Thursday, June 30, 2011


Herman Cain, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine:

Before you announced your campaign, you said that the liberal establishment is scared that "a real black man might run against Barack Obama." Are you suggesting Obama isn't really black?
A real black man is not timid about making the right decisions, that's what I meant. Look, I'm not getting into this whole thing about President Obama. It is documented that his mother was white and his father was from Africa. If he wants to call himself black, fine. If he wants to call himself African-American, fine. I’m not going down this color road.

But you're saying he’s not really a black man.
Not in terms of a strong black man that I'm identifying with. I identify with a strong black man like Martin Luther King Jr., or my dad, Luther Cain Jr., who didn't have a lot of formal education, but he had a Ph.D. in common sense.

Senator and future VP candidate Marco Rubio, as quoted by National Review:

In an interview with National Review Online, [Rubio] says that he will take to the Senate floor for his second speech this week -- and this time he will have President Obama in his crosshairs.

Rubio tells us that he will respond to Obama's recent press conference, where the president reveled in class-warfare bluster. "Quite frankly, I am both disappointed for our country and shocked at some of the rhetoric," he says. "It was rhetoric, I thought, that was more appropriate for some left-wing strong man than for the president of the United States."

So he's a weak black white man and a left-wing strongman, which means, presumably, a Castro (Rubio's parents fled Castro), or maybe a Chavez, or a Kim Jong Il. So he's a weak strong black white Hispanic Korean. Glad to have that cleared up.

My Mark Halperin post is here.


I'd also like to add this Halperin gem, sent to me via e-mail, from February 2008, back when John Edwards was dropping out of the Democratic contest for president and Clinton and Obama were still duking it out:

Sirius Radio just sent out a press release with some excerpts from last night's Barbara Live, featuring world-famous journalist Barbara Walters. My assumption is that Sirius is proud of the dialog that took place between Walters, her cohost Bill Geddie, and Mark Halperin, Time's senior political analyst, who joined Walters and Geddie to discuss the presidential campaign. But should you really be proud of this?
HALPERIN [discussing John Edwards' potential endorsement of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama]: I can tell you, he's really skeptical of her ability to be the kind of president he wants. But, he kinda thinks Obama is...he thinks Obama is kind of a pussy...He has real questions about Obama's toughness, his readiness for the office.

A Shavian wit, this Halperin, no?

Every time Ron Paul talks about our current wars and the need to terminate them as soon as humanly possible, I find myself wanting to cheer; every time he talks about any other issue at all, I cradle my head in my hands and moan.

Substitute Andrew Cuomo for Ron Paul, and gay marriage for war, and I basically feel the same way about my governor:

The Cuomo administration is expected to lift what has been, in effect, a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technology used to extract natural gas from shale, people briefed on the administration’s discussions said on Thursday.

Administration officials are discussing maintaining a ban on the process inside New York City's sprawling upstate watershed, as well as a watershed used by the city of Syracuse, according to people briefed on the plan. But by allowing the process in other parts of the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would open up New York to one of the fastest-growing -- critics would say reckless -- areas of the energy industry....

Hydrofracking has spurred intense protests from environmental activists, who say it threatens the cleanliness of ground water....

It isn't just the fracking. There's a lot more to dislike about the guy if you're a progressive, as Eric Alterman recently noted:

The same liberal Democrat who fights for gay marriage is presiding over a budget agreement that will cost New York City schools 2,600 teachers, 600 more than estimated, and lay off 1,000 city workers, many of whom work in health care for the poor, at a time when the need for both could hardly be greater. Cuomo, who one must sometimes remind oneself, is a Democrat, also fought tooth and nail to ensure the death of New York's millionaire tax, at exactly the moment when its proceeds might have been able to prevent exactly the kinds of cuts described above. In his willingness to play "bulldog for the rich," as Michael Powell puts it, he is distinguishable from Roger Ailes' favorite politician, right-wing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie only in degree, rather than in kind.

And if you can judge a guy by his friends, here are some of Cuomo's:

"Looking for a tax-cutting, budget-slashing, fiscally conservative governor? How about Andrew Cuomo?" wrote the Cato Institute's Michael Tanner back in February.

"Cuomo's performance thus far has advanced the cause of limited government in the Empire State far more than did his past three predecessors," enthused Deroy Murdock in April.

Cuomo in 2016? Reihan Salam can get down with that. "Imagine a presidential election pitting a budget-cutting Democratic governor against a budget-cutting Republican governor," Salam wrote. "That would be, in my view, an excellent outcome for fiscal conservatives."

Even Carl Paladino has praised Cuomo.

So if he's the 2016 candidate against Chris Christie, update your passport.

These are just one morning's worth:

Morris is grumbling about sentence (near-)equalization for cocaine and crack, while Beck ... who the hell knows what he's talking about. Ah, but Jon Stewart is the real racist, right?

(Beck link via Atrios.)


A few years ago, Mark Halperin began trying to seduce the American right, all while hoping to stay in his marriage with "objective" journalism. His seduction technique was clumsy and obvious -- during the publicity tour for his first book, he praised Matt Drudge to the skies, and he fawningly tried to butter up Hugh Hewitt in a 2006 interview by saying, "Can I introduce you to my interns from Bob Jones University?," adding,

... your listeners ... should read the book and what we say in The Way To Win about how the media's been liberally biased in presidential campaign coverage, what needs to be done to try to fix it, and why the current system may not be any better with new media. But to lump me in with everybody else, I think, is doing people a disservice, because most of my colleagues, as you know, are in denial about it, or blind to it.

The right, however, wouldn't let him get to first base. Then Republicans lost two straight elections. So he co-authored a much more successful book, and he even revealed a willingness to go after right-wingers once in a while (here he is in 2010 accusing Drudge of playing the race card).

But I think he's going to get a call from his unrequited love soon. I imagine you already know about his little embarrassment this morning.

Mark Halperin, editor-at-large for Time, called President Obama “a dick” on Thursday on a popular MSNBC morning show and then quickly apologized.

“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is a senior political analyst for MSNBC, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference....

Do I have to explain what happens next? We attack Halperin for disrespecting the president. Roger Ailes orders a dozen Fox interns to work overtime turning the news archives and the Internet upside down, looking for examples of similar insulting language directed at George W. Bush, especially if such language is uttered or met with approval by people who are now condemning Halperin. This becomes a story all weekend on Fox, and possibly into next week. Halperin, perhaps, is banned from Morning Joe for a while, and forced to apologize at Time -- or suffers worse penalties. He then becomes a martyr to "political correctness." Ailes offers him double what he's getting from Morning Joe if he can break his contract and move over to the "straight news" part of Fox -- just to piss off the liberals.

It's not true love. It's more like revenge sex. But, years after he fell head over heels, I think Halperin's finally going to get some.


UPDATE: MSNBC has suspended Halperin indefinitely. Inevitable Fox reaction coming any minute now: Indefinitely? Ed Schultz was only suspended for a week for calling Laura Ingraham a slut!


BEST LINE ON THIS WHOLE MATTER: From Alex Pareene at Salon:

It seems wrong, to me, that in a conversation involving Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin, a third party was somehow called a "dick"...



AND: Rumproast reminds us of a tasteless, baffling penis-centric Farrelly brothers Photoshop gag Halperin posted at Time's Web site at the expense of Mary Landrieu, for some reason, in 2009. Sick boy.


