Saturday, May 31, 2008

the GOP message, the GOP brand, and rat poison

bad as the GOP brand is, now that Dubya has cratered it, there's one thing that's worse. This is a GOP pollster commenting. The poll was designed to determine whether GOP unpopularity is purely "brand" unpopularity, or if there are other problems contributing to GOP unpopularity.

h/t Sully


Let’s start with the economy. When voters know what party each message comes from, we lose 37% to 58% and trail among independents by 18%. Ouch. However, when you read both messages without telling voters who they come from, the story gets worse.

Republican voters like the Democrat’s message more than their own party’s message by a large 14% margin when they don’t know which party it comes from. Just as disturbing, numbers among independents drop by another 10%... giving the Democrats a massive 28% advantage. Even our horrifically damaged image is better than our message on the economy. Independents and even Republicans simply like the Democrats’ plan more than ours.

Iraq and trade both follow the exact same pattern. We’re getting smashed on both issues on the partisan test, but when you look at the nonpartisan test where our damaged image isn’t a factor, the numbers get even worse among Independents and Republicans. A few Democrats (and in the case of trade a bunch of Democrats) move our way on the nonpartisan ballot, but Independents actually agree with our messages more when they know the messages came from Republicans.

On taxes, the picture gets more complex. On the partisan text, Independents like the Democrats’ message by significant 14% margin, but Republicans still like our message and give us a resounding 39% advantage. That changes drastically on the nonpartisan test.

When the party’s names are removed, Independents are almost evenly split, giving the Democrats’ message a small 5% advantage. However, Republican voters stampede away from the GOP message. Among Republicans, support for the GOP message on taxes drops by a gargantuan 53% when the party’s names are removed, leaving the Democrats with a 14% advantage. You read that right, on the nonpartisan test, Independents like the GOP message on taxes more than Republicans do and even Independents slightly favor the Democrats.

The takeaway? Our message right now is electoral poison and this isn’t all about “brand.”

Presumably many GOP-leaning voters are "tribal voters" - they don't pay a lot of attention to what the GOP is saying, they just know "GOP good, Dems bad." That's not surprising in itself; as one of my buds says (and as David Brooks said in an otherwise inane op-ed a few weeks ago), "a lot of voters are tribal" (paraphrasing, not a direct quote). That's true for Dems as much as for GOPers, I would guess.

What's way interesting is that the GOP message - presumably in the wake of the problems Dubya has created - is perceived as irrelevant or even toxic to many many voters who would vote GOP if given the GOP tag (aka heuristic that tells them the right way to vote.)

That suggests that some fraction of the GOP bloc(s) might be weaned away from the GOP in an unpolarized campaign.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is in the details, but maybe there's an opportunity here.

Incidentally, this is an interesting counterpart to the recent stories about Rove and his pollster discovering in 2001 that the electorate is so polarized that (Rove concluded) there's no point in campaigning on Dubya's signature "compassionate conservative" message.

Another point: to the extent that the GOP message is the same today as it was in 2000, these results suggest that that GOP message is so unpopular that the only way the GOP can win is by polarization.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Obama and working class voters

First, there is no relationship between how candidates perform among any particular group of voters in primaries and how they do with that segment in the general election. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost college-educated voters to Paul Tsongas in the early competitive primaries, but he went on to win that group in November by the largest margin any Democrat ever had. Similarly, John Kerry lost young voters in the competitive primaries in 2004 before going on to win them by a record margin in the general election.

Second, Democrats running for president have been losing white, non-college-educated voters since before Mr. Obama was elected to the Illinois legislature. Al Gore and Mr. Kerry each failed to win a majority of this bloc in the general election. With these voters, the size of the losing margin is what matters.

Mr. Gore lost them by 17 percentage points while winning the national popular vote. Mr. Kerry lost them by 23 points and the country by fewer than two and a half points. The last Democrat to win white, non-college voters was Bill Clinton, who carried them by a single point in the three-way races in 1992 and 1996.

By comparison, Mr. Obama is only two percentage points behind John McCain among these voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Another recent survey shows him down seven points.

In other words, Mr. Obama is faring better today with the white working class than did either Mr. Gore or Mr. Kerry.

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Emptywheel: McClellan slips and implicates Dubya

in the burning of Plame:

Too long to excerpt.

Color me surprised.

I have no personal experience with organized crime or conspiracy - I mean, really, a clown?? - but surely anyone who's read even a few crime/mystery novels knows that Mr. Big has no direct contact with illegality, he preserves plausible deniability. (IIRC there was an excellent discussion on the Admin and plausible deniability at Crooked Timber a year or so ago.. I'll have to go back and look for the link.)

Of course I never imagined that the Admin could possibly screw up Iraq the way they did either.. I was certain that Nature would bite back, but I figured, oh, say, 3 years, 4 years before the extent of our problems would become apparent.

As in so many areas, the Administration's incompetence is beyond comprehension. Not even their criminal behaviors are implemented competently.

To call these guys a clown show would be an insult to clowns everywhere.

h/t Clown-B

I'd post Brad DeLong's aphorism here, but I never can get it straight. (Something like: "Even allowing for the fact that you know that they're worse than you can imagine, they manage to be even worse." And last time I went looking for it I wasted a couple of hours without finding it.)

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a Memorial Day update

We tend to think in terms of the number of deaths .. death is final.

But the maimed will be living with their injuries for the rest of their lives, and there are many many more of them -
maybe ten times more, maybe even more than that..

I have read (don't remember where, maybe the New Pravda) that the injuries of survivors in the Iraq War tend to be
much more severe than the injuries of survivors in earlier wars - faster evacuation from the battlefield, better medicine..
Wounded are surviving with injuries that would have meant certain death in Vietnam.

It's not just the dead who deserve our gratitude and remembrance.

Requiescant pace.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

social networking writ large

Roger Cohen on social networking, politics, and the Dem primary

Obama's use of the internet for fund-raising and to support grassroots organizing has been generally acknowledged as game-changing.

I don't know much about HRC's campaign organization, but from what I've read, it's largely based on the big-donor and city-machine model that has until recently been considered "best standard practice." I think this is part of Cohen's point.

I think Cohen is right about "blindness", and it's an important point. Social networking in any era scales only to a certain size. Hierarchy is an organizing mechanism that allows scaling beyond physical proximity without the use of technology. Telephone and radio allow scaling to larger and dispersed organizations. The internet allows scaling further.

Barring some surprising reversal, Obama has defeated HRC in the race for the Dem nomination because (among other reasons) he has a better toolkit.

But Cohen doesn't clearly distinguish the tool - in this case social networking - from the uses to which the tool can be put. He recognizes the distinction:
connection is no panacea, or guarantee against violent threats: Al Qaeda uses the Web effectively. But without understanding connectivity, you can no more beat terrorism than win an election.
It's been said that "you need a sharp knife in the kitchen, but you can cut yourself with a sharp knife."

The interesting question is, what will Obama do with the tool when he's president?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

it being Memorial Day, perhaps I may comment on this


In one of the most repellent columns one will ever read, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker defended Fry's claim that Obama is something other than "a full-blooded American." Advancing an argument that Atrios guest blogger aimai aptly described as "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!," Parker said "we now have a patriot divide" in America that "has nothing to do with a flag lapel pin . . . or even military service." Instead:
It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Josh Fry's political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically -- and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century -- there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity.

