Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Obamericial and the Tax Credit

Hullabaloo preferred the policy, as did PZ Meyers; Erv cried. And had the best line: "Because the status quo is not quo."

(Though the one on Wonkette I saw saying "Bottom line: From Day One, this guy’s had the smarts to surround himself with genius. The campaign has reflected it, his recent endorsements from all across the spectrum have reinforced it, and this little bit of cinema verite has only confirmed it" comes really close.)

But the story that grabbed me was on DailyKos. From "kmiddle":
It's been a while since I diaried here, but I felt compelled to offer the following after watching "the ad" from a Philly bar/restaurant.
Now, this wasn't a "shot and a beer" Philly bar; this was a high-scale, downtown $36 steak-and-Italian place near the convention center. 95% white, upper middle class.
My seat was in the back corner of the bar area, perched on a high stool, with a great vantage point not only of the TV, but of the crowd.
The place was full of revelers awaiting the World Series game. The TV was on but silent.
Then "the ad" came on.
A few observations:

1. After a few minutes, someone asked the bartender to turn up the sound, which he did.

2. And then the place got quiet. This is a bar-full of crazy Philly phans, chomping at the bit for the ball game to start. And the place got quiet to listen to "the ad". People were actually listening and watching.

3. When it was done, people applauded. Yes. Applauded a political ad.

4. The game coverage came on; and during the first commercial break, a McCain attack ad came on. The reaction was mainly shaking of heads.

I don't know what to make of all that, but to me it spoke volumes about Senator Obama, about the campaign he's run, and about the real connection he appears to be making with real voters of very stripe.
My reaction was a bit simpler. "Holy crap, the good guys might be winning for a change." And, yes, that's exactly what I was supposed to think. Obama put good writers and directors and producers on this thing. But it's not a feeling I get much of the time from politics.

And it did something that EVERY single politician needs to understand down to the bone: relate policies to the real problems of real people. Don't talk about the billions for the economy as a whole; talk about the hundreds and thousands to the people within it. People don't relate to economies. They relate to people. Heck, they don't actually have to be real people; people relate to fictional characters all the time, if they can identify with them.

That said, I'm not necessarily getting a positive feeling from that "going line by line and cutting programs that don't work" rhetoric. Cutting programs that don't work is fine, but the vast majority of federal outlays are on non-discretionary entitlements. Those that aren't can be (and often are) cut to the bone in the name of "trimming the fat".

Balancing the budget is a fine idea, but no government should be under the illusion that it can (or should) balance the budget during a recession. Government borrowing is a drag on the economy, but it did not cause the current downturn. Borrowing is still a good idea, if it's going to help America and provide a stable target for skittish private investment.

That said, it doesn't look like he's adverse to the idea of using money for the public good. I had forgotten about that pledge of tuition credits for volunteer hours. That's an incredible idea. Not just because it'll provide NGOs and non-profits and governmental agencies and the like with a flood of manpower, although that's great. No, it's incredible because it teaches youth about public service; about why organizations like these exist, why volunteerism matters, and what it's like to serve the public good.

Yes, many (most) of them will just be doing it because of the money. But spending a big chunk of your youth volunteering is going to do more than just build a habit of volunteerism that will not only benefit volunteer-based organizations over the long term. It will reinforce the very notion of an individual's connection to community and society. It'll help root out the "screw you Jack, I've got mine" sort of political infantilism that helps propel both modern conservatism and libertarianism. And it'll reconnect them with the value of political activism, giving the American political discourse increased passion and vigor.

That's change I believe in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No McKenna

So, yeah, apparently the Canadian Liberals (I should probably remember to repeat that; Australia wouldn't be happy otherwise) won't have Frank McKenna running for 'em. He's sticking to the private sector.

(Just like he did in every federal election since about the 80's. Not a big surprise.)

Anyway, that clears the field on the right a bit for Manley and Iggy, who will probably end up the small 'c' conservative Liberal standard bearers. The liberal wing of the Liberal party isn't quite clear; Rae isn't half as progressive as his NDP background would make him seem, and I'm still not convinced Kennedy is going to get traction. And none of these guys really capture the imagination in the first place. (Manley? Really? I don't know the man personally, but the footage I've seen shows someone who can actually make Harper look like a dynamo of charisma.)

Is anybody really enthusiastic about this thing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another FrankenAd

Doing a bit of searching of different Franken bits, and I came across another really good one from a few weeks ago:

Hey, Republican oppo guy? You should have known Franken would be able to place that footage, and throw it in your candidate's face. No wonder Franken was confident enough to pull the "hates puppies" ad.

You clearly aren't cut out for this biz. You should probably switch to PR or something.


I still, even after all this time, have these moments where I think "Wait. Barack Obama is going to be President of the United States of America?"

Don't get me wrong. I think he'll be a great president. But when you consider the mountains of challenges that he's faced, and consider that this train only really got rolling back in 2002, it's just plain stupefying.

Edit: It's also gratifying to note that the Senators who are going to be kicked out on their asses are part of the class of 2002. I remember 2002. I remember why those Senators got in. I remember the rhetoric, and the triumphalism.

Watching these guys go is going to be sweet.

The Democratic Impulse

More from digby. (What can I say? She's a good blogger.)
For its final op-ed ad in the New York Times, Campaign For America's Future characterizes the progressive argument for change as a return to the Democratic tradition. I like it a lot:

There's more to the American tradition than war and taxes. For instance, there is the tradition of pulling together when times are tough. That's why I think this current Republican assault on the term "spreading the wealth" is going to fall on deaf ears. (They would have been better sticking with the "socialism" boogeyman since most people don't really know what it means.) "Spreading the wealth" just doesn't sound like a threatening unamerican idea. It sounds like ... fairness. The kind of thing you teach little kids --- the kind of thing that some people used to call Christian values.

I just don't think most voters are going to get too worked up about whether the government is being unfair to rich people right now. They have plenty of other things to worry about. Obama's closing argument hit all those notes today and I think it's far more compelling than the cramped and angry, petty case from the Republicans. A little All American community spirit sounds very good right about now.
This "spreading the wealth" attack has been bizarre. Using the word "socialism" makes sense. It conjures up the specter of Communism, the Cold War, Reaganism, American victory over the "Reds"...all great memes for Republicans. But "spreading the wealth around"? That doesn't sound like Chairman Mao, that sounds like Robin Hood. It will serve as a dogwhistle for the true believers, but they simply aren't enough to win this thing, not after conservatism started its nose dive.

In any case, here's that closing argument they were talking about.

One week.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Holding Action

That's what the various conservatives and Village denizens are engaged in right now: a holding action. They know that the Republicans are in deep trouble. As digby said:
The right is working overtime to frame a Democratic win as a repudiation of Bushism --- which it is. But there can be no doubt that it is also a repudiation of Reaganism. They have been evoking his name like a sacred talisman, making the case that they would adhere to St Ronnie's policies without deviation. If the Republicans lose, it's not because the American people want Reaganism again. If that's what they wanted, they had a bunch of Republicans who said over and over again that they would deliver it to them.

It's pretty clear the American people are tired of conservatism, whether it's Bush conservatism or Reagan conservatism, and that scares the villagers. They are inherent conservatives, guardians of the status quo and protectors of the wealthy elites, even as they style themselves as jes plain folks down at the beauty parlor.
Bolding's mine.

Yeah, America is clearly getting tired of conservative misrule; they've been forced to endure it for far too long in one way or another, and it's been ridiculously unsuccessful on all counts. It didn't improve America's social fabric. It didn't make America safer. It didn't improve America's economy. It didn't balance America's governmental budget. It didn't help with poverty, and certainly didn't help the middle class. It didn't even help Wall Street. Conservatism is a failed ideology, and they know it.

But it's their bread and butter; both the conservatives and their media sycophants. So they have to defend it. And as Sirota shows, defend it they will:

The Village freakout continues, this time in the form of Peter Wehner's op-ed in the Washington Post today. With most Republican candidates explicitly running on a platform promising a revival of Reagan conservatism and berating the supposed "socialism" of Democrats, this former Bush hack writes that "it is a mistake to assume that significant GOP losses, should they occur, are a referendum on conservatism."

It's hard to overstate how absurd this is. Let me repeat: In the stretch run of this campaign, the Republican Party has decided to make this an ideological contest between Reagan conservatism and supposed wild-eyed liberalism/socialism - and now, sensing a potentially huge loss, conservatives are now arguing that despite their decision to make this an ideological contest, "an Obama victory would be a partisan, rather than an ideological, win."

Obviously, the Right understands what's really going on in America - and is working to reinterpret that reality.

Having doubled-down on Reaganism, they know that a loss under these circumstances would be not just a momentary electoral set back, but a huge repudiation of conservative ideology, and a huge mandate for progressivism. And so conservatives are already trying to revise history to pretend these last few months of the campaign never happened.