MORE: The Right Scoop thinks Halperin's suspension was the result of White House strong-arm tactics:

Just another point. Why did Halperin get fired when it was the fault of the 7-second-bleeper for letting it go out on the air? ...

This just goes to show you that it wasn't that he said it on the air, but that he insulted that Almighty Messiah Obama on the air. That's why they fired him. Makes me wonder even more how many phone calls MSNBC got from the White House to get rid of him.

That's likely to become a widespread right-wing talking pint.

You know that Herman Cain was once the CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Franchised pizza is also involved in the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that failed a court test yesterday:

The appeal, which was heard by the panel on June 1, came in a challenge filed by the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative public interest firm in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Wikipedia tells us about the Thomas More Law Center:

The Center was founded in 1999 by Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, and Richard Thompson, the former Oakland County, Michigan, prosecutor known for his role in the prosecution of Jack Kevorkian, and who now serves as the Law Center's President and Chief Counsel.

Monaghan has also taken his pizza money and founded , a couple of strictly anti-abortion institutions of higher learning, the Ave Maria School of Law and Ave Maria University:

In early 2002 Monaghan sought to establish the Ave Maria University[22] in Ann Arbor, at Domino's Farms, the large corporate office park that he owned and leased to Domino's Pizza. The plans included a 250-foot crucifix - taller than the Statue of Liberty.[2] Local officials refused to approve the zoning change, forcing him to look elsewhere for a site. Eventually community leaders in Collier County, Florida, offered him a large undeveloped tract of land thirty miles east of Naples, Florida to develop the university.

In February 2006, ground was broken for the new Catholic university and town, Ave Maria, Florida.... Monaghan said in 2005 that any town retailers would not be allowed to sell contraceptives or pornography, a statement which drew legal and moral criticism from the ACLU.[24] Threatened with lawsuits, Monaghan and the developers went on a national PR campaign in March 2007 to retract the notion that Catholic doctrine could ever be enforced as law.[25]

The best-known case the Thomas More Law Center has pursued is perhaps Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to defend the foisting of intelligent design on schoolchildren.


The press thinks there's the tea party over here and the religious right over there. The press thinks that opposition to the health care law derives from a whole new crop of activists, people who've broken free of the old late-twentieth-century right-wing crowd. That's nonsense. It's old wine in new bottles. Thomas More is a Catholic institution, but the advocates of intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania, were passing around a book called The Myth of Separation by David Barton, a tireless Protestant advocate of right-wing theocracy. Rick Santorum was once on the board of Thomas More; Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas have been affiliated with the Ave Maria School of Law. It really is a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


A couple more adds: Homeless on the High Desert, the blog of frequent commenter Ten Bears, and Man, Are We Screwed, where the Heretik, among others, is now blogging. Go read.

Yeah, the teabaggers are so different from old-fashioned Republican God-botherers, aren't they?

Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see [Texas governor Rick] Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist's April poll; Huckabee's since withdrawn from the race.

The pray-for-rain-and-then-for-Hooverism guy has replaced the guy who's an ordained minister as their fave. No wonder these folks don't give a crap that the Congress they elected hasn't proposed any jobs legislation -- that was never Priority #1 for them at all, was it?

So I see that Chris Christie is losing support at home:

More than half of New Jersey residents say they wouldn’t back Governor Chris Christie for a second term, disapproving of his choices on a range of policy and personal issues, from killing a commuter tunnel to using a state-police helicopter to attend his son’s baseball game....

Atrios says, in reference to this:

It's been mildly amusing watching the press fawn over every Republicans with a pulse, touting them all as "possible contenders."

But, see, this works for Republicans even if one individual Republican or another slips in the polls -- it creates the general impression that we're a right-leaning nation and that "everyone" (except willfully perverse hippies and elitists) agrees with the general Republican message and roots for its champions. And that even allows Republicans to spin bad polls as somehow not representative of public opinion. (Yes, Christie's approval rating is down, but that's because he was elected to make the tough choices, and he's making them -- he's doing precisely what the voters wanted. And besides, there's been all this acclaim for him....)

Now, if Democrats had the sense to do what Republicans do, and the ability to pull it off, they'd have begun touting Nancy Pelosi as a possible president about twelve hours after the polls closed in 2006. And they would have kept touting her and touting her. Independent groups would have produced Palinesque propaganda videos showing ordinary people rooting Pelosi on and praising her style. Friendly pundits and Democratic pols on talk shows would have echoed the "President Nancy?" message. And a lot of the public might have accepted the notion that she's really, really well respected because, y'know, everyone seems to say so.

I suppose the Obama hype during the campaign and in the early days of his presidency is an example of this -- and it may be why he's not recording Bush-style numbers in the polls these days. But if Democrats could do it for every Democrat in a position of prominence, or as many as possible -- in other words, if they did what Republicans do routinely -- maybe the notion that being a Democrat (or even a liberal) is some sort of bizarre mental disorder could possibly be reversed.

A Twitter dialogue between Dave Weigel and Jay Rosen on how the press covers campaign gaffes, as spotted by Atrios:

daveweigel ... You get more heat for flubbing a founder's name than for saying tax cuts always up revenue.

jayrosen_nyu Of course you do. Why? The sweet spot is a mistake that allows the press to prosecute the error without sounding too political.

That's more or less true -- although, of course, Rosen's last word is wrong. The sweet spot isn't a mistake that allows the press to prosecute the error without sounding too political -- it's a mistake that allows the press to prosecute the error without sounding too liberal.

The right-wing noise machine has no problem going after gaffes (or "gaffes") such as Obama's statement on the '08 campaign trail that it's good for society to "spread the wealth around." Right-wingers are able to make hay out of this kind of thing because they've carefully built up a narrative of liberal/socialist/Democratic evil, and they've found a way to make partisan attack politics entertaining for a rather large audience. No one's done that anywhere apart from the right, except perhaps online and on niche-market MSNBC.

Mainstream journalists are never going to put heat on right-wing politicians for spouting policy nonsense because (a) they think it's their job not to take sides, even in a contest between truth and lies; (b) they, as refs, are effectively worked by the liberal-baiting right, which increases their timidity; and (c) the right regularly floods the zone with untruths, sophistry, and superstition produced by seemingly "respectable" people, so the only way for non-right-wing journalists to seem objective is to run every story as they-said/they-said.

This is why Zandar is right to despair -- yes, as he says, the Republicans promised to focus on jobs and now won't; yes, the states with the worst fiscal austerity have the worst job creation; yes, cutting taxes on the rich doesn't improve the job picture either (on the last two points, see the charts he links). But the press won't say that any of this is true -- it's just opinion as far as the press is concerned, not fact, because SHUT UP, SOCIALIST!

Oh, and while I don't agree with Jonathan Chait that Michele Bachmann may be unstoppable, at least in the GOP nomination contest, I do think that it ain't gonna be the mainstream press that slows her progress. However delusional and divorced from reality her policy proposals are, they'll get respectful attention from the press as long as she's polling well. She can be stopped by another Republican campaign (my money is on Romney, who's backed by a "super PAC" run by some serious attack dogs), or possibly by Saturday Night Live, but she certainly won't be stopped by serious mainstream-media scrutiny of her positions on issues. It's just not done.

And that's why, even if she loses the nomination, or loses the general election, we'll have a president who thinks like her eventually. All it's going to take is the same positions and fewer gaffes.


