Monthly Archives: November 2008

Polemic 4 Days Ahead On India (;

On November 27, 2008, just after midnight, I wrote:

To say this is fnord al Qaeda fnord is accurate but imprecise. It may be connected to the larger Qaeda movement, but the point of destablizing India is a different, though related, front in their jihad. Pakistan is now on the verge of becoming a failed state, much like Afghanistan, and they are working hard on pushing India into a corner where they might have to militarize their border, or make limited incursion

Let’s nor [sic] forget that this comes right after Obama’s election, who promised to escalate in Afghanistan to go after bin Laden, who is most likely in Waziristan, Pakistan. While I agree with that policy, I also believe that Obama’s policy, his election, and this attack are NOT a coincidence. 

December 1, 2008′s Times of London:

Other Indian analysts said the attack appeared to be an attempt to undermine US policy towards India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“There’s a lot of clamour for action against Pakistan from India,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the head of the Centre for Policy Research. “This attack was not just an attempt to scuttle India’s peace process with Pakistan. It was in many ways a pre-emptive strike against [Barack] Obama’s strategy for the region.”

The U.S. President elect has proposed increasing troop levels in Afghanistan and stepping up the pressure on Pakistan to attack militants on its territory. In exchange, he has suggested appointing an special envoy to help resolve Pakistan’s territorial dispute with India over Kashmir.

A crisis in India-Pakistan relations would scupper both plans.

Doctor Antonio Giustozzi, an expert on Afghanistan at the London School of Economics, said Washington could weather such a crisis, but concurred on the militants’ aims.

“I think that the terrorists have made a calculation that aims to worsen relations between India and Pakistan and embarrass the Pakistan government, in the hope that the Indians make an uncontrolled response,” he said.

That, he said, would “strengthen the militants’ hand and compromise the campaign by Islamabad against extremists by diverting troops back to the Indian border.”

The Subcontinent is a hobby of mine. It’s the most dangerous place in the world, and it has been for a long time. More dangerous than Israel/Palestine, more dangerous than Iraq or Iran, more dangerous than any of the former Soviet Republics. This is simply because there are over a billion people living under the threat of a nuclear conflict, with a billion more next door in China ready to throw in.

 

UPDATE:

India’s second strike ability is indeed non-existent. They are currently developing submarines, but claim that their land and air based weapons are only for retaliation. But because their stockpile is so small, it is not a very creidble retaliation. India claims also not to have weapons on hair-trigger alert, but does not rule out having a first-strike capability.

India claims that only the civlian government, i.e. the prime minister and his Nuclear Command Authority, and their chain of command successors have control.

So, in sum, either they are extremely vulnerable to a first strike, or this is bullshit and there is field control and ready alert for some of their forces. Their estimated stockpile is a mere 50-60 nukes. Pakistan possibly has twice that many.

Pakistan doesn’t have a well-defined policy and only has shitty missiles and some olf F-16s to deliver them, but it’s more than enough to hit Delhi. Their maximum range missile goes about 1,200 miles. India probably has one that can reach twice that far.

I doubt Pakistan could effectively retaliate if India’s intelligence is any good. The scary part is their command and control.

HRC Turned Down Appropriations Chair?!?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/30/clinton-turned-down-power_n_147217.html

Daily Mail is a Brit paper, but if this is true, it kinda blows up a lot of the logic for her leaving the Senate. Usually the chair of this committee is the longest serving majority senator, as it had been Robert Byrd and Dan Inoyue was #2, I believe.

Oil Prices

Does anyone out there still think the price of oil wasn’t inflated by speculation? I love Paul Krugman, but I think he was being too cerebral on this issue. Calculated Risk summed up the debate back in May, here.

Lots of people have agendas. The Texas Conspiracy (my term for Bretton Woods/PNAC/Neo-Cons/WTO/World Bank/Oil Empire etc.) has two big dogs in this fight: market fundamentalism and petroimperialism. Any economist associated with market fundamentalism will be sneeringly dismissive of anything that points out a massive market failure. Markets are innocent until proven guilty, and the “purest” among them won’t even acknowledge standard textbook failures like monopolies.

The oil companies, of course, love the profits because it didn’t get more expensive to extract, especially from the preexisting facilities, than it did at $10 a barrel back in the 90s.

Oil is the lynchpin of America’s empire. That’s why when politicians say they’re going to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” they look at it as a mere energy policy question. Without oil profits, most of our empire loses its motive. Literally dozens of dictators we’ve propped up lose their raison d’etre. Castro, Chavez, and Morales will look like puppy dogs compared to the people who would replace dictators not backed by the Texas Conspiracy. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s the simple most complicated problem in the world, and can’t be reduced to a BTU balance sheet.

Oil is also controlled largely by a cartel, OPEC. How can anyone talk much about market forces here? What isn’t controlled by OPEC is so connected to other elite institutions that it might as well be looked at like a government when running your macroeconomic formulae.

Anyway, here’s the nut of my argument: if there’s a credit crisis and people can’t get leveraged to throw their money where there’s profits (tech stocks, real estate… oil) and suddenly the price of oil goes down 67% suddenly, maybe it’s because no one can speculate!

The news says it’s because of diminished projections in the economy. But the economy is not going down 67%. Demand is not down 67%—is it? That would be the Mother of All Depressions, not just a Recession of Unusual Size (ROUSes? I don’t believe they exist. ARRRRRRR (Insert Robert Rubin joke here)).

Some of the peak oil people were telling us that it was just supply and demand fundamentals—so, what? is this a reverse bubble? and if it is, doesn’t that just prove the point about speculation?

Look, the economy is down, but not down even close to the relatively limited proportion that economic growth is.

Take The American Hostages, Kill The Jews

 There are a lot of things about Chabad that I don’t care for in the political arena. But, even in the relatively remote part of California where I live, when the recent fires struck, the Chabad folks were the first ones to help and they operate with low overhead compared to the Red Cross.

Chabad was not in India to spread Zionism or Judaism. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were there to offer a way station for traveling Jews, who might be looking for some kosher food or a place to relax on shabbat. They weren’t there to save souls, convert people, or impinge on anyone else’s religious beliefs.

And they weren’t even Israelis–they were New Yorkers, and they were killed by fanatics in order to destablize the Subcontinent further, probably by trying to draw Israel into a muslim-annoying alliance with India.

Thanks, Bush for ignoring al Qaeda for 7 years.

India: Good morning, America.

Nightline says that this attack caught Indian services “off guard.” It appears to have caught America off guard as well, because it’s all over. But the thing is, India has been heating up for a while, as Juan Cole explains.

The Subcontinent has been a hobby of mine for over 10 years. I have dozens of pages of a draft of a novel whose primary historical background is a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I will update this, but last I checked, India and Pakistan lack second-strike capability and other early warning systems that created the deterrence in the US-USSR cold war. In other words, (I have no idea for sure, of course) it is possible that when these countries reach a certain level of alert, strike authority descends to field commanders, because the central command would not survive a first strike. If that’s the case, the risk of mistakes is huge.

To say this is fnord al Qaeda fnord is accurate but imprecise. It may be connected to the larger Qaeda movement, but the point of destablizing India is a different, though related, front in their jihad. Pakistan is now on the verge of becoming a failed state, much like Afghanistan, and they are working hard on pushing India into a corner where they might have to militarize their border, or make limited incursions.

Now, at 11:49 pst, another explosion.

Let’s nor forget that this comes right after Obama’s election, who promised to escalate in Afghanistan to go after bin Laden, who is most likely in Waziristan, Pakistan. While I agree with that policy, I also believe that Obama’s policy, his election, and this attack are NOT a coincidence. 

Deepak Chopra just demanded that India “quit blaming” Pakistan on CNN. Maybe the Pakistani government–the recognized one–isn’t behind this, but Pakistanis are, and Pakistan has no effective government to blame. Their Taliban-linked Intelligence Service *is* to blame in part, almost for sure for this, and for 9/11.

Bush’s deal with the devil Musharraf was the second worst blunder in the “war on terror,” and I can only say that now because Iraq is a bigger one. Ultimately, not taking the bull by the horns (and following the non-neo-con approach of addressing failed states) may grow into a situation that dwarfs Iraq, including, as previously mentioned, the world’s first nuclear exchange. (Which cannot but escalate with Chinese, Russian, American, and Iranian intervention.)

The Chabad center in Mumbai was attacked, and Israeli citizens, as well as American and UK citizens, were taken hostage, I’m reading. Jews are being targeted–but Hindus have been targeting Muslims and Christians elsewhere in India (see the Juan Cole link above).

In 2002, I worried attacking Iraq would take the eye of the ball that I thought might be Iran. Well, that may prove true. But, it may make us unable to deal with the nascent conflict that could be WW3 two countries over.

Fucking Bush. His lame duck session is doubling down on worst president ever: play chicken with Great Depression II and leave us vulnerable to World War III.

Polemic Analysis: California Supremes Won't Strike Prop 8

With the original In re Marriages case only sporting a 4-3 majority, it is simply required that each of those 4 votes hold fast in order to support striking Proposition 8.

