Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I don't want to get into a lengthy response to the Bloomberg article about Wall Streeters whose reduced bonuses mean they have to limit the three-bedroom vacation rental to one month rather than four, or who can't ski Aspen this winter. Nor do I want to go point by point through Megan McArdle's reply ("Are the Rich Completely Undeserving of Sympathy?"). I just want to talk about this comment from an attorney that's appended to McArdle's post:

Another factor I've noticed with my bankruptcy clients is that a very rich person whose income takes a sudden precipitous drop to a still-pretty-good income can actually wind up in more financial trouble, faster, than a very poor person whose income drops to zero. If you were making $300k a year and spending $200k of it on fixed expenses, and your household income drops to $125k a year, unless you have substantial liquid savings or are able to sell your house and your car and your boat yank your kids out of private school REALLY fast, you're going to wind up in bankruptcy in a fairly short space of time....

I guess what I want to ask is: why don't these people have "substantial liquid savings"? Why don't they have a plan for a possible calamitous economic downturn? Isn't understanding the volatile nature of financial markets their freaking job?

Aren't they supposed to comprehend this kind of risk much, much better than the rest of us? And, by the way, isn't risk the reason they and their Masters of the Universe superiors supposedly deserve the big bucks in the first place? Isn't that the heroic myth of big-time capitalism -- that, unlike us paper-pushing, ditch-digging, wage-slave drones, they accept the potential for tremendous harm to their own economic well-being in order to be the Randian heroes who keep our economic engine chugging along?

I'm not even getting into the fact that they and their bosses and colleagues actually caused the damn downturn in the first place. That's reason enough to withhold sympathy. But even those not directly involved should know they're in a risky business. Instead, just the same way they want profits privatized and losses socialized, they want to corner the market on praise and then demand a socialist redistribution of sympathy.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

Greg Sargent has written a post titled "The Democrats' Nightmare Scenario"; he says that nightmare scenario is the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate next year if the GOP regains control of that chamber and also wins the White House. I agree that that would probably happen, and that it would be awful.

But Jamelle Bouie can imagine something worse: bad as this would be for liberal priorities, it’s not the worst thing that would happen as a result of a Republican presidency in 2013. For that we can look to the economy, which barring something catastrophic will improve. As a result of their association with the recovery, Republicans will ride on a wave of gratitude as the party that "saved" America from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The GOP will emerge as the dominant party for another decade or two, and that, more than any rule change, is a nightmare for the long-term success of the liberal project.

But that's not what's going to happen if we get a President Romney and a Republican Congress.

Oh, sure, that may be what happens in the short term: a recovery, as a continuation of current trends. But I agree with Jonathan Chait's theory that Republicans see themselves as an old, white party that's rapidly losing its voter base, which means the party will be desperate to ram its agenda through before we know what hit us -- as I've said before, I think the first few months of the Romney presidency are going to look a lot like the first few months of the Walker governorship, at the urging of the same right-wing billionaires who set the agenda for Wisconsin and other newly Republican states. Alternately, perhaps Republicans don't really think their agenda is doomed to increasing unpopularity. But I think they think we'll adjust to it only gradually -- they seem to believe Americans need to be weaned off the notion that a safety net should exist, but they also seem to think that once we taste this wonderful new laissez-faire freedom, we'll love it and become Randians too.

But whatever they think, I believe they're going to slash taxes even more (especially on the wealthy) and try to eviscerate the social safety net (but probably not get as much of that accomplished as they'd like). They're also going to deregulate like crazy.

That last bit -- the deregulation -- absolutely guarantees that we're going to have another horrible financial crash sooner rather than later. And the rest means that the poor and middle class will get poorer, the rich will get richer, and deficits and debt will continue to soar.

Oh, and we'll probably go to a new full-scale war with some brown people soon, because that's what Republicans do. That costs money, too, even when Republicans pretend it doesn't.

How is that a foundation for the GOP to "emerge as the dominant party for another decade or two"? I don't see it. I think it's a foundation for the destruction of America as we know it -- but hey, cheer up: it won't give Republicans long-term popularity.


I see from Steve Benen that Republicans are offering punch lines as a substitute for governance once again:

President Obama spoke in Miami last week about energy policy.... Towards the end of the speech, he mentioned, "We're making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that's actually made from a plant-like substance -- algae."

And ... Republicans have decided to ignore the other 3,000 words Obama said about energy policy, and focus exclusively on the one word they found amusing....

In his speech on the Senate floor, [Mitch] McConnell made it seem as if the very notion of biofuel was outlandish to the point of absurdity.

It appears to be part of a coordinated assault -- McConnell's nonsense coincided perfectly with a push from Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and others.

Now, stop me if you can tell where this is going: As Steve points out, Republicans were for algae as a fuel before they were against it.

I'll leave you to click on the links if you want the details, but my favorite part of the coordinated winger assault was this tweet, in which Tammy Bruce attacked the president using her special pet name for him:

Yes, heaven forbid we should try to compete with the very country right-wingers say is kicking our ass economically by pursuing technologies China is pursuing: solar power, batteries ... and algae, for that matter. You see, China is also developing this as a potential source of fuel. A few sample headlines:

ENN of China Converts Algae to Biofuel

Accelergy Partners with Yankuang for Algae Farm at Coal-to-Liquids Plant in China

Algae.Tec in a JV with Chinese Company for the First Algae Biofuels Facility in China

China Conducts Its First Jet Biofuel Trial

Apparently pursuing this (and the other technologies Bruce lists) is pie-in-the-sky silliness if we do it, even though it somehow isn't when our main industrial competitor does it.

I speculated a lot about what might happen yesterday, just like every other politicized idiot, but I got closest when I was saying that the Romney Death Star was in the process of burying Santorum in ads, on the way to inevitable victory. Really, that's how it's going to go from now on -- I don't care how inspiring Gingrich and Santorum are in this or that Super Tuesday state; the Romney team is going to spend what it takes to -- just barely -- get his sorry ass over the finish line.

It's fun to watch Romney squirm, and I suppose it's worthwhile to root for a prolonged, awkward, gaffe-generating struggle, but my desire for that outcome is tempered by how sick of it I am, and how unlikely it is to change the outcome. I may not be able to hold myself to this, but I'm going to try to pledge not to take seriously any scenario that doesn't end in a non-brokered Romney victory. I'm going to watch Newt and Rick try to beat Mitt up in the Super Tuesday states (and land as many punches on each other as they do on Mitt); I'm going to take notice when Friess and Adelson write more zillion-dollar checks (if they're so stupid, why are they rich? do you get to stop needing to make good judgments once you're a billionaire?). I'm just going to work hard not to take any of it seriously. This is over.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


When Olympia Snowe announced her resignation from the Senate, Dave Weigel tweeted:

Bayh/Snowe 2012? #americanselect

Other people imagined a Snowe/Huntsman ticket. And in the comments to my last post, Jack wrote about Snowe:

Maybe she wants to be the Americans Elect candidate. Her excuse for quitting is identical to their excuse for existing.

Could that possibly be her plan? And could it be the GOP's plan?

Maybe this is a cockamamie theory, but what if the GOP thinks the way to salvage the Romney candidacy is to persuade a Republican who'd get mostly Democratic votes to pursue the Americans Elect nomination? What if the Republicans made it worth Snowe's while to do this? And wouldn't Romney (or at least the old Romney) be her kind of guy?