UPDATE: Did I say Saturday Night Live might be what spares us from a Bachmann presidency (or nomination)? Maybe I meant Conan O'Brien:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Separated at birth?

With his Fox News show down to its last few days, and about to embark on a risky and probably unsuccessful attempt to replicate his cable success on pay-to-view Internet broadcasting, a desperate Glenn Beck cooked up a transparently phony publicity stunt that began to fall apart within hours.

Beck claimed on his radio show this morning, and then later (at great length) on his TV show, that he and his family were victims of an evil liberal mob in a New York park:

"These people were some of the most hateful people I have ever seen," said a distraught Glenn Beck this morning as he described an altercation he and his family had last night while watching a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps in New York's Bryant Park. Explaining that a group of people yelled at his family, took pictures of them, and kicked a cup of wine onto his wife, Beck said that his security team feels that, had he reacted poorly, things might have "gone off."
"I swear to you I think, if I had suggested, and I almost did, "Wow, does anybody have a rope? Because there's tree here. You could just lynch me.' And I think there would have been a couple in the crowd that would have."

Beck also claimed that wine was deliberately spilled on his wife, Tanya, and that she was intentionally kicked.

Um, except that this story began falling apart almost immediately:

Some have said that, were any serious altercation to have actually occurred, it would instantly have been written about on Twitter or Facebook by someone at the park. The fact that there seems to be no such mention on various social media platforms doesn't prove that Beck is exaggerating, but its also not an unreasonable argument.

We at Mediaite contacted one of the Twitter users who tweeted about sitting near Beck and his family and she told us she didn't witness any of the hostility Beck describes. She said that, in fact, she saw people going up to shake his hand and that the only real jeers she heard were directed at a group doing fake acrobatics sitting near him. She also said she believed he had two security guards sitting right by the entire time.

I think the Twitter/Facebook point is important -- this is 2011; wouldn't someone have made mention of this? And hey -- just as in Anthony Weiner's "hacking" experience, if Beck and his family were assaulted, why haven't they called the cops?

By the way, I think you see the muscle guy (and you certainly don't see any hostility) in photos of Beck in the park posted at Gawker.

Gawker also has an message from a friend of the wine-spiller:

I was on the blanked directly behind Mr. Beck, and while we did find it amusing that wine was spilled on Tanya & co, I can tell you that it was 100% accidental. My friend was drinking her wine and it tipped over, as wine glasses are wont to do. We immediately helped Tanya & co clean up the "mess" and offered them our napkins, and apologies were made. There was no hostility or animosity in the exchange, and I find it hard to believe that a half-filled glass of wine would be capable of "soaking" anyone, even waif-thin Tanya. Moreover, why would we waste the wine?

(The author of this message elaborated further in a message to New York magazine; she claimed to have pictures, and foolishly revealed her real name, which means right-wingers will now proceed to ruin her life.)

Oh, and the incident just so happens to feed into Beck's latest meme:

Today on his [TV] show, Beck, clearly distraught, told the story again, wrapping it into his current message of courage and strength against a mob that is intent on shutting you down.

How convenient.

I think we're dealing with a cross-platform, multi-millionaire Ashley Todd:

Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old college student and McCain volunteer, admitted on Friday that she made up a widely reported story about being mugged by a so-called big black guy at an ATM in Pittsburgh. She falsely told police this week that her assailant became enraged after seeing a John McCain bumper sticker on her car, and proceeded to scratch a backwards "B" -- for "Barack" -- on her face. It now appears the mark was self-inflicted....

But he won't be forced to undergo court-ordered psychiatric counseling. More likely, his fans will just rewrite Wikipedia pages to suggest that the movie screening was disrupted by a mob.


UPDATE: In the comments here, gocart mozart takes issue with my Ashley Todd comparison:

I would have gone with "MORTON DOWNEY GLENN BECK JR."

"In 1989, as fascination with Downey's TV show began to wane, he was involved in an incident in a San Francisco International Airport restroom in which he claimed to have been attacked by neo-Nazis who painted a swastika on his face and attempted to shave his head. Some inconsistencies in Downey's account (e.g., the swastika was painted in reverse, suggesting that Downey had drawn it himself in a mirror), and the failure of the police to find supportive evidence, led many to suspect that the incident was a hoax and a plea for attention.[10][16] A few months later, the show was cancelled.[10]",_Jr.

Yeah, this does seem to be a favorite tactic on the right, doesn't it?


OH, AND: PurpleGirl in comments here mentions the Michael Steele Oreo incident.


AND: Via Rumproast, I see that Beck and his crack time have uncovered suggestions of malice aforethought on the part of the wine-spiller. So noted. Now wake me, Glenn, when your crew uncovers evidence of anything resembling a lynch mob.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: St this point I don't know what the hell happened, and I seem to have confused the target of Beck's wrath with the actual wine-spiller. Read this and this, and draw your own conclusions. I still haven't seen the slightest evidence of a would-be lynch mob.

At the Drudge Report right now:

And I suppose you might conclude that that's accurate -- if you only read the story Drudge links (from via AP) on the subject of the president's visit to Iowa:

Obama planned to spend only about two hours in Iowa. His first stop was Ross' 24-Hour Restaurant, a local diner in the town of Bettendorf. Among the president's orders was a "Magic Mountain", a house specialty that includes Texas toast and mounds of ground beef.

But, in fact, a newspaper that's actually based in Iowa makes clear that there's no evidence Obama actually ate the item in question at all (described in this paper as "grilled Texas toast topped with ground beef, french fries and cheese sauce"):

The President's speech followed a brief tour of the plant and also a stop at Ross' Restaurant, a Bettendorf staple for generations, where he ordered four Magic Mountains and two Volcanos but didn't stay to eat....

He greeted Cynthia Freidhof, who was shocked and very excited.

“How are you doing? We came to order some food,” Obama said.

He held up an enormous cinnamon roll, about six inches in diameter.

“I’m not sure I'm going to be able to eat one of these,” Obama joked.

He was then given a description of the sandwiches.

“Anybody who wants one, I will buy it for you,” Obama said. “Anybody in the press corps has to eat the whole thing. I already got some takers on the plane though, so we're going to order four Magic Mountains and two Volcanos.“

“Any takers on the press?” Obama asked.

No one responded.

“You chickens,” he said....

Obama takes the food "to-go" and is now leaving the restaurant....

At a campaign appearance in 2008, Obama got a question from Cynthia Freidhof, who owns the restaurant. He promised to stop by someday, and now he's made good on that promise. (He promised to try a Magic Mountain, and maybe he didn't make good on that promise, but the current story suggests that Freidhof is fine with that -- "'This is just beyond,' Freidhof said." Meanwhile, Drudge has his story -- that Obama is a glutton and a food hypocrite -- and he's sticking to it. As, presumably, are the people who turn to him for news.)

Atrios, responding to an Ezra Klein report on the apparent state of the budget talks:

People on the intertubes can debate whether Obama is incompetent or Obama is getting exactly what he wants while blaming Republicans. I honestly don't much care, because as long as it's entirely an inside game, backroom deals made between millionaire old guys, there really isn't much for the rest of us to do about it.

For all I know the inside game, instead of the bully pulpit, is the best way to get exactly what Obama wants - whatever that is - but it's a crappy way to explain to people why they should vote for you or your party.