We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants — and we are. But there's a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.

I started to ask, "What in hell gives Parker the right to call herself an American?"

Silly me: she was born to it. Perhaps this is an argument for amending the Constitution, but let's take that up some other time.

Instead let me put it this way:

Dear WaPoop:

In her column Getting Bubba, Kathleen Parker talks about race and bloodlines and values in a way that would have been entirely natural in the segregated South of the 1950s and 1960s. I say this with confidence because I spent the first 22 years of my life in the South. I remember "Colored" bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Have you ever heard the phrase "all men are created equal"? If not, I believe that you will find it in an obscure document known to antiquarians as the American Declaration of Independence.

I believe that the same sentence in this obscure document begins:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

It appears that these truths are not self-evident to Kathleen Parker. She has taken it upon herself to dictate to the rest of us standards which in a less euphemistic era would have been called unAmerican.

You have given this John Bircher a platform. May I suggest that this is not a good idea? I believe that Daniel Patrick Moynihan described what you are doing as defining deviancy down.

Kathleen Parker has the right to say whatever she thinks. But perhaps unAmerican white supremacist values are inappropriate for the newspaper of record of the American capital?

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Fermion T. Clown

It seems to me that engaging the Kathleen Parkers of the country on the merits of their arguments is a strategeric mistake, because doing so suggests that they and their ideas have substance. They do not. These people are racists. They should be called out for what they are, and ridiculed for their ignorance and dishonesty.

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passed along by my clown buds

police bikes

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In Memoriam

I had a middling draft number, but most of my year were taken. I reported. I expected to be drafted. I would have gone had I been drafted. The examiners rejected me: my blood pressure was too high, they said. I was not drafted.

We now have a volunteer Army. I'm not sure that's an entirely unmixed blessing. It seems to me that there's a good argument that every citizen should serve the Republic in some capacity. Even conscientious objectors could serve, perhaps behind the front lines, perhaps in front line non-combatant support roles.

But that's not how it is.

So you can look at it this way:
“The president carries the biggest burden, obviously,” Cheney said. “He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.”
or you can look at it this way:
They served. They died. They are not coming back alive. Not to wives, husbands, children, parents.
Whether our troops are volunteers or draftees, it seems to me that there is no more serious decision a president can make than to commit young Americans to actions which inevitably will lead to the deaths of many of them.

The President decided to invade Iraq. The Congress supported the President's decision. We the People supported the President and the Congress.

Have the benefits of that decision been worth the lives of 4000+ young Americans, the maiming of ten times that many Americans, and the lives of perhaps ten times that many more Iraqis?

Requiescant in pace.


A Shaggy Blog Joke

with deepest apologies to all right-thinking and decent individuals..

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Yglesias' Heads in the Sand

Highly recommended as a summary of what's gone wrong with American foreign policy in the past 15 years or so.

Little of it should be new to anyone who reads (say) Drum / Atrios / Yglesias / Ezra / Kleiman / Benin blogs, but rather than focusing primarily on the Bushies (as Robert Kaplan does in his book), Yglesias paints a vivid 'broad brush' canvas which highlights Dem fecklessness. Knowing what's wrong with the Dems is arguably more useful at this stage of the game than knowing what's wrong with the GOP.

In Yglesias' telling, and I think he's right, the individual and collective fecklessness of  Dem legislators and intellectuals allowed Dubya to drive the foreign policy train into the ditch with hardly a word said in objection. Strategeric uncertainty and ungroundedness likewise cost Kerry the election.

Yglesias also covers the intellectual origins of unilateral intervention in the 90's.. according to Yglesias, an invention not only of the neo-cons but also of the liberal humanitarians.

The 'surface' argument is that (having been on the defensive on foreign policy since VietNam) the Dems don't have a story line ("vision statement") on foreign policy. They aren't comfortable with foreign policy, so they tend to avoid it, which of course means that they tend to fumble when they are forced to deal with it.. and worse, when foreign policy issues are uppermost (think "9/11"), this avoidance allows the GOP to set the political agenda.

The argument goes a long way towards explaining why Kerry lost - Yglesias mentions Kerry making headway by briefly attacking Dubya on the war, and as soon as the attacks began to have an effect, "pivoting" from the war to domestic issues. (Yglesias has a quote from Mark Penn on what a great idea this is! Great catch!) I hadn't realized that Kerry's foreign policy advisors were from the "liberal hawk" contingent, so of course they weren't hot to have Kerry separate himself from the war. But this wasn't necessarily CYA: presumably they (and maybe Kerry) thought that the Iraq War was good policy poorly executed, rather than Very Bad Policy Indeed(tm).

The Big Picture story (according to Yglesias) is that both parties have lost their intellectual moorings v-a-v foreign policy. The pre-Dubya post-WWII consensus may have had its problems, but mostly it worked pretty well, so you'd think that the post-WWII consensus would have been an easy default vision statement for the Dems. But not so (according to Yglesias) because the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War left many Dems willing to leverage America's unchallenged supremacy for unilateral humanitarian intervention.. not so clearly different from the neo-con unilateral interventions - another reason that the Dems weren't more hostile to invading Iraq.

Of the sitting Dem senators in 2002, only Dodd comes off creditably in Yglesias' telling. Most of the rest voted to authorize Dubya to invade Iraq, he thinks, to change the subject.

Along these lines, another point Yglesias makes is that because of his vote to authorize war, and his reluctance to turn his back completely on that vote, Kerry's arguments against the war were always something of a muddle. "We're like them, only more competent" is not the stuff of which compelling campaigns are made. (Not an original argument, but illuminating in context.)

The book ends with the 2008 primary campaign just beginning, so there's no discussion (that I recall) of what Yglesias thinks of Obama's candidacy.

My guess is that although Obama may have come to his speech against the war by chance - his district was generally skeptical of the war, IIRC, nor has he been exactly full-throated in his opposition to the war since he's been in the Senate - he seems to be temperamentally inclined towards the long view, he's been saying sensible stuff about foreign policy, and he brings to the general election a largely uncompromised skepticism of the war.

But - "roll of the dice".

What I found most valuable - what I hadn't realized, to put it more clearly - was the intellectual complicity of the Dems in the Iraq War. I simply could not understand then, nor have I understood clearly until I read this book, why the "loyal opposition" haven't been more "opposition" and less "loyal".

The point, again, is that the post-WWII consensus came unmoored, and the interventionist hawks, both neo-con and liberals, seized the intellectual initiative. While it is of course true that intellectuals have no divisions, it is also true in a democracy that significant changes in the direction of national policy have to be sold, and the interventionist hawk intellectuals, both right and left, paved the way.

This explains a point which has baffled me: why are Pollack and O'Hanlon and the other liberal hawks still defending the war (more or less)?

If Yglesias is correct, the answer is simple: because they believe that unilateral interventionism is sensible American policy. Presumably they see the Iraq War as "good policy poorly executed", in which case, what needs to change (in their view) is the execution, not the policy.

Versus Yglesias who believes, along with a large swath of the center and center-left blogosphere, that unilateral interventionism is a prescription for long-term disaster. FWIW, AFAIAC, Yglesias has by far the better case. Paul Kennedy's circa 1988 book, the Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,

has come in for a lot of criticism in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. I'm venturing onto thin ice here, but I don't see American supremacy as invalidating Kennedy's analysis. Empires overreach. Is there anyone who truly thinks that America hasn't overreached in Iraq? You can argue that America could have succeeded in Iraq by throwing more resources at the problem. Indeed, that's the nearly universal prescription for rebuilding the American military post-Iraq. I recall Yglesias or Klein saying recently "we can afford a lot more than we are spending."