Justice Joyce Kennard voted against reviewing Proposition 8. There are more details in this L.A. Times article, but the upshot is she is an independent voter on the Court. Lost amongst the very strong voices on each side is the reality that right or wrong, with or without the threat of a recall, many judges are extremely reluctant to override the democratic process. 

Only Justice Moreno voted to immediately suspend the effect of Proposition 8. There is little to suggest that any of the 3 in he minority would be inclined to take the more radical step of overriding a popular vote, unless, somehow they are persuaded that the principle of stare decisis demands it. That seems unlikely.

Chief Justice George seemed to be making an appeal to history in his In re Marriages opinion. 

Kennard and Corrigan are not up for reelection until 2018. Werdegar, Moreno, and Baxter are up again in 2014. But I’m fairly sure George is up again in 2010, and so is Chin, a solid ‘no’ vote. 

My guess is that Prop 8 is sustained 6-1, Moreno dissenting. There will be a repeal proposition in 2010 and an effort to vote Chin out.

The New Jacksonianism versus the "Center-Right" Nation Myth

The greatest shame of the 2008 election was that the Democratic Convention and its unprecedented final night did not get a day or two to breathe in the analytical ether because it was stepped on by Bush Patsy McCain’s goopy Nilap soap opera. Before the Ditz Bomb hit, I wrote that Obama’s coalition and the pageantry and substance of the Convention’s final night constituted a 21st century update to the Jacksonian tradition.

Where Andrew Jackson represented a new class of people being given the franchise Barack Obama symbolizes new segments of voters being counted. The electorate that chose Obama was younger, blacker, and browner than the one that “elected” Generalissimo Bush twice. What this Expansion does not want, by and large, is the reactionary resentmentmongering over the upheavals of 1968 that the Conservatrons have been spewing for a generation. What it does want, by and large, is economic security, better health care, real action on global warming, and government competence. In other words, the broad ideas that progressives have expressed for years. There isn’t really too much that is new here. There are just more of us now.

You would never know this by viewing the insider bloviation-a-thons where the “center right nation” myth holds sway. Their’s is a world without the Expansion, where people really did just reject the cosmic screwing of the Bush years, but not the Conservatron memes that have become accepted wisdom for these antiques over the last 40 years. The audience for these talking heads does not include the Expansion, and they still cannot fathom its existence. Consider the concern trolling in the MSM over the flakiness of the youth vote throughout the election season and then consider Polemic’s experience in Nevada where one of the leader’s of the office was an eighteen year old kid. Who wound up having a bigger impact on election night, the talkers or the doer?

The New Jacksonianism will not be televised… at least not too often, but it will be downloaded, streamed, considered, chatted, and calling you on the phone and knocking on your door.

All of the mathematical data and dancing in the streets on November 4 were not deceiving you. Obama’s New Jacksonianism has made America a center-left country. Our crucial decade, the “2010s,” begins on January 20!

HRC in the Senate

David Broder says HRC shouldn’t be SoS, so, to me that almost confirms the wisdom of Obama’s pick. Indeed, Broder has been wrong about just about everything important for 10 years, yet no one has the heart to send the old man to the glue factory.

Hillary Clinton was the 68th most senior senator in the current Congress. She is junior to people you’ve never heard of, like Jeff Bingaman, Barbara Mikulski, Herb Kohl, Daniel Akaka, and Tom Carper. She is junior to people whose political importance belonged to years, if not ages past, like Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Dan Inoyue, John Kerry, and Tom Harkin. She does not chair one committee (and only chairs the Superfund Subcommittee… big whoop)—but Joe Liebermann does. She has no standing in the leadership.

No one is going to tell the Senate how to run itself. Personally, I think they could do with someone like Nancy Pelosi to make the trains run on time, but that’s just not how it is. 

HRC was at least an election or two away from any legitimate chance at a major chairmanship or a leadership role. So, while I agree that she could have been useful in that role, it almost certainly wouldn’t have come along during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Add that to the fact that Joe Biden is not running for president in 2016. He will be 74 and would probably lose a primary. So, HRC, who we *know* still wants to be President takes the #3 job in the Administration: Secretary of State. Not a traditional launching pad for the presidency, but then neither was first lady, and it almost worked.

Nate on MN-SEN

Is here. Says Franken by 27.

Sorry. FWIW, I just don’t think you can formulate the reasons for the challenges at this point yet. I’ve seen some video suggesting that Coleman is challenging every McCain/Franken vote, but I don’t know if that’s statewide or not.

I don’t think you can say anything about what’s inside the challenged group, which is now more than 10 times the gap between the two.

Now, I *believe* that the Coleman team has from the beginning had the strategy to challenge enough votes to make sure Franken was down going to the board no matter what. I also *believe* that Franken’s team was only making bona fide challenges at first, but then he rapidly accelerated the count.

I still think the best predictor is an undervote analysis, which showed Franken picking up enough to win.

Cato Institute: GOP Must Block Health Care To Survive

There are a couple of things wrong with this. First, the Cato Institute doesn’t seem to understand that the libertarian ideals that they support were discarded by the GOP a long, long time ago. The GOP is the Huckabee/Palin party now. Those voters aren’t all that interested in these folks. And, it’s my fair assessment that the trouble the GOP is in now largely stems from their embrace of supply-side economics separate and distinct from low taxes, God, and tough on defense. The former will always end up in failure—the latter can build winning coalitions always in some places sometimes everywhere. Anyway…

Second, this doesn’t appear to be a battle the Republicans can win right now. Only the filibuster stands in the way, and I just don’t think that they have 41 votes to filibuster health care reform. 

This is a poison pill and I don’t care if they swallow it. The pseudo-scientific reference to the UK ignores the fact that in all of the other industrialized economies that have universal health care, the right wing is doing just fine. The Tories have controlled Parliament 35 out of 63 years since the end of World War II. It hardly destroyed them. If you subtract the neoliberal New Labour from that, you get 35 out of 52. Hardly a Red October.

Blocking healthcare with the filibuster will be the end of the GOP. Letting it pass will give them something else to carp about.

Once more on Bush.

I think it’s worth pointing out that President Bush whose excuse for Iraq not being popular was that the history books would read different than the tracking polls, like Truman. Well, Truman is remembered for finish off WWII and his domestic stuff, and would still be hated for Korea if people focused on that. Anyway, I digress.

So, I presume the history-minded Bush would be more concerned that he appears to be presiding over the death of the US auto industry.

When all is said and done, this is his fault.

The GOP is suicide bombing the UAW.

MN-Sen

18% of the recount is completed and Coleman’s lead dropped 41 votes from 215 to 174. If that exact pattern continues, Franken will pick up another 227. That would mean a win for Franken of 53 votes.

The Star Tribune says these might be more Democratic areas that reported today. However, it’s my understanding that undervotes lean Dem.

Also, I’m not sure if these recount totals reflect the challenged ballots or not.

Update: That total does not reflect challenged ballots. As of right now, Coleman leads by 136 votes. There are 823 challenged ballots, 409 by Coleman and 414 by Franken. That new net of 79 votes for Franken

This is a problem. Unless Franken ends up ahead by shows a slight slowdown of his gains, now projecting a 50 vote win instead of a 53 vote win. If that deceleration stays constant, his win would be 43 votes.

[I screwed this up. He needs to gain 216 votes. 46% are reporting. He needed to net 99 votes by now and has only netted 79. That means a *loss* of about 40 votes, but I have reason to guess what this rate means.]

Areas with no reports yet were for Coleman in the original count, by 232,121 to 182,472, or 56% to 44%. 

It’s worth pointing out that in places where Coleman dominated, Franken has still netted votes. In Dakota county, Coleman won 102,656 to 85,280 but Franken has netted 32 votes there! 

My guess at this point is that Franken needs to be up by over 100 before the late reporting red counties come in if he will hold on, but it hasn’t been shown that recount nets correlate with original votes. What’s more, at this rate, the winner will need to win by over 800 votes to avoid the mid-December review of challenged votes to be irrelevant. However, I’m guessing that as long as the number of challenges stay roughly the same, they aren’t likely to change more than 100 votes. 10, or even 20, I can see. 

In 2000, I was worried about Al Gore winning and being seen as illegitimate because he won in a recount. I don’t see Franken being seen any less legitimate than Bush if a Canvassing board decides his fate. I hope the Democrats don’t lose sight of that in the process, because the Republicans won’t.

Nationally, the best case scenario is that this shows a Franken lead enough to draw resources GOP resources out of Georgia. That could mean 58-40-1-1.

In a nutshell, it’s looking like a Franken lead heading to the Canvassing board.

Mittens: Burn it.