In theory, of course, it doesn't have to be "entirely an inside game." It wouldn't be "entirely an inside game" if a large number of Americans had class consciousness and were out in the streets demanding some sacrifice from the greedy, and some limit on the sacrifices required of the rest of us.

And while it would be nice if the president used the bully pulpit to rally us against the Republicans, the fact is that we don't need to wait for his permission, or the permission of any other elected official -- we're legally entitled to decide on our own that we have grievances that need redressing.

I know that there really isn't any such broad-based class consciousness in America today. And I know that, even if there were, it's hard to imagine our outrage making any difference in a society where cash rules, and where Roger Ailes acts as the entire news media's assignment editor, valorizing the rage of the right while portraying anger from any other direction as nothing more than a freak show.

But in theory we could try. And in fact, until we take our own side in the argument, everything's just going to get worse and worse.

This from Michele Bachmann is far more significant than any stray comments about John Wayne or Lexington and Concord (or, for that matter, John Quincy Adams):

Michele Bachmann says we should look at nixing minimum wage: If Michele Bachmann's presidential candidacy is going to be the focus of so much chatter today, let's hope her comments about the minimum wage on Good Morning America just now get some of that attention.

Pressed repeatedly by George Stephanopoulos to say whether she stood by her 2005 claim that nixing the minimum wage "could potentially wipe out unemployment because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level," Bachmann did not back away from it, and seemed to confirm that ending the minimum wage should remain on the table.

"I think we need to look at all regulations--whatever ones are inhibiting job growth," Bachmann said. "All regulations, George. I think every department."

Ordinary Americans like the minimum wage. They like it a lot. In a 2010 poll, two-thirds of Americans supported the notion of gradually increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10 an hour, and indexing it for inflation. This isn't one of those deals where a plain-talkin' fiscal conservative says something that makes us East Coast elites titter behind our well-manicured hands while rough-hewn Real Americans stand up and cheer (I'm not sure how many of those there really are, but never mind) -- this is the kind of policy position that would make Bachmann absolutely unelectable as a 2012 candidate even if the economy were so horrific that Obama's approval rating fell to Carter-in-1980 territory.

Oh, and of course she's also said that, apart from current seniors, "basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off" Social Security and Medicare. Those are rather popular programs as well.


This makes me daydream about a scenario that turns the Beltway elitists' Jon Huntsman fantasy on its head. Matt Bai explains why, in his opinion, Huntsman could get the Republican nomination:'s vital to remember that next year's primaries will be the first since 1996 where Democrats haven't had their own nomination fight going on. In other words, in the last two contested Republican primary seasons, independents in "open states" like New Hampshire split their votes between Republicans and Democrats. But this year, all of them will be voting for a Republican.

... this suggests, I think, that a less doctrinaire candidate might have a real shot in New Hampshire

You know what it suggests to me? That if Democrats and liberal-leaning independent voters could get their act together, they could make trouble for the GOP by turning out as a bloc to vote for a very, very unelectable top-tier Republican candidate -- someone like possible Iowa caucus victor Michele Bachmann. It would be our version of Rush Limbaugh's unsuccessful attempt to hobble the Obama campaign by urging his listeners to vote for Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries, in what he called Operation Chaos.

It's extremely hard to imagine this working, but I'd be quite pleased if it did.

Well, besides the obvious reason (games are a huge business), the decision of our very right-wing Supreme Court to protect minors' access to violent games was probably based on the perception that dirty filthy hippie liberals all feel this way:

I think the word "fuck" is a very important word. It's the beginning of life, and yet it's a word we use to hurt one another quite often. And people much wiser than I have said, "I'd rather have my son watch a film of two people making love than 2 people trying to kill one another." And I, of course, can agree. It's a great sentiment. I wish I knew who said it first, and I agree with that. But I'd like to take it a step further. I'd like to substitute the word "fuck" for the word "kill" in all of those movie cliches we grew up with, right? "Okay, sheriff, we're gonna fuck you now. But we're gonna fuck you slow."

To a guy like Scalia, for whom it's always going to be 1968, lefties are people who burn draft cards because they're simperingly allergic to red-blooded American violence, even as they insist on having dirty hippie dope-fueled sex in the streets. Lefties want you to shun Patton and The Green Berets and go see I Am Curious (Yellow) instead, or some mystifying Off-Off-Broadway play with antiwar sentiments and nudity and no plot.

Or, as Charles Murray wrote in a 2010 Washington Post op-ed praising the tea party and sneering at "the New Elite":

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

Dirty hippies hate NASCAR and mixed martial arts because, y'know, people can get hurt. Eeek! I'm not sure how this jibes with the existence of successful contact-sport teams in, say, Boston, or other blue enclaves, but this is what wingers believe. So of course the conservative bloc (Thomas excepted, admittedly) thinks game violence (as opposed to, say, porn sex) is protected speech.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Yes, Michele Bachmann confused John Wayne and serial killer killer John Wayne Gacy, but thw wingnut base won't care. The base has been primed to believe that the most gaffe-prone politician in America today is ... um, Barack Obama. Right-wingers lovingly collect Obama flubs the way Deadheads collect soundboard dubs. They compile these flubs (and items they don't realize aren't flubs) into videos like the one below. It's amateurish, but that didn't stop Fox Nation from featuring it prominently last week. (I'll understand if you can't make your way all the way through this -- most reasonable people couldn't):

As you can tell from the title of the video, Obama flub collecting has been a particularly popular sport among Sarah Palin fans, who've been determined to demonstrate that she's just as qualified to be president as that Obama guy. It remains to be seen whether talk about Bachmann's gaffes will actually cause her to gain votes from the Palin crowd (if she's hated and sneered at by the damn libs, she must be someone the left really fears, right?)

Did I say that right-wingers collect Obama flubs? Yes, and they have long memories for these flubs. Thus, Fox Nation reports the Bachmann gaffe using this headline:

Bachmann Bungles 'John Wayne' While Stumping in One of Obama’s 57 States

Every Obama-hater knows that Barack Obama said he'd visited "57 states" -- in 2008. The haters have a really long memory for this sort of thing. There are Obama "57 states" T-shirts. There are theories that he was secretly referencing the 57 states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (which doesn't explain why he said there was "one left to go" when he said he'd been to "57 states" -- unless maybe he's planning to make the U.S. a member of the OIC!!!1!1). It's a big deal -- and, to a wingnut, no gaffe, or series of gaffes, by Bachmann or Palin can put either of them in Obama's league. They seriously believe he's just the dumbest, most gaffe-prone politician we've ever had.

CNN, 3:22 P.M. Eastern time:

Think Progress, 52 minutes earlier:

And while there's no time stamp on the Washington Times story cited by Think Progress -- the one in which she confuses John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy in front of a live mike -- the earliest comment appeared at 1:29, just about two hours before CNN told us Bachmann's gotten really, really disciplined.

The Austin American-Statesman reports:

Gov. Rick Perry spoke Sunday at a summit hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers near Vail, Colorado.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner described the Colorado summit as a "private gathering of business leaders" and said it was not related to a possible presidential campaign.

"This was an opportunity to talk about the economic success in Texas," Miner said, adding that it was no different than other speeches Perry gives touting the Texas job record.

Miner also said Perry talked about issues related to his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association....

Oh, I'm sure it was just an innocent speech about Texas and the role of governors in American life, although we'll never learn much detail about it, given the fact that (as The Denver Post notes) everything about the Kochs' semi-annual retreat, even the guest list and the exact location, is kept secret by the Kochs.