Remember that Obama does much better among women than among men. A Snowe candidacy might really go right at that advantage.

Am I crazy to speculate about this?


UPDATE: Haters gonna hate (see the comments), but they should hate Jonathan Chait as well, because he's speculating the same way about Snowe's retirement statement:

This sounds exactly like the kind of rhetoric emanating from Americans Elect ...

I suspect it may not be coincidental that David Boren, the former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and oil industry lickspittle, came out for Americans Elect today. The group is set up so that its presidential and vice-presidential candidates need to come from opposing parties....

Snowe and Boren would make for the kind of ticket Americans Elect is looking for. Is that the plan?

Olympia Snowe says in the statement announcing her retirement:

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.

But sorry -- this is absolutely correct:

The only thing that's going to bring us closer to a time when "civility in government" is possible is the mass defection of non-crazy people from the Republican Party. The few remaining sane elected Republicans need to declare that they're not Republicans, need to stop caucusing with Republicans (let 'em form their own mini-caucus if they don't want to caucus with Democrats, just as long as they tell the GOP to piss off), need to stop doing what the Republican Party wants on key votes. We don't have a civility crisis -- we have a Republican intransigence crisis. If sane people leave the party, the party will suffer diminished clout and its public image will worsen. That's precisely what needs to happen.

If Snowe were serious about cooperation and compromise, she'd have long since stopped pretending to be a potential vote for compromise, only to get right back in lockstep when her party's leadership snaps its fingers. This year she should have flipped off the GOP, run, and won (she's tremendously popular in Maine, but is least popular with Republicans). The GOP needs to be publicly repudiated, if necessary by hundreds of elected and appointed officials, until it finally gets the message. Nothing else is going to work. Anyone who frets about our political culture and retains an (R) after his or her name is just enabling the GOP to remain as it is. That's no surprise from Snowe, who's all talk on this subject, but this was her chance to live up to her rhetoric for the first time, and she blew it.

A Talking Points Memo reader writes this about Mitt Romney's likely response to calls for him to drop out of the race if he falters in the upcoming contests:

Does anyone really think he would just step aside for a new nominee or hand over his delegates at a brokered convention? He has been running for this job for years. He has plenty of money. They cant offer him a bigger job, financial power, etc. So what could the party leaders offer him to step aside. It wouldn't be "wait until next time" because stepping aside would show he is damaged goods politically.

Josh Marshall agrees:

... this is basically why the whole White Knight fantasy is so preposterous. Go quietly. Mitt? Like he did when it was time for Newt to take it away from him? Or Santorum?

... not going to happen. And really, why should he? Absent some massive, crippling scandal, which seems all but unimaginable from Mitt, he remains by far the most plausible and competitive candidate against President Obama.

I disagree. I think if the entire party machinery genuinely united and made it clear to Romney that it was time for him to go, he's extremely likely to cooperate at the right price. After all, what has he done all his life besides calibrate his actions to the demands of others?

The party would really have to be united, it would have to make going forward seem riskier to him than not going forward (surely there are skeletons in his closet he doesn't want revealed), and it would have to dangle a lot of carrots as well as sticks. (Fed chairmanship next time a Republican gets to pick? Presidency of the World Bank? Lucrative sinecures for his sons? Hell, he's got a law degree -- maybe a Supreme Court appointment?)

I agree with BooMan that this shouldn't actually come up after tonight, because Santorum won't win big in Michigan if he wins at all, and Romney will win big in Arizona. And I don't agree with Jamelle Bouie that an attempt by party leaders to find a white knight will necessarily outrage the base -- I can't think of too many substitute candidates who'd please the party hacks and the base, but Chris Christie certainly would.

In any case, I don't think the hurdle would be Romney. Go along to get along? That's what he's done all his life. They should chisel that on his tombstone.

David Brooks is criticizing Republican extremism today. He does this about twice a year, then immediately picks up where he left off, fretting about how America's real problem is that liberalism ignores human nature and disregards mankind's need for traditional morality.

But let's enjoy this while it lasts:

Republicans on the extreme ferociously attack their fellow party members. Those in the middle backpedal to avoid conflict. Republicans on the extreme are willing to lose elections in order to promote their principles.

... the protesters don't believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don't believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It's grievance politics, identity politics....

Without real opposition, the wingers go from strength to strength. Under their influence, we’ve had a primary campaign that isn't really an argument about issues. It's a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity.

Nice -- and reasonably accurate. The problem is, Brooks was saying more or less the same thing last July:

...the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no....

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency.

And yet in today's column, he acts as if nothing was really wrong with the Republican Party until very recently:

Before the G.O.P. meshugana campaign [for the presidential nomination], independents were leaning toward the G.O.P. But, in the latest Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll, Obama leads Mitt Romney among independents by 49 percent to 27 percent.

And prior to last July, Brooks fretted about Republican intransigence in December 2010, at an American Enterprise Institute debate with Paul Ryan:

And my problem with the Republican Party right now, including Paul, is that if you offered them 80-20, they say no. If you offered them 90-10, they’d say no. If you offered them 99-1 they’d say no. And that’s because we've substituted governance for brokerism, for rigidity that Ronald Reagan didn't have.

But seven months after that, in the July 2011 column quoted above, he was singing the praises of the Republicans, except for that intransigence thing:

The Republicans have changed American politics since they took control of the House of Representatives. They have put spending restraint and debt reduction at the top of the national agenda. They have sparked a discussion on entitlement reform. They have turned a bill to raise the debt limit into an opportunity to put the U.S. on a stable fiscal course.

Republican leaders have also proved to be effective negotiators. They have been tough and inflexible and forced the Democrats to come to them. The Democrats have agreed to tie budget cuts to the debt ceiling bill. They have agreed not to raise tax rates. They have agreed to a roughly 3-to-1 rate of spending cuts to revenue increases, an astonishing concession....

If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment....

Unlike David Frum, Brooks just can't get himself to believe that the Republican Party is so infused with rot that it's altogether unfit for habitation by sane people in its present form. He notices the party's problems twice a year or so, but he regards them as just a maddening flaw in his beloved. His love never abates, and it's never tough love. He won't follow this up by suggesting that a serious intervention is necessary. He'll just go back to attacking people who shop at Whole Foods.

From an obituary for Rick Santorum's father, Aldo Santorum, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 20, 2011:

Aldo Santorum called the GI Bill the greatest gift he received. He gave back by building a career and family around veterans hospitals.

"We always lived on the campus of the veterans hospitals. It was called the domiciliary," said his son, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Penn Hills. "I always joked that I spent my childhood living in public housing."

... "My grandfather was working in the auto industry but lost his job during the Depression," Rick Santorum said. "He finally found a job in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania in 1929 and the family joined him."

The family lived in a company town called Carpenters Park. "After several years in the mines, the family moved upscale to nearby Tyler Hill," Santorum said.

[Also] Santorum joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 after high school, serving most of World War II in the South Pacific where his main job was repairing airplanes.

After returning from the war, he earned a psychology degree from St. Francis College in Loretto, a graduate degree from Catholic University in Washington and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Ottawa.

"He then went to work for the Veterans Administration and that is where he met my mom," Rick Santorum said....