Of course, the very weakness of the "facts" they cite exposes their desperation. For example, Wehner cites public opinion data showing that the word "conservative" remains more popular than the word "liberal." Yet, he omits the fact that when you go beyond the semantics, the same public opinion data he cites shows that Americans are very progressive on most major economic issues.

But substance is secondary to spin on the Right - and likely in the media. As Digby notes, we're already seeing the media Villagers insisting the same thing Wehner is insisting: Namely, that no matter how well conservatives have framed this election as a choice between conservatism and progressivism, and no matter how big a progressive victory that election may bring, America nonetheless remains to the right of Ronald Reagan. In effect, the Right is making the "nah nah nah can't hear you!" argument, claiming that that no matter what America says about its own politics and ideology on election day, the country is an ultra-conservative bastion.

It's a willfully dishonest argument - but one with a motive: To preserve the status quo.

They have a lot at stake in the status quo; they're about the only people it benefits. And I believe that the people who dictate their opinions—either directly, or by hiring and firing those with the most convenient opinions—are still holding out in the hope that this is going to be temporary and that their control over the public discourse remains.

They do still have an advantage, as the word "liberal" still carries a lot of baggage with it.

But, now, so does "conservative". And it's very, very awkward.

Thanks, Paul!

So apparently that rat-bastard Krugman invented currency crises. Just listen:

I invented currency crises. No, really — not the thing itself, of course, but I did publish the first paper in the modern academic literature on the subject, back in 1979. And as I like to say, business has been good ever since.

But I never anticipated anything like what’s happening now.

I’ve been reading reports from Stephen Jen, a former student of mine who’s now the chief currency strategist at Morgan Stanley. He points out that since the fall of Lehman, we’ve been seeing clear signs of currency crises throughout the world of emerging markets, including Eastern Europe. This time, it’s not an Asian crisis or a Latin American crisis, it’s a global crisis. He adds,

So far,the US financial sector has been the epicentre of the global crisis. I fear that a hard landing in EM assets and economies will become the second epicentre in the coming months, with very damaging feedback effects on the developed world.

Right now I feel like the guy who was told, “Cheer up — things could be worse!” So he cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.

We wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for you, Krugman!

Seriously, as we saw with the column, this is worrying news.


The hilarious part about this:

Is that Franken could probably have produced it himself. And people would get it.


The Democratic response? AL FRANKEN HATES PUPPIES!

I should have been paying more attention to the Minnesota race. This is hilarious.

Iggy or Manley

When whatzisname has been chattering on and on and on about "moving to the center", it's pretty clear that he's stumping for one of the two.

(Considering his provincial background, Rae seems pretty unlikely anyway.)

You'd figure that a man who worships Carville would know that that argument hasn't worked too well for the Dems, and progressives had as much luck as conservatives in 2006. (Arguably more). But I suppose this is a stage that progressive parties go through: they think that the solution is just to "move" somewhere, and boom! Electoral victory.

So I'll ask the same question I've asked before: who would you be willing to leave behind to execute this "move"? Women? Minorities? The poor? The sick? You sure as hell can't become more socially conservative, so the only possible move to the "center" would be carving up the social safety net.

Who gets knifed in the back first?

And what happens when the conservative media and Conservative party keep on calling you "out of the mainstream" because of the people you didn't abandon? Do they get the same treatment?

How far does this go, exactly?

Krugman: Republican Ideology Screwing Up Market

I'm not terribly surprised.

Apparently banks are sitting on the cash that the government gave them, because (unlike the Brits) Paulson didn't bother to set up a means by which he could ensure they don't hoard.

Krugman knows why.

Meanwhile, U.S. policy makers are still balking when it comes to doing what’s necessary to contain the crisis.

It was good news when Mr. Paulson finally agreed to funnel capital into the banking system in return for partial ownership. But last week Joe Nocera of The Times pointed out a key weakness in the U.S. Treasury’s bank rescue plan: it contains no safeguards against the possibility that banks will simply sit on the money. “Unlike the British government, which is mandating lending requirements in return for capital injections, our government seems afraid to do anything except plead.” And sure enough, the banks seem to be hoarding the cash.

There’s also bizarre stuff going on with regard to the mortgage market. I thought that the whole point of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the lending agencies, was to remove fears about their solvency and thereby lower mortgage rates. But top officials have made a point of denying that Fannie and Freddie debt is backed by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government — and as a result, markets are still treating the agencies’ debt as a risky asset, driving mortgage rates up at a time when they should be going down.

What’s happening, I suspect, is that the Bush administration’s anti-government ideology still stands in the way of effective action. Events have forced Mr. Paulson into a partial nationalization of the financial system — but he refuses to use the power that comes with ownership.

Whatever the reasons for the continuing weakness of policy, the situation is manifestly not coming under control. Things continue to fall apart.
And if you think that's bad, go read what he has to say about emerging markets, where the governments' care about not borrowing too heavily abroad is being ruined by the private banks' immense foreign debt. (So much for the Washington Consensus.)

The Republicans and their various sycophants aren't having a very good time of it: witness Dick Morris screeching about "socialism". Their ideology really is creating problems.

And yet it's dying. There's a great post on Kos by Devilstower about "the death of John Galt": about how Objectivist ideology has suffered a deathblow from the current crisis. And not just from a theoretical point of view, either:

For the next thirty years, Greenspan would cheer the deregulation of the S&Ls and join John McCain in trying to protect Charles Keating from regulators. He would praise the deregulation of energy trading, and assure everyone that companies like Enron were pointing the way to greater efficiency and lower consumer prices -- and collect the 2000 "Enron Prize" in exchange. He would urge not only the creation of credit default swaps, but applaud their lack of regulation and invisibility in the system. He would argue against oversight, against limits on CEO pay, and for the increasingly complex systems by which banks generated new instruments of credit.

No one person did more to spread Rand's message of unregulated markets, unconstrained free trade, and unlimited power for corporate officers than Alan Greenspan.

Then just this past week, his absolute faith slipped just a little.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said a "once-in-a-century credit tsunami" has engulfed financial markets and conceded that his free-market ideology shunning regulation was flawed.

"Yes, I found a flaw," Greenspan said in response to grilling from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "That is precisely the reason I was shocked because I'd been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."

For years, other economists had been predicting that the hands-off approach Greenspan advocated and the derivatives he praised would have disastrous long term consequences exactly because they encouraged short term risks no matter what the damage to the system.

Greenspan said he was "partially wrong" in opposing regulation of derivatives and acknowledged that financial institutions didn't protect shareholders and investments as well as he expected.

For Alan Greenspan to admit to being "partially wrong" about market regulation, is like the Pope announcing that the church is based on a little white lie...

...Rather than reveal some ultimate truth of Objectivism, Greenspan's new revelations show only that for forty years, his indecipherable proclamations -- those Palinesque chains of detached verbs and adjectives -- haven't been the carefully-parsed parables of a financial oracle. They've been the nonsensical mumblings of a blind believer. Alan Greenspan may admit to being "partially" wrong, but he's wholly guilty of spreading a creed for which the hard evidence was always wanting. Far too many -- on the left as well as the right -- are guilty of believing it.

He (She?) goes on to point out that it's always been vaguely compelling nonsense—who doesn't want to be told that they're smart, brave, and independent thinkers who can be as selfish as they want?—but it's still nonsense. And if even Alan Greenspan is being forced to admit it might be "partially wrong", I think the rest of us can get the message.

If there's one good thing that comes out of this financial disaster, let it be the end of the market fundamentalist.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Golden Oldies and Important Lessons

I was thinking about that question of Republican "advice" some more, and a quick googling revealed this nice digby piece from last year. It's about how the GOP "couldn't be happier" that Clinton was pretty much guaranteed the nomination.

(Yes, people used to believe that, in case you'd forgotten.)

I don't know about you, but whenever Republican hacks offer political "advice" to Democrats I tend not to take it a face value. I get especially suspicious when they leak to the media that the loathed Republican president is secretly giving Democrats advice through back channels. Somehow, leaking that doesn't strike me as something done in the best interests of the Democrats.

I also hate to be cynical, but when they call the election early and tell us that a candidate has won and that it's really good for Republicans, I get a little bit suspicious.
KING: And looking ahead to that general election, pollster Neil Newhouse believes Senator Clinton would guarantee high GOP turnout even if many Republicans were less than thrilled with their nominee.

NEIL NEWHOUSE, GOP POLLSTER: There is a shared dislike for Hillary Clinton and that motivates our base more so right now than any of our individual candidates does.

KING: There are numbers to support such talk. About half of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Senator Barack Obama. 80 percent view Senator Clinton negatively.