The trouble is, it's a one-way street. I can't resist quoting Stephen Frug's line: "If your only tool is Maxwell's silver hammer, then a lot of problems look like heads." We should be thinking about different tools. Not exclusively, but we need a complete toolkit.

Which leads to Yglesias' preferred alternative, what he calls liberal internationalism. I'm not going to discuss this, mostly because I believe that in a world of global warming and peak oil, liberal internationalism is the only policy that makes sense. So: "what Yglesias says" on his blog. Or read the book.  :-)

After writing this I ran across the following post:

(sorry, don't remember where I got the pointer)

I thought that this point was highly relevant to Yglesias' conclusions:
Despite the incredible unpopularity of the Iraq War, the hawks are in the best shape. They dominate both parties, with the difference being what the legitimate reasons for military intervention are. And even that difference has been blurred with the rise of the neocons and their “national greatness” agenda. Rhetorically, it’s light years from the liberal interventionists; practically, they’re all but identical.
Taking the second point first, this is precisely the point Yglesias makes: that there is something close to a bipartisan consensus for unilateral intervention. If that is true, then unless the near-consensus changes there will be more Iraqs no matter which party holds power.

I'm not sure that Joyner is right about "dominate", but what do I know? If either McCain or HRC wins, then it seems clear (in my opinion) that he's correct. Obviously so with McCain, perhaps not so clearly with HRC, but I was shaken by "nukes in Pakistan" and "obliterate Iran".

It goes without saying that HRC is not a pacifist. Neither am I. Obama had exactly the right line: "I'm not against all wars, I'm against dumb wars." That's the right vision statement.

The problem I have with HRC is that I see no indication that she even begins to understand the long-term costs of unilateral intervention.. or the unsustainability of a policy of unilateral intervention. It's a vision problem.

If Obama wins, well.. maybe Joyner's wrong. Obama is making noises in the right direction ("change the mentality".) We'll just hafta see what he means by those words, and see how it goes.

But it's worth keeping Joyner's point in mind: a sensible / sustainable foreign policy isn't going to be a cakewalk no matter who wins. It will be a long struggle, and edication will be part of that struggle.

My two Euros, but as said: highly recommended.

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Iron Law of Institutions

no commentary, sorry. No h/t either, I don't remember.

But a good general principle to keep in mind, seems like.

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Mannion on "my Obama problem"

another 3-day e-mail adaptation. Sorry, don't remember where I saw it.

one of the points of contention on the clown mailing list was whether Obama is a closet conservative, a closet liberal-progressive, another Huey Long, or just what.

I think Mannion has it right, but as many people (Hilzoy?) have said, "it's a roll of the dice."

There are two possible "post-partisan" Americas.

One is the America the Washington Village elders imagine, in which Democrats and Liberals keep their mouths shut and don't spoil any more parties by wondering what the poor people are doing tonight.

The other is one in which torture is simply an evil and there is no liberal or conservative stand on it.

As far as I can tell, Obama has not promised anything that will bring about the first kind. My Obama problem has been that I haven't heard him say it enough times that he plans to bring about the second. But I've heard him say it.

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nicely put

“Religion is a story that the left brain tells the right brain"


random linux thread: sudo make me a sandwich

hunh. According to the article, there are people who actually need to have this explained to them.

Is such ignorance possible?!?

(Quick trivia quiz: without resorting to teh Google, what's the reference?)

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what Atrios and Thers and Molly say

I haven't watched the flick, but this is exactly how I've been feeling:
It was my "holy shit everything is really screwed up" moment when I suddenly realized that all of our elites - politicians, supremos, and especially the media - did not deserve the modest naive faith that I had given them. I'm not saying that I lacked any cynicism about the various institutions before, but just watching the media piss on our Democracy over that time period was incredibly jarring.
For me, the wake-up call was not just the transparent fraud that was Bush v. Gore; it was not that the Admin was screwing the country - I'd seen that when Nixon was president.. that's when I left the GOP. It wasn't the laughably amateurish dishonesty of Colin Powell's presentation to the UN, which dishonesty (it seems to me) had to have been obvious to anyone who had been following mideast news. It wasn't that The New Pravda was doing stenography rather than journalism. It wasn't even the dishonesty and mindlessness of the advocacy for the Iraq War.

What got me was that my conservative sparring partners in essence laughed at my naivete, agreed with me, and said (more-or-less) "We've got ours, Jack, and guess what!?! we're running to the bank, and you can't stop us now!"

Think "liberal hunting license" and you have the right idea.

(Yeah, yeah, I know: "from the sublime to the ridiculous". I'm a clown, so sue me. The fact is, we're social animals, and the closer the source of the shock, the harder it hits. It's a lot more jarring when people you think you know act like mafiosi than it is to see some outfit in DC acting like mafiosi.)

Which sits comfortably with "what Thers said":
Movement conservatism is a racket. It is solely about power and money. Whether conservatism, classically defined, is a Great Thing or a Stupid Thing is irrelevant. What's being fielded is a racket, and all these protestations that the Bushies are not true conservatives (whatever that animal might be) are irrelevant. The time to separate from the Bushies' "conservatism" was some years ago, not today.

There's a name for this concept: intellectual honesty.

Ya got it, or ya don't.

About the use of 4LW. Molly specifically discussed this a week or three ago (, so "what Molly said."

(Update: oops, sorry, I remembered it as a Molly post, but now that I look, I think it's Thers again.)

Well, OK, to rephrase one of her points: American political discourse is constrained by a host of conventions. Those conventions may have been useful in the past, but they have ossified into a decadent formalism which allows journalists to evade inconvenient truths while still pretending to serve a useful public function.

Whatever wedge it takes to get people out of their comfortable shells and paying attention.. think shock value. Defying  convention is a Good Thing(tm) here.

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I started this blog after a demented 3-day spasm of maybe 200 e-mails to the more-or-less like-minded clowns (liberals and conservatives alike) on my mailing lists.

I realized that I had leaned on their indulgence and filled up their inboxes unconscionably. I regret that, and I have apologized to them.

uh, and from a selfish PoV, the overhead of maintaining multiple lists, keeping them non-overlapping, and getting the right links to the right lists with list-appropriate commentary just became Too Much(tm).

So I have moved my link-whoring here, and have invited my long-suffering buds to check in for their dose of bloviation as they see fit, or not at all, if that's their preference.

Thanks, FtC

PS: the initial 40 or so posts populating this blog are adapted from that 3-day spasm of e-mails.

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Rove & Siegelman
If Siegelman's and Alabama GOP lawyer Jill Simpson's stories are true, that would make this case the centerpiece example of the corruption of the DOJ revealed by the US Attorney firing scandal. In fact, it would make most of what we know now seem minor by comparison.
TPM more or less created the USA abuse scandal some months ago by continuing to dig when mainstream publications (*cough*The New Pravda*cough*The WaPoop*cough) ignored all the red flags.

And I mean "created" as high praise.