I assume Santorum will keep talking about the snobbery of President Obama's call to get as many young people as possible into higher education, especially if the Rickster wins Michigan -- and I can imagine even the mainstream media includes one or two journalists who might stumble on the fact that Santorum's own daddy used a gummint program to earn some sheepskins and get himself the hell out of coal country. I'm sure Santorum will have a ready answer: that Aldo Santorum avoided indoctrination by getting two of his degrees at Catholic institutions (though nothing would prevent them from doing exactly the same thing if Obama succeeds in expanding educational access), and that that was an era when radical liberal atheistic indoctrinators hadn't taken over the academy (though the young William F. Buckley would have disagreed).

I hope someone goads Santorum to up the ante -- hey, maybe we should take some pointy-headed intellectuals, break their glasses, and make them do some manual labor! (Y'know -- just like the ChiComs and the Khmer Rouge!)

Monday, February 27, 2012


My head is spinning. First CNN tells us that a Michigan Democratic strategist has put out a robocall urging Democrats to vote in the Republican primary for Rick Santorum just to embarrass Mitt Romney. Then we learn that Santorum's campaign admits putting out its own robocall to Democrats. And then I see Public Policy Polling tweeting the fact that its Monday polling in Michigan showed Santorum over Romney by 5 points, and Democrats are the reason:

Romney leads among Republicans in Michigan. It's Democrats putting Santorum over the top. We'll see if they really show up...

Well, Michigan had the quintessential Reagan Democrats -- socially conservative, wary of urbanity, but pro-union. Santorum's own robocall shamelessly plays on the latter sentiment by denouncing Romney for opposing the auto bailout -- without mentioning that Santorum also opposed it:

The Michigan Democratic strategist's robocall is very different:

In his robo call, DiSano says "Democrats can embarrass Mitt Romney and expose him as the weak frontrunner that he is, by supporting Rick Santorum on Tuesday."

So are Democrats really going to put Santorum over the top? And if so, which Democrats? And what will the media takeaway be? Santorum won but didn't really win? Santorum might be stronger than Romney against Obama in the Rust Belt? Hard to foresse. It could be anything.


UPDATE: The PPP poll is here.

In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait tries to understand why Republicans are trying to win in 2012 with the policies (and prejudices) of the past, instead of modifying their message for a culturally and eemographically altered future:

... the party has decided to bet everything on its one “last chance.” Not the last chance for the Republican Party to win power -- there will be many of those, and over time it will surely learn to compete for nonwhite voters -- but its last chance to exercise power in its current form, as a party of anti-government fundamentalism powered by sublimated white Christian identity politics....

During the last midterm elections, the strategy succeeded brilliantly. Republicans moved further right and won a gigantic victory. In the 2010 electorate, the proportion of voters under 30 fell by roughly a third, while the proportion of voters over 65 years old rose by a similar amount -- the white share, too. In the long run, though, the GOP has done nothing at all to rehabilitate its deep unpopularity with the public as a whole, and has only further poisoned its standing with Hispanics. But by forswearing compromise, it opened the door to a single shot. The Republicans have gained the House and stand poised to win control of the Senate. If they can claw out a presidential win and hold on to Congress, they will have a glorious two-year window to restore the America they knew and loved, to lock in transformational change, or at least to wrench the status quo so far rightward that it will take Democrats a generation to wrench it back....

On the other hand, if they lose their bid to unseat Obama, they will have mortgaged their future for nothing at all. And over the last several months, it has appeared increasingly likely that the party’s great all-or-nothing bet may land, ultimately, on nothing. In which case, the Republicans will have turned an unfavorable outlook into a truly bleak one in a fit of panic....

Is that it? Are Republicans doing this because they're panicking?

I don't think so. I think there have to be a few Republicans who think course corrections would be fine -- on immigration (obviously Karl Rove tried to make changes to the party's position during the Bush years) and possibly on issues like militarism and the drug war (surely it can't have escaped mainstream Republicans' attention that the only Republican in America who's popular with young people is Ron Paul).

But you have to think about who's running the Republican Party -- and I mean really running it, which means I'm referring to corporate sugar daddies and the head of the party's de facto media wing. Look at the group and you see that we're talking about a lot of very rich, very old, very traditional right-wing men.

Rupert Murdoch turns 81 this year. Sheldon Adelson turns 79. Foster Friess turns 71. Bob Perry (Swift Boat Vets, the campaigns of the unrelated Rick Perry) turns 80. David Koch turns 72, and Charles Koch turns 77.

These are the King Lears of the Republican Party. They're not quite at the point of dividing up the Republican kingdom, but they want whatever power they cede (in the form of money or, in Murdoch's case, media attention) to go to people who love what they love and hate what they hate -- which means that the GOP is still the party of social conservatism, culture-war bashing of non-whites and coastal "elitists," the Cold War morphed into the War on Terrorism, low taxes, deregulation, and petroleum forever.

Get rid of these guys and maybe you can remake the party. Problem is, you can't get rid of these guys, because they own the party.

When I read this about a Gallup poll...

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are deadlocked at 47 percent each in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll of national voters, with the GOP challenger edging the incumbent 48 percent to 46 percent in a dozen battleground states identified by the survey....

Mitt Romney's chief primary opponent, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.), has an even stronger showing against Obama in the poll, leading the president 50 percent to 45 percent in swing states and 49 percent to 46 percent nationally.

... and then I read this about another poll...

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll reveals the prolonged nominating battle is taking a toll on the GOP candidates and finds the president’s standing significantly improved from late last year.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 53 percent, up 9 percentage points in four months. Matched up against his Republican opponents, he leads Mitt Romney by 10 points (53-43) and Rick Santorum by 11 (53-42). reaffirms my sense that Gallup is now a significant outlier in the polling world, at least with regard to this presidential race.

I know a lot of you feel your eyes glazing over when I put up a post full of numbers, but it doesn't take much to spot the pattern in what I'm about to post -- just look for the red in the right-hand column. Here's the list of all the recent Obama-Romney polls prior to the two listed above, via Real Clear Politics. Notice one that stands out? In red? On the right? (Click to enlarge.)

And the same for Obama-Santorum -- red? On the right? (Again, click to enlarge.)

What's up with Gallup? Is it an older-skewing respondent pool, or at least a landline-skewing one? (Gallup has been calling cellphones since 2008, but I wonder if they're underrepresented.) Whatever it is, either Gallup is wrong about this race or everyone else is. I'm going to be very skeptical about Gallup from now on.

(Though I will note this: the polls generally seem to agree that Santorum is approximately as electable as Romney, which does fly in the face of conventional wisdom.)

Lee Siegel tells us (at the Daily Beast) that Mitt Romney is doing a better job at threading the needle on his way to the GOP nomination than most people are giving him credit for. There's actually a case to be made for this proposition -- how the hell has Romney remained in the top tier at all? -- and I'm willing to hear Siegel out. But before Siegel gets to his point, he says this:

Why is anyone surprised at the instability of the Republican race? The Republican Party is now mostly a movement. It's a party only in its upper echelons. You have a relatively small group of Republicans who, thanks to the amplifications of cable and the Internet, and thanks to the liberal media's pornographic obsession with the hard right, have been wielding a disproportionate influence over the GOP. You have primaries in which traditionally only the hardcore faithful vote -- and sometimes, in an open primary, Democrats out to make some trouble. It is hardly a shocker that the most fanatical candidate -- first Gingrich, now Santorum -- is going to come out on top for a while. There is nothing wild or astonishing about it.