Here’s Mitt Romney’s plan to revitalize the American auto industry:

  • Force the Big 3 into bankruptcy
  • “New labor agreements”
  • Fire the management
  • Management/Labor harmony
  • Profit sharing for the workers
  • A “managed bankruptcy”
There are several things wrong with this, but they all share the same common denominator, and it’s one that seems to underly the same several things that are wrong with just about every Republican idea these days: it completely ignores the lessons of the last 20 years.
First—I’m certainly not opposed to canning the management and leaving the shareholders and bondholders with nothing. But let’s say we have a “managed bankruptcy.” Without some kind of special loan facility with the government (does any of this violate the WTO?), the reorganized companies will not be able to get cash cheaply. So, the $2,000 per car that Romney says is extra labor costs on the car could just as easily end up being debt service costs.
If the reorganized companies can’t get cash, they won’t get off the ground and they will be swallowed by other automakers, or simply killed by them. So, for that to work, there still needs to be something like a “bailout.”
Second, the Republicans are blaming labor. Funny that the whole economy was running smother when labor was stronger, isn’t it? Merely lowering the labor costs a little bit isn’t going to make American labor affordable. Even if other countries paid their workers the same amount, their employers have less overhead because their safety requirements are virtually nil. But they don’t. They pay way less. They can externalize more costs into the environment and on to the workers. Worse, in more advanced countries, the employers don’t pay for health care!
Third, profit sharing for the workers? That idea died with Enron and its corpse is burning in the fires of the recent stock market. What good are stock options to line employees who have virtually no control over the management of the company. Their incentive for good work is not to get fired. If part of their income is controlled by board members looking for short term earnings over long term gains, they’re screwed.
The only way to make that work is to make the companies a German-style corporation where the workers get seats on the board. (In Germany they get the seats WITHOUT owning shares. Here, they theoretically would have to.) Do you really think that the Republicans would support that, given the precedent it would set? Haha.
Fourth, the UAW workers are only a small portion of the people that would be impacted by the collapse. Everyone employed by a dealer, supplier, or vendor would be hurt or wiped out. Everyone who lives in a community whose economy is driven by the foregoing would be hurt. The only representation those people have in any of this is through the government.
Is this to say they should be bailed out with no strings attached? No. They should be bailed out on the condition that they agree, not as a tree-hugger issue, but as an issue of national security, that they work to immediately maximize the fuel efficiency of their cars, continue to recognize their labor agreements, maybe even let workers on the board like we were talking about.
Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to take away the responsibility of health care from employers, would it?

Polemic

When this site was launched years ago, it was because the ideas of the left were getting tired and needed to be reinvented for the 21st century. Scratch your head and try and remember what the left was all about 10 years ago.

I remember Amy Goodman venting her spleen against Bill Clinton for bombing Sudan. World peace was something that could be advocated for in the 90s. Now it’s a joke. I think peace is a high priority, but people who think that just because it worked for Ghandi against the British and MLK against the Americans think it will always work everywhere are just as incorrect and unscientific as people who think war will solve any solution.

That is the problem with beliefs. They need to be reexamined if you are going to hold them in good faith. If they fail, drop them. In the 90s, possibly 15% of the Republican agenda was more reality based than faith based, and in the last 10 years, probably 75% of the liberal agenda was reality based. But that’s not 100%.

Another big issue in the 90s was the environment. Not just global warming. The whole environment. Again, that was possible because the climate in the 90s wasn’t an idiocracy. But the belief of many on the left was that you had to be a vegan that used no electricity not to be scum. Most of those people forgot about the old liberal idea of feeding hungry people. 

This sounds like a bunch of right-wing concern trolling. It would be that if it was just rhetoric, all fake. But the truth is, you have to keep the goal in sight and reexamine your beliefs. I believe we can feed ourselves keep the lights on and not destroy the planet. I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t think meat is murder, even if our current means of producing meat are broken.

I also think we can defend ourselves without waging war for sport.

But looking back over 6+ years of blog archives, I noticed how after Iraq I stopped writing about ideas as much, and more about politics and opposition to Republicans.

When I was walking precincts for Obama, no one at the office asked me what kind of car I had (though it was a Prius), whether I ate meat (though I am a vegetarian), or whether I’m religious. That was because we all banded together to bring home this last minute win, which may actually have been too late—we’ll see.

In the late 90s, though, I was cross examined for ideological purity when I went to meetings like that. I usually left.

I guess it’s time for me to part company with the activist left again, because they’re already becoming a force for division, already launching a fusillade against Obama.

They are really mad because the are being shown that they aren’t as powerful as they pretended to be—just like the ideological right often was. This is childish. They think they deserve an equal return on their investment. No one in politics gets that. You’re lucky to get pennies on the dollar and are more likely to have your dollars simply taken.

But, like children, if you capitulate to their demand for a toy, they play with it for a while and then just want another new one, when other kids get nothing.

Well, kids, we got the equivalent of a new bike, a puppy, a Nintendo, and a treehouse all in one day and we’re mad that we didn’t also get a remote control car.

Seriously—if you give up this easy, get out of politics. There is no “when are we done” or “when do we get our reward.” There is no end game, no teleology. It will go on forever.

Hard to defend…

…look the American auto industry IS tough to defend. They are and have been in cahoots with the oil industry. They did get themselves into this mess. I’d love to see huge reform of everything. I’m just saying—IF you’re gonna bail out the filthy financials, these guys deserve it more.

Guardian: HRC to accept SoS

I’m agnostic on this. I’m not sure she’ll do a better job than Richardson, who is objectively more qualified. And the idea that John Kerry, who should be rolling out his own special edition of Summer’s Eve, is “owed” something by Obama for giving him the 2004 keynote is beyond ridiculous.

My interest in this story is purely that “who farted?” reaction from the lefty blogosphere. They may not realize this, but they probably jumped the shark as “community” or “movement” when they started piling on Obama like he fumbled at a gay neudist football championship in the mud the minute he got 270 EVs on the board.

B-b-b-b-but this isn’t “change?” It’s not? I think it’s magnanimous. What do the kids these days have against the 90s anyway? The music was better, the drugs were more spiritual, our country had a peace dividend…anyway, I’m not exactly sure why this offends so many (former?) Obamites (the same kind of “Obamites” that were hosing us with Pro-Edwards bile up until the Iowa results started coming in) anyway.

As a for HRC supporter, I have marveled at Obama’s flawless execution. Why would I give up on him now?

Bailouts only for fake economy.

This is getting hard to understand.

There’s $700B to Happy Hank and $130B to AIG and so on and so forth, but Congress won’t cough up money for the auto industry?

I’ll be the first to lay blame at the US automakers. The last car they made worth owning was early editions of the Saturn. There should be about 1/10th the number of models and makes. (Mercury/Buick/etc.) Their “all in” move on SUVs was typically short-sighted. Et cetera.

But no matter what you think about American cars, they employ people. They make real things that people need. Can you say that about any of these paper-illusion financial companies?

I think the politics behind this is that the Republicans want to blame the auto industry’s failure on the UAW as a way to block any pro-Union legislation in the upcoming Congress. Of course a large part of this industry’s problems would go away if they weren’t paying for health care for their workers—god forbid an American job should do that…or just in general to make Obama’s job as impossible as possible.

So, even though this industry employs literally millions of people with decent jobs we’re not going to help them, but we’re going to bail out the douchebag brooks brothers mafia that continue to plop out of the anus of B-schools that created this mess in the first place??? While those assholes are whining about their bonuses and lecturing Congress for daring to attach any strings to their bailout, you know lest it fail to instill “confidence” in the market—most of Congress and the press being stupid enough to fall for that, since they actually believe that the “Market” has feelings (will anthropologists in the future think that we all worshipped an invisible, cruel, capricious, sacrifice-demanding God named “Market”?) and that the lede of every trading day news article isn’t essentially written by coin-flip, ouija board, and Magic 8-ball—the guy down the street from you that fixes mufflers at the dealer is getting laid off because GM is delaying rebate payments to their dealers for 2 weeks. Your cousin out east is getting laid of from his factory job.

That’s right. 3 million people—1% of all Americans—depend on the auto industry for their job. No bailout for you! Not even with strings attached. Not even with raised CAFE standards, or plugin and flex fuel technologies, or anything. Nothing.

It’s the final shitburger served up to the dying middle class by the Republican effort to make this country into a banana republic fit for fedualism. And this final shitburger may be more deadly than the other ones.

I’ve gone mute screaming at the pussified weak puny senate democrats to actually force a real filibuster for once. If you were holding out for one, this would be the time. How much money could we raise with pictures of that sagging semen colored multiple chinned shark-eyed dumb fuck Mitch McConnel reading the phone book at 3 a.m. to kill the American auto industry?

P.S. For the love of God—can we PLEASE stop hearing about these asshole “Reagan Republicans” in Michigan now? #%&#$@!@^&*(# Congratulations on turning your state into the first Anglo-American wasteland on the North American continent.

Prop 8: Divide & Conquer

One of my hobbies over the last few years has been to read up on cycles of oppression. Like many with liberal parents, I heard the ravings of my parents against the Reagan Democrats: these people are too stupid to vote in their own interest. Thomas Franck’s What’s The Matter With Kansas explores that topic to some degree as well.

Why do people who have been systematically oppressed seem to—well—systematically oppress when given the chance? In Jewish history, an honest assessment of the behavior of Israel forces one to ask: how can a country filling up with what was left of European Jewry and Jewish refugees from Muslim countries be so numb, so utilitarian about the plight of the Palestinians?

The answer is simple. Oppression and violence literally numb your brain. These emotions operate at a lower, more primitive part of your brain than empathy and logic. When you force people into survival mode, this is what you get. Jews in 1948 were in survival mode.