CULLEN: Nothing unifies Republicans more than the idea of President Hillary Clinton.
If you've been following politics for the past few days you've heard this constantly, from virtually every Republican: Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination and Republicans couldn't be happier. This means they are going to win the election and live happily ever after! If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trying to get the Democrats to nominate someone else, wouldn't you? Or maybe not. In any case, it is a long established Republican tactic to try to pick the candidate they wish to oppose.

I am not taking a position in the primaries, but I know a couple of things. First, never count the votes until the votes are cast. During the last primary season, everyone anointed Howard Dean long before a vote was cast and we know how that worked out. Second, whenever the Republicans suddenly start singing exactly the same song, Ze Party has decided to push a certain line for its own reasons.

It's possible that they are simply trying to raise money on the prospect of a Hillary nomination. The CW has been for years that evoking her name could produce projectile spews of cash among the faithful. I don't know if that's true, but I'll take their word for it.

However, I think this latest outbreak of parroted talking points may be something more in keeping with GOP tradition. It's very rare for the pooh-bahs not to anoint a candidate. In fact, I think it may be unprecedented. So, considering that they have Bush himself out there making this argument about Hillary, I suspect this means they are anointing ... Rudy Giuliani. The sub-text of this whole argument is that they need a candidate from outside their regional limitations who can potentially win one of those big blue states. (Certainly, that's the argument Giuliani is making.) Although Giuliani certainly believes he can win New York, going up against a favorite daughter makes it far more dicey than it normally would be. I would not be surprised if they think their Sweet Rudy Blue State will be California --- Schwarzenneger has been kissing Rudy's ring for a while now. (That awful electoral college dirty trick could only help.)

Just last week:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he expects former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

The governor said his prediction does not constitute an endorsement, but Giuliani is "the most consistent, stable person who is out there who makes the most sense to the people. That's why his poll numbers are high," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

I think they think they might be able to position Rudy as Arnold. Certainly, they may think they can position him to appeal to someone like Tina Fey, of 3rd Rock fame, who said this in a recent NY Times article:
In another episode, in which Liz reflects on things about herself that others wouldn’t know, she says, “There is an 80 percent chance” that she will “tell all my friends I’m voting for Barack Obama, but I will secretly vote for John McCain.”

Ms. Fey, who wrote that line, said it was semi-autobiographical, a way of “admitting I have a lot of liberal feelings, but I also live in New York, and I want to feel safe, and I secretly kind of want Giuliani.”
(Another heroine bites the dust....)If a Hollywood/New York liberal thinks this about Giuliani, they very likely think they can cop the Arnold vote. And, sadly, it's possible they can. Arnold came back from a huge deficit and won big last year by moving to the middle. Rudy could try that too --- once he programs the GOP borg they'll do as they're told.

Whatever their motives, the Republicans are not saying this because they had simultaneous epiphanies. The Party is directing this meme for a reason. It's always important to keep that in mind, even if the media, like newborn babes, dutifully burp and spit it back up without any context or explanation. They don't go on jihads or spread memes like this spontaneously.
Bolding's mine, for the most part. Good, huh? Yeah, digby was wrong about Rudy, but at the time I think they were planning on anointing Rudy. Rudy ruined his own shot; he wasn't forced out. McCain was always a back-up plan.

And notice that the Republicans were busily trying to push the Dems into supporting or opposing a candidate. Sound familiar, Canadian Liberals? It should. Same thing's happening to you, and is going to continue to happen until May.

Here's another, earlier one from 2003.
(And, what do you think Ed Gillespie and all the rest of the "helpful" Republicans doling out advice to the Democrats are doing by stoking the division between the DLC and the grassroots? Somehow, I don't think they are really trying to help us.)
They aren't.

I've been making this point for a while too. This is from after the Dems won in 2006:
As always, don't listen to conservatives proffering advice, as people like Brooks had absolutely nothing to do with your victory.

And, honestly, what's sadder than a conservative babbling about how this is all "a win for the centrists", in a desperate attempt to try to save the ideology that is his bread and butter?

Yes, some conservative Dems won. No, it wasn't all conservatives, and some were pretty damned liberal. Yes, Lieberman won. No, Lieberman's victory wasn't a victory against Kos. it was an embrace of the Republican party without the "R" to bring him down.

Hell, Brooks (along with many other pundits) doesn't even get that Kos doesn't care about ideology, and never has. He just dislikes Lieberman because he takes shots at his own party to get ahead. It works for Joe, but harms the party, and thus can't be held up as an example to Dems pretty much by definition.
One of the reasons why Canadian Liberal bloggers' lack of knowledge about the history of the American netroots annoys me is because of this sort of thing. Every progressive American blogger knows full well that the Republicans are constantly offering "advice" that is in their own best interests. The commentators know it too: that's why they run off trolls pretty quickly these days, if the mod doesn't disemvowel them first.

Republicans did it then for the same reason that Conservatives are doing it now: to exploit the sense of frustration and desire for answers to accomplish their own agenda. Liberals now, like Democrats then, wanted to know how their counterparts were so successful, and the media was (as ever) interested in the strategy enough that they were willing to repeat the "good advice".

Yet it was never great advice. It wasn't even good advice. It was, almost universally, disastrous advice, usually revolving around how the Democrats are too "elitist" and too "out of the mainstream" and too "left wing" and how the needed to bend over backward to cater to hard-core conservative constituencies they'd never actually attract.

The Dems didn't win by putting any of this into practice. It was always nonsense: progressive congressional candidates were as competitive in 2006 and are as competitive in 2008 as conservative ones. Shifts "left" and "right" were meaningless; it was about reconnecting with the people you aim to represent. That's what the "50-state strategy" was about: it had nothing to do with trying to create bland "centrist" policy, but instead helping to build that connection. In Canada, progressivism will remain particularly important because of the social democrats nipping at the Liberals' heels. They cannot abandon it.

The Liberals aren't going to win by listening to conservatives either. They don't want to help you. They just want to screw with you, demoralize you, and drag the political "center" of the country to the right so as to suit their own ideology. And, rest assured, they will not tell you that that's what they're up to.

If they want to win, they need to rethink their on-the-ground strategy. But they also need to think about their on-the-Net strategy. And, based on being involved in this game practically since it started, I can offer one bit of insight above all:

They Are Not Your Friends.

(Edit: And remember: they're desperate. They've got two years, maximum, and those two years are likely to see further growth of world progressivism. The Dems are poised to decimate the Republicans, Labour is at the helm in Britian and Australia, Sarkozy's running left, the Germans conservatives are in coalition with the Social Democrats, and even Japan's mighty LDP is poised to be knocked off by the progressive Democratic Party of Japan. Progressivism is winning. Never forget that.)

Tolerance, or Naivete

I'm not sure which word best describes the tendency of (too?) many Canadian Liberal bloggers to provide seemingly welcome homes for the most die-hard of opponents.

But there's one thing I am sure of: they have no place in any solution to the Liberals' problems.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

No on 8

Proposition 8 is the California proposition banning gay marriage. Here's a video of its supporters:

From Theremina.
Hat tip Digby, who says California's getting ugly over this one.

Drosophilia Melanogaster Fun Facts

Sure, as quoted by Tristero on Hullabaloo, they're incredibly important to genetic research thanks to their "small size, short generation time, and large brood size." You probably knew that.

What you didn't know is that they're also as intelligent as your typical Republican speechwriter and vice-presidential candidate!

Sarah Palin isn't the issue here. Sure, I'll concede that this illustrates Palin's breathtaking ignorance AND her stupidity. After all, she agreed to repeat it. But what it really demonstrates is how unqualified the upper echelons of the Republican party are to run this country. She certainly didn't write this speech: John McCain's advisers did and approved every appalling word.

The subject is government funding of scientific research:
Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.
If you know anything at all about science in the 21st century, then you know that the study of fruit flies (aka Drosophilia melanogaster) has led to some of the most important discoveries in biology, genetics, and related topics. Why is that?
Embryogenesis in Drosophila has been extensively studied, as its small size, short generation time, and large brood size makes it ideal for genetic studies.
The fruit fly's utility in genetic research, in and of itself, is enough to justify its study.
Of course it is! Anybody who had even heard of genetics had heard of fruit fly studies. They're as common as, well, fruit flies.

But wingnuts, of course, don't believe in genetics, so they won't care that:

About 75% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies (Reiter et al (2001) Genome Research: 11(6):1114-25), and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues. An online database called Homophila [1] is available to search for human disease gene homologues in flies and vice versa. Drosophila is being used as a genetic model for several human diseases including the neurodegenerative disorders Parkinson's, Huntington's, spinocerebellar ataxia and Alzheimer's disease. The fly is also being used to study mechanisms underlying aging and oxidative stress, immunity, diabetes, and cancer, as well as drug abuse.
Only suckers and weaklings do science to help sick people! REAL men rely on "the market" (or the intercession of the Republican deity of your choice) to cure their ills!