"The Republican Party is now mostly a movement" -- I have no argument with that statement in isolation, because the GOP is, in fact, now a mass of angry, fist-waving delusional lunatics, with a moderate remnant that's just large enough to give Romney a shot at the nomination. But Siegel follows this up by telling us that the party isn't "mostly" the movement you and I and all sensible people think it is -- he says that "a relatively small group of Republicans" have disproportionate power" ... and it's our fault! Well, not yours and mine, but the "liberal media," out of a "pornographic obsession" (and yes, I know that Siegel really ought to avoid talking about pornographic obsessions), in cahoots with cable TV and the evil Internet (the latter being the White Whale toward which Siegel directed his Ahab-like rage in his 2008 book, Against the Machine).

So, wait: the "liberal media" actually makes more hard-right lunatics vote in primaries? By writing about them? Liberal journalism is like sowing the dragon's teeth -- wingnut warriors arise from earth wielding "NObama" signs, then head to the polls? How does this work?

Oh, and lunatics win Republican primaries in part because "sometimes, in an open primary, Democrats out to make some trouble"? Seriously? The evidence being what? Kos's call for a pro-Santorum vote, which came twelve days ago, which means it's affected no results in any GOP contests that have concluded, and which was immediately denounced by two of Kos's own co-bloggers? Why are we supposed to believe this even could work? Because Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos pushed Hillary Clinton across the finish line ahead of Barack Obama four years ago?


Siegel's conclusion about Romney, ultimately, is this:

By performing his aloofness from and contempt for the radical right, even as he fakes solidarity with it, Romney is doing exactly what he needs to do. He is keeping the radical right close to him for the general election by seeming to bow to its power, even as he is signaling to everyone else that he knows how miserably inadequate the support of the radical right will be in the general election.

Translation: Romney is successfully signaling to us that his wooden recitation of right-wing talking points is phony -- but the wingnut rubes are too stupid to get it. He's still managing to keep this rube voting bloc "close to him" by "fak[ing] solidarity with it."

Which doesn't explain why the rubes aren't voting for him. Oh, yeah, I forgot: they're not voting for him because they're not really a significant bloc, and they only seem so because the liberal media and cable and the Net have inflated their numbers. Which, um, doesn't explain why Romney would even bother to try to mollify this chimerical, "miserably inadequate" group in the first place. Oh, yeah: the creators of these spectral voters still manage to get them to vote in large numbers.

But only in the primaries.

Just trying to follow this logic makes my head hurt.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Something Rick Santorum said in October made news today:

Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on Sunday defended a statement he made last October in which he said that he “almost threw up” when he read John F. Kennedy's 1960 Houston address on the role of religion in public life.

...In remarks last year at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, N.H., Santorum had told the crowd of J.F.K.'s famous 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, "Earlier in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech."

...On Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Santorum whether he stood by his statement....

Santorum defended his remarks, telling Stephanopoulos that "the first line, first substantive line in the speech, says, 'I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.'"

"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," Santorum said....

Just for the record, he's been attacking that speech for years.


He (Senator Rick Santorum) told NCR that a distinction between private religious conviction and public responsibility, enshrined in John Kennedy's famous speech in 1960 saying he would not take orders from the Catholic church if elected president, has caused "much harm in America."

"All of us have heard people say, 'I privately am against abortion, homosexual marriage, stem cell research, cloning. But who am I to decide that it's not right for somebody else?' It sounds good," Santourm said. "But it is the corruption of freedom of conscience."

Santorum told NCR that he regards George W. Bush as "the first Catholic president of the United States."

September 9, 2010:

"Ultimately Kennedy’s attempt to reassure Protestants that the Catholic Church would not control the government and suborn its independence advanced a philosophy of strict separation that would create a purely secular public square cleansed of all religious wisdom and the voice of religious people of all faiths. He laid the foundation for attacks on religious freedom and freedom of speech by the secular left and its political arms like the A.C.L.U and the People for the American Way. This has and will continue to create dissension and division in this country as people of faith increasingly feel like second-class citizens."

September 17, 2010:

"We are all engaged in a great battle," he told the conservative activists here. Santorum took issue with a famous speech delivered 50 years ago by then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who became the nation's first Catholic president after assuring suspicious voters that "I believe the separation of church and state is absolute."

"That never was and never will be in this country," said Santorum. "Not in this country. Maybe in France."

March 2011:

Rick Santorum told about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship that he was "frankly appalled" that America's first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, once said "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."

"That was a radical statement," Santorum said, and did "great damage." ...

"We're seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process," Santorum said Monday.

"Jefferson is spinning in his grave," he added.

This needed to be brought up, and Stephanopoulos deserves credit for raising it. Mitt Romney demagogued Stephanopoulos when he asked a debate question about birth control, but Stephanopoulos isn't letting up -- and Romney could be the beneficiary now.

Maureen Dowd finds that the potential Santorumization of the Republican Party strikes fear even in Republicans:

IT'S finally sinking in.

Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate.

"Republicans being against sex is not good," the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. "Sex is popular."

I see Castellanos's point -- I'm no longer worried that Santorum could appeal to enough voters to win if he somehow became the GOP nominee -- but I still wonder why he isn't being blown out by Obama the way Gingrich is, according to the polls. You'll say, well, most of the public isn't paying attention to him yet, but you can't really say that the public is ignoring Santorum while also arguing that Gingrich's woeful numbers, and Romney's slippage, are the result of their current public image. Either people are paying attention to these clowns right now or they aren't, right?

Is sex popular? Well, sure it is -- but I think there are a lot of Americans who like sex but like to think of themselves as not liking sex, at least not to an unseemly degree. I think, and you probably think, that premarital sex and sex using birth control and non-procreative sex in general are just fine, and nothing to feel guilty about, but I think a lot of Americans engage in those behaviors but feel that they should have a problem with them, even though deep down they don't. Their feelings about sex are the feelings you find in classic country music and R&B and blues: I want to do this but it's sinnin', and on Sunday morning I'll be in church saying, "Forgive me, Jesus," even though the following Saturday night I'll be back in the honky-tonk, and the cycle will endlessly repeat. So these people lie to themselves and say they wish America were more moral. They hear Santorum and nod in agreement, even though they don't really agree with him at the gut level.

It's more or less the way Americans feel about government social programs -- they use them and they lie to themselves about using them. Then a Republican demagogue -- but I repeat myself -- says government programs are evil, and they pump their fists in agreement.

I think there are enough Americans who are sufficiently level-headed about sex to keep Santorum from ever reaching the White House. But I still don't think he'd be blown out as badly as Gingrich would. Most people hate Gingrich. Far too many people are too guilt-ridden to hate Santorum.

I mentioned yesterday that Rick Santorum is denouncing President Obama's talk about universal higher education, and now it's being revealed that Rick Santorum advocated universal higher education for Pennsylvanians in his 2006 Senate campaign:

TROY, MICHIGAN -- At an Americans For Prosperity-sponsored tea party rally here Saturday, Rick Santorum trumpeted his connections to the working class by attacking President Obama's plan to make college more accessible to Americans.

"President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college," Santorum said. "What a snob!"

The crowd laughed and applauded wildly. But the last time Santorum ran for public office -- his ill-fated 2006 Senate reelection campaign -- he was right there with Obama, running on his promise to make college more accessible to all Pennsylvanians....