Scott Horton has been doing the heavy lifting on Siegelman; the backstory is here:

His blog is here:

Well worth poking around in. Horton had announced that he was going on the wagon - giving up blogging, I mean - so I haven't been back in a while, and it's good to see that he's still at it.

If you haven't heard about MainCore, Horton has a post here:

with a link to the Radar Online article that kicked it off. I have nothing useful to say except "where is the outrage?", which isn't very useful.

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pix from Mars

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h/t Josh Marshall.

I never thought I would see the day when this line was crossed.

Nothing on the front page of  The New Pravda or The WaPoop about it.

I have an appropriate cartoon about Faux News to post, but assume that
it violates usage terms for me to post it. I'll see if I can find a link.

The decadence of the American media is (to use TPM's words more generally)
"beyond belief".

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

random cycling thread

Gorgeous weather here.. temp in the 60s-70s, low humidity, a slight breeze, nearly perfect for cycling.

I went out with my cycling bud Jay this morning for a little more than 37 miles, average speed of 15.6 mph, which would make me a Class S (signifying Slooooow!) cyclist if cyclists as slow as I am were rated. A moderately flat course, some hills, but I was pleasantly surprised that I mostly kept up with Jay on the hills.. I'm an awful hill climber.. overweight, under-oxygenated, under-powered, and, well.. did I mention 'slow'?

Admittedly, he is having sinus problems and operating at maybe 75%, but Ah takes mah victories where I can find them.

I've never asked, but I'm guessing that Jay rides between 5K and 10K miles each year.. I'm stuck at the low end of the scale, more like 2K to 3.5K.. just too difficult to find an opportunity to get away from the desk most days. For a while I commuted to work by bike .. 18.5 miles one-way. I was faster then. [stage direction: dryly] But that's roughly 70 min, plus half an hour setup and half an hour cleanup - each way! I could have sustained that only by making cycling the center of my life. Amazingly, some of the cyclists I paired up with along the way had one-way commutes of 25 miles.

Jay rides a whizzy Ultra-Super-Fast Ultra-Light-Weight Swoosh Silver Charger road bike costing probably $500K and change. I think it weighs about 3 oz. He has to tie weights to it when he dismounts so that it doesn't float off into the sky. I ride an enriched uranium Slug, something like 500 pounds without me on it, probably 800 on a good day when I'm loaded. Hmm, that didn't come out quite right. I meant "when bike and I are fully equipped". (Well, OK, so I'm not being entirely serious here.)

(Update: sorry, obviously I meant depleted uranium. I do not have a nuclear power plant in my scrap pile.)

Yesterday I rode solo, a fairly hilly course, 35 miles, and racked up an average of 14.4 mph with a peak speed of 39.5 mph. Rather slower than usual (the average, I mean), but: hilly, and if you don't get miles in on a regular basis, you lose conditioning quickly. C'est moi. For the first time in recent memory, I didn't push it, just rode to keep below lactate threshold. Very pleasant.

I generally ride with cyclists stronger than I am, which is a Good Thing for all concerned. Me, because I get to draft and delude myself that I'm keeping up; them, because every now and again they need a slow day. uh, and because someone has to be slowest. Being without shame, I'm happy to be that someone, and of course each of them is happy for that person to be me, or more precisely: not them. (Not to put too fine a point on it, I have little choice about the matter..) And riding with a group, or even with one other rider, is a lot more fun than riding solo.

Safer too.. I can't speak for serious cyclists, but I find it all too easy to drift off into an almost hypnotic daze. This morning Jay almost rode thru a red light into an active intersection.. I saw that he wasn't slowing for the light and yelled, and he pulled up short just as cars went through the intersection. We've been through that intersection together a dozen times if we've been through it once. I did something similar riding solo a couple of years ago.. spinning down a long downhill grade, for some reason had it in my head that there was one light towards the bottom of the grade, not two.. and went right through the first (red) light without even noticing until I was in the intersection.

I see that FDL is encouraging bike commuting to work. I tried to register to comment, but none of firefox, ie7, and safari would display the captcha. I assumed it was an FDL problem - I've never had a problem with captchas before, and stuff that breaks all three browsers is usually (in my experience) a server problem.. but then it occurred to me that what must be happening is that the captcha is coming from a different server than the web page - in at least some versions of firefox, you can disallow images that come from other than the web page server.

I didn't remember setting that preference in ff, much less in ie or safari, but..

and damn.. now that I look at it, it appears that I didn't set that preference.

Instead it looks to be the case that my whizzy iptables firewall is blocking outgoing port 80 accesses to the captcha server. Or to something, but the ipaddr that's being denied is a google ipaddr, which shouldn't be happening AFAIK. grrrr.

Very surprising. Outgoing port 80 accesses shouldn't be disallowed unless there's a rule specifying that ipaddr. [stage direction: sighs] Stay tuned for Another Exciting Adventure with Linux. [stage directions: cue music from Twilight Zone]

goddam PCs.. can't work with 'em, can't work without 'em. [disgustedly] As the saying goes, "to err is human, but if you want to screw things up really bad, get a computer."

(Update: Well, it wasn't my firewall. I'm not sure yet whether the problem was linux-firefox or firefox or what. More about that later.)

(Yet Later Update: Never mind. [stage direction: looks at ceiling, whistles tunelessly] It was the FDL server.)

In the meantime, this is amusing:

I think it's funny, anyway.

uh, and speaking of safety, some overly testosteroned driver cut a zippy right turn into his driveway a few feet in front of me this morning. Had he cut it a second closer, I'd have been embedded in the side of his car. The vid notwithstanding, it's not always the cyclist who causes problems. A friend of a friend went thru several rounds of dental & facial surgery after a car turned right in front of her some years back. I don't know the details, but understand that his insurance paid her med bills.. but she had the surgery.

Every cyclist has a story. Mine is the soccer mom who cut in front of me as I was struggling up a really steep hill. Not close enough that I ran into her, but think about it: what happens when you're going uphill and you have to come to an abrupt halt.. talk about a clown show..


random linux thread

Kicking this off as a continuing thread.. I generally don't document my adventures with linux well, so thinking that as I emerge from each successive, uh, system improvement, I might find it entertaining to put my learnings on the net. One of my clown buds calls this "the librarian gene", I think. If not, then he calls something else the librarian gene. uh, and besides, all too often I re-encounter the problem multiple times but can't quite remember how I dealt with it. ugh. :-(

1) vmware 6 on a core 2 duo machine is seriously fast. And useful. (Be sure to clean out old config files though.. they can cause all sorts of bizarre behavior.)

I've kept two machines around just about everywhere I sit: one for linux, the other for windoze, with the file store on linux. Samba on linux serves available directories to Windoze.

I'd be tempted to go to OS X, since Mrs. Clown and the three Little Clowns use OS X, and I am de facto sysadm for Chez Clown, but I've become addicted to 1920x1200 LCDs which are more commonly and cheaply available on laptops designed for Windoze. (In fact, the last time I looked, I didn't see any Apple 1920x1200 laptops, but that was months and months ago.)

However with wxp running so fast in vmware, I'm kinda thinking that the windoze box is functionally surplus. Why have two machines when one will do as well? Especially since the One Great Machine is a laptop that runs faster than my 3yo technology desktops..

I have the impression that xen might be an even better choice, but there's a learning curve, and I ask you: WTF do clowns need virtualization for?