But pity the poor Palin clan. Their mother appears to be working to doom their youngest. After all, she's got all the resources of the Republican party at her command, so she must surely have been told that Fruit fly research has led to advances in understanding autism. And pity those who enjoy olive oil; apparently at least part of the research was dedicated to keeping the California olive harvest free from fruit flies.

But don't pity the Republicans. The dumbasses deserve what they're gonna get.

TPM composites:

Obama Maintains Big Lead.


Here's our daily composite of the six major national tracking polls. Barack Obama is essentially maintaining his big lead in the polls:

Gallup: Obama 51%, McCain 44%, with a ±2% margin of error, compared to a 51%-45% Obama lead yesterday.

Rasmussen: Obama 52%, McCain 45%, with a ±2% margin of error, unchanged from yesterday.

ABC/Washington Post: Obama 53%, McCain 44%, with a ±3% margin of error, compared to a 54%-43% Obama lead from yesterday.

Hotline/Diageo: Obama 50%, McCain 43%, with a ±3.4% margin of error, compared to a 48%-43% Obama lead from yesterday.

Research 2000: Obama 52%, McCain 40%, with a ±3% margin of error, compared to a 51%-41% Obama lead from yesterday.

Zogby: Obama 51%, McCain 41%, with a ±2.9% margin of error, compared to a 52%-40% Obama lead yesterday.

Adding these polls together and weighting them by the square roots of their sample sizes, Obama is ahead 51.6%-43.1%, a lead of 8.5 points, compared to the 51.5%-43.1% Obama lead from yesterday.

This is kind of the problem with blogging about this election. It's not actually dramatic. The only question is the size of the win. And when you've even got Ted Stevens in a real battle for his Senate seat, that's not really a question at all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And Heeeere We Go!

So much for "civil". Scott Ross just carved up Michael Ignatieff for an old quote saying: 'Quebeckers Are Just North Americans Who Speak French'.

But that's not the sad part.

The sad part is the comments thread, which is clearly a mix of factionalists and gleefully trolling Bloggin' Tories.

The election was a little more than a week ago.

Forget "Demosthenes"; maybe I should have chosen "Cassandra".

America is a Liberal Country

Preach it, Cenk Uygur:

Watch, I'll outrage you even more -- the United States of America is a liberal country.

Compared to some Western European countries, we could be a little more liberal. But compared to the rest of the world, it's not even close. We are one of the bastions of liberalism. In fact, the United States has almost always led the world in being progressive. We created the United Nations, we rebuilt our enemies through the Marshall Plan, we pushed for human rights throughout the world, we established the idea of freedom of speech and of the press, and the list goes on and on. We are a liberal country and proud.

Now, these last two elections will show that a short-term flirtation with the conservative movement was a gigantic failure. We gave the country over to our conservatives for the last eight years -- and we hated what they did with it.

That's because Americans are not fundamentally conservative. They believe that when there is a disaster like Katrina, we should help one another and it is the government's job to be there for its citizens. They believe it is the government's job to regulate the markets (which simply means to establish some fair rules by which everyone has to play) so that the free markets are not left unfettered. They believe that first strike wars in foreign lands turn out to be a bad idea. They don't like torture. They believe in a minimum wage. And they fundamentally believe in a social safety net, as established in programs like Social Security.

Since the national press has been brainwashed by the conservatives for several decades now, it will take them some time to adjust to this. But adjust they must, because the Democrats will have control over Congress for along time to come if any of these projections are accurate. I know it's really hard to get it through their heads, but James Dobson does not represent us, Nancy Pelosi does. How long and how forcefully can the American people say that before the press acknowledges it?
Well, to be fair, a lot still self-identify as conservative. But the real story always gets missed there by lazy reporters: they're liberal, but won't acknowledge it because the press has demonized it. They call themselves "moderates" or "centrists" because the label "liberal" is sullied; many call themselves "conservative" simply because it's been redefined as "virtuous" in American elite political culture.

But that's the thing.If Cenk is right—and he is—Americans are by-and-large liberals. That means that a "moderate" is a liberal. The "center" is liberal. They aren't "liberal extremists" because being liberal isn't "extremist!"

Good to remember when you hear some idiot bleating about "moving to the center" or some such thing. Liberals, progressives, we are the center and they are the extremists. Don't forget that.

The Special in Interests!

Edward Prescott is a funny, funny man.

The corrupt rich lawyers and Wall Street bankers support Obama. Obama caters to the special in interests. That is why the CEO’s of the big companies support him and the people oppose him
And it doesn't stop there!

Our health systemn was great until the federal government got involved. Mc Cain has made a serious proposal to improve the system. Obama’s proposal is to make a bad system worse.

Edward C. Prescott

P.S. With people like you I understand why Ruyssians can not governed themselves.

Yeah, the guy asking the questions is Russian. Whoops:

Scientist collusions follow from their assumptions. It is not a matter of religious belief. Are you Russians goiung to getogether with the Germans again and split up Poland again? You invade Georgia.
The punchline? Prescott was born in New York. That ain't ESL you're reading, folks.

(Maybe Luskin's right and they'll hand a Nobel off to anybody these days. But, more likely, it's just more proof that a few too many economists have all the communication adeptness of your typical squirrel.)

H/T DeLong

(Edit: Oh, and the economics is ludicrous too, but you knew that.)

Re-Edit: Hey, maybe this explains things:

"Economists create their own worlds. We're like little gods with our artificial economics, wanting to see what happens."
He's a tiny god! That's why he doesn't need spelling, grammar, or comprehensibility in his emails! The Lord Prescott needeth not your mortal "spelling"!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Mike Duffy is a creampuff, and has loyal friends in every party"

...and you were doing so well.

It doesn't matter if a conservative shill has "friends in every party"; he's still a shill. That's like talking about all the awesome friends Tom Friedman has; well, yes, of course he does, he's part of the chattering class, but that doesn't mean you can ignore the agenda!

Despite whatzisname's protestations that this guy or that guy or the other guy at CTV is a personal friend of some other guy that knew Jean Chretien, it's pretty clear that they have an agenda. And whether or not they're friendly to the notoriously agenda-free Chretien of years past, it's pretty certain that they're no friends of the Liberals now.

Indeed, if they were friends of Chretien before and are friends of Harper now, that suggests that said agenda principally consisted of backing whoever was likeliest to deliver them power, influence, and those monopolies over rebroadcast that Canadian private broadcasters rely on to succeed. And how is that somehow beyond the pale? Hell, it's trivially obvious!

It certainly doesn't mean that progressives should trust these guys as far as they can throw them.

Edit: Ah, I forgot this. The chief criticism of the Liberal party among progressives, including both those within the party and those in the NDP, is that that the party is filled with too many careerists: those who have no real political philosophy or beliefs, but simply joined the party in order to forward their own careers and their own desires for power. Chretien's crew, for better or worse, included no small number of these people--though so did Martin's--and that's part of the reason the Liberals are so adrift today.

If those careerists have moved on to CTV, their personal former loyalties to Chretien don't matter; they're still going to back whichever political party best aids their careers. And, yes, that's the Conservatives. CTV knows where its loyalties lie, and they lie with the party that will rewrite broadcast laws for their benefit and cripple public broadcasting.

(Re-Edit: Seriously, how the hell does a prominent blogger not understand the whole "workin' the ref" concept?)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

$150 Million

According to dkos, that's how much Obama raised. $150 Million

The Obama campaign has raised a stunning $150 million in September.

Some astonishing statistics from David Plouffe:

  • 632,000 new donors last month alone.
  • 3.1 million donors thus far.
  • Average contribution for the month is still under $100 (for the year, the average is $86).
  • Retirees and students are the two groups which have given the most contributions.

As Plouffe explains, this is a lot of money, but the campaign needs more. Funds are necessary to fight the "slime" from the other side (Plouffe's word, not mine), to fight the robocalls, the shameful ads, etc. Plouffe also explains that funds are needed as the campaign is expanding into new battleground, like West Virginia and North Dakota. He also calls us to action, stating:

"The finish line is too close for us to fall short. The country can't afford it."

$150 million is a mind-blowing amount of money, but extraordinary resources will be needed to combat the extraordinarily ugly tactics launched by the McCain campaign. As Joe Biden recently warned:

"You know what these guys are gonna do," Biden warned the 3,800-strong audience in a Henderson park, just outside Las Vegas. "You know, as that old saying goes – I thought they already threw the kitchen sink, but I think more is to come. I think other parts of the bathroom are coming. I don’t know, man, they’re going up and getting the bathroom sink. So look, we have a lot of reason to be encouraged, but it is far, far from over."