"In addition to Rick's support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education," [his 2006 campaign] site reads. "Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable."

Well, that just puts college affordability in the same category as cap-and-trade and the individual health-care mandate, right? These were fine idea for right-wingers to advance, but they became Marxist big-government Kenyan elitism as soon as the Obama administration started talking about them. Everything pretty much works that way on the right these days, no?

This will be interpreted as the work of people who worry that something horrible might take place in America. That's not what it is. This is an expression of hopes, not fears:

Wyoming House advances doomsday bill

CHEYENNE -- State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government....

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier....

The folks who fight for legislation like this, and a lot of people who vote for it, on some level want America to collapse. It would confirm their worldview. It would -- or at least they hope it would -- let them actually become the heroes they are in their own minds.

I'm betting that a lot of these legislators like to hunt and fish and shoot, and generally consider thmselves vastly more self-sufficient than the rest of us. That's fine -- bully for them. They live in a largely rural, sparsely populated state. They feel far removed from the federal government, and from the East in general. They think we in the East have turned America into a nation of, non-hunting, non-survivalist, society-dependent (and especially government-dependent) sissies (even though I bet not a one of them will ever refuse to accept Social Security or Medicare).

These guys are having a Walter Mitty fantasy about societal breakdown. They'd like to be the heroes of stories that play in their heads (and on their favorite movie channels), tales in which real men get the job donew while "Washington bureacrats" are told to suck eggs.

These guys don't think they're preparing for disaster. They think they're preparing for Utopia. For them, this bill is porn. I bet they needed a cigarette after the vote.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Remember when Mitt Romney's people curb-stomped Newt Gingrich in the days leading up to the Iowa caucus, and Gingrich started getting angry, and we all started talking about how Gingrich might wage total war on Romney even at the risk of destroying his chances in the general election, just because he hated him so much, and is such a nasty guy?

Well, that never happened, did it? Oh, wait, it just started to happen -- but not from Gingrich, who sometimes sounds tuff but is really a harmless marshmellow. It's coming from Santorum:

Stepping up his assault on Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum delivered a slashing speech Saturday morning that portrayed the establishment favorite as an elitist and unreliable conservative.

Santorum, appear[ed] before over a thousand conservative activists gathered in suburban Detroit for an Americans for Prospertiy conference....

"I didn't blow in the wind when things were popular with the elite," Santorum said. "Because I don't come from the elite." ...

"I never thought a Republican presidential candidate would adopt the verbiage of Occupy Wall Street," he said, citing Romney's reference to "the one percent."

Santorum's broadside went beyond issues, though, as he trained his fire at Romney's character.

"What you see today might be something different than what you get tomorrow," the Pennsylvanian said

Later, Santorum added: "He wasn't what he said he was yesterday."

Those last two soundbites are tailor-made to show up in Obama attack ads next fall. Isn't that what we thought Gingrich would do?

As for the Occupy Wall Street line, my first thought was that it couldn't possibly resonate, with general election voters or Republicans -- Romney's too buttoned up, too much the antithesis of the right's Occupy unwashed-hippie stereotype. You just can't imagine Romney dirty or unkempt or, for that matter, passionate, and he's so clearly identified with the economic lite that the message fries your brain with its cognitive dissonance. On further reflection, I realize that's true if you think like a normal person -- but on the right, elitists and Occupiers are part of the same urbane, sophisticated threat to real Americans' simple country ways. Just as, to the typical Glenn Beck fan of 2009 and 2010, George Soros and the New Black Panther Party are thick as thieves, so Romney could also seem like a believer in radical chic. I know, I know -- it seems bizarre to me, too. But I think this might connect right now.


I'm somewhat impressed by Santorum's hatred for Romney. But we're also reminded that he embodies just about everything that's wrong with modern Republicanism:

And he took a tough shot at President Obama's declaration that he'd like all Americans to attend college

"What a snob," Santorum, an attorney, said to loud applause, warning of teens being indoctrinated "by some liberal college professor."

Rick Santorum: objectively pro-ignorance.

I know that the simplest explanation for what Jeb Bush said this week is that the Republican Establishment has him warming up in the bullpen so he can be the cigar-chompers' choice in the event of a brokered convention -- but I don't buy that.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush expressed anguish over the rhetoric he’s heard in the various 2012 GOP debates. "I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I'm wondering, I don't think I've changed, but it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are."

There are two problems with the brokered-Jeb scenario. First of all, if you have a brokered convention precisely because your most restive voters chose Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul out of a sense that Mitt Romney is insufficiently loyal to the wingnut cause, how are you going to turn out the base in November with a nominee who says stuff like this, which is equally insulting to wingnuts? You might have turned base voters out with Jeb hewing strictly to the Fox News line, but this isn't going to work. You're going to appeal to Romney skeptics with a guy who seems like more of a turncoat than Romney?

And second, why are you even bothering to roll out a backup plan when -- gaffes notwithstanding -- the Romney Super PAC Death Star is in the process of burying Santorum's Michigan campaign in money on the way to a likely victory in that state?

Now, maybe that second objection is a weak one -- Santorum could still conceivably pull this off -- but really, how do you get Jeb as "RINO" past the purists in November? How do you even get him nominated at the convention? Wouldn't delegates chosen by purity-seeking primary voters be precisely the reason you've got a brokered convention in the first place?

And as for 2016, I don't see how this is a winning strategy, either. I know that the conventional wisdom is that the insanity in the GOP is a temporary fever in the brain that will break relatively soon, but, like DougJ, I don't buy it. If Santorum were the nominee and he picked an even nuttier, wingier running mate, and then went on to be crushed in November, maybe -- maybe -- the party would pull back from the brink and moderate its views in 2016. But Santorum isn't going to be the nominee -- RMoney is going to be the nominee. So if Romney loses, Rush Limbaugh will say what he always says when Republicans lose, precisely what he said in '92 and '08: that they lost by not being conservative enough. And next time we'll get an Allen West/Joe Arpaio ticket.

I could offer the crazy theory that Jeb's posturing is happening with an eye to the Americans Elect nomination, possibly with the GOP Establishment's support, in the event that Santorum defeats Romney. I've speculated about this scenario, as has Rachel Maddow. But it makes sense only if you think the Establishment Republicans have decided to throw the 2012 election. Then again, if Santorum won, maybe they would, bowing to the seemingly inevitable, and they'd back Jeb as an AE candidate knowing they could say he might have triumphed in a two-man race (hint hint for 2016). Too far-fetched?

Friday, February 24, 2012


You probably already know about Mitt Romney's latest Richie Rich gaffe, which came in a sparsely attended speech he gave in Detroit today:

Romney then listed the various cars he and his wife own.

"I drive a Mustang and Chevy pickup truck," he said. "Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually...."

Now, I've said in the past that Romney ought to switch gears and boast about his wealth. That doesn't seem like a good idea, of course, when he's struggling with sub-$100,000-a-year voters even within his own party, and he digs a deeper hole for himself every time he says something oblivious like this "couple of Cadillacs" remark.

But I think if he can't talk about his wealth in a way that's big-pimpin', he could at least put it into a narrative with a hero and a villain. The hero would be himself and all the brave, beleaguered millionaires and billionaires. The villain would be all us evil commie liberals who don't want people like him to succeed, dammit!