I don't want to jump to the conclusion that Perry is necessaruy the Kochs' guy -- I'm sure all sorts of presidential wannabes are going to be invited to park themselves on the Kochs' casting couch. And I'm sure they'll do pretty much what you expect people to do on a casting couch, metaphorically speaking.

Matt Yglesias's looks at the leadership styles of Andrew Cuomo (on gay marriage) and Barack Obama (in general), and I think he's got this all wrong:

I would say that the bigger difference isn’t so much about the leadership style as it is that Cuomo won. Suppose that the New York State Senate operated according to the rules of the United States Senate and a bill failed unless it secured a 60 percent supermajority. What would people be saying about Andrew Cuomo now? Well, it seems to me that many people would be castigating his failed leadership. Instead of Michael Barbaro's account of his behind-the-scenes leadership reading like a virtuouso performance it would be reading like a story of a failed inside game. The meeting with high-dollar pro-equality Republican donors would seem not savvy, but naive and weak.

Well, no, that's not true -- because it seems highly unlikely that Cuomo, if he'd faced similar obstacles, would have very publicly stuck his neck out and made an effort to deliver on gay marriage a centerpiece of his first year in office. Cuomo saw a path to victory based on the conditions on the ground where he was; he did what he thought he needed to do -- and, obviously, his assessment of what it would take to win was correct. Obama, by contrast, seems flabbergasted by the impediments and stumbling blocks Republicans have thrown up in his way, and never seems to know when he's promised something he can't deliver -- closing Gitmo, for instance. I don't care if he sweet-talks or arm-twists, but if he's going to promise big changes, he should have some idea of how he's going to get them to happen.

It's not as if the existence of the filibuster was a sudden surprise that was explained to Obama on inauguration day -- he knew it was there, and if he was surprised by the intransigence of the Republicans and their united front, well, in sports terms, it was his job to read the defense and make adjustments. Or perhaps it's more appropriate to say that he should have had a detailed notion, back in '08 when he was promising big changes, of just what levers he was going to push to get his agenda past reluctant Republicans (and Blue Dogs). Read the story Matt links and you see Cuomo working several different angles. Bottle an Obama agenda item up and he never seems to see even one angle to play.

While Jon Huntsman grimly goes forward with his "Won't Someone Who's Not in the Elite Media Please Join Me in a Chorus of 'Kumbaya'?" U.S. Civility Tour, Michele Bachmann shows him how it's supposed to be done in his party: Don't just get mad, get mad and graceless:

... Michele Bachmann isn't accepting an apology from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace for asking her yesterday, "Are you a flake?"

ABC News' Jon Karl, who's been getting face-time with Bachmann in Waterloo in advance of her formal campaign announcement, played a clip of the web video in which Wallace said, "I messed up. I'm sorry."

When Karl asked if she accepts the apology, Bachmann brushed aside the question this way: "I think that it's insulting to insinuate that a candidate for president is less than serious."

Trying the question again, Bachmann replied, "Those are the small issues. I'm focused on the big ones." ...

There are limits to this in Wingnut World. You can't actually raise your voice -- that makes you Anthony Weiner in right-wingers' eyes, and that's bad. Huffy? You can do huffy forever. You can carry a grudge like the Hatfields and McCoys. In fact, if you don't, you're a big wussy. (Needless to say, this extends to governance -- "bipartisanship is another name for date rape" and all that.)

If I'm wrong and Huntsman is right, then Bachmann will pay dearly for not being civil enough to accept Wallace's apology. Anyone want to make a bet on how that works out?


The only thing I can't figure out is whether this is all theater -- Wallace and Bachmann creating a phony controversy just to give her hero status. It seems unlikely -- Wallace, if anything, sullied the Fox brand by launching a red-on-red attack, though he sure directed some eyeballs to Fox, which may be the point. And I'm not sure whether Murdoch and Ailes want to pump Bachmann up (because the core audience needs a new hero), or would rather steer the rubes toward someone more electable (even at the expense of not giving the punters someone to cheer for). I'm going to guess that Wallace just went rogue here, and that his bosses like the attention but don't really want this Bachmania to get out of hand (she can't win and she hasn't been on the payroll) -- but I'm really not sure.

... Or maybe the whole sequence -- question, reaction, apology, refusal to accept apology -- is a staged, eyeball-grabbing, pro-wrestling-style scripted feud. You think? Am I being too cynical?

A breaking story from yesterday's New York Daily News (not even the Post!):

Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, were spotted dining at La Bottega in Chelsea's Maritime Hotel on Saturday -- but she "looked miserable," according to a witness.

The couple were sharing a plain pizza, a salad and pasta but spent most of the meal chained to their cell phones, said the witness.

They were both sporting wedding rings....

I don't recall the "liberal media" following, say, Larry Craig around obsessively after his fall, hoping to catch him in the disgraceful act of eating dinner with his wife. You?


After brunch, the couple, who are expecting their first child, strolled hand in hand through Madison Square Park -- he even carried her tan bag at one point.

They later stopped at a Baskin Robbins, where she ordered mint chocolate chip ice cream while he opted for mocha.

Y'know, there are all sorts of effete, elitist foodie desserts on offer in Madison Square Park -- Momofuku Milk Bar has a stall (I highly recommend the corn cookies, although the everything-in-the-pantry compost cookies are awesome as well), and Mario Batali's Eataly sells some serious high-end gelato right there.

But they had Baskin-Robbins. Liberals! Baskin-Robbins! What could be more regular-American than that? They might as well have gone to the salad bar at Applebee's. Can they please get some love for this from David Brooks?

There are a couple of paparazzi photos as well. I wouldn't have blamed Weiner and Abedin if they'd done a Kanye West on the photographer. I think a certain percentage of the public would have cheered. I certainly would have.


And don't get me started about Jeremy Peters's gushing profile of Andrew Breitbart, which disgraces the business section of today's New York Times. Read it without any foreknowledge and you'd think that the only fact-fudging done on the ACORN videos was that the videos "appeared to show a man walking into Acorn offices dressed as a pimp, when in fact he was not." (Keep scrolling here for the full list of falsehoods and distortions.) We also learn, from reading the article, that in the Shirley Sherrod video "the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man" -- how hard would it have been for Peters to go to YouTube and discover that, while there was some laughter as Sherrod told her story, there was no applause? But there seems to be a belief that the basic rules of journalism -- y'know stuff like an effort at accuracy -- don't apply to writers of "soft" stories like this. I won't even ask why it needs to appear at all, except that Breitbart's fifteen minutes of Weiner fame have now ended and the Times graciously offered to keep his name in the papers to get him over that hump. Appalling.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I was reading today's New York Times and I spotted this in a review of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins, a book that sees former high school nerds triumphing in today's adult culture:

The teen-to-adult turnabout theme isn't particularly novel. One of its latest incarnations is a forthcoming Warner Brothers film, "Revenge of the Jocks," about middle-aged former athletes struggling under the yoke of the nerds, their onetime victims.

OK, first of all, I don't fully agree with the thesis of the book under review -- sure, being an ex-nerd is good training for working on drool-inducing Apple products, being a game designer, creating summer tentpole movies, writing bestselling fantasy novels, or devising exotic, mathematically complex ways for Wall Street to be even more parasitical than it already is. If you're the kind of ex-nerd who can take advantage of any of those opportunities, life is good; if not, your adult life is probably pretty much like your high school life.