Barack Obama himself has echoed the same, seizing the urgency of the moment and saying that we need to "run through the finish line."
As someone who remembers the Democratic fundraising doldrums of the turn of the century, this is still kitten-playing-with-puppy heartwarming.

And look at that one bit: "Retirees and students are the two groups which have given the most contributions." STUDENTS. The group that's supposed to be either politically disaffected or too wrapped up in thinking that street puppetry will solve things to support causes that actually will solve things.


"Colin Powell was John McCain before John McCain became John McCain"

And now he's endorsing Obama.

dday is more impressed with the 3.1 endorsers out there with an average contribution of under $100, and so am I. But it's still shocking to see the GOP brought this low.

(Hey, Rove? Marginalizing the man really worked out well, didn't it?)

This, On the Other Hand, is Absolutely True

Lloyd Axworthy, ladies and gentlemen:

In assessing campaigns, the media tend to focus on the air war – the leader's tour and the coverage it generates, advertising and the debates. This aspect of campaigning is obviously critical, but without a ground campaign to get voters to the polls the best advertising will not be enough to swing a close election. Parties still need active members. The Liberal party needs them more than most because it has a large potential voter base that needs more encouragement to vote.

In their preoccupation with leadership, media and party insiders are missing the real issue. The primary challenge for the Liberal party is that its cause is no longer compelling enough to persuade Canadians to give up their leisure time to join its ranks.

Party renewal, therefore, is not some romantic notion pursued by idealists. Renewal demands hard-headed realism that requires a Liberal party overhaul; rebuilding itself brick by brick, riding-by-riding so it is once again competitive on the ground.

On election night I watched the returns with Barney Danson, Dorothy Davey and several other veterans of past Liberal campaigns. Danson, a former defence minster, recalled that he would send his most experienced volunteers into the large apartment complexes to ensure turnout. Davey, a legendary organizer, recalled inviting undecided citizens for coffee. Others emphasized the importance of signs to raise morale among the troops and help name recognition. None of these tasks can be accomplished without active volunteers.

Social scientists back up the insights of these veteran campaigners. In Politics is Local: National Politics at the Grassroots, R. Kenneth Carty and Monroe Eagles assess elections from 1988 to 2000 and their data confirm the common-sense observations of experienced campaign managers: Good local campaigns can influence 4 per cent to 5 per cent of the vote; the addition of 100 volunteers shifts votes; signs shift votes and local campaign spending shifts votes. In the 2000 election, for example, Liberal candidates spent only 72 per cent of their allowed local limit. On average, candidates could have spent $19,000 more. If every Liberal candidate had spent to their legal limit, the Liberal vote could have increased by 5 per cent. And since public subsidies give the parties $1.75 per vote, unharvested votes cost the Liberal party millions.

Further, early data show that only three percentage points determined the winners in 25 ridings across the country last Tuesday. In southwestern Ontario, for example, five ridings were separated by 1 per cent. Four of these were won by the Conservative party and, had the Liberal party won them instead, Stephen Harper would be even less satisfied and Stéphane Dion less worried about the results of Canada's 40th election.

So, how can the Liberals get these 100 volunteers per constituency or ensure that a local fundraising campaign reaches the legal limit? Local ridings that raise money should keep more of it, rather than sending it to central headquarters. And party members should have a real say in policy direction. If the Liberal membership, as a whole, had been given the opportunity to debate issues like the Green Shift, the election results might have been different.

A reformed policy process should begin with a thinkers conference, preferably in Kingston, to remind Liberals of Lester Pearson's great initiative in 1960; every riding should debate the directions suggested and then there should be a great party rally or mass Internet vote to decide on priorities.

Bolding mine. I agree with this to the extent it exists, but Axworthy did miss something: activists do not come from the moderates. By that I don't necessarily mean the mythical "center" that everybody is babbling about these days, but simply that those people who volunteer are those who have some passion for something. It can be for the party, and sometimes it's for a person, but generally it's for a philosophy or ideology. That's why the Conservatives and NDP (and, until recently, Republicans in America) had such better GOTV efforts; because they're absolutely stuffed with people who are bursting at the seams with ideological zeal. Yes, such people make milquetoast Liberals uncomfortable, but they are your future, like it or not. They are your volunteers, they are your bloggers, they are your activists, and they are your donors, since those big $3000-a-plate dinners are a thing of the past.

And you aren't going to get them by abandoning your progressive wing, folks. Sure, the media doesn't know that. But Axworthy knows that. And America knows that, Republicans and Democrats alike. The NDP and Conservatives know that-and they're desperately hoping that you don't.

(I love that local policy bit, by the way. There is, as far as I've learned, some sort of thing like that in Canadian parties, but clearly it's role is infinitesimal compared to top-down policymaking.)

For the Curious:

Not a word of this is true.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Well, Holy Moley

It looks like a liberal netroots might actually be starting to form, at least a little, and it's pissed off at the anonymous sources slagging on Dion.

I don't think it'll help Stephane's fate. But bloggers realizing that they've got bigger problems in their party than who the leader is, and maybe standing up for progressivism a little, is certainly a nice change from what was there before.

Palin is a "Disaster" and it's All Bill Kristol's Fault

So sez Republican insiders, according to an interview between Glenn Greenwald and Scott Horton, who wrote about how Kristol was responsible for her nomination in The Daily Beast.

The interview is audio, so you'll have to listen for yourself, but here's a bit from the piece:

Kristol can fairly lay claim to having “discovered” Palin for Washington political circles. Palin’s name appeared in 41 Weekly Standard articles since the Juneau meeting—starting with a paean entitled “The Most Popular Governor” that ran right after the reception.

Indeed, Kristol, who was a loyal McCain supporter in 2000 and is often thought to have suffered exclusion from Bush’s inner circle as a result, may have played a key role in McCain’s decision to tap Palin as his running mate. A McCain campaign insider described to me a tight three-way competition between Palin, Joe Lieberman, and Mitt Romney in the final days. McCain himself, it was no secret, wanted Lieberman to be his running mate, but his senior advisors were adamant that Lieberman could not be sold to the Republican base. A Lieberman nomination might risk exposing serious fissures in the party at the convention in Saint Paul.

The inner circle broke down between two choices. Those close to Karl Rove united around Romney. Rove engaged in heavy lobbying in an effort to get McCain to embrace Romney. Others, of whom Kristol was the most prominent, pushed Sarah Palin—arguing that she was young, popular, vigorous, unknown and had the right connections to the Religious Right bloc which had proven so important to Republican wins in 2000 and 2004. Karl Rove himself recognized, with typical insight, that Palin was the real challenger. He attacked Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as an ill-suited candidate for the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. Kaine, of course, had a resume almost identical to Palin’s—he had been a small city mayor and then had served, for less than two years, as governor—and McCain campaign insiders understood the swipe differently from others. Did Rove really care about Kaine’s darkhorse candidacy for the Democrats, or was he launching a cloaked attack on Palin? (In a recent appearance, Rove was asked if he thought Palin would make a good president. “I don’t know” was his unenthusiastic answer.

Unfortunately Kristol stands alone on this:
After the nomination, conservative columnists have been very critical of the Palin candidacy. Some have openly distanced themselves from it, such as National Review’s Kathleen Parker, who called on Palin voluntarily to quit the ticket. David Brooks referred to Palin as a “cancer on the Republican Party.” Peggy Noonan was overheard grumbling about the choice as “political bullshit” on an open mike on MSNBC. George Will told a gathering of Senate aides that Palin was “obviously not qualified” to be vice president. Former presidential speechwriter David Frum called the choice a gamble and then said he felt it was “disturbing.” Charles Krauthammer called the choice “near suicidal.”
And those are the guys who usually spin anything in favor of the Republicans.

With Kristol reduced to trying to blame everybody else, is it any wonder McCain's flailing?

(H/T: Washington Monthly)

Obama's Gonna Be Prez

No, really. It's all just going through the motions now, unless something HUGE happens.

He won that last debate handily, and I somehow doubt that Ayers is going to be a huge issue considering he handled it so adroitly during the debate.

And, now, even the Washington Post is backing him, despite their opinion pages being in the tank for the GOP for years. They know which way the wind is blowing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking For a Good Time? Like Economics?