You put your success in those terms and you can talk all day about Cadillacs and $10,000 bets and liking to fire people -- as lomg as the rubes also hear you say, or imply, "And I bet you'd like to be rich and fire people, too. And you know why you can't? Because the damn liberals tax you too much and are systematically destroying the free enterprise system! It's their fault you're not rich!"

Instead, Romney reminds you of his wealth in contexts that are 180 degrees removed from that message. Here, instead of couching a mention of his wealth in talk about how great capitalism can be, he says it as part of a passage everyone knows wound up in his speech because he feels obligated to sing the praises of Michigan, in a transparently phony way.

If he can't do swagger, he should at least do Randian rage. That's implicit when Trump talks, or even Herman Cain. And both of them won a lot more love from the base at their peaks in the polls than Romney ever has.

For years now, right-wingers have been accusing other people of being enemies and traitors, but Matt Taibbi watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night and saw something that seemed new to him: the right turning on its own, in the person of the previously unchallenged culture warrior Rick Santorum.

Taibbi thinks it's the beginning of the end:

This is the last stage in any paranoid illness. You start by suspecting that somebody out there is out to get you; in the end, you're sure that even the people who love you the most under your own roof, your own doctors, your parents, your wife and your children, they're in on the plot....

This is where the Republican Party is now. They've run out of foreign enemies to point fingers at. They've already maxed out the rhetoric against us orgiastic, anarchy-loving pansexual liberal terrorists. The only possible remaining explanation for their troubles is that
their own leaders have failed them. There is a stranger in the house!

... These people have run out of others to blame, run out of bystanders to suspect, run out of decent family people to dismiss as Godless, sex-crazed perverts. They're turning the gun on themselves now. It might be justice, or it might just be sad. Whatever it is, it's remarkable to watch.

I'm not sure. It seems to me that the point of maximum paranoia isn't the moment when the paranoiac just turns the gun on himself -- it's more like the moment when he burns his parents' house down before setting off on a random killing spree (one that will, admittedly, end in suicide), or the moment when the personality-cult leader starts returning the FBI agents' fire while making arrangements to torch the compound.

Or maybe that's the wrong analogy -- after all, look who emerged the winner from the Santorum show trial: Mitt Romney. What this really reminds me of is a moment in a totalitarian regime when then the purges and rehabilitations seem to defy all logic, when the longtime loyalist with a few minor blemishes on his record becomes an unperson, while a former unperson becomes the chief inquisitor just because the regime has developed a new appreciation for his viciousness and willingness to apply the screws. But that's not a reassuring moment in the history of such a regime, is it?


In today's column about Mitt Romney, Paul Krugman issues a necessary caveat at the very end -- but only after going on at great length in this manner:

According to Michael Kinsley, a gaffe is when a politician accidently tells the truth. That's certainly what happened to Mitt Romney on Tuesday, when in a rare moment of candor -- and, in his case, such moments are really, really rare -- he gave away the game.

Speaking in Michigan, Mr. Romney was asked about deficit reduction, and he absent-mindedly said something completely reasonable: "If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy." A-ha. So he believes that cutting government spending hurts growth, other things equal.

... Almost surely, he is, in fact, a closet Keynesian.

Krugman goes on to say that Romney must be a closet Keynesian because he "is not a stupid man," and thus he can't help seeing the disaster Europeans are inflicting on themselves. (I don't know -- if the Europeans can't see that, why be so sure Romney can?) Krugman cites the Keynesian pedigrees of Romney's top economic advisers.

Only at the very, very end does Krugman warn us that while Romney may privately be a moderate, he may continue to posture as an extremist once he's in office:

If he doesn't dare disagree with economic nonsense now, why imagine that he would become willing to challenge that nonsense later? And bear in mind that if elected, he would be watched like a hawk for signs of apostasy by the very people he's trying so desperately to appease right now.

The truth is that Mr. Romney is so deeply committed to insincerity that neither side can trust him to do what it considers to be the right thing.

That's not good enough, Paul.

Here's what's going to happen: After the Romney Death Star finishes off Rick Santorum and Romney obtains the nomination, mainstream media chin-scratchers from the center, and even from the nominal left, are going to start telling us, in columns and on Sunday morning talk shows, that Romney is really, really a moderate, particularly on economics (and how dare the Obama campaign say otherwise) -- even Paul Krugman says so.

This talking point may not be heard a lot, but it will be enough to persuade at least a few folks who regard themselves as smarter than the typical GOP yahoo that Romney is all right, that he's ... safe.


Me, I believe that Romney and his advisers have now partaken of the Kool-Aid. One of the advisers Krugman reassures us is nice and Keynesian, Glenn Hubbard, was on a conference call with reporter Wednesday discussing Romney's new tax proposal. Ezra Klein wrote:

"If you take the spending and tax pieces together, it's a narrative of the policy agenda and life under a Romney presidency," Hubbard said. And so it is. But if you really follow the numbers, and the policies they imply, it may not be the narrative the Romney campaign wants.

...Under a Romney presidency, there will be a massive redistribution -- or perhaps it should be called a re-redistribution -- from low-income people who depend on government programs such as Medicaid to higher-income folks who pay taxes.

...[The tax plan] cuts spending as a percentage of GDP to 20 percent by 2016. And it does so while boosting defense spending by billions of dollars. As Romney himself says, that will require spending cuts of about $500 billion in 2016 -- and they will all have to come from domestic spending.

...Romney would need to cut all domestic spending by 20 percent to make his numbers work. But Romney's proposal says his changes to Medicare and Social Security will only affect "younger generations," which suggests that Medicare and Social Security won't see large cuts in the next few years. And once you take those programs out of the mix, Romney needs to cut all domestic spending by 38 percent to make his numbers work.

...If Romney cut Medicaid entirely -- took it from the $407 billion its projected to cost in 2016 and moved it to zero -- his numbers wouldn't work. If he then excised out all spending on food stamps — taking them from a projected $80 billion in 2016 to nothing — he still wouldn’t be there.

Getting a sense of the nastiness in this? There's no closet. Romney and his so-called Keynesians are hiding the extremism in plain sight.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


DougJ writes about David Brooks and Charles Murray:

If you've been following all the Charles Murray/Bobo bullshit recently, this is exactly their fixation: it's not enough to help the great unwashed find good jobs, the unwashed need their social superiors beside them to guide them (cause when they’re bad, they're so so bad). It's not that Murray/Bobo's methods to make this happen are unsound, it's that I don't see any method at all, sir. Writing books and columns about how tote-baggers should live nearer to strip malls simply does not qualify as a method. Also too, believing that tote-baggers should live closer to strip malls is also a very strange reason to oppose health care ad economic initiatives.

Conservatives may even be right (for all I know) that the moral/philosophical beliefs of the middle-class are the most important thing in our country. But they have no realistic plans to "improve" these beliefs.

So it is in general with conservatism. Everything is about some ineffable pseudo-spirituality that may or may not have anything to do with the material world. Why does anyone take conservatives seriously?

I'm not sure why anyone takes right-wingers' spiritual/moral claptrap seriously, but I have a couple of thoughts about why so many of them talk this way.