But the notion that nerds now run the world is appealingly high-concept to media types who write trend pieces (and trend books) -- and now, if that forthcoming movie is any indication, there could be a shift in what's considered zeitgeisty.

Revenge of the Jocks? Yes, the movie really is on its way; it'll be directed by the guy who directed Jackass, and a couple of its writers worked on Tropic Thunder. So it could be a hit. And it's coming out in, um, 2012.

Do you see how well this could fit into media talk about a "man-cession" (male nerds aren't really men, after all, as every high school bully will tell you)? Do you see how it jibes with statistics showing that the unemployment rate for blue-collar workers is horrendous, while the rate for the college-educated is not that bad? Do you see how it could fit into the tale of Barack Obama the "elitist" -- in an election year?

Never mind the fact that the biggest brainiac in the punditocracy -- as defined by the fact that he has a Nobel Prize and no other regularly scheduled pundit does -- is constantly railing against policies that keep blue-collar people unemployed. Never mind the fact that MSNBC prime-time viewers are well-educated people who want unions to thrive even if they'll never belong to one. If this movie is a big hit, pundits will see its success as the public's way of expressing outrage at effete, technocratic, cerebral types like those in the Obama administration (as if the problem is smart people rather than the wrong smart people), and as a certain harbinger of the triumph of the GOP in 2012 (yes, that'll be true even if Romney is the nominee -- maybe he'll start eating pork rinds or something).

The David Brooks and Maureen Dowd columns will write themselves.

I see an analogue to this in the past: Bruce Springsteen's song "Glory Days." Yeah, Bruce is a lefty, and the lyrics to that song are bleak, but the sound of that song, and of "Born in the USA" (despite its skeptical, downbeat lyrics), helped them fit perfectly into the Reagan "morning in America" moment, with its narrative of flag-waving anti-intellectuals with simple notions of heroism triumphing over wussy effete rootless-cosmopolitan nuance-loving liberals.

Springsteen's mid-'80s jock-gone-to-seed could be 2012's jock-getting-back-at-Obambi. And if that happens, once again we'll be warping the real class war to fit a right-wing frame.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


Some stats from a New York Times money writer:

The most startling statistic came from the World Wealth Report, the granddaddy of analyses of the rich, conducted by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch. In 2010, the report estimated, a mere 103,000 people of the nearly seven billion people on the planet controlled 36.1 percent of the world's wealth. (This was up from 35.5 percent in 2009.) North America, the report went on, had the largest number of so-called ultrahigh-net-worth individuals, with 40,000 people worth more than $30 million....

The World Wealth Report, released Wednesday, found that last year was not just a good year for the really wealthy. It was also a good year for the merely rich. The number of people with more than $1 million to invest was 10.9 million, up 8.3 percent, while the amount of money they had, $42.7 trillion, had risen by 9.7 percent....

A report released in May by the Boston Consulting Group said that the United States still led the world in the number of families worth more than $100 million, 2,692. But it said that China experienced the fastest growth rate, with a one-year jump of 30 percent, to 393 families....

Oh, but I'm sure this concentration of wealth is all being horribly constrained by all that socialism, both in China and in the largest nation in North America, which is run by a capitalism-hating Kenyan socialist. In both of those countries, rich people just can't get a break, can they?

One more stat:

A study due for release next month from Zogby and Insite Security of people with more than $3 million found that most had a negative view of the global economy and many were worried that the United States would not be able to improve its fiscal situation anytime soon.

When I read this, I was reminded of a joke someone (Denis Leary?) made a number of years back, when Keith Richards filmed an anti-drug ad: Keith, we can't do drugs! You did them all! That's hoe I feel about money: We can't create any more wealth in this economy, rich people -- you have it all!

First of all, I guess I'd better make a dry-cleaner run really soon -- I'm at an age when I haven't been invited to a lot of weddings lately, but since a hell of a lot of residents of my state might be heading to the Chapel of Love all of a sudden, I'd better make sure my good clothes are looking tidy and fresh. Mazel tov, folks. (And thank you, Governor Cuomo -- you may be a Christie Lite with regard to taxes and public-sector unions, but on this issue you're conducting a master class in arm-twisting for progressive ends, a class I wish a certain rather more prominent Democrat would show up for and take notes.)

Having said that. I want to shift gears extrememely awkwardly, and talk about, um, David Brooks.

Yesterday's Brooks column concerned a Rolling Stone story about a teenage girl who gained some fame posting provocative content online, with ultimately unpleasant consequences for herself and her family. Brooks lives for the moments when he's given an opening to express moral outrage, in a squeaky, soft-spoken, but ultimately noodgy neo-Victorian way (yes, he's both noodgy and neo-Victorian; not many people can pull that off). This is a rather tawdry story, so I guess you can't blame the guy for pouncing on the opportunity to finger-wag and scold.

But the conclusion to which his column builds is preposterous:

She is an extreme case of an enormous uncontrolled experiment that is playing out across the world. Young people's brains are developing while they are immersed in fast, multitasking technology. No one quite knows what effect this is having....

Most important, some young people seem to be growing up without learning the distinction between respectability and attention.

What is he saying? That failing to learn "the distinction between respectability and attention" is some sort of Net-driven, multitasking-derived disease that's utterly new, and that's turned our kids into strange beings we respectability-craving elders can't recognize -- or control? Is he arguing that we have failed to communicate our highly developed focus on respectability to our young?

Has he been living in the same country I have for the past few decades?

Has he watched reality television? Has he missed the entire watch-me-screw-up dysfunctional-youth memoir boom?

For that matter, has he missed the rise of shock-jockery and the infusion of its values into political discourse (Glenn Beck, Michael Savage), or the infusion into "serious" news of politicized tabloidism (hello, Rupert)? Has he missed the last three years of Sarah Palin's life?

This is America. We don't do anything "respectable" -- or at least we have nothing but contempt for those who do what's respectable (e.g., schoolteachers, or people who punch in at a factory and do honest work). "Respectable" labor isn't honored, and, if it pays a decent wage, we want to put an end to that, stat. So, since most people can't be Steve Jobs or Lloyd Blankfein, there's simply no reasonable path to feeling "respectable" than doing something sensationalist.

That's not the fault of synapse-fried teens. That's our fault, as American adults.


Friday, June 24, 2011


Kevin Drum* and Ezra Klein have been chatting about how Republicans negotiate. They seem to agree that it's remarkable how Republicans have made raising taxes (on anyone whatsoever) in the service of a budget/debt ceiling deal seem unthinkable and extreme.


It is remarkable to watch how Republicans have taken tax increases, which have long been present in deficit-reduction deals and generally considered the equivalent of spending cuts, and turned them into something vastly more extreme and unthinkable. How unthinkable? Here's a little game. Take almost any of the Republican leadership's comments yesterday and substitute the words "bombing the moon" for the mention of taxes. See if the comments don't just work, but in fact work a little better.

"We’ve known from the beginning that bombing the moon would be a poison pill to any debt-reduction proposal," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. See? Or: "President Obama needs to decide between his goal of bombing the moon, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit," said McConnell and Sen. on Kyl in a joint statement. Or: "First of all, bombing the moon is going to destroy jobs," said Speaker John Boehner. "Second, bombing the moon cannot pass the US House of Representatives -- it's not just a bad idea, it doesn't have the votes and it can't happen. And third, the American people don't want us to bomb the moon." ...