Brad DeLong and Henry Farrell have you covered, with their quotations of hilariously over-the-top wingnut reactions to Krugman's Nobel Prize. Personal favorites:

Roger Kimball But today we have yet another illustration of Marx’s revision of Hegel’s version of the progress of history: things happen as it were twice: first as tragedy (Arafat) then as farce–witness this year’s Nobel Laureate for economics: Paul Krugman. Yes, that Paul Krugman, laughing stock (well, one of them) of The New York Times’s editorial: the anti-capitalist, anti-American town crier whose hysterical maunderings about the economy and American society were embarrassing before they went entirely off the reservation and became merely part of the ambient left-wing static emanating from The New York Times. Krugman is not just a left-wing academic economist. He is a hard-left activist whose only claim on our attention is as a bellwether of a certain species of anti-American demagoguery. Well, one must laugh to keep from crying. Meanwhile, Krugman will be $1.4 million richer–unless, of course, Barack Obama should be elected and start nosing around that “windfall” profit. That is not–not by a long shot–enough to make me wish for an Obama presidency, but it would be a pleasing consolation prize. [UPDATE: It occurs to me on reflection that it would have been much more appropriate had the Nobel Prize Committee, since they were determined to honor a fantasist like Krugman, awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature. I mean, he work is not more unreadable than many recent Nobel Laureates in literature, and it is just as untruthful.]

Donald Luskin: The Nobel Prize is never posthumous—it is only awarded to living persons. So some great minds such as John Maynard Keynes and Fischer Black never received the prize in Economics. All that has changed. With today’s award to Paul Krugman, the Nobel as gone to an economist who died a decade ago. The person alive to receive the award is merely a public intellectual, a person operating in the same domain as Oprah Winfrey. And even as a public intellectual, the prize is inappropriate, because never before has a scientist operating in the capacity of a public intellectual so abused and debased the science he purports to represent. Krugman’s New York Times column drawing on economics is the equivalent of 2006’s Nobelists in Physics, astromers Mather and Smoot, doing a column on astrology—and then, in that column, telling lies about astronomy. But what’s done is done. The only question now is whether Krugman will pay taxes on the prize at the low rates enabled by the Bush tax cuts he has done so much to discredit, or if he will volunteer to pay taxes at higher rates he considers more fair.

Excellent. He was a pseudo Nobel prize. That he deserves. As his politics is pseudoscientific. Great. Now I can applaude. I am sure many of you have watched him on cable networks. Has anyone else noticed he seems a little off. He speaks like a mouse and his beady eyes have a strange stare. He looks like if someone droped a glass he would scream.
We all applaude, friend. We ALL applaude.

"Flash Gordon"? Has the World Economic System Been Saved by a Socialist?

I should probably stop reading Canadian newspapers at this point; there' s an American election still going on, and I'm extraordinarily disappointed with the only country in the western hemisphere to not get the hint that conservative economics are by-and-large terrible.

(A neo-Keynesian won the Nobel Economics prize, remember?)

But this Globe bit on Gordon Brown, 'The man who saved the world banking system', really was quite good.

Two weeks ago, the best thing that was said about British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was that he might be persuaded to resign before his tepid and inarticulate leadership brought the Labour Party to a decimating defeat at the hands of the Tories.

Today, he will arrive at a financial-crisis summit in Brussels as the most influential leader in the world, and possibly the most admired.

The French newspaper Le Monde called the normally morose Scot - who has suddenly taken up the habit of smiling - a "European superhero," its conservative competitor Figaro called him the world's greatest financial mind, and Swedish media have taken to calling him "Flash Gordon."

His bailout of the British banking system through a taxpayer buyout of major banks has been imitated in the past 48 hours by a dozen other countries, including the United States, which invested $250-billion (U.S.) in banks yesterday. While taxpayers may be less happy when the full cost of these bailouts hits their tax bills, and it is not yet fully certain that the strategy has worked, most observers agree he has staved off a full-blown depression.

Mr. Brown, a man whose obsessive devotion to the minutiae of financial management has previously been a source of ridicule, is getting all the credit.

At a briefing yesterday he said he wants to take this triumph to a new stage today, by rebuilding the entire world economic order with the launch of new institutions to replace those that have regulated world finance since the Bretton Woods conference launched the modern financial system in 1944.

"We are in the first financial crisis of the new global age," he said. "We need to recognize that if risks are globalized, then responsibilities have to be globalized as well. ... What we are asking is that we set up a new international financial architecture for the global age."

He proposed not only major reforms to the International Monetary Fund and the G7 group of industrialized nations so they can respond better to global capital flows and crises, but also the creation of a whole new set of institutions and regulations designed to replace national finance-regulation bodies in dozens of countries with a fully international system.

Last week, such an idea would have been laughable, especially from Gordon Brown, a left-wing leader in a world dominated by conservatives. But analysts feel that he has become so influential this week that he may well end up accomplishing at least part of his huge goal.

"I myself find it kind of jaw-dropping: Gordon Brown has become the man who saved the world banking system, and now he might become the man who redesigned the international financial system," said Will Hutton, an economist whose work has influenced Mr. Brown's Labour Party since 1997. "Who would have dreamed of it?"

Well, said Nobel Prizewinner for one. Me, for another. The idea that government can intervene to improve or save an economy may be anathema to Friedmanites, but to people who understand the economic insights of the 21st century, it only makes sense that the invisible hand of the market may need to be gripped by the visible hand of government every once in a while.

But, hey, don't take my word for it:

Mr. Brown also won begrudging praise yesterday from David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservatives, who said he fully supported the bailout program, and from U.S. President George W. Bush, whose officials have eagerly adopted it. And Paul Krugman, the U.S. academic and writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics this week, has devoted himself to lavish praise of Mr. Brown's new ideas.
See? And he has a new "Brown doctrine" too:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined a five-point program yesterday to reform the world's financial system. He hopes the principles will be the basis of a new set of global institutions to replace those that have governed international finance since 1944. This will be proposed in Brussels today and tomorrow.


Banks must fully disclose key information globally, not just nationally. Accounting standards will have to become international, and they must extend to the credit-insurance market, which has been heavily criticized.


A worldwide effort is needed to end conflicts of interest, such as those involving rating agencies that receive fees from the firms they rate. Worldwide limits also need to be placed on pay and bonuses in banks, so that they reflect actual results and are no longer able to distort business practices.


All members of company boards must hold full responsibility for the company's risk, and must not be able to walk away from their institutions. This will require international supervision.

Tighter regulation

To create "a system with solvency and liquidity," there must be "adequate protection through the economic cycle" to prevent speculators from distorting markets when they are rising and short positions from having undue impacts when markets are falling.

New institutions

The new system of banking co-operation will need "a new international financial architecture for the Global Age." New institutions will provide "an effective global early warning system for the world economy, to alert us to the risks at hand," and "globally accepted and supervised standards of regulation" and the cross-border supervision of global corporations.
Sounds good to me. Good show, Mr. Brown. Good show.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Last Post on This Sort of Thing in a While

When the thing that the Liberals need the most is a growing, vibrant netroots...

Jason Cherniak decides to quit:

This is my last post on politics. After almost four years of blogging, I have decided that I have had enough. When I started, I was about to start articling at a major Toronto law firm and I was moving up in the Liberal Party. I've continued to move up in the party, but I also know that too many people see me as a blogger first. I believe it is no different than appearing on TV as a spokesperson, but what I believe does not matter. Reality is reality and I am now convinced that I can do more for the Liberal Party behind the scenes than I can online. Meanwhile, I think it is in my best financial interests to focus on my law practice. However, I cannot leave without making a few observations on tonight's election.
Well, enjoy your backrooms. But they won't help.

Ok, So Much For That Canadian Stuff

Harper wins a minority, somewhat bigger than the one he had but not as big as the majority he wanted. Layton doesn't get all the seats he wanted, Dion definitely doesn't get all the seats HE wanted, and May didn't win.

So the only guy who's really happy is, yep, Gilles Duceppe. The separatist.

From here on out, back to Obama crushing the holy hell out of McCain.

(And maybe a bit more "whoopie! Krugman got the Nobel!")

Monday, October 13, 2008

Krugman Wins the Nobel Prize! (Also: Closing Canada election stuff)

Best damned economic news in ages.

Not just because the man deserves it for his trade work, though he does. No, it's because it'll provide him the imprimatur to slap the holy hell out of whatever disciples Friedman's brand of economics still has left.

(Plus, hey, a Nobel prize-winning economist said that he thought my pseudonym was great, so there's that.)

As for the Canada elections, well:

Canada will probably see a Harper minority, not much different than the one already in place. A few seats here and there will change, especially in Quebec, but by and large it'll be status quo. That'll be a problem for everybody, though: Harper will have to answer questions as to why the hell he called the thing, Dion will be staving off Liberals blaming him for the situation, and Layton may have to answer for a (very expensive) full-court press that was competent but didn't deliver many more seats.

(Gilles Duceppe will be happy. He'll be retiring on a high note.)

As for whether anybody will lose their job? Harper, perhaps, perhaps not. People in his party aren't going to believe he can actually deliver a majority, and he's kept his party together on that promise. He should be around for the next election (which will either be in 2009 or 2010) but he might not be.