The only downside I see at this point is vmware's recommendation that I suspend the VM before I suspend the laptop. I think I've absent-mindedly suspended the host OS (er, that's Linux) without suspending the VM, but I'm not sure that I want to play bleeding edge games.

uh, why would one need two machines? (whether they're two physical machines or one physical and one virtual machine..)

well, what are the choices?

a) Windoze only? oop ack gag. Sorry, it's a religious thing..

b) Linux only? Much as I hate to admit it, there are some things that linux just doesn't do as well as windoze. (Yeah, I know: heresy!) Playing media files out of firefox is one example, but really: Office is the critical application in corporate America. Unfortunately, OpenOffice isn't sufficiently compatible with M$ Office that I can use OpenOffice for file interchange with my colleagues.

In fact, after the update of Office 2003 to SP3, OpenOffice coredumps when I open files written with Office. Damn!

2) Firefox has some serious issues on x86_64 linux. I'm not sure that Firefox is the culprit, actually; the problem might be the 64b wrapper for the 32b flash plugin. But even if I move the plugin out of the way, or replace the flash plugin with the gnash plugin, I still have problems.. pages take forever to load. But the problem doesn't show up immediately, and so far I haven't been able to pin it down. Typically but not always the tops process monitor shows firefox using 100% of the CPU, and so it goes until I kill firefox.

But wxp in vmware is running so well that I've been playing with safari-in-windoze as my main browser. Why safari? Mostly IE's checkered history.. but also ecological diversity. If all you're running under wxp is M$ software, you have a monoculture perfectly suited for a plague.

This isn't a novel observation, of course.

A pity that there's no safari for linux. I don't like the firefox interface, but I don't much care for konqueror either.

3) Saw an oops from the kernel last night, so I'm keeping a tail -f on the syslog running in a terminal window.. the symptom was that - in Windoze! - safari took forever to load, but wasn't showing up as pulling down CPU cycles in top. Not sure what that's about, haven't spent any time looking yet.

4) As implied, I move the laptop from network to network. (Cool iptables trick that may or may not be widely known, will mention down the road.) As said, I use Samba for internetworking between the linux file server and the Windoze VM.

I was way troubled for a while because my iptables firewall script kept kicking out bizarre references at 15 minute intervals.. to the DNS servers for the previous network!

This suggested that a virus or worm had installed a trojan working through port 53. Not a Good Thing for almost any definition of "Good Thing".

I'm not much of a network guru (what, you expected me to be entertaining and a network guru too??), so I didn't fire up snort, I didn't fire up tcpdump, I didn't fire up wireshark.. I did a bunch of ultimately futile other things.

But more or less by accident I noticed that when samba wasn't running, I didn't see stale DNS references. So I played with this a bit, and while I can't prove it, it seems plausible that smb or nmb is caching the DNS.

Eventually I should verify this with one of the network monitor tools, but unfortunately that aint happening right away.

4) I see a samba error in the kernel logs that people have been seeing just about forever: "Can't connect to" blah blah blah. (Yeah, that's pretty indefinite. I'll update with the specific error message later.) Unfortunately it appears that this can be the consequence of a gazillion different misconfigurations, so I suspect I will have to sit down and work through the samba manual with attention to detail.

On the other hand, it's not clear that it's costing much in performance, so I can and will let it go for a while, having already wasted at least a day poking around the web and finding nothing useful.

All in all, not the greatest advert for linux. It's not that there's anything wrong with the tools, it's that it's getting to be the case that you need so much recent background knowledge that even people whose experience goes back to the Dark Ages find themselves scratching their heads. And it can be hopeless for newbies who need some not-quite-standard configuration.

5) I've been kinda wondering about maybe running OpenBSD rather than Linux.. OpenBSD claims to be "designed for security", and the BSD family has a reputation for a network stack that's way superior to the Linux network stack. But again, it's a question of cycles and learning curve.


specificity v. temperament and vision

One of the criticisms of Obama has been his insufficient specificity (I think McJoan made this statement), although Hilzoy and Kathleen and others have argued that Obama has been quite specific.

I gather that Obama is surmounting Swopa's specificity threshold barrier.

I've tended to look at matters rather differently.

I'm just not much worried about specifics, within reasonable limits.

(Update: Of course the Flying Spaghetti Monster is in the details of, er, what the meaning of "reasonable" is.)

I'm more concerned about temperament and vision. Specifics are worth something, but specifics tend to be ephemeral, because policy specifics will inevitably be bent to conform to political realities.

For me, the fact that Obama decided on community organizing rather than set his sights for (what I read was) a near-certain SCOTUS clerkship says loads more about temperament and progressive instincts than policy specifics.

Put slightly differently [beats dead equine vigorously], temperament and vision give an indication of how a person will act in novel situations, or when his'r'her preferred way forward is blocked. Specifics are static and of limited predictive value.

Once I saw that HRC, Edwards, and Obama seemed to be peas-in-a-pod (w minor differences), I let specifics go and looked for other reasons to vote for or against particular candidates.

My recommendations are free and worth every penny.

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Attaturk on Stalker-in-Chief

Ladies and gentlemen, the Stalker-in-Chief.

And I'm going to bet he'll be out there campaigning whether McCain likes it or not. Sucking whatever hope of close defeat the GOP now has.

We've observed George Bush for seven years, four months now...88 long months. There are many things I have learned to expect from him. All bad, and all about feeding the massive George Bush ego. John McCain will not be allowed to separate himself from Bush, even if the former had the inclination to do so. If McCain runs for President, he'll do it on the Decider's terms.

I predict, the 2008 GOP Convention is going to be George Bush's love note to himself. It's possible we will see John McCain read badly from a teleprompter at some point...and yelling at a cloud.

IIRC, LBJ's refusal to cut loose HHH and let him run his own campaign more or less directly led to Nixon's win.

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problems with trolls? LG&M has the solution!

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Robert Farley writes:

...incidentally, I think this is one of the best comment threads I've ever seen. My favorites:

    * Jon MkKane is grate. He will mak a grate preznit. He is better from Obamar by a lots. You ar librul coksukers. I am not a trol.
    * John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.
    * John McCain has a bold vision, a clear sight, and a comprehensive plan for America, and for each and every American. For instance, he wants you, George Robotham of 56 Maple Lane, Waltham MA to start investing in our children's futures, and to stop masturbating in the shower so much. John McCain! He knows what's best. For YOU.
    * McCain hooked me up with some great weed back in the 80s, when things were really dry.
    * For I was hungry and McCain gave me food; I was thirsty and McCain gave me drink; I was a stranger and McCain took me in; I was naked and McCain clothed me; I was sick and McCain visited me; I was in prison and McCain came to me.
    * John McCain once showed me a video of him making love to my wife, and it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw!

I'm not sure the next to last is a troll, based on this:

Steve Benin writes (and quotes):

direct comparisons between Republican candidates and Jesus are still rather unusual. (via mcjoan)

Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party’s presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

“John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross,” Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. “He never denounced God, either.”

Everhart was praising McCain for never denouncing the United States while he was being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I’m not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I’m looking at the pain that was there,” she said.

Right, of course. She’s not “trying to compare” McCain to Jesus, she’s just says he’s “kind of like Jesus.” The distinction is obvious. And sacrilegious.

Atrios added, “I’m not Christian so it doesn’t really matter much to me who is casually compared to their Lord And Savior, but still.”