In truth, the working class in America has been in survival mode since at least the early 1970s. Trade liberalization, no increase in real wages since the 1970s, destruction of entry paths to the middle class, and so on have made workaday America suffer enough to deaden their minds to the plight of others. This phenomenon is not limit to the inner city or to the immigrant worker shanty towns. It’s also expressed in the rusting small towns of the midwest, the Wal-Mart wastelands of America.

When you’re in survival mode, it’s easy to dehumanize others as trying to get a piece of the small crumbs of survival that are out there. It also demands explanation. And to the extent that right wing religion provides that answer—and gives people’s life meaning: it’s not about your physical survival, it’s about your spiritual survival, and for that you have to vote Republican—to that extent, it prevails.

What’s so different about Proposition 8 is that it is not like the Civil Rights movement in the sense  that it has anything to do with the pie. It’s not “allowing” someone else to take part in the New Deal the way Civil Rights was. The difference? People don’t see this issue as part of the source of their pain, they see it as part of their mission that relieves that pain. To uphold what they think is God’s law.

That any oppressed group voted for this initiative in strong numbers is therefore no surprise. But as Rev. Irene Monroe put it Prop 8 is not about black homophobia. Even if blacks had voted against Prop 8 in the 90-100% range, it’s debatable whether it would have passed or not.

Therefore, to the extent that any gay groups are using this to call out blacks, they are only displaying latent racism. It’s probably tough to watch the epoch-making election of Barack Obama on the same night that so many express hate towards you, so to the extent this isn’t based in racism, it’s based on being put into the mode where the lower survival instinct predominates, where those in control of their faculties can control you. So, this acrimony between the gay and black communities is, in my opinion, a symptom of the underlying problem and needs to stop.

It reminds me of black/Jewish acrimony. Blacks are correct to point out that in this country Jews have had an easier time than them; Jews are correct to point out that they were the target of the world’s only industrialized genocide. Comparing oppression as if to somehow create priority only furthers the cycle of pain, it does not transcend it.

Which is why as much as I respect and admire Rev. Monroe, I was frankly a bit shocked at a couple of the things she said on the radio yesterday regarding this.

First, she criticized gay use of Civil Rights era stories, accusing them of “appropriating” them. This is silly. Dr. King “appropriated” the stories from the Bible, some of them Jewish—The Promised Land, anyone? The point is, freedom from oppression is a universal struggle among all of us. It is not something that is the property of any group. The Civil Rights movement is owned by all humanity. To say otherwise is to deprive it of any transcendent meaning and make it just another one of history’s one uppings.

This does point out one big problem with the gay liberation movement. They don’t have the powerful symbols, the Jackie Robinsons, the Malcolm Xs, the Dr. Kings, or the Barack Obamas (lest I “appropriate” the parallel) that blacks had. It shouldn’t be required, but the practical effect would be enormous.

Second, she lectured the gay community on its “white privilege.” That’s picking a fight. See, white gays can “hide.” So, if you can “hide” that makes you more free? That’s nonsense. No one should have to hide. It’s not a feature, it’s a bug. Particularizing a universal struggle like this only once again works on the exclusive/survival level and does not break the cycle. It also again suggests a prioritization of one group’s oppression.

Third, she criticized the gay community for not appropriately reaching out to the black community and using them as tokens. Honestly, if you’re just going to get lectured on “white privilege” I’m not sure that outreach would go too well.

This is not a failure to be imputed to blacks as a whole or as an explanation for their vote. Some of the black leadership groups that one might reach out do come off as insular, just like many Jewish groups, or gay groups. Alas, everyone is mostly into their own problems.

Fourth, Mark Thompson, whom I also respect and admire, insisted that racism can only come from those in power. I strongly disagree. Institutional racism can only come from those in power, but even in one on one relationships someone can have the power to oppress another. And who runs what institution varies from place to place. To say that racism only goes with power again sounds dismissive of the oppression of other groups, even those that might share in some “white privilege” like Jews and white gays. That does not mean the absence of that oppression.

I wish people smart to cycles of oppression and violence would see the conflict between oppressed groups for what it is: divide and conquer.

The genius of King and Ghandi (and the Abrahamic story of the binding of Isaac in the Jewish tradition) is the breaking of that cycle. You have to use nonviolence to break that cycle. You have to refrain from engaging in white/male/straight/christian/ivy league privilege, from democratic majority power privilege to break the cycle of oppression too.

I’m not naive enough to suggest that you can always use non-violence, or that we need to all hold hands and have a kumbaya moment. But cold, calculating strategy requires at least the end of a circular firing squad.

P.S. The Obama era is going to be a tough time for some African-American groups. They are going to correctly point out that Obama’s election is largely symbolic and didn’t put hope back in the ghettoes. And they aren’t going to be heard as well as they used to be. I hope the messaging can be reworked to gain listeners. My suggestion would be the universalization of the struggle in the message, while working towards goals for the particular community. It may sound like a “sell out” but this is going to be a different era.

Teh Hillz 4 SoS?

Surely this will continue to further move the blogosphere into the Green Party, wondering who this black Republican they elected is. I for one think that this is a brilliant way of (1) rewarding Hillary’s support in the same way other’s support would have been rewarded (2) parlaying Bill Clinton’s popularity overseas and (3) giving the Democratic Party a viable 2016 candidate, since Joe Biden will be ooooold then.

AK-Sen

I’ll play with my spreadsheet later before I do a “call,” but I would safe that the safe money is on Begich winning. I’ve played with MN-SEN over and over, and I just can’t get anything that doesn’t have too much error built in.

UPDATE: Can’t do it. I just don’t have enough data at the moment to do it. So no official call using an empirical method, though I will say that I foresee Begich winning.

Nunn

¡¡¡OH NOES!!! Obama hires Confederate Propagandist Sam Nunn to do Pentagon transition. Definitely time to impeach! We let him slide when he picked Zionist Terrorist Rahm Emmanuel for Chief of Staff and had a conversation with misogynist pig Larry Summers—we even let it go when he said he might leave a Republican as Secretary of Paperclips, but this is too far. (We didn’t seem to care when Joe Biden (D-BofA) was named his running mate tho…)

UPDATE: I am informed that we cannot impeach Obama until he’s sworn in. GET ON THE PHONE TO THOSE ELECTORS NOW!

Affirmative Action

It only took a week.

I’ve been for class-based affirmative action since I was in high school, so I’m actually glad to see this. I guess part of me just feels the timing is a bit tacky. I do think that affirmative action is now a politically difficult argument for liberals. Yeah, yeah, I know, I get it. I know why Obama’s getting elected doesn’t help the ghetto. I’m not saying it does. I’m saying Joe the Sixpack won’t get that.

I’m sure there’s a post or seven where I’ve related this. But any of my college friends can vouch that I’ve been talking about this for a while. (:

 

Plus, I’m not sure people are 100% sure about the optics of fighting over who gets into elite schools. The last go-round was the University of Michigan. Sure, it doesn’t sound like Harvard to some, but take a look at their ratings. They are one of the best public schools in the country.

I feel like this is part of my own personal stump speech, but: if you want equality in college attendance, fix the kindergartens, hell fix pre-schools!

Blot out the name…

On the Jewish holiday of Purim, Jews get drunk and use noisemakers to “blot out the name” of Haman as it is read from the scroll. The Scroll of Esther gives Haman an Amalekite genealogy, meaning that his name falls under the commandment:

…when God gives you peace from all the enemies around you in the land that יהוה your God is giving to you to occupy as a heritage, you must obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. You must not forget.

Deut. 25:19

In perpetuating and adapting this great tradition, I will be blotting out the name of Sarah Palin on this blog, because we have been given (temporary) peace from the enemies all around us in a world we have given ourselves. We must not forget.

Bloggers Lose Their Shtick

I was writing my thoughts on my college-assigned webserver space in the mid 90s. It wasn’t much of a “blog” because there was no database mechanism or syndication—it was not even made with Notepad, it was made with Pico. But, needless to say, I was doing it from the beginning. 

In the 90s, I had a lot to say about core philosophical values of the liberal mainstream. I argued, for example, for class-based, not race-based, affirmative action and the use of federalism to liberal advantage in liberal states. 

I started a blog with the earliest bloggers, and for a while I was on the blog roll with some of those that rose to blogger-stardom. I was too involved in my education, and later my work-life, to keep up. But the first wave of important blogging arose with the 2000 presidential election. Particularly, Talking Points Memo and the Daily Howler. These, along with Altercation, the Kaus Files, and conservative equivalents largely rose from the ranks of second-string political writers that already had a few bylines to their credit.

Sui generis bloggers, like Kos and those that sprang from him, mostly arose in opposition to the Bush administration in the wake of the traditional media’s utter obeisance to Bush after 9/11. Many of the political blogs at this time were uninfluential, poorly written, and more or less useless. 

For the first time, it’s worth point out, a very old 80s BBS era facility had an important influence on the Internet: the WELL, a San Francisco-based BBS, one of the few BBSes that had nationwide users, in its iteration as an Internet site ultimately became the nursery for literally thousands of blogs. Most pre-Internet computer systems were destroyed by the Internet in its early years—only a very few, like AOL held out for any significant period of time. I note this because BBSes were an early forum for electronic political discourse.