But, see, I don't think Republicans have made tax increases (at least on the rich, and possibly even on the middle class, if mild and targeted) seem extreme to most people. Ezra quotes poll numbers that make this abundantly clear. And I think the walkouts on budget talks by Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl, taken in isolation, make Republicans look intransigent, in a way that generally polls very, very badly. In isolation, it's a bad political move. Voters, especially swing voters, regularly tell pollsters they want the parties to compromise and negotiate like grown-ups, not act like stubborn children.

The problem is, those same voters also think that if Democrats can't somehow persuade Republicans to negotiate like grown-ups, then they're equally at fault. So it's a wash. And Republicans know it's a wash. So there's no downside for them in acting like stubborn children.

Now, if the mainstream media would even occasionally float the theory that perhaps, just perhaps, the Republican Party is sometimes a tad extreme and irrational, maybe the truth of what's going on here would have a chance of sinking in with average voters. But it's taboo to say that. (It is not, by contrast, taboo in the mass-audience right-wing media to say that Democrats are insane socialists/fascists/compulsive spenders/plotters of the overthrow of America as we know it. Far from it -- it's mandatory, and it's said on a daily basis.)

So, as far as swing voters know, these negotiations are just like playground interactions between two children, one of whom is perhaps a bit less willing to share than the other, but both of whom are basically good kids. They don't see the bullying for what it is, and they value it as no worse than the sulking the other kid does when (as always) he doesn't get his way.


*Whoops -- actually Andy Kroll, not Kevin Drum.

In response to news that Representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan is apparently making furtive moves to get into the GOP presidential contest, I posted something about McCotter over at Balloon Juice (where my guest stint ends on Sunday). What I wrote largely cribs from a couple of posts I've done about McCotter here. I didn't want to put up a rehash here of what I've posted in the past, particularly the quote from McCotter's amazing Human Events op-ed about President Bush's trip to the Beijing Olympics ("No starker episode exhibits our anile need for a moral hospice before we slither into the dust bin of history than the one playing out before Americans' astonished eyes"), but I figured it was new to the Ballooners, so, if you care, it's all over there.

Peggy Noonan, at the tail end of a column about Jon Huntsman, looks at her own party and declares that she sees nothink! She knows nothink!

Mitch Daniels was knocked for calling for a social issues truce some months ago, but only because he put a name on what is happening anyway. There is an informal truce on social issues in the GOP, but no one likes hearing potential leaders mention it, because then the other leaders have to take a side. But almost everyone in the party is focused now on economic issues, in part because a strong economy fosters everything else, including American compassion.

Do I really have to explain how absurd this is?

In the first legislative session of 2011, however, GOP lawmakers introduced an unprecedented number of bills restricting abortion rights for women....

A number of major legislative trends have emerged so far in 2011, including gestational limits on abortions, bans on insurance coverage for abortions, mandatory ultrasound bills, and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, America's largest family planning services provider.

These bills are moving rapidly in the states, and they severely limit women's access to and ability to pay for abortions. So far this year, three states -- North Carolina, Indiana and Kansas -- have defunded Planned Parenthood. Thirteen states have blocked abortion coverage in their public health care exchanges to be set up as a part of the Affordable Care Act. Iowa advanced the nation's first 18-week abortion ban in early June, and five other states have passed or are considering laws banning abortions after 20 weeks....

State lawmakers introduced 22 so-called "personhood" bills this year that would legally define one's status as a "person" or "human being" as beginning from the moment of conception, which could outlaw abortions altogether....

And, of course, it's happening at the federal level as well.

Unless, of course, I'm misreading Noonan's use of the word "truce." Maybe she means there's no battle between those Republicans who publicly proclaim that social issues are paramount and those who publicly emphasize economic or other issues -- it's true that they aren't really fighting. They seem to have agreed that they'll say whatever they prefer to say, and then do whatever the anti-abortion movement wants the minute they get the chance.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I'm not sure if there's room in the coffin of Jon Huntsman's presidential hopes for any more nails, but here's a big fat one, courtesy of Matt Bai's online Huntsman Q&A:

Q. Has he made any definitive statements in regards to where he stands on immigration in general ... and illegal immigration in specific?
– Posted by RC

A. I don't know if he's made any definitive statements yet, RC, but I have heard him talk informally about the issue, and he says he thinks it's important for us to help the children of undocumented immigrants assimilate into the country, rather than punishing them for being here. Without divulging conversations I witnessed that were off the record, I can tell you that he is pretty firm on this point, even when challenged by his own supporters.

Oh, that's brilliant -- because there's if there's one thing Republican voters love more than what they invariably refer to as "amnesty," it's being lectured on the importance of "amnesty."

Give it up, Jon -- this is a huge problem for you. (So is an earlier statement about the border fence: "I hate the thought of a fence on the border.... it to some extent repulses me....")

Right-wingers forced their hero George W. Bush to abandon immigration reform. They pressured John McCain to renounce his own immigration bill. They're going to make mincemeat out of you, Jon.

I don't know if we can really believe this Wall Street Journal op-ed by Club for Growth founder Stephen Moore, but it's pretty much what I've been thinking:

The Republican nomination for president is completely up for grabs, but there's a lot of agreement on who the vice presidential pick should be: Marco Rubio, the freshman senator from Florida. My contacts in the Mitt Romney camp are boasting: "Doesn't a Romney-Rubio ticket sound great?" One senior Romney advisor told me: "We think that could be a dream ticket." Operatives from the pack of other wannabes are thinking ahead to the same Rubio marriage with their candidate....

I've said previously that the Republican VP nominee isn't going to be a white male, and I think that means Rubio unless (and I think this is a remote possibility) it's South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, with Bobby Jindal (choked in his one shot at the national spotlight) and Cain, Bachmann, and Allen West (too extreme) as the real longshots.

But think about it: If the nominee picks Rubio, what does that say about the recently popular notion that the GOP is going dovish and wobbly and isolationist?

Recall what Ross Douthat wrote about Rubio a couple of days ago:

Rubio is the great neoconservative hope, the champion of a foreign policy that boldly goes abroad in search of monsters to destroy. In the Senate, he's constantly pressed for a more hawkish line against the Mideast's bad actors. His maiden Senate speech was a paean to national greatness, whose peroration invoked John F. Kennedy and insisted that America remain the "watchman on the wall of world freedom."

... Rubio has argued that we should be striking harder against Qaddafi....

... the story Rubio tells, with eloquence and passion, is ... the story of a great republic armed and righteous, with no limits on what it can accomplish in the world.

If you lurk in the right-o-sphere, you encounter a lot of people appalled at the prospect that the presidential nominee might be Jon Huntsman, or Mitt Romney. A lot of righties are horrified at the prospect of nominating a "RINO." If there were really a serious anti-interventionist, isolationist, small-government-extends-to-foreign-policy-too movement on the right, you'd hear just as much howling about the prospect that Rubio or a similar neoconservative type might be on the ticket.

But you're not hearing that. And you won't hear it. Because, apart from a handful of sincerely Paul-ish teabaggers, most on the right don't have any problem with interventionism and bellicosity, as long as it's on right-wing terms and under a right-wing Daddy. Right-wing reticence about power has an expiration date: the day the next Republican president gets sworn into office.