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the latest fashion in meltdown housing

from FDL .. in the 1930s, Hoovervilles. In 2010, Dubyavilles?

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Hunter channels FDR

No, I mean Rove.

Or something.

Hunter writes:
There can be no doubt, now. The election results in MS-01 and other places are clear: the Republicans are in a world of trouble -- even in their own strongholds.

This can only mean that the usual avenues of Republican victory -- finding some imagined threat to the flag and apple pie, and goading all sufficiently gullible GOP believers into a state of panic over it -- are becoming stale. This is remarkable, as the list of threats to America grows with every election cycle: if current trends continue, by the year 2080 the GOP will have launched advertisements blaming the problems of America on every individual American citizen, by name.

(elide description of candidate threats to America)

Actual Goats: Have you ever met an actual, real-life goat? There is a reason the term "scapegoat" still remains relevant today: whenever something on a farm is not as is should be, the odds are nine in ten that the blasted goat was responsible. A rope chewed in half? The goat. A tree stripped of bark? The goat. Canvas chewed, leather straps eaten down to the buckles, hoofprint-shaped dents all over the hood of the car? The goat. Did someone sneak onto your computer one evening and purchase a full-sized ocean kayak, which was then delivered to your door a week later, every member of your family denying that they were the one who placed the order? Blame the goat. Goats can stand a towering one hundred centimeters high at the shoulder. Their hooves and tongues are not just prehensile, but posthensile and extrahensile: for any moment in time when you are not looking directly at them, they have opposable thumbs. At least twelve of them. Stop blaming scapegoats for America's problems, and take a cue from rural Americans nationwide: blame the actual goats.

Flag-Burning Polar Bears: The old scapegoats not working, and no new ones are doing the trick? Well, get creative. Combine old, well-loved scapegoats to make new, updated ones. Perhaps polar bears are burning our flags. Perhaps illegal immigrants are sneaking across the border in order to turn our children gay. Perhaps Muslims want to raise your taxes to pay for polar bear abortions -- how would America feel then?

There is nothing more Republican than the ability to take any problem, botch the solution spectacularly, and blame the resulting mess on some group that has little to nothing to do with it. Recognizing that all Republican failures are not actual failures, but cruel sabotage by normal everyday Americans, or by sneaky ethnic people, or clever but evil animals, or devious environmental or biological processes: now that is one of the highest forms of patriotism.

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Kudlow on rewarding work: insane

Ezra writes:


We can only hope that the nation's Republican candidates are reading Larry Kudlow this morning:

    This idea of rewarding work instead of wealth is just insane. 

As counter-evidence to my earlier post, the fact of Kudlow's continuing career is the best evidence I know of that conservatives are not only out of ideas, but in fact never had any, and are just experimenting with random sentences that include econo-jargon and references to the stock market.

Ezra doesn't take the cheap shot, but I have no pride, so I will:

Shorter Kudlow: "Obama scares the pee out of the stock markets." 

I'm prepared to be proven wrong, but I've read many times that (not entirely counter-intuitively) the markets do way better under Dem Admins than under GOP Admins.

My Daddy Warbucks/Titan of Industry bud assures me that's not so. I dunno, I'm not convinced that he's aware of the philosophical problems that proof-by-assertion poses.

uh, to put that somewhat less opaquely: he's not strong on using empirical data to prove correlation, his approach is more along the lines of what people have recently taken to calling the Green Lantern school of reality. Me, I'm old-fashioned, I still like the old name: the Tinkerbelle model.

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protectingAmericans against vegan terrorists

h/t avedon at Eschaton
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”
as they protected us against Quakers, PETA. The Oklahoma City bombers, not so much.


beyond parody

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Jay Ackroyd at Eschaton on Perlstein, Nixon, and Nixonland

noir humor, I guess

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Republican goals

"The problem with the current [Republican] “agendas” on offer is that they’re small-bore. They act as though we were still in the majority and our job was to fine-tune the workings of government. It’s not. In the minority, our job is to 1) make the majority’s life miserable, grinding the House and Senate floors to a halt, and building a narrative of the Democrats as broken and incompetent, and 2) offer big, bold alternatives to this mess like the Contract did in 1994."

(h/t Sully)

So this Republican apparatchik believes his party's chief goal should be better ways to gum up the works.

Nothing about making the country a better place, more secure, what have you.

It's a standing joke of the center and center-left that Dubya took office with the belief that gummint is incompetent, and proceded to prove it.

Starting about comment 8, representatives of the other 71% of the electorate check in. Hilarity ensues.

I love comment 21.

Ruffiani also has some atmospheric comments about Obama's messianic cult-of-personality campaign.

If you drop the loaded words, it's quite a backhanded endorsement of Obama's campaign.

You might (and probably should) argue that taking an opponent's endorsement at face value is risky, but it seems clear that Ruffiani thinks that Obama's strategery is brilliant.

top political blogs as seen from Europe

I think I picked this up at Sully's place.

Not Euro blogs, poliblogs.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

"can schadenfreude kill?"

Speaking of pervert Congressmen, I ran across a blog comment by someone claiming that he had it on good authority that a long-serving-&-well-known-but-closeted US senator would be outed sometime this summer. (Sorry, not interested in legal action. To quote Firesign Theatre, "if it's stories you want, make them up yourself!")

The comment went something like:

"A good friend has a good friend who fingered Larry Craig for the Stall of Fame six months before he was arrested tells me that.."

Take it for what it's worth: no more than gossip. This particular senator has been the subject of closeted-gay rumors for some time, but of course that doesn't make the rumor true.

But I'd like to think that it is, because this is another senator who's been particularly unsympathetic to gays. In which case, as John Cole asked a while back, "Can schadenfreude kill?" :-)

One of my clown buds sent me this comment:

> I saw a tshirt in washington sq park the other day:
> schadenfreude - the 8th deadly sin

He attended a vocational school too. The same vocational school, in fact, but hey, two clowns, same school, who's counting? And where's the outrage?

Oh, wait, that's Bill Bennett.. different clown. Outrageous.

A personal experience: a few years ago at a circus-alumni get-together, I had an exchange with a German ex-colleague.. you thought the classic German uber-professor manner was apocryphal? Think again..

I forget the context - probably about English words that made their way into German - but at some point in the discussion he turned to me and said with a sh*t-eating I've got you nailed grin, "but Fermion, we have in German a word for which English has no equivalent..

I politely inquired as to what that word might be.

"Schadenfreude".. "It means 'taking joy in someone else's sorrow'.

So I grinned back and said, "Ah, but you're wrong! We do have a word for that concept!"

He looked puzzled. "And what is the word?"


I'm sure the moment didn't last as long as I remember it lasting, but I seem to recall that for about 15 seconds he looked like he'd been hit over the head with a 2x4..


pattern recognition is a wonderful thing!

It wasn't until I had read the first several comments that I realized that I had misread "families" as "family".

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K25 demolition (niche interest)

news to me..

in other news, Saarinen's Holmdel building might (or might not) be spared:

h/t rlp

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cool stuff: walkscore

(h/t LG&M)

My new apt scores 72.

My ex-apt 15 miles further from work scores 75.

My office bldg scores 100.

Unfortunately, housing near my office building is way expensive and mostly high-rise. [shudders]

As LG&M points out, though, having a commuter rail stop nearby substantially increases the walkability of a neighborhood. My new apt is about half a mile from commuter rail. My ex-apt was about 8 miles from the nearest commuter rail.