What blogs ended up being part of was the biggest part of the new generation of the Democratic Party, the generation that got us to where we are today. That was: the realization that traditional non-party institutions were not reliable political allies against the manufactured conservative institutions.

  • The Brookings Institution is a non-partisan think tank; it is no counterweight to the dozen or so influential Conservative think tanks that are not hesitant about their status as a cog in a larger machine.
  • The New York Times et al. are not partisan papers; they are no counterweight to the numerous explicitly partisan news sources like Fox News, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and so forth. Most traditionally “liberal” magazines, like The Nation of Mother Jones, while reliably liberal, are free agents, and are not part of a liberal movement.
  • The American Bar Association is a non-partisan association; it is no counterweight to the expressly partisan Federalist Society, which, over it’s roughly 30 years in existence has been a ticket to insiderdom for conservative law students, and has created a powerful network of conservative lawyers and judges.
  • The handful of non-political radio shows that survived the 90s survived by never touching on the subject. For example, liberal firebrand Tom Leykis, who spent hours ripping Rush Limbaugh’s guts out in the late 80s reinvented himself as an overdriven male chauvanist who taught his listeners how to get laid, and lampooned political talk radio as stuff that people “don’t care about.” In other words, there was literally nothing on radio to counter the army of conservative talkers, and little in the whole world to counter it at all.
  • The mainline Protestant churches emptied. Younger Christians flocked to evangelical strip mall churches, whose message was extremely conservative. You would hear a quip here and there about Jesus being a liberal, but the only growing liberal religious institution that I am aware of in the 90s was the Jewish Reform movement, which became the largest group by the end of the 90s.

The Democratic conceit that the truth is liberal, and, therefore the reliable establishment institutions like the foregoing would ultimately come around to their position relies on the premise that the truth ultimately matters. In the long, long term it does. In the short 2-4 years of an election cycle, it does not. So, the spin and carefully orchestrated messaging of the conservative movement grew powerful enough to stop Clinton, move him to the right, then impeach him. In the aftermath of the 2000 election, it became apparent that enough of this messaging had permeated the mainstream media and the public at large that the unconstitutional theft of an election would just be another scandal, not a giant deal. It was time to do something.

In the wake of 2000, a generation of liberals awoke to the reality that it wasn’t just their style of politics that was losing, but the entire infrastructure dedicated to their message. Why this hadn’t occurred to them during the 1980s, or why no one had noticed the buildup of partisan Conservative institutions after 1964, is for someone of that era to answer for.

I was on the cutting edge of this work as well; much more intimately, in fact. I founded the chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy at my law school. I debated the Federalists. I saw my chapter’s postings around school be stolen or covered with obscene pro-conservative graffiti. It was very tough to be liberal in late 2001.  

At the same time, other important liberal institutions rose up. Air America, to put liberal talkers on the radio. The Center for American Progress became the liberal*movement*’s think tank (and gave birth to the fame of Atrios blogger Duncan Black). Though far from complete or powerful even now, the groundwork for a meaningful religious left has been laid, though it is still disproportionately Jewish.

But the most noticeable counterpunch came from the blogs. 

It was the counterweight to conservative-dominated talk radio before Air America and a big part of it afterward. But more importantly, it was bloggers that pointed out how the “so called liberal media” had been corrupted by the need to profit, and took a no holds barred approach to criticizing their coverage. Yes, not everything you read on a blog is true; but everything that is true is almost certainly pointed out in a blog. The former is still true of the traditional media, but the latter is not. The traditional media had a tendency to severely underreport or not report the truth in the 2000s. It’s not so much that they were reporting lies as truth (though they did xerographically report the lies of others), but more that they simply were cowed by the conservatives. Reporting the “truth” meant criticism of the ends-justified means used by Bush to defend America.

The rise of liberal institutions was created in the same righteous indignation that the Conservative institutions were. They also rose during a period of an almost total eclipse of their power, just like the Conservatives.

But what is brewing in the snap-your-fingers instant flash of the Internet age is a scary answer to the question as to whether these liberal institutions have produced elected leaders that are utterly unable to transition from opposition to governance, which was the ultimate and essential failure of the conservative movement.

Almost instantly after he reached 270 EVs on Tuesday night, the opposition blogosphere began new uproars over the appropriate staffing of an Obama administration and howls of protest at the impending selection of Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff. Already, these opposition-born institutions are showing that they are going to, at best, have trouble supporting the sausage-making of a liberal agenda more than painting a utopian picture on a blank slate in opposition. This same problem had a lot to do with Ralph Nader’s popularity in 2000, which was enough to be a necessary but not sufficient cause of Al Gore’s defeat. Worse, in 2000 these institutions didn’t exist. Will they create an anti-Obama frankenstein that is more like Ross Perot than Ralph Nader in 2012?

And the 2006 Democratic Congress does not appear to be an encouraging answer to the question of the guerillas ability to run the capital either. This is because the Democratic Congress is a dangerous blend of old school holdouts whose seats are so safe they have little if anything ever to fear, and who come from the pre-institutional, establishment era, and the new group of opposition-born members. There are not many members of the Democratic caucuses in either house whose seat they took from the Republicans during the Clinton era.

The old group are likely to reject a forceful Obama program, or amend it to death; the latter are all too likely to reject it as not radical enough. The former group wouldn’t move to impeach Bush when the public supported it; the latter did it before it was shown to be accepted by the public and could have damaged the party’s prospects of retaking the White House.

The bloggers will likely support the more radical group of Congressmembers who can cling to their utopian opposition style within the majority by offering amendments that will get rejected. These opposition minded bloggers will most likely not be able to learn vicariously that the progressive agenda moves forward much much faster with a Democrat than without one. Unfortunately, some aren’t even old enough to remember that that’s what Clinton did in an era of conservative ascendancy. When he and Gore weren’t liberal enough, they cast them away. Again, it’s unknown how this will apply in the liberal institutional era. Not being conservative enough did hurt Bush in 1992, but even the most ugly conservative bloggers came around to reluctant support of McCain in 2008.

I’ll use the analogy of airspeed versus groundspeed. If your airspeed is 200 mph in a 100 mph headwind, you are only going 100mph groundspeed. Clinton faced a massive, organized, and ruthless headwind, yet still had a positive, if small, groundspeed.

Obama has a tailwind, much of it from the liberal institutions and their supports, including the bloggers. Whether that wind stops blowing or changes direction altogether is too early to call.

But as Alex Bennett pointed out during the election, he wouldn’t lose his shtick if Obama won, because others, he will always be too far to the left, but also because he’s not part of a liberal institution that would check his criticism, like Air America. I’ve heard comedians worry that without Bush they’ll lose their shticks too. 

The question is whether or not fear of losing their shticks will cause them to put self over cause and begin a self-immolating criticism of Obama before he has even taken office. So far the signs don’t look good. Maybe things will improve when the Right starts its first bona fide attacks on Obama as President and people get defensive. We’ll see.

But if the last 8 years don’t give you pause about “heightening the contradictions” and their cost, then nothing ever will.

Resigning…

…I think I need to stop reading my usual rundown of political stuff. I’m starting to already here every detail about why Obama’s administration choices (that haven’t even been announced yet) are EVIL. I’m not reading this at The Corner, or RedState.

It’s the liberals.

Are you people fucking serious? If ever there was a time to STFU it is now. Two days after America restores itself after this nightmare and you’re already going to call plays from the booth?

Ugh.

More looking back…

Five months ago…I considered 355 to be my “blowout” scenario. Today we know it’s 365.

Seven months ago…Judge Posner clamored for re-regulation, beating his economic soulmate Bubbles Greenspan to the punch by six months.

Nine months ago… still in the heat of the primaries, I said here’s $5 Obama won’t repeal NAFTA. I stand by that prediction, and I stand by the prediction that Obama is not a liberal. But he simply transcended those old categories by creating new ones. What I had wrong (and I wasn’t alone, but Mr. MacGregor called it) was that this was a new era election, not an old era one.

…at the same time I also congratulated Obama for winning 2008′s “Most important state.” Pretty astute of me, if I do say so.

…and, I said game over to Hillary on Feb. 10. But of course I thought she had it in the bag in the end of January (doh!)

But, once again, Mr. MacGregor kicked my ass and called it (the primary)the whole enchilada for Obama on January 7. (!) Nice.

Can someone please explain to me the late 2007 right-wing Obama moves? I still don’t understand them, or the attacks on now Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who should be getting a job in this new administration as an apology.

I think the primary was a good thing for Democrats and for Obama. He had to get his polish. And—wow! did he ever get his polish!

Here’s a good one from August 10…*2007* bitching about the Glass-Steagall repeal.

I like this one now: we need “revolution” not impeachment. It was worth the wait.

Anyway, we did a damn good job working up to this. Now I plan to wrap 2008 up and take a break from politics, (re)learn how to play the guitar and get back to my other interests.

UPDATED: A Lookback at Polemic's Record On Election Day and In 2008

1. Election Day

Polemic called Kentucky based on benchmark counties at 6:34 est. The Networks waited until 7:01. They beat us by three minutes on Vermont. We called SC at 7:35 and WV and 7:37. CBS called SC at 7:48. We were just about tied on the big load of obvious at 8. NBC called PA before I could even get my spreadsheet fired up. Us 4, Media 2.