First of all, ask yourself why fifteen-year-olds say "Fuck you" at the dinner table to their parents. That's easy: they do it because they know they're stuck living with these people; the only way to make that bearable is to needle their parents by saying whatever pisses them off the most. Well, that's how right-wing pseudo-intellectuals feel about us liberals and moderates -- they have to live in the same country with us, and they hate it, so they become God-botherers and moralists because they think nothing could possibly annoy us more. I really believe that's one of the primary reasons they do this -- do you believe Brooks and Murray and Ross Douthat and William Bennett really have a deep, abiding love for God and a profound level of spirituality? I certainly don't. Jimmy Carter really loves God -- not these self-satisfied clowns. It's all just a bird-flip disguised as a moral philosophy.

One other reason right-wingers talk spirituality and morals is: what chance is there that their theories will ever have to undergo a reality test? You advocate, say, deregulating Wall Street, or overthrowing Saddam, and eventually you're confronted with the consequences of what you proposed. But Murray and Brooks and the other advocates of a Great, Selfless Spiritual/Moral Awakening in America know that it will never, ever happen -- nobody actually wants anything like that to happen, and that includes most religious Americans (and right-wingers). So it's always going to be the thing we've never tried, and thus, as a pundit, you can prescribe it forever.

The Hill reports:

In celebration of Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s elevation to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this week, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) on Thursday suggested lighting the Empire State Building the color red....

Grimm, a Catholic himself who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, tweeted in celebration on Thursday: "I have requested that the Empire State Bldg be lit red to honor NY's Cardinal Dolan. What an honor for an exceptional man of faith!"

That would be this Michael Grimm:

Shortly before leaving the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006, after a swashbuckling undercover career that would later help catapult him into Congress, a young agent named Michael G. Grimm went into real estate, investing roughly $1 million of borrowed money in a luxury development in Texas.

Seeking a builder to cooperate on the project, Mr. Grimm chose a former F.B.I. agent who had served with him in New York -- even though the former agent was under indictment on state racketeering and fraud charges, according to court and property records.

The former agent, Carlos Luquis, was soon convicted for his role in skimming $2 million from Texans' electric bills, and served 18 months in prison.

Yet Mr. Grimm went on to do business with Mr. Luquis and his wife in two other companies, records show. And during Mr. Grimm's successful insurgent campaign for Congress in 2010, Mr. Luquis was frequently at his side....

Shortly after news of this and other Grimm scandals broke in The New York Times, the Mitt Romney campaign, which had used the tea party-backed Grimm as a surrogate, distanced itself from Grimm. Grimm's backers, however, have rallied around him: an event on Saturday, Grimm turned the serious allegations into a joke about his dog, Sebastian, biting the mailman for carrying the Times. Former Staten Island [borough president] and Congressman Guy Molinari exercised his old-man impunity: "I was going to take a copy of The New York Times and ignite it, but Sebastian beat me to it; he shit all over the paper...Friends, don't ever give up your principles, and don't let these shit-ass newspapers tell you what to do."

Which is more or less what Jesus would have said under similar circumstances, right?

Grimm is playing the Catholic card knowing full well that the Empire State Building has a policy against religious commemorations of the kind he's requested. And, in fact, ESB has turned down Grimm's request. Oh, and just to gild the lily, Grimm pandered even more by evoking September 11 in his request letter:

As a city living in the shadow of 9/11 and in the midst of a terrible recession, it's clear that New Yorkers face a world that increasingly appears to be beyond their control. We truly live in an uncertain time; however, few can do as much as Cardinal Dolan has done to give New Yorkers a sense of constancy and resolve.

Dolan, by the way, didn't become archbishop of New York until 2009. God only knows how we survived from 9/11 until then without him.

Apologies if I'm a bit late getting to this story:

On his Tuesday night show, [Fox's Lou] Dobbs trashed the upcoming kids movies The Lorax and The Secret World Of Arrietty, accusing them of being liberal indoctrination that echoes the messages of Occupy Wall Street and President Obama....

Dobbs played clips from the movies and then drew the parallels.
"So, where have we all heard this before? Occupy Wall Street forever trying to pit the makers against the takers and President Obama repeating that everyone should pay their fair share in dozens of speeches since his State of the Union address last month."

Yes, The Lorax is all about "the takers" as opposed to "the makers," the heroic capitalists who actually make things, who seek profit in this capitalist system ... which, um, leaves me confused as to why capitalist co-branding is taking place in connection with The Lorax:

Seventh Generation Joins Dr. Seuss' The Lorax in Speaking for the Trees'

Seventh Generation, the nation's leading brand of environmentally-friendly household products, today announced an educational partnership with Universal Pictures to mark the big screen debut of "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" and bring the tale's crucial message of ecological hope and environmental action to a new generation of children and their parents. The animated adventure opens on March 2....

Lorax messaging on every Seventh Generation label will let consumers know that protecting the Earth and keeping their families healthy can be as simple as making the right shopping choices....

Just because it's green doesn't mean it ain't capitalism, folks:

Why Does the Lorax Love Our 4X Detergent?

Could it be our triple-enzyme, stain-fighting power?
Or our revolutionary, earth-friendly bottle?

Actually, it's both! And the more you know about our friend The Lorax and his message of environmental truth and ecological hope, the more you can see why all sorts of things about our Natural 4X Laundry Detergent might make him smile....

Wait -- there's more:

Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment and the Nature Conservancy have banded together on an environmental action campaign to help save one of the planet’s most endangered and diverse tropical forests. It’s just one aspect of the digital activities for Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the 3D animated movie which opens March 2.

The green initiative leverages Universal Pictures movie to build on the Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign. Additional support for The Lorax Speaks project comes from the Audrey S. Geisel Dr. Seuss Foundation, Seventh Generation, HP, Mazda and IHOP....

HP, Mazda, and IHOP -- wow, it doesn't get more communist than that, does it?


UPDATE: Go here for more on the Lorax/Mazda cross-promotion -- which is a cross-promotion for a Mazda SUV.

Still not capitalist enough for you, Lou?

The right is trying to flood the zone with the message EEK! EEK! OBAMA MADE GAS PRICES SKYROCKET! -- here, for instance, is a clip of Eric Bolling singing "The Gasoline Blues" on Fox & Friends, if you can stand it. Some local news reporters are helpfully retransmitting the propaganda:

Florida Drivers Shelling Out Nearly $6 A Gallon At Some Gas Stations

TAMPA (CBS Tampa) -- Talk about pain at the pump! Some Florida drivers are spending nearly $6 a gallon to fill up their gas tanks.

... at a Suncoast Energy station in Orlando, ... drivers are paying $5.79 for a gallon of regular....

Yeah, that hippie eco-freak Obama really jacked up the price at that station:

Orlando Forum: Suncoast Energys- Don't Pay Double for Gas

DON'T PAY DOUBLE FOR YOUR GASOLINE. Steer clear of Suncoast Energy on Semoran Blvd, north of 528. This is the closest gas station to the airport and they are RIPPING OFF customers by charging DOUBLE the national average for gasoline (God knows what they are charging for a bottle of water!)....

Whoops! So, um, this station charges much more than the average. Oh, and the complaint I just quoted is contained in a Trip Advisor message-board post dated November 20, 2008 -- two months before Barack Obama was sworn in as president. So the problem at that station isn't Obama, it's the policies of that station.

Nawww, that can't be right. Obama must be using the time machine to raise prices retroactively, and change all the archived news stories!