From an AP story about President Obama's poll numbers:

The erosion of approval is primarily among women. Last month, 57 percent said they felt he deserved re-election, a figure that dipped to 48 percent this month. The decline came almost entirely among white women, just 37 percent of whom say Obama deserves re-election in the new poll.

AP's headline for the story:

AP poll: Economic worries pose new snags for Obama

Headline for a repost of the story at Fox Nation:

You don't need to be a dog to hear that whistle.

Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a guest appearance on the New York Times op-ed page today with a column called "The Haunting of Rick Perry." Really? Perry, "haunted"? Sorry, that's hard to believe.

TNC imagines that if Perry runs for president he'll be "haunted" by the ghost of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of murder and executed in Texas, in part based on the words of an informant who later said of his testimony, "the statute of limitations has run out on perjury, hasn't it?" Perry quashed an investigation into the dubious use of forensics in the case.

But this is America -- who cares? And who ever cared about George W. Bush's approach to capital cases as governor, apart from a few of us cranky liberals?

Sending an innocent man to the death chamber -- heck, that's just iconographic American justice, Southern style; I think that's because even people who are able to grasp that it's unjust regard it on a subconscious level as entertaining, like stuff they see in old movies or modern TV police procedurals.

You know what would get Perry in trouble, or might have done the same to W? Getting crosswise with the likes of Nancy Grace, and the whole apparently massive universe of tabloid-crime junkies, on some young-blonde-in-peril or missing-blond-child case. I admit it's hard to imagine Perry and Grace ever being on opposite sides -- her vindictiveness would do a Texas politician proud. But it's conceivable that someday the tabloid-crime-voyeur world will rally around someone (probably young and pretty) who's regarded as unjustly prosecuted/convicted -- and if that person happens to be in Texas, then maybe America might give a crap about Rick Perry's approach to justice.

But railroading an innocent person into a lethal execution in an unsexy case? Or a series of innocents? America doesn't care.


Fox News:

Sarah Palin on Wednesday denied reports that her "One Nation" bus tour is winding down. It is on hold while she returns to Alaska for jury duty, she said, but she is "looking forward to hitting the open road again."

... Palin said the "coming weeks are tight because civic duty calls (like most everyone else, even former governors get called up for jury duty) and I look forward to doing my part just like every other Alaskan." ...

I don't know in what court she's supposed to be serving, but when I go to the Alaska Court System's Trial Jury Handbook, I read this:

Can I postpone my jury service?

If jury service at the time for which you are summoned will cause hardship, you may request deferral of service to another time within the next ten months. If you need to seek a deferral, you should do so as soon as possible. Do not wait until the time you are to appear. To reschedule your jury service, follow the instructions for question #12 on the Jury Questionnaire. If you have already sent in your questionnaire, call the jury clerk as soon as possible for instructions.

So even the rugged, free, self-sufficient, moose-shooting residents of the Last Frontier do this. It's not just for us flabby, effete East Coast socialists. So, um, why not follow the instructions for question #12, Sarah? Doesn't the survival of the nation depend on the continuance of your pro-freedom tour?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Sorry, one last Jon Huntsman post and then I'll stop.

I'm over at Balloon Juice (this week only), and I see that Anne Laurie thinks Huntsman is really running to be the 2016 GOP nominee. A lot of people believe that, obviously.

I don't, though -- at least I don't think the idea of the Huntsman candidacy was cooked up with 2016 in mind. We know the origin story, as told by Matt Bai and others: the Huntsman campaign was the brainchild of John Weaver, who worked for John McCain in 2000 when McCain was still a "maverick," then joined the '08 McCain campaign but later left it, grumbling that McCain's had turned too far to the right. So it seems to me that the guy who really wants it -- really wants a "centrist"/"maverick" to win it all -- is John Weaver. And if that's the case, I bet he doesn't really want it five years in the future -- he wants it now. The fact that he's a leukemia survivor makes that seem more likely.


I first met Weaver ... aboard John McCain's Straight Talk Express in 2000.... After the campaign, Weaver's journey became downright weird. Embittered by George W. Bush's victory and shut out in Rove's Washington, he moved to New York and shocked old friends by agreeing to help some Democrats (including the party’s leadership in the House and Senate).... Weaver soon had bigger problems; he had leukemia, which is now in remission.... Weaver reinsinuated himself into McCain’s inner circle for a time in 2007. But he left the struggling campaign that summer.... Weaver ... had problems with the strategic direction of McCain's second campaign, the hard and bumpy lurch to the right....

Political strategists are forever in search of the next big thing, some undiscovered talent who might someday be enshrined in marble — or at least make them household names the way Bush did for Rove or the way Obama did for David Axelrod. It was during his second go-around with McCain that Weaver met Governor Huntsman....

So here's Weaver: In 2000 he backs McCain, whom he sees as an inspiring non-ideologue, and the campaign loses as a result of Rovian skulduggery. Eight years later, McCain tacks right -- and loses. Weaver must be thinking: It's not my idea that's wrong, it's just that it's never been tested in the right circumstances. Someday -- someday! -- if all the ducks line up in a row, surely it has to work.

I think Weaver just can't believe that a "centrist" isn't going to win the GOP nomination eventually (and then maverick his way to the White House). It's what the people want!

Except he can't believe that it's not what Republicans want. For a generation there's been talk of Great Centrist Hopes in the party -- yet nothing ever pans out. Remember the talk about Colin Powell as the nominee in '96? Remember chatter about Christie Whitman? One right-wing pundit here in New York used to regularly predict that the next GOP nominee would be pro-gay, pro-choice Massachusetts governor William Weld (as it turned out, Weld couldn't even get approved by a Senate his own party controlled when Bill Clinton named him an ambassador).

Weaver really just may not be able to grasp that the deck is stacked against him. It reminds me of one of those hard-luck rock and roll stories in which a band never gets a break, but the members keep thinking the karma's going to balance out eventually, even as they turn 40, 45, 50.... It reminds me of the heart-tugging heavy metal documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

I think Weaver thinks his break is coming now. If so, poor dumb bastard.

Real Clear Politics noticed that the Sarah Palin bus tour apparently ended prematurely, and we haters all laughed, and as a result we'll never know what would have happened if we'd just continued to ignore her, because now that we've mocked her she's simply going to have to get back on the bus, just to spite us:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Wednesday knocked down media reports that her nationwide bus tour has come to an end after completing only its first leg.

Palin, a potential presidential candidate, sought to put an end to speculation that her "One Nation" tour is over. The talk was sparked by a RealClearPolitics report said that it's going on hiatus. Other news organizations reported that the tour is coming to an end.

"I did? Hmm, glad I have media to let me know my plans. They never cease to amaze MT "@foxheadlines Palin Ends Bus Tour," Palin tweeted, downplaying a report from Fox News, where she is a paid contributor....

See? She has to come back now. She can't just let an insult roll off her back. It's intolerable to her.

She would have done something attention-grabbing in some capacity eventually, but now she's going to have to inject herself into politics again, just because we said she withdrew from the arena. She has to say, "No, I didn't ! Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!"

When it comes to feeding her ego, I guess I'm as guilty as the next guy, but I've mostly been ignoring her lately, and I think this time we should have just shut the hell up.


By the way, do you think she's clinically manic? Isn't she displaying as couple of hallmarks of mania and/or bipolar disorder? Quitting projects? Impulsive travel? Grandiosity? Most politicians are a bit unhealthy in these ways, but I think there's a DSM category with Palin's name on it.