Of course, we called the election at 8:02, a full three hours before the nets, but whatever.

We called Indiana at 1:12a.m. est. I don’t have the official time on NBC’s call, but it was around 2:08.

Us 6, media 2.

We called North Carolina at 2:11a.m. est, again, not on a whim, but based on solid data no different than any of the other decisions desks might have. Could we have been wrong? Sure. But our methodology was sound. And we were right. Big scoop here.

Us 7, media 2.

I  recently called NE-02. We’ll see if anyone else follows me, but it’s looking good.

So, what are the conclusions here? To me it’s that the Internet and a decent education let you run the numbers no differently than the big boys do. The only difference is that we don’t feel like we have to wait for the polls to close (e.g. KY), or to heighten the drama. Obama should have been called president when he reached 200 EVs and California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington (all states that would be called on exit and pre-polling, with no data from actual results entered before the call) would put him over the top.

That’s a touchdown. Us 14, media 2.

Now what about before election day? Our map was only off by 13 EVs. Just taking NBC’s gutless map for example, they had Obama with 286 and a bunch of tossups. Make a freakin’ call, pussies. That’s a field goal.

Us 17, media 2.

We also predicted correctly that the Congressional wave would not be as large as some (e.g. Charlie Cook) thought because of the RNC’s decision to pull out of the Presidential race. Cook’s “wave” theory is only predictive if all of the underlying dynamics are the same, because five or six elections is not enough to produce a scientific law. We looked at the polling data, without applying non-scientific biases.

Us 18, media 2.

We immediately recognized <strike>Palin</strike> was a disaster. Unwavering. The media caught on, about three weeks later. Field goal.

Us 21, media 2.

Not bad. It just goes to show you. Data may sometimes give you wrong answers, but people who are on TV aren’t the only ones who can get it. And their countervailing interests go against accuracy and news reporting.

UPDATE: Us 24, Media 2. We beat everyone on NE-02 by about a full day. Lol.

Polemic Calls NE-02 for Obama.

365.

Method: Approximately 17,000 votes to be counted. Obama won early voting 61%. 5,200 provision ballots, assuming 2/3rds validity are split 50/50 (a conservative estimate for) gives McCain +2600+2900=5,500, Obama +2600+6100=8700 for a net of approximately 3,200, or, about 5 times his current deficit of 569 votes.

P.S. Just to brag: we got twothree forecasts wrong here (NE-02, NC and ND) but all of our actual calls, including some made hours ahead of others, have been correct. And they have all been based on data and sound methodology.

Don't believe the lies about Sarah Palin.

Wasilla Hillbillies.

Didn’t know Africa was a country.

Didn’t know who was in NAFTA.

Came out to debate prep in a towel.

Refused interview prep for Couric interview.

Had hissy fits.

Even if all of this is true, none of it is true. It is coming from Mitt Romney loyalists that are doing their best to throw the sinking Palin an anchor and get her out of the 2012 race, which began, honestly, a few weeks ago when the RNC pulled its money from McCain to save its incumbents. 

The fact that these GOP staffers are hitching their wagon to Romney, whom we all couldn’t get enough of, show just how miserable that party is today. I doubt Charlie Crist can survive his “confirmed bachelor” status, but anyway. I would love to see Palin be the nominee—so fight the lies!!!

State of North Carolina Calls North Carolina for Obama (UPDATE: AP makes call 11/6)

I guess the networks are more tentative than a state’s own election officials? Nah, they’re just missing it. Obama wins North Carolina.

Raleigh Observer: Unofficial returns show Obama ahead by 13,746 votes.

Trends over the last 14 years point to Obama having a wider lead after the provisionals are counted, said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

“It widens the lead for the winner, no matter who that may be,” Bartlett said.

So, he states a method, and a reason why McCain won’t make up the 13k+ votes. Obama wins NC. It and ND were the only state I got wrong. Not bad. So far as I know, only the NE-2 is outstanding.

That makes the final score 364/365 to 173/174.3, just under a 2-1 EV advantage for Obama.

Update: NE-2 appears that it will go narrowly for McCain. I don’t expect many recounts in the Presidential races, because there aren’t enough close states to matter.

But what should matter is how effective voter suppression was in the Ozark-Appalachian Axis.

UPDATE: AP calls North Carolina for Obama.

Chicago Obamas 7 Arizona McSames 2. Democrats Win President Washington's Cup!

FIVE GOAL THIRD PERIOD TURNS TIGHT CONTEST INTO ROUT

After upsetting the Newyarkansas Clintons in the eight overtime of Game 57 in their best 29 out of 57 series to capture the Democratic Conference Championship the Chicago Obamas were strong favorites against the Conservatron Conference Champion Arizona McSames. The Democratic Conference had been outperforming the Conservatron Conference all year. Even though the McSames’ run to the Finals was swift after they recovered from poor play in the quarterfinals, their competition was weak whereas the Obamas emerged from, arguably, the strongest and deepest field in Democratic Conference history.

The talent gap was evident from the drop of the puck. The Obamas scored on their first rush up ice on a patented tic-tac-toe Obama Great Speech to start the general campaign. On the next shift, the Obamas caught the McSames’ Lobbyists skating through the neutral zone with their head done. The Obamas delivered a devastating, Stevensesque clean open ice hit on the Lobbyists by noting that their presence was contrary to the McSames’ famous rhetoric. The McSames’ Lobbyists were concussed out of the game and the referees were forced to pick their teeth off the ice like so many wayward Chiclets.

The McSames’ strategy relied heavily on the Lobbyists’ efforts. The Obamas continued to dominate play and it appeared that it was just a matter of time before they broke the game wide open. The McSames made it to the Finals by adapting, however, and they brought in Steve Schmidt off waivers from the Texas Bushes to change their strategy. Schmidt cut down on the McSames sloppy play and established a forecheck by noting that the Obamas had limited direct foreign policy experience. After a few strong shifts the McSames got too aggressive with their talking point. The McSames careless use of their stick by noting that the Obamas had not visited several foreign countries drew blood and the Obamas were awarded a four minute power play. The Obamas applied constant presure on the first half of the power play and finally scored off a rebound with Obama’s Foreign Tour to take a 2-0 first period lead into the locker room.

The McSames retooled their attack in the intermission and shocked the Obama’s by springing an advertisment short-handed breakaway. The McSames scored five hole with the Celebrity Commercial to cut the Obamas’ lead in half. The unexpected goal appeared to rattle the Obamas, and while the McSames were not generating much offense, they were exceeding expectations by keeping the score close. Despite the Obamas’ almost supernatural talent, by the mid-point of the contest it had become clear that they could not polish off the McSames without the tough, down-low, home spun “grinding,” cycling and forechecking game perfected by the Newyarkasas Clintons that had produced the last National Presidential League champions from the Democratic Conference in 1992 and 1996.

The Obamas successfully integrated the Clintons into their attack during the Democratic Convention. The new teammates produced several strong shifts, and long periods of puck possession, but could not score another goal. Obama’s Convention Speech hit the post.

The McSames immediately reversed the Obamas’ Convention momentum by calling up a little known right-winger named Sarah Nilap from the Melting Tundra League’s Wasilla Meth Houses. Although the Wasilla Meth Houses are a Conservatron Conference farm team, the young phenom had impressed drunken Conservatron scouts with her nice Talent & Acumen for pleasant blathering laced with distilled hatred. The unexpected entrance of Nilap on the first-line as Vice-Presidential Candidate and her controversial family and personal history upended the contest and turned it into a penalty fest. The McSames took control of this narrative in their Convention and produced a goal on a one-timer from the top of the right circle with Nilap’s VP Acceptance Speech. The contest was tied heading into the third period.

The McSames emerged from the intermission with momentum and carried play for the first time in the entire contest, producing scoring chances on  every shift. Their best opportunity came on the Lipstick On A Pig one-timer from the blue line. Several spectators thought the shot had gone in, however, the Obamas’ goalie got a glove on it at the last moment by pointing out its conceptual abusrdity. The play was reviewed for two news cycles before the pundits declared that it glanced off the goalie’s glove, hit the cross bar, and sailed out of play.

The Obamas’ caught a break as the McSames shot the puck over the glass by declaring the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” in the face of the Great Economic Collapse. The McSames flailed about in the ensuing penalty kill, changing their strategy on an almost moment by moment basis. The Obamas kept the puck in the economic zone, and wore out the McSame’s defense finally scoring over the blocker on a give and go with their Understanding Of The Great Economic Collapse.

By this point the Obama’s had figured out that Nilap had good political instincts, but poor fundamentals. Rather than pressing Nilap and allowing her to react using her raw politicism, they forced her to make plays. The new strategy paid off as Nilap muffed a routine break out pass and banked the puck into her own net off a McSame defenseman’s skate by Being A Moron In The Katie Couric Interview. Nilap’s effectiveness was permanently marred by the mistake, and the Obama’s had a 4-2 lead.