Dion knows the knives are out, but has said he won't resign, and has a case to make. NO party leader is going to look good after two years of character assassination, and the two men most likely to follow him have problems of their own. (Michael Ignatieff tends to put his foot in his mouth and alienates the hell out of progressives, whereas Bob Rae is still blamed for Ontario's early 1990s woes. Plus, Iggy might lose his seat.) Dion has grown over the course of the election, and the tradition in the party is that you get two shots at the prize. He's also proven a fearsome debater in French, which will likely carry over to English as his English improves.

If he is ousted, though, I'm expecting the Liberals to be in a LOT of trouble. Financially, and politically.

Layton, well, it depends. He's apparently taken out tons of loans to pay for his campaign, which spent the maximums available by law. If he can't seriously improve their seat totals, there are going to be a lot of people asking "why" when he comes around with the begging bowl for all those loans. If he does, though, he will be eagerly awaiting a Liberal leadership race; if Iggy wins, then he'll use Ignatieff's inevitable rightward shift as an excuse to move his party further to the center, scoop up disaffected progressives, increase his vote dollars, and begin conquering urban Canada in earnest. (If Rae wins, he's in much worse shape, so he's almost certainly praying for an Ignatieff win.)

And May, well, that depends on seat and vote totals. If she increases neither, she's in trouble. If they win even one seat, or increase their vote total, she'll be fine.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to watch.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You Know What? Whatzisname Did a Funny.

I'm a fair, generous pseudonym if ever there was one. So I'm willing to say that this:

Was funny!

(Oh, text? Sure. Here:)

...I look kind of tired, here, because I was at the back of the NOFX tour bus with Fat Mike, late last night, sure was interesting!

That notwithstanding, here's Bart asking to start over in an interview. It's shocking! It's appalling! Is this fish a Prime Minister? Wouldn't you be embarrassed if this fish became Prime Minister?

And, do you think - by spending so much time on it - the Tories are pissing away the few Quebec seats they have left?
I figured he'd weigh in, considering his own boss--who gave a stunning endorsement of Dion last night, by all accounts--had that little attack ad problem in 1993 that ended up costing the OTHER guy the big chair. I don't think he's wrong.

But the other thing it shows is that America has no copyright on evil, vicious gotcha journalism. This "lie to the subject and exploit the lie" kind of scummy gotcha hackery is par for the course for Fox News or a tabloid, but to see one of the oldest, most established national networks play this game is astounding. Mike Duffy really has outed himself as a Rush wannabe, and the rest of his network is little better.

I used to argue that Canadians need a more vibrant liberal netroots because the only progressive party that can form a government can't properly fundraise online. But it's not just that anymore. I think they may need it simply because they need someone to respond to the clear, growing and nauseating conservative bias in their country's mainstream media.

When you've got conservative bloggers writing columns in national newspapers and reporters desperately hunting anti-Liberal material while ignoring any and every Tory miscue that isn't big enough to eclipse the sun, what the hell else are you going to do?

Edit: And for a good laugh, check out the comments thread. It's amazing, the volume of the wingnuts there.

Post-election Edit: Speaking of that conservative bias I mentioned. Notice how every newspaper that isn't the Toronto Star is saying that the Liberals need to move rightward? Not a word about what that would do to the progressive wing of the party, which would see itself cast aside as its party played the Democratic game of triangulation. (It never really worked.) Not a word about the seats that Jack stole away from the Liberals, showing that, yes, the Liberals really do face a threat from the left. Not a word about vote-splitting, and how Harper could simply respond to the shift by moving the goalposts, Republican-style.

(The Liberals DESPERATELY need to read and maybe hire Lakoff.)

Nope, what the Liberals need to do is become another conservative party. After all, it worked so well for Martin.

Oh. Wait.

Waiiiit a Second

Did Harper and CTV seriously try to exploit Stephane Dion's hearing disability to score political points and/or a story?

Shades of 1993, yes, but it also smacks of "that one."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Huffington Sez: The Winner of Debate II? "That One"

Can't disagree.

McCain's problem was not his arguments per se. It was his attitude towards Obama. Yes, Rove has clearly directed him to be dismissive and superior towards the man. It's supposed to make McCain look like he's above Obama; that Obama's a young and contemptable upstart.

But "that one"? Er, no. Not only did that bring up some rather unsettling thoughts in terms of the racial dynamic on the stage, but it made McCain look like an ass. Not that he isn't, but you aren't supposed to look like one in front of the American people!

And, yeah, I know about the "people saying 'kill him' at Republican rallies" stuff. What's sad is not that they're doing that to Obama, what's sad is that they'd be doing that to ANY Democrat. That's what conservatism does to you; all the bullshit about "Bush derangement syndrome" aside, it's inevitably conservatives who become the vicious and hateful ones. Not all conservatives, of course, but it's a notable tendency.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Posted Without Comment.

From the Turner Report, courtesy of Runesmith.

I liken election campaigns to white water rafting. Things appear calm, then bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Then calm again. Basically, you need to be ready for anything. The other day I met a man at an event. His name is Sammy. I liked him instantly. He’s a quiet man, Sammy is. Humble in fact. But with the heart of a lion He works in a convenience store in Hamilton. He told me he was over at the La Rose parking down on Bronte Street in Milton. He saw a van all taped up with Lisa’s signs. So he came to see me and said “They next time I pull into that parking lot, the people will know …… Garth Turner will be on the side of my van.” Sammy and I laughed. “You are a brave man!” I joked. The smile on Sammy’s face turned serious. I come from Pakistan he told me, via Vancouver. I know about life. I know about fear. I know about freedom. So Sammy and I went back into the campaign office and found us a roll of packing tape. We turned his unassuming vehicle into a Garth mobile. Arterials on the sides, lawn sign on the back, literature in the window. “I work in Hamilton” Sammy said. And as his chest puffed out in pride, he told me “Everyone will know from Halton to Hamilton, who I’m voting for!

That was yesterday.

Today I learned from a third party that Sammy’s van has been vandalized. Spray painted over the Garth Turner arterials with obscenities. This third party has also informed me that Sammy will not be moved. His van continues to wear those arterials, obscenities and all, a symbol of Sammy’s defiance.

Sammy will not be moved.

My heart is full.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Tie.

With Alberta's Conservative-inflating and Liberal-deflating effects factored out, the race in Canada is now essentially a tie. And with their terrible, rushed platform hitting the ground with an inert "thud", Harper's bunch are looking weaker and weaker by the minute.

Rudd pt. 2?

Cobbled Together. And Insane.

Just look at the Conservative platform. (No link, you can find it on that website of theirs.) It's got giant titles on every page, MONSTER section fonts, and lots of huge pictures of Harper giving his creepy smile to the camera.

(And is a svelte 41 pages to begin with.)

The most notable bit? Apparently he wants to abolish Canada's Senate. Which would require a big constitutional change. For non-Canadian readers, constitutional change in Canada is a Very Bad Thing.

How bad?

Well, imagine if you wrapped up the gun debate and the abortion debate and the red/blue state thing and foreign policy and welfare reform. You take all of them, and squeeze them together into one big morass of hatred and division. You then give it to Karl Rove and tell him to do everything he can to make it even more hateful and divisive.

Then you pee on it.

What would remain after all of that would still not compare to what happens in Canada when you propose to change the constitution. And that's what Harper's proposing to do, in order to placate his base and try to save his job as Conservative leader.

In a time of frightening economic uncertainty, he's proposing to do the least sane thing a Canadian PM possibly could.

Unfit to lead.

Minority Government

(From the "Bad Dates With Stephen" project at Trinity Square. H/T: BCInT)

Once Again...

The main reason I'm paying so much attention to this Canadian thing right now?

Because Obama is absolutely crushing McCain. It's barely a story at this point. Sure, there's all this nonsense McCain's trying to dredge up about Obama borrowing a sippy-cup from a commie or whateverthehell that's supposed to be about. But let's be honest. The Dems are poised to win a supermajority in the Senate. The Republicans are, literally, facing annihilation.

Lots of fun to watch, in light of 2002, when I started this little black website rolling. But not much to sink your teeth into.

(Maybe after next Tuesday.)

Whatzisname Just Don't Get It

A quote:
No one is going to change the world in the chat room on a long-forgotten political hack's web site.
Yes. They Really Do.

(And that's leaving aside MyBO.)

Honestly, this guy wouldn't bother me so much if he didn't try to speak authoritatively about a medium and a community whose reach and extent he is completely ignorant about. He could be using what he has to start building Canadian netroots, but he's too busy pinching loaves on the concept instead.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The war room myth?