Huge improvement old to new, although most of the improvement I perceive is a one-way commute of 18.5 miles (old) v. 3.5 miles (new). The distance, not so much; but rush hour is gawdawful and significantly limited when I could drive to work.

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the giggle test and the 9/11 conspiracy

A colleague sent me this. He's a very smart colleague, for a clown, even if he went to a vocational school. (What? For clowns, of course.)

But what I don't get with these conspiracy theories is how to get past the argument-by-counterfactual: if a gummint conspiracy to bring down the WTC to create and excuse for, well, everything, then surely these things should have happened as well, eh?

1) Why wasn't there a coup before the 2004 elections when Dubya was still moderately popular but not way popular? I mean: for a brief couple of months it looked like Kerry might win the election..

2) Why wasn't there more egregious ballot-box stuffing in 2004?

3) Why not a war launched against Iran just before the mid-terms? Why not more ballot-box stuffing?

4) Why not people rounded up and sent to gulags? The Admin isn't known for having a thick skin.

AFAIK, none of the 9/11 conspiracy theories pass this giggle test, but I never see this mentioned as an argument against the conspiracy theories. What am I missing?

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lying with statistics

Damn, I thought I had 90% in reserve..


give us another prevert

John Cole is ecstatic at HRC misfortune:

One of my clown colleagues was taken by "Our Lady of Inevitability".

Cole reminds me of Billmon. Or Philip Marlowe. Or someone.

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another reason McCain is a weak candidate

Short version: McCain's on record talking about just about everything, over a span of more than 15 years, and he has not been careful to avoid leaving tracks. A gold mine for oppo research.

Seems right..

Dubya or Yuri Andropov?

Gives one serious sympathy for Jack Balkin's campaign to update the Constitution.

McCain, Obama, & lobbyists

My ultra-conservative Catholic bud tells me that McCain's about to launch an attack on Obama's lobbyists.

Tom Edsall argues at the link that if McCain cut loose all the lobbyists attached to his campaign, his would be a very lonely campaign.

Wouldn't a Rove-style "attack from weakness" on Obama's lobbyist connections be a major risk for McCain, given Obama's recent record of punching back?

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McCain, Obama, and the GI Bill (more)

money quote:
UGLY! I wonder how many Republicans who have to run with him on top of the ticket are starting to feel some buyer's remorse about now. Many senators were embarrassed and one GOP solon said it was the most vicious personal public attack he had every heard in his 18 years in the U.S. Senate. McCain seems to be coming apart-- the campaign hasn't really even begun and he's already unhinged. But everyone knows, especially his wife (who he publicly called "a cunt") that he's on a hair-trigger.
It'd be interesting to hear confirmation of this from a second source. The "GOP solon" claim, at least.

Contra Digby, if McCain's GOP Senate colleagues were appalled, I'm not sure that this was a calculated alpha-male ploy. Presumably they would know.

Also the fact that it came at the end of a loss on a major / prestige bill, and worse, one where McCain was deserted by most of his GOP Senate colleagues, doesn't exactly support "calm, cool, calculating". Wrong place, wrong time.

Finally, if this was a calculated act, McCain sure stepped on his own message. The lobbyist / Hagee / Parsley stories took all the air out of the alpha male act (if that's what it was), so at best McCain continues to have a message discipline problem.

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woohoo! daughter emerges from cocoon

"high honors" in her honors program at her college!

way sick 2nd half of 1st year, most of 2nd year .. yet "high honors".

Really seriously proud of her.

GOP strategerists mull significant McCain win in November

(h/t Sully)

It sounds crazy at first. Amid dire reports about the toxic political environment for Republican candidates and the challenges facing John McCain, many top GOP strategists believe he can defeat Barack Obama — and by a margin exceeding President Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2004.

Sorry, it sounds crazy at 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, too.

I have zero expertise in this area, but it seems to me that there are three ways to look at this:

1) "a miracle happens";
2) "fundamentals";
3) stuff specific to the candidates.

Taking the possibilities in order:

1). Impossible to rule out. My ultra-conservative Catholic bud back in Feb passed along to me a rumor from "a Clinton operative" about Bad Stuff(tm) in Obama's record that would drive him from the race. "He tells me that the GOP knows it too," my bud said.

Hasn't come out yet.

Still could.

uh, but if it's just hanging out there, what is HRC waiting for? She could have gone to Dean back in February and said, "Look, here's what I have, we have reason to believe the GOP has it too, you have to get Obama to drop out of the race for the good of the party."

Is it credible that she wouldn't have done this if she could have? Is it credible after the infighting in her campaign that she has sufficient control over the grunts in the field that one of them wouldn't have leaked it?

2) 8 years of Dubya. 2/3 of the American electorate hating on the Iraq War. Katrina. Lots of closeted GOP gays and pederasts involuntarily liberated from their closets. Economy turning south. MS-01. Right-wing evangelicals left holdin' nuthin' as the most right-wing religiously-oriented Administration in modern American history winds down. The list goes on and on.

3) Obama: scary black dude, Evul Lib'rul, black pastor hating on whites. (stage directions: "all shudder")

.. versus McCain: "Hail the conq'ring hero come; Sound the trumpets, Beat the drum."

(Trivia contest: without consulting Teh Google, what's the reference?)

Seems like this actually might be significant. McCain is a war hero, not that that did Kerry any good, but no one expects the Dems to Swift Boat McCain. And while questions have been raised about the Forrestal incident, AFAICT they're about as content-free as the Swift Boat accusations against Kerry.

But, wait: there's more. McCain: can't control his temper; wrapped around Dubya like a fur around a grande dame; wrapped around the war like slacks on a hooker; called his wife a 4-letter word that will cause Southren belles to faint (Hi, Mom!); dissed Hagee & Parsley, beloved of a non-trivial fraction of the fundie base; wingnut base (Malkin, Our Lady of Donuts) hyperventilating against him; was for illegal immigration before he was against illegal immigration before he was for illegal immigration again; indies for McCain overlap significantly with anti-war indies.. hard to see how that last survives saturation bombing of the airwaves with "Bomb bomb Iran" and Gabriel Garcia McCain's "100 Years of Iran". No obvious way to unite the base without alienating more indies; no obvious way to corner the market on Indies without alienating the base.

Yet more: Obama grassroots organizing, 3M and counting new Dem voters. Outraising McCain by gazillions.

McCain: getting funds from RNC because he isn't raising funds fast enough to offset Obama's fundraising advantage. Cue Dubya, Most Unpopular President Ever(tm) fundraising for McCain.

More: McCain, blowing off vets, siding with Dubya on the GI Bill. Recent polls have shown opinion within the military trending left after decades of trending right. I have read that in 2006, of the vets running for office in the primaries (probably the general as well, but I don't remember), many more were running as Dems than were running as GOPers.

McCain: "older than penicillin" (h/t Sully)

More: McCain seems to be an awful campaigner. I saw mention somewhere (i.e., no link, might not be true) that in states where he actively campaigned, McCain's final vote totals in the primary were uniformly lower than his polls going in. (I think this was before he locked up the nomination, no reason to believe it was true afterwards.) Did I mention "old"? Worse, looks old. Obama articulate, young, blah blah blah.