The McSames understood that the contest was getting away from them and tried to change the momentum. McSame’s call to “suspend” his campaign forced off-setting penalties and the first four on four play of the contest. Although McSame initiated the four on four, it played directly into Obama’s strength of mental acuity, calmness, and economic understanding. McSame’s strategic errors during the four-on-four led to an easy two on one goal for the Obama’s by Displaying Superior Leadership In Crisis and a 5-2 lead.

The Obamas scoring outburst left the McSames with no choice but to play dirty. A series of high-sticks, elbows, trips, and dives by bringing up tenuous negative Obama associations excited the Conservatron partisans, but failed to intimidate the Obamas. The Obamas erased all doubt in the contest by putting home a backhander off a goal mouth scrum by Winning Every Debate and going up 6-2.

There were only five minutes left in the elimination game. With nothing to lose the McSame’s pulled their goalie for “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’” another unknown call up from the Ohio Delusional League. The McSame’s picked up the hitting, and kept the puck in the Obamas’ zone, but they did not get any more serious scoring chances. The Obamas iced the game with an empty net goal from Colin Powell’s Endorsement. The Obamas’ army of volunteers made no mistake in the closing seconds, fighting hard to the end despite the overwhelming lead.

As the buzzer sounded euphoria blossomed throughout the land like a thousand starbursts. After eight years of heartbreak and despair starting with the Texas Bushes controversial “chad in the crease” victory in the year 2000, the Democrats had at last regained President Washington’s Cup!

Chicago Obamas 7   Arizona McSames 2

Scoring Summary

First Period:

Obamas (1) :33, Obama Great Speech (McSame Green Screen, History Making); Obamas (2) 19:22, Obama World Tour (Power Play) (Foreign Enthusiasm, Media Excitement)

Second Period

McSames (1) :10, Celebrity Commercial (Short Handed) (Starlets, Complicit Media); McSames (2) 18:43 Nilap VP Acceptance Speech (Melodrama, Speechwriter).

Third Period

Obamas (3) 2:32, Understanding of Great Economic Collapse (Power Play) (Calmness, Reason); Obamas (4) 7:11, Nilap Being A Moron In Katie Couric Interview (Tina Fey Impression, Blogosphere); Obamas (5) 10:00, Displaying Superior Leadership In Crisis (Intelligence, Planning); Obamas (6) 14:33, Winning Every Debate (Unflappability, Joe Biden); Obamas (7) 18:01, Colin Powell Endorsement (Empty Net) (Call For National Unity, Intelligence).

Attendance – 115 Million

2008 National Presidential League Trophies

Conn Smythe Trophy – Barack Obama

Hart Trophy – Barack Obama

Lady Byng Trophy – Michelle Obama

Calder Trophy – Sarah Nilap

Art Ross Trophy – Obama Ground Game

Vezina Trophy – Hillary’s Establishment Support

Norris Trophy – Bill Clinton

Selke Trophy – Joe Biden

Masterson Trophy – Hillary Clinton

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy – Barack Obama

Jack Adams Trophy – David Plouffe and David Axelrod

Holik Trophy – Joe Lieberman

Michael Crichton

I hate to sound like this, because making light of someone’s death makes light of the pain his loved one’s may be feeling. But, Crichton has no familial relationship to me. All I know is that his greatest impact on the world was to drum up a bunch of non-sense about global warming being fake.

Look, I know that people are hyperbolic and alarmist in their reactions to global warming. It’s not ideal. It’s no excuse for war or whatever (yet). But it is serious, does affect the whole world, and, most of all, it is real and anthropogenic.

Early Thoughts.

There will be weeks to digest all of this, but here are my thoughts this morning.

Call it the Bradley Effect, or whatever you want to call it, but the voter suppression efforts in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia had an effect. I think we all know Obama would have won North Carolina by now if everyone who voted got their vote count, and I suspect the same in Georgia.

Thankfully, the cancerous wart on our country that is the South has had its power destroyed, at least for now. Florida and Virginia have become popularly dominated by “Real Americans” (as opposed to “Real Confederates”), and great inroads to that effect have been worked in North Carolina. 

But Obama would have won without these places. The gentle folks of the upper Mid-West, along with the blue coasts did this. Obama would have won 290 EVs with no southern states and no Mountain West states. The Mountain West, and its less gentle, more gritty folk, have turned on corporatism. Together with the other regions, this Real America has neutered the Real Confederacy. Nevermind the presidential map—Montana and Arizona are joining that trend. 

Only the Mormon triangle and the prairie states hang on, but only because of their religion. If Obama can deal them in to prosperity and call a temporary truce in the culture wars, he could probably win 40 states next time, maybe even Texas.

Speaking of the culture wars, I know that justice delayed is justice denied. But justice denied is not a permanent state of affairs. The Civil Rights movement peaked 40+ years ago, and we are just now having a black president. There have been 44 presidents. In a country with a roughly 12% black population, we should have had 2 or 3 by now, all things being equal.

Women’s suffrage came 100 years ago, beating de facto suffrage for blacks by 50 years, and was about 50 years ahead of de jure black suffrage. So, now I turn to America’s last two hot battles in the culture wars.

Everybody’s favorite abortion ban test state, South Dakota, has rejected another Roe test law. So did California. With Obama’s election, the Supreme Court can be remade to ensure Roe/Casey stand for another generation. It appears that the Battle of the Bulge has been fought in this one, and the Allies are marching on Berlin.

But in the struggle for gay rights, we lost yesterday. We lost in the heart of blue America by a decent margin. Yeah, bans passed in Arizona and Florida as well. A gay *adoption* ban passed in Arkansas.  The latter are not surprising; the former is crushing.

California has long been the source of progressivism in this country. In the darkest of the Bush years, California worked on its own to foster at least civil unions, control carbon emissions, do stem cell research, and has had its own tougher clean air standards since the 1970s. For gay rights to lose here is crushing. Of course hippy-dippy California is ruled by big-moneyed special interests and their ballot initiatives. And those ballot initiatives have produced some of the most regressive laws in the nation, including Proposition 13 which strangles property taxes to the point that revenue must come from more regressive taxation, which has turned California’s public schools from 1st to 47th and has put the originally free University of California out of reach for most of California’s high school graduates. Before the Courts came around, Prop 187 effectively turned teachers into INS agents. Now Prop 8 will join them in infamy.

Especially since the margin came from first-time black voters turning out for Obama. One of the greatest tragedies of humanity is the failure to see the struggles of others in your own. Consolidating gains instead of universalizing them is the default human way. 

So, I must ask: when do we let gays into the big house?

Soon. The fact that this is a “front burner” issue—and I think it will overtake abortion now (it’s much easier to hate tangible gays than a practice) as the defining belief of the Christian Nationalist Right—means that they see public opinion moving. 

But if the time between MLK and Obama is the measuring stick, it may be a while.

Oh, and one other thing: we have no gay heroes. There are some actors. There are some back-bench politicians. But there is no Jackie Robinson, no Martin Luther King, no Jesse Jackson. Not yet. That leader is what it’s going to take to get people’s thinking changed.

So, while I’m disgusted by that, I cannot be sad. Because we have seen that in the face of a lawless government, that we did not let the water heat up until we were slowly boiled. We jumped out of the pot. No other post-revolutionary country has done that non-violently once. Few countries withstand an era like this non-violently.

So, somewhere deep in our national soul, despite the poison fed us to perpetuate our 9/11 PTSD, we found a way to jump out of the fascist boil. So, for gays that day will come—it’s in our soul. It’s just not going to be tomorrow.

Some Final Election Night Ironies and Curios

1.) Obama’s victory produced spontaneous dancing in the street celebrations in Harlem, Times Square, Seattle, black churches throughout the south, and in metropolitan areas around America and the world.

Obama was greeted as a liberator!

Over a thousand people in DC gathered in front of the White House chanting “Obama! Obama!”

This picture of their gathering is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. Take away the familiar sights of the White House and the American flag and it looks like an image that one associates with change of power or even revolutionary moments in “less developed” countries. A fitting rejoinder to the venal, contemptuous rule of the Bush junta and the Coup D’etat that installed them. USA! USA! USA!

2.) “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’” says that, despite his mini-celebrity, and infamous fantasizing about paying taxes on money he doesn’t have to buy a business that doesn’t exist, and weeks of being paraded around by Bush Patsy McCain he’s broke. So, the GOP used a working man to provide puffy symbolism while leaving him in the financial shaft! Shocking!

Joe hopes to turn his mini-celebrity into a charity called “Secure Our Dream” that will directly help people such as a woman on his block on disability who is about to lose her home, and focus on civic engagement.

In other words, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’” is about to become a dreaded Community Organizer!

At least his heart is in the right place.

3.) Interesting analysis here that the Obama campaign may have faked the McSame campaign into their quixotic quest for Pennsylvania by leaking a false internal poll that showed the race to be close to a right-of-center radio station, and having Governor Rendell express public worry about Obama’s prospects in Pennsylvania down the stretch.

A Monday morning quarterback look at the results reveals that the McSame campaign would have done better to focus on Colorado and Nevada and hope to hold onto all of the other Bush states. Conservatrons can kvetch about the Great Economic Collapse as much as they want, but between poor tactics and being punked by Quebecois disc jockeys they deserved to lose.

