. (By the way, you guys do know that Celts star Paul Pierce was involved in a stabbing a few years back, right? I only mention it because Phil Jackson is obviously going to bring it up in the Finals.)

If you take out free throws, Boston's ten-point margin in the series is whittled down to a single-digit, all-but-meaningless nine points. But this is still misleading. Let's be honest: We all know that some baskets count for more than others. (Yes, I know I was arguing for equal representation two seconds ago. What are you, Encyclopedia Brown? Chill out and try to stay current.) Take layups, for example: If you wander naively into the Finals thinking you’re going to win with layups, well don’t come crying to me when Kobe Bryant swats that lameass shit right back in your face. I know. I've been there.

So let's get right down to it: Big shots matter. It makes no difference when they happen, or who's leading at the time, or whether you're likely to make them against the Lakers, or any of that complicated nonsense. And we all know that the only real big shot is a three-pointer. So sure, Boston won more games than us, and scored more points, and made more baskets, and hit more free throws, and never tried to rewrite the rules after the fact. But we dominated them in three-point shooting, hitting 29 long ones to their 26 over the course of the series. Take this into account and it becomes apparent that we are by far the strongest competitor the Eastern Conference can field against the Lakers.

We again ask the league to consider all these facts and come to a fair solution. I’ll be holding a press conference at the Palace tonight, to which I’m inviting all Pistons season-ticket holders. I may announce our intention to drop out of the Eastern Conference Finals. Or I may not. But know one thing: If the media and league elites put the Celtics up against LA, they will lose, and we’ll be the first to say I told you so.

See you next season,

Joe Dumars (as told to Christopher Orr)
Go Pistons.

So it's Barack

As we all pretty much knew it would be.

The only question, credibility-wise, was WHEN you knew. Some people seemed to figure it out after that string of victories after super Tuesday. Some ON super Tuesday. Some couldn't accept it until yesterday.

Me, I knew after Iowa. While Clinton was going to be a combatant, it just seemed that Obama and his people knew what they were doing, knew the fight they had to fight, knew how to play up Obama as a candidate, and knew how puddle-deep Clinton's support was. I'd been saying that for a while, that Clinton's support was "ocean-wide, puddle-deep", but I didn't put two and two together and realize that he was absolutely going to crush the caucuses.

The SMARTEST were the ones who knew he was going to win prior to this election even starting. Honestly, I might have been there. He's had this aura of destiny and inevitability around him since before he even went up against Keyes. (Why do you think they put Keyes up against him in the first place?) Clinton's "inevitability" was just carefully manufactured spin and the careful grooming of the ultimate triangulator over the period of 6-7 years. Obama--though a bit of a triangulator himself--had it more because of who he already was, rather than who he was made to be.

It was a change that ill-suited her. I liked her a LOT when she was a passionate, progressive first lady, and never liked what she turned into when she became The Senator From New York. That's what bothers me about a lot of the Clinton defenses out there; they defend the former, while ignoring the changes made to become the latter. I would have GLADLY supported Hillary from the 90's, but apparently she wouldn't. That's not sexism, unless triangulation in the hunt for the presidency somehow makes you MORE of a woman.

Anyway, it's Barack. And what does this mean? Well, it isn't even really about the general per se. That's its own beast. And it isn't about sexism either. What it means is that the Machine lost, and lost big. And that's welcome news. It's that machine that bloggers et al have been fighting against since this whole thing first started in 2001 or so. Kos, especially, has been constantly going on and on about "crashing the gates" and the ineffectiveness of Democratic insiders and Democratic campaigners. Now he has his proof. Everybody who was pushing for Clinton as the "inevitable" nominee was really saying that she was "the nominee of the Powers-That-Be" in the party, and they were wrong. They can't browbeat other Dems anymore, and can't hold the threat of being kept "out of the loop" over them either. That was the threat they held over Obama supporters, and they lost. Their credibility isn't quite shot, but it's damaged as hell, and outsiders have a lot of sway now that they didn't before.

(And yet the insurgent candidate in question hates blogs. Ah well.)

So the question now is whether the party can come together. Maybe. Maybe not. McAuliffe appears to know what time it is, but then you've got people like, say, Larry Johnson.

(No, seriously. What the HELL happened to Larry Johnson? He has, in the vernacular, "completely lost his shit" over this. I've seen some nutty Obama supporters, but I've never seen a professional lose it so thoroughly from supporting Obama like Johnson has from opposing him.)

But in many respects it's understandable that the Hillary supporters feel as they do, and it's the job of Obama's supporters to try to bridge the gap. It's going to be rough, there are a lot of hurt feelings, and there are some people that maybe you're just better off ignoring, but that is your job now.

And then get ready for the general, because if you thought the racist dog-whistles were bad BEFORE...