Gas gouging is sometimes situational -- as when Hurricane Ike was about to hit, a couple of months before the '08 election (Obama in the time machine again?), and stations in Florida and other states were being accused of opportunistic price increases. Funny thing -- back then, Fox News didn't seem to mind:

In Defense of Price Gougers

Written By John R. Lott, Jr.

Understanding economics has never been a requirement to be a reporter or a politician. With gas prices moving back toward $4 a gallon, "price-gouging" seems again to be everyone's favorite phrase these days. With the price of gasoline already Americans' greatest concern, more so than the economy or taxes, it is a message that many people will be primed to hear. Presumably that is why a majority of Americans want higher taxes on oil companies.

Yet, if political threats of price controls and price-gouging lawsuits prevent prices from rising now, it is the consumers nationwide who will suffer in the long run....

Expect a Fox op-ed from Lott any day now, complaining about the price of gas and demanding government action now.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


Respectable political journalist turned right-wing attack hack Michael Barone has a debate wrap-up at the Washington Examiner. Here's how it begins:

This was a debate full of surprises, at least for me. The first: CNN's John King showed some forebearance in not leading off with a question to Rick Santorum on his statements on contraception and other cultural issues. Instead, we had an audience question on how to bring down the national debt. The second surprise was that when King did pose such a question, after the first break, Santorum gave a first-rate reply, declining to speak about his personal feelings about contraception, but instead focusing on the fact that 40% of children are now born out of wedlock, and citing the concern expressed about this fact by Charles Murray in his new book Coming Apart and by a New York Times reporter in a front page story -- both of which matter of factly note the undeniable fact that children born out of wedlock and raised with a single parent tend to have huge disadvantages in life. Interestingly, Mitt Romney, who had responded before Santorum with a strong attack on Barack Obama for what he said was his attack on religious tolerance and conscience, was called on again and made a point of agreeing with Santorum.

Translation: Good thing that reprehensible liberal thug John King held off before trying to inject sex into this debate, as if it's in any way relevant to politics ... even though I actually believe, as do the two leading candidates at the debate, that it is relevant to politics. It's extremely relevant -- in fact, we all think sexual depravity is a key reason this country is going to hell in a handbasket. But if the liberal media asks us to talk about this in public, it's partisan bias.

Have I got that about right?

Well, even yesterday I was starting to assume that the Santorum moment was over -- the Talking Points Memo poll tracker showed Mitt Romney rapidly gaining on Santorum in Michigan (Romney's in red, Santorim's in black)....

An NBC/Marist poll not only showed the two of them tied in Michigan, but revealed that Romney is crushing Santorum among early voters. Oh, and Romney is headed toward a blowout in Arizona, where he also has a massive lead in early voting, a sign of a far more impressive and machine-like organization.

Yes, some national polls, and polls in states that aren't voting till next month, show Santorum with a big and even increasing lead -- but that's the pattern I recall from the period when the Romney campaign was crushing Newt Gingrich: As Gingrich's numbers fell in states that were just about to vote, he would still seem to be gaining in later-voting states. But that's because the Romney Death Star hadn't gotten to those states yet, with gazillions of dollars' worth of Romney and Romney super PAC attack ads. The polls in the later-voting states were lagging indicators.

So, yeah, when Talking Points Memo lists five ways Rick Santorum blew it in last night's debate, it's worth paying attention, but the die was already cast.

Last night's results matter because they remind us that Romney isn't a hapless stumblebum, or at least Team Romney isn't -- they now know how to prepare the candidate to attack. But meanwhile he's been doing what he has to do to reverse early setbacks. It ain't pretty, and it ain't cheap, but it is brutally efficient.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I wandered over to this National Review page a few hours ago and saw two versions of this ad:

Note the fine print at the bottom: PAID FOR BY THE DAVID HOROWITZ FREEDOM CENTER. When I clicked, I was taken this petition page, copyrighted in the name of

On November 5, 2009, a radical Islamic terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, massacred 13 American soldiers and wounded 29 more at Fort Hood. Instead of recognizing it as a terrorist attack, Barack Obama categorized it as "work place violence" effectively denying soldiers who lost their lives that day the military medals they are due for their heroic service -- specifically the Purple Heart.

The military has a long record of properly honoring those who are killed in the line of duty -- a record broken with the Fort Hood Massacre. The military awarded 78 medals after Pearl Harbor was attacked. After September 11, 2001, it created a new medal to recognize all of the heroes that died or were injured in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The men and women of Fort Hood deserve recognition for their sacrifice! Help right this wrong today.

Sign the Petition

I see petition ads all over the place, particularly at right-wing sites. They don't offend me much -- if you can't figure out that the advertisers are asking for your opinion in order to plant a few tracking cookies on your computer and obtain your e-mail address, well, you probably also think three-card monte is legit. Caveat emptor and all that.

But as techniques for obtaining user data go, this one seems particularly loathsome. I don't care about the specifics of the political posturing -- these people were brutally murdered and you look at their deaths as a marketing opportunity?

I didn't think I could find David Horowitz more reprehensible than I already did, but my opinion of him has hit an even lower low.

I think the chances of the rest of the folks on Mitt Romney's VP short list just got a whole lot better:

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is backing off his unconditional support for a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, focusing new attention on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly this year.

Until this weekend, McDonnell (R) and his aides had said the governor would sign the measure if it made it to his desk. McDonnell, who strongly opposes abortion, will no longer make that commitment.

But delegates and governor's staff were scheduled to meet Tuesday night to strike a compromise after learning that some ultrasounds could be more invasive than first thought....

As a potential VP candidate, McDonnell is screwed either way. If he signs the bill, obviously, this becomes an issue with moderate swing voters in the general election -- but if he backs away from it, the Christian rightists Romney desperately wants to motivate in the fall will see McDonnell as a guy who was bested by evil liberals. They would have been content with him if he'd presided over a state where this wasn't the law, but once the possibility that it might become the law was raised, he had to win. He damn well couldn't face off against -- ick -- feminists and back down. Crushing liberalism is what being a right-winger is all about.

Chris Christie is obviously a better choice for Romney -- I suppose it's a risk for him to go after Rick Santorum's remarks on Satan, but I think he threads the needle deftly here:

"Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You're asking to be president of the United States.... I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office," the New Jersey governor said....

"Do I think it's the things we should be as a party talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No," he said.

"I think the idea of the fighting against religion piece of this goes to more to Obamacare issue and the invasion of Obamacare into maybe some religious freedom issues. I think that's an interesting conversation and an important one to have in the context of overall Obamacare and what's that going to mean for the country if it goes forward after the Supreme Court arguments this spring," he said.

Oooh, nice job of palming the Jesus card and then playing it yourself!

Christie walks a fine line on this stuff. He's not a religious-right hero, though he holds his own. (In the new Quinnipiac poll, when Republicans are asked who should emerge as the party presidential nominee in the event of a brokered convention, Christie blows away the field among moderates and non-born-agains, but essentially ties Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin among conservatives and born-agains.)

What saves Christie among the Jesus crowd, I think, is the perception he creates that he isn't losing. They should be appalled that he'd even be willing to put gay marriage to a vote in New Jersey -- but when he puts in in terms of, in effect, Put it to a vote, and screw you homos if you don't like it, he comes off as a winner. Which is all even the Jesus-y right wants. (And mouthing off at Warren Buffett is a plus as well, on the right.)