4.) Oh what a fabulous night and what a wonderful new reckoning to wake up to! I’m man enough to admit that I teared up when the election was called and wept during Obama’s victory speech.

Nevada!

Carson county went blue along with Washoe!! Yay!

Douglas County, where POLEMIC worked had 92% turnout, including 47.39 early and 13.05 absentee:

Obama 10,671 41.20%
McCain 14,645 56.54%

2004:

Bush 15,192 64%
Kerry 8,275 35%

There are 14,533 Republicans in Douglas County. That means McCain netted exactly 112 independents. There are 8,308 Democrats, meaning Obama picked netted 2,396 votes from Independents, assuming all the Democrats voted for him. (Based on the operation I saw there, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

The margin in this county was narrowed to less than 4,000 votes from almost 7,000. Considering what happened in Clark County, it doesn’t matter. But if this operation stays intact, I wouldn’t want to be John Ensign.

Tweets (Updated!x2)


But What If…!

For all of the angst and annoying Rachel Maddow segments about the “Bradley effect”, flakey young voter turnout, voter caging, voter suppression, the sneaky Conservatron ground game, Conservatrons insisting the “race is tightening,” corrupt electronic voting machines, Obama supporter complacency, and the polls perhaps being fundamentally wrong somehow there is one possibility that has gotten little consideration.

What if the Conservatrons do not come out in high numbers?

All of the above worries have some level of merit, but there is strong analytical, statistical and qualitative evidence that the Conservatron turnout may be down.

In no particular order:

1.) 2004 was a Base election. Generalissimo Bush was King of the Conservatron Base. Bush Patsy McCain is not, yet analysts of all stripes assume that robust Conservatron turnout similar to 04 is a given.

2.) Early voting favors Obama. Again, people will assume that the Conservatrons will all appear on election day, but they had just as much of a chance to vote early as the Obamites (indeed they probably had an easier go of it overall given the active attempts to supress Democratic votes), and many more Obamites appear to have voted. If you take off your dread-tinted glasses this seems like an emprical example of Obamites outvoting McSamers..

3.) Returns are Down in Conservatron Oregon Counties. Oregon votes entirely by mail. It is not a bell weather state, but its Conservatives are very Conservative and its Liberals are very Liberal. If Conservatives were ready to come out in 04 numbers, then they would be doing so in Oregon even if you correct for the fact that the race has not been contested in Oregon like it was in 04 and there are no compelling ballot measures. Again, Conservatrons have had a chance to cast their ballot for Bush Patsy McCain, and they haven’t.

4.) Where’s the Ground Game? The 538.com review of both sides’ ground game found the Republican offices to often be empty, while the Democratic offices were abuzz. Polemic’s own experience with organizing for Obama involved Rene Russo, a movie star everyone’s kinda’ heard of adding MILFy charisma to the Obama ground force in exurban Nevada. While I’m sure the Conservatrons are putting the shot on net in Ohio and elsewhere, it may be too much to assume that they replicate the “best ever” effort of 2004 nationwidse.

In short, a mixture of cortisol and time is fussing with some progressives’ perception. This election pits a past peak candidate who is not the favorite of his own party, has the albatross of the worst and most unpopular president of modern times around his neck; who has run an erratic, weird campaign that resembles an episode of South Park, picked a megafauna murdering dunce for a running mate, and has nothing relevant to say about the Great Economic Collapse against the greatest persuasive leader of his generation who has a bottomless war chest and is a master of relevance; whose followers are motivated to rectify the nightmare of the last eight years and are energized by the suspicious and agonizing elections of 04 and 08.

Here is my special prediction: The mixture of Conservatron disenchantment and historic Obama enthusiasm will lead to Obama winning one “what the fuck?” state. My prognostications are that it will be Lousiana — where Obama appears to have scored in early voting and neither candidate has a presence — or Arizona whose demographics are similar to those of New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado where Obama is running strong.

Nevada Diary

We arrived in the Reno area on Friday night. I drove in, Mr. MacGregor flew in, and I picked him up at the airport. My yellow Lab, Sanford, “the yellow dog Democrat” was with me. We got a room at a skanky motel room (cheap, dog tolerant, and Internet access–good enough) near Lake Tahoe, because we weren’t sure which part of Nevada we would go to.

We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we shot the shit for a while and then got to bed quite late. We woke up a bit late, and after some consideration, decided we would go not to Reno itself, but one of its exurbs, in a different county.

 

We headed to the Obama office in Minden, Nevada, in Douglas County.

 In 2004, Douglas county went for Bush 15,192 to 8,275, or 64% to 35%. As of October 17, 2008, the party registrations were 8,308 Democrats and 14,533 Republicans. Based on the 2004 vote, it is about 14% more 

Republican than the rest of the state.

We found the office in one of the town’s very new looking office buildings, with a sign on the street pointing the way in. We walked in and were greeted. We said we hadn’t been contacted (despite signing up several times to go to Nevada) and that we’d do whatever. A guy from LA trained us on what to do when canvassing. I pretty much instantaneously forgot, but Mr. MacGregor remembered and refreshed my recollection a few times. Honestly, I was a little anxious about the whole thing. I was secretly hoping they had some kind of office job for me. They said the people out canvassing would be back in a few with the clipboards to hand off to us.

We took Sanford for a walk around Minden. We saw a few more McCain signs than Obama signs, but we saw quite a few Obama signs. I grew up in a place a lot like Minden, but in California. A small, rural high desert town with a spurts of growth and strata of newcomers. The houses were neat and clean, some small, some large. I have nothing to base this on, but something tells me there weren’t very many Kerry signs out in 2004.

We got back to the office in the middle of Rene Russo, the actress from Major League and Lethal Weapon, giving a pep talk to the crowd. I was disturbed to find out later that she was in her early 50s, because she was quite MILFy. The crowd abated, stole all of the pieces of flair and swag.

We got our clipboard, checked it out, and got ready to go. What I noticed was how competent the people were in this tiny little outpost in a heavily Republican county. There was coffee; there were snacks; there were computers with people doing work; there were chairs. Clearly, it was not running on a shoestring.

We were sent down the road to follow up on an area of a town just to the south of Minden called Gardenerville to a newish looking housing tract. The first shift (these people were damn organized) went to approximately 40 houses and gathered data, left literature, and tried some persuasion. We were there to follow up on the 30 or so folks that weren’t home.

It was cold. There were a few specs of rain here and there, and a chilly wind. Who cares? This particular precinct was for Bush 59%-39%, so 6% less pro-Bush and 4% more pro-Kerry than the county as a whole. You wouldn’t know that by walking around. The signage was roughly even. This was not a yuppie neighborhood. The cars were mostly trucks. There were obvioulsy quite a few foreclosures.

We found more people our our list had moved than we actually spoke to. Most of the people that hadn’t been home earlier still weren’t home. One of the weirder things was going to places to speak to 18 or 19 year old kids of people who weren’t also registered as Democrats.

Many of the McCain signs had accompanying negative slogans, like this one to the left. It says “Keep off Lawn Dog Owners Beware.” I can’t tell you how many McCain/Get Off My Lawn jokes I’d heard. It was hilarious.

Here’s another one–not “Yay McCain” but “NOBAMA.” Ugh. “Socialism won’t solve YOUR problems!” Umm, acutallly, at least temporarily, yeah, it might. It’s working for Wall Street, isn’t it? 

This seemed to be a place that people weren’t scared to put their signs up, even right next to each other. There were kids playing in the neighborhood (despite the weather).

The long and the short of it is that we found a bunch of people had moved or weren’t there anymore (we saw some moving boxes in one house). I talked to one woman who was on the list and confirmed that she was going to the polls on the 4th, and didn’t need a ride to the polls or anything else. I talked to an old couple who weren’t who the list said was supposed to be there, but who both confirmed to me that they had already voted for Obama. Neat.

It was amazing how easily I got over my anxiety about doing this. Part of it was probably that I believed this needed to be done. Part of it was we were, for the most part, only going to rope Obama supporters. We weren’t really out there to try and change minds. If we found someone who was undecided, we were supposed to ask them what their issues were. That never came up for us.

Mostly that never came up because were were just collecting data as a small cog in a very, very efficient machine. We moved the ball a little bit. Some of the people in the neighborhood will just get a sense that Obama cared enough to send people there, for whatever that’s worth. So, for those reasons, even though we didn’t have some super-duper miracle conversion story, this was highly rewarding. Very rewarding.

We went back to the office, dropped off the clipboard and headed back up to the skanky motel. Sunday, well, Sunday was another story for another time. We resolved to do some phone calls off the website, because the weather was shitty. We had originally resolved to go to Carson City the next day, but we looked at some more polls, and decided to see if we could focus on other states from the motel room.

On our way to dinner on Sunday, we drove through a bunch of teenagers doing sign waving (in Washoe County, Nevada). We honked. Also, when you watch the Reno TV station, you see just how overpowering Obama’s on air presence is too. It’s not just the ground game, which, so far as I could tell was litereally “the only game in town.”

I think Nevada’s going blue, and that’s great. But what I saw was deeper than that. I saw a rejection–or at least a questioning–of the way things are. People are ready for a new story.