What's interesting about this piece in Andrew Steele's article about the war room is not so much that its role is overblown. What's interesting is that it describes the role of a good online activist community really well:

"War rooms" are well-named only because they share a cliché with combat: It's hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

One of the most remarkable differences between working in an election headquarters, compared to a riding-level role, is that you have to spend hour upon hour sitting around doing nothing.

In a local race, at least you can actually talk to voters. Working in campaign headquarters, the only normal people you see for weeks on end are the lady who gets your coffee at 6:30 in the morning and the bartender who gets your beer at 11:30 at night.

The crushing boredom of a "war room" comes from having to always be on call.

The day is unpredictable and the job is to monitor, react and only occasionally initiate.

The media cycle refreshes several times daily, but has regular lulls: early start, 7:00 a.m. news briefing, morning rush, mid-day lull, early afternoon rush, late afternoon lull, 6:00 p.m. news rush, mid-evening lull, 11:00 p.m. news rush, sleep - repeat 28 to 47 times.

But the biggest thing, as commonly noted, is the testosterone. There is a feeling of "If I'm not in the room when the story breaks, I could be exposed as unnecessary and thus lose political clout."

So campaign staff work crazy, counter-productive hours to ensure they are always in the play.

Professional bloggers tend to have this problem. Because they always want to be first out of the gate with a story, they tend to spend far too much time monitoring the media, and follow the same media-watching patterns as war rooms do.

Other than that, though, online activists have a similar job to war roomers: They catch media reports, respond, re-respond, tussle amongst each other, try to undercut official spin and stories in comment threads, and email the hell out of whatever hacks they know trying to get their views out.

(Then they try to make favored candidates some money by throwing up a "donate here" button or three.)

I've long thought of a good netroots campaign effort as a sort of distributed, leaderless, guerrilla "war room." This certainly reinforces that belief, and reinforces why having one is so important.


A 3rd instance of Harper plagiarism revealed!

I'm wondering just how much this is hurting the guy. Here's Tribe:

Bouquets of Gray (run by the blogger who ran Buckets of Grewal, and who was noted for his analysis of that tape of Gurmant Grewal and the discovery that it had been doctored) and Jerad Gallinger over at his site have found another apparent instance of Harper and/or his speech writers heavily copying from someone else - and this time they liked the guy’s stuff so much, they copied it from TWO separate essays and rolled it into one Harper speech:

Buckets explains this side-by-side comparison:

To the right is a section of his (Harper) speech on the Canadian Wheat Board (Nov. 6, 2002); it copies sections from two essays by Craig Docksteader of The Prairie Policy Centre, a rightwing think tank. (One written in 1998 with the Harper-parallels in yellow, and one in 2002, green).

In the first instance of plagiarism that was discovered in Harper’s involving his support for the Iraq war that copied Australian PM John Howard’s address, one of Harper’s former staffers took the fall. In the 2nd instance, where it was found that parts of former Ontario premier Mike Harris’s speech had been lifted, no staffer was blamed, but Harper dismissed that as being “boilerplate” phrases that are used all of the time and which he merely reused in his opinion.

Now we have this long speech that is a lot more then “mere boilerplate” - it appears to be wholesale copying. What explanation does Harper have for this? What does this say about Harper? And what about the consequences? Current Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden had his presidential run in 1988 scuppered by a revelation that he had lifted phrases and used them in a campaign speech, so the Conservative defenders cannot be so quick to try and brush this off, as I’ve seen some try to do.

As j-rad says:

Reporters have been fired and students expelled for less egregious cases of copying. Whether the Prime Minister will hold himself to the same standard as a second-year English major remains to be seen.

Harper will not fire himself - but the Canadian electorate can do so.

No wonder whatzisname was spinning hard for his buddy today. Twice is coincidence. Three times is not.

Whatzisname Ain't Happy

With Dion—allegedly surrounded by hated Martin people—rebounding in the polls and his buddy Steve-o sliding like kids in a water park, it appears that whatzisname is trying to work the Canadian media a bit. Which is kinda funny, considering they're more in the tank for the conservative movement than the American media has for years. But it's par for the course.

Anyway, teh funnays:

• WINNER: The Toronto Star. Like a certain Liberal In Exile© I, um, know, you could always count on the Star to suspend its critical faculties and urge folks to vote Liberal under any and all circumstances. Like some of us, it had the LPC logo tattooed in its nether regions. For the Star, no more! In this campaign, the Star has been scrupulously fair in its coverage - and, editorially, not nearly as slavish in its devotion to the NGP as it once was. It'll endorse the Grits in the next week, but big deal - newspaper editorial newspaper support is irrelevant. Kudos to the Star, and its revitalized Ottawa bureau, for playing this one straight.
Welp, no surprise here. Normally whatzisname here hates the Star, because they have hookers in a weekly urban alternative magazine they run.

(I'll pause here to let you catch your breath on that incredible revelation. Yes, it's older than my namesake, but it's new to him.)

But now he's lauding the Star. Why? Well, isn't it obvious? At least two of their columnists openly despise Dion. Neither Hebert nor Travers have ever forgiven the Liberals for not choosing Ignatieff, and I suspect that's probably the majority view at the Star. (Maybe not Siddiqui, who was never too fond of Iggy's hawkish positions, but he doesn't appear to be the force he used to be. The Star hasn't "played this one straight", but it has played it just like Our Hero wanted them to.
• LOSER: Maclean's magazine. I'm not fan, going back to the appalling way the magazine dealt with the Muslim community. In Campaign 2008, a lot of what I've read in Maclean's online - like many Canadians, I never actually buy the thing - continues to have the same smirky, snarky, aren't-we-clever style, and it's off-putting. Wells, Coyne and Potter are great, but the magazine just plain isn't.
I'd agree, but it actually has one of the better blog sections in the Canadian media landscape, and O'Malley (whom whatzisname left off for some unfathomable reason) has been good enough that I'm starting to think she deserves Coyne's job.

• WINNERS: The CBC. MotherCorp, like the Star, always gets tagged for being a black helicopter-driving, One World Government-loving, latté-sipping, secular humanist conspiracy. And, let's face it, they often were. This time around, they provide outstanding political coverage, online and off. And they have gone to extraordinary lengths to solicit the opinions and input of regular folks, and have received precious little credit for doing so. Cynics will sniff they're currying favour with the Tories to avoid future budgetary cuts. Me, I just think they're doing their job.
That you're a "cynic" doesn't mean you're wrong. Unlike, say, all this nonsense about "latte-sipping secular humanists".

Isn't this guy supposed to be a media expert? Doesn't he get that using Luntz Language to describe what—occasionally—he calls his own side is playing directly into the hands of the Republicans and their frosty Canadian offshoot?

(Well, yes, of course he does. He just doesn't care. It's pretty clear that "liberal" is a label to this guy; those who consider it a belief system or a philosophy aren't welcome.)

(Speaking of which.)

• LOSERS: The Blogosweird. Unlike the mainstream media (the so-called MSM), I haven't broken any stories in this election. Unlike the MSM, no one pays money for my opinions. Unlike the MSM, I don't command the attention of millions. But the blogs and vlogs and social networking sites have been significant mainly for one thing in this campaign: they have provided the fodder for myriad campaign embarrassments. Here's the thing, bloggers: you aren't changing the story - you have become the story, and not in a good way. Most of the felled candidates? Bloggers. Or online onanists. There's a lesson there, O Vanity Press For The Deranged. But I don't expect you to heed it.
Interesting story here. From what I understand, the government he does support, the ontario provincial Liberals, doesn't have any real campaign finance restrictions. They can get money from anybody, and as much as they want.

Keeping that in mind, this stand kind of makes sense. Let's be clear: progressives under campaign finance restrictions cannot effectively fundraise without a strong Internet presence. The biggest failure of the Liberals has been that they haven't replicated the online activist community of bloggers and twitterers and social networkers and MyBOers and whatnot that fuels American progressivism. Without that community, you'll never be able to keep up with Republican-style direct mail campaigns. With it, you'll crush them.

His team has no campaign finance restrictions. The others do. His team doesn't need to find alternate sources of funding. The others do. His team doesn't need an online activist community to get that funding. The others do.

Why wouldn't he mock the one thing that could close the gap? "Liberal" is nothing but a label to him. There are no real beliefs involved. There is no real philosophy involved. It's just the game, and if it isn't his team, well, they can go to hell.

• WINNER: The Canadian Press. With the exception of their regrettable decision to run an AP story about how to copy Sarah Palin's hairstyle, CP has been an indispensible source of info about Campaign 2008. Where the leaders are! What they say! What they do! What the issues are! What Harris-Decima's Bruce Anderson had for breakfast! CP rules in this race.
...because they're in the tank for Harper.

Yeah, you get it by now.

Sorry, buddy, but even if he looks like a hobbit, Cherniak was right. At least he's loyal to something.