More generally, the 50%+1 strategery: energize the base blah blah blah. Kerry lost by about 2.5% overall. McCain has pissed off the evangelicals and the nativists. Even some of the Big Bidness types call McCain a liberal. (Yeah, yeah, I know, it beats the hell outa me, too.. but personal experience. I don't seem to have much luck convincing conservative buds and friends-of-buds that voting with Dubya 95% of the time in '07 counts for squat. Or the mid-80 ACU ratings, or the mid-teens ADA ratings. Meta-reference to rivers in Egypt.)

Lately elections have been won on the margins. In this climate, and with these personal attributes, McCain wins by a substantial margin?!?

I'd like to get some of the stuff these GOP strategerists are smoking.. if they're for real, and not just trying to spin away the freight train that's the light at the end of the tunnel, I sure don't see the arguments.

It's widely assumed from the experience of past elections that despite the increasing intra-party hostility between HRC and Obama supporters, the two factions will sing Kumbayah once the nomination is settled and mostly march to the general election unified.

If that assumption is wrong, then all bets are off.

I've seen posts suggesting that HRC might mount an independent campaign if she doesn't get the Dem nod, which seems all but certain now (the nomination, I mean). I just can't see that happening. It's too much risk toher credibility and power base within the party. (Of course the fact that my calculus says "no way" doesn't mean that her calculus will say "no way", but still..)

There's the "working class whites" problem Obama has. Several people have made compelling cases that this is an Appalachia problem, not a general problem, as witness Obama's success in appealing to the demographic in Oregon. An Appalachia problem is still real, but:

1) it's a problem mostly in states that the Dems won't win anyway, which states are not crucial to a Dem victory in the general;
2) the racists are mostly concentrated in the South and Deep South where again, it's unlikely that a Dem will win, nor does a Dem victory depend on winning (all) the Southren states;
3) a Veep like James Webb could bring significant credibility to an Obama ticket in states where the margin is close. Personally, I'd be happier to see Webb stay in the Senate where he is both a leader and a building block towards 60 votes.

So I just don't see where GOP optimism would be coming from...

About the Forrestal incident: viral attack e-mails circulated a few months ago - after McCain had won the nomination, IIRC - accusing McCain of causing the incident, and the Navy of covering it up. I did a little armchair research (cue teh Google), and concluded that there was nothing there. Wikipedia has an article about it. But I was curious as to who was circulating the rumors, and why?

I didn't get very far, but as best I can tell, the rumors and blog posts come from the far right. Someone or some group on the Bircher right was trying to gin up a Swift Boat attack against McCain.


And why did they go quiet?

Might this have been a Rove-style attempt to inoculate McCain against Forrestal charges a la Rather/TANG?

Were the charges just too silly? But then so were the charges against Kerry.

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China earthquake

One of several posts at Fallows' site.

Panda International donation site in one of the updates. Human International donation site, hmm, I think at Sully's Place.

Update: This sounds snarkier than I intended. I was surprised in reading Fallows' articles to find the Panda International link but not a Red Cross/whatever link.. but I could easily have missed it. I will get the links and post here.

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McCain, Obama, and the GI Bill

Digby argues that McCain's temper tantrum might well be a carefully crafted political expression aimed at asserting his alpha male cred and tagging Obama as effeminate..

.. but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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Obama should be safe

I've heard a lot of talk about how Barack Obama might get assassinated because he's black, but I can't understand why. Every single President who has been assassinated in the history of the United States has been a white male. Every. Single. One. In fact, I have it on good authority that every single attempted assassination has been directed against a white male President. If history is any guide, Obama should be safe.

...indeed, with an assassination rate exceeding 9%, President of the United States would appear to be an extraordinarily dangerous job for white men. It would almost be irresponsible to elect someone other than a woman or non-white man.

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Sully on the GI Bill

Sully's last comment is exactly my reaction.

I asked my ultra-conservative Catholic bud what the strategeric thinking here is. He responded:

"The military will vote for McCain."

Finding this, uh, less than edicational, I responded more acerbically than I probably should have.

But is there any credible & substantive strategeric thinking behind the GOP/Admin/McCain position here?

As best I can see, the McCain campaign is beginning to look like a bunch of amatyoors.. one might even say a (ahem) clown show.

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Joshua Green on downticket fundraising

critically important..

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yet another "overtaken by events"

if true, then it was over before the RFK quote. If not true, then it's over after the RFK quote.

money quote:
The endorsement by US Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-California) of Obama today sends an extremely firm message to the Clinton campaign, and not only because he was, until today, a Clinton superdelegate.

The Field has learned that Cardoza is the first of a group of at least 40 Clinton delegates, many of them from California, that through talking among themselves came to a joint decision that all of them would vote for Obama at the convention. They have informed Senator Clinton that it’s time to unite around Obama, and that they will be coming out, one or two at a time, and announcing their switch between now and the convention if Senator Clinton doesn’t do the same.

Cardoza is one of the leaders of this effort (which includes not only superdelegates, but here’s something that should set off some paranoia in Camp Clinton: there are pledged Clinton delegates in “The Cardoza 40,” too). One Field Hand reports that during a recent Cardoza fundraising event in California the effort was discussed openly in front of other Democrats. Cardoza’s announcement, today, sent the message that the effort is serious and for real.

(written pre-RFK quote:)

She may have waited too long to cash in her chips.

Slouching towards settlement

Sorry, don't remember where I saw this. Next time fer shore.

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old molly ivins piece on Camille Paglia

h/t Kathy at the Gspot, IIRC

amusing if you enjoy this sort of thing.

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Native Murkins, McCain, and Obama


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Obama v. McCain in OH

9 points.

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Rachel Maddow on HRC's strategery

written before the RFK quote, so also overtaken by events, but still..

I suspect she's right about this:
Here's my way: based on my read of NBC's delegate math, I think if the Clinton campaign won 100% of what they wanted on the Florida and Michigan dispute, Obama could still clinch the nomination -- even according to the most pro-Clinton math -- if 90 of the remaining 210-or-so undeclared superdelegates declared for Obama.

If they so declared before May 31st, the Rules and Bylaws committee would have no reason to take up the Florida and Michigan dispute because it would be a moot point -- Obama's camp could concede every Clinton demand on the subject and still win the nomination.

I'll go further. It doesn't really matter whether the supers reveal their preferences before 31 May. They only need do so before the convention. If that happens, Obama announces that he's OK with seating the MI and FL delegates on HRC's terms, because MI and FL are irrelevant. Or some other compromise offer that's too good to refuse in the Real World(tm).

I'm inclined to think that this will happen by mid-June, because a bunch of supers have said that they're going to announce their preferences after the last primary.

Interesting to note that HRC's campaign has turned down a split of the delegates in MI .. they want HRC to get all the delegates she won in MI and Obama to get none. I guess the 40% uncommitted are unallocated? Not sure how that works. But if her intention is to get the nomination, or even to create enough trouble to get the vp slot or patronage, then agreeing to split MI on what (ahem) some might feel to be a reasonable basis wouldn't make sense.. once the nomination is decided, then leverage evaporates.

Just my two Euros.

what Hilzoy said

overtaken by events, but:

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HRC cites Karl Rove

Lots of attention to the RFK quote, not so much to this, which strikes me as rather more odd.


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Methodists endorse the Dubya Library at SMU

not so much..

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