November, 2008

Understanding Republicans By Understanding College Republicans

At dinner with my little brother and cousin the other night we were discussing my absolute favorite story about College Republicans; When a former chair of the NJ State College Republicans, Steve Damion, got a little too big for his britches and started trying to extort money out of a Republican campaign. The College Republican blog "Truth Caucus" published an exchange of emails, and it's really a sight to behold. Steve starts it off by setting the tone;

I would be more than happy to give that information to you and the Forrester Campaign, but I am looking at you to help us out as well.

[...]

Keep me posted on this. If there is a 3,000 dollar check waiting for me I am coming running and the campaign will have total access to our resources at all times, no problem.

The State Chair of the real Republican party responded with an epic smackdown. Some choice excerpts;

Let me suggest that you need to re-read what you wrote, think about the people your working with, and spend this weekend thinking about the reasons I shouldn’t share your email with every legislator and county chairman in the state (I can promise you that if I do, the few dollars you’ve raised will be the last you see from any Republican organization or candidate) and then contact the national CR office to have your ass removed. Your approach is 100% out of line – not to mention quite possibly illegal.

[...]

The first thing you’ll do is get Sean exactly what he asked you for first thing Monday AM with your apology and assurance that he will have from you complete and unqualified cooperation from now on.

[..]

Now that I see what you’re all about, I’d also like by then a complete accounting for the CR account for the past 2 years. I want to know where every dollar came from and every penny went. I’d also like a monthly report from you detailing the same info.

Give Thanks for Obama

Some holiday blog filler here. Has it sunk in yet?

Change Is Coming

This story is about a week old by now, which is decades in internet-time, but I didn't want it to pass without mention here. Henry Waxman (On the left, with the power mustache) challenged and defeated John Dingell for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which was about a 6.5 on the political Richter scale. John Dingell has been the ranking Democratic member of this committee since 1995, and assumed the chairmanship when the Democrats took control of the House after the 2006 elections. Dingell has always been a staunch advocate for the auto companies (and by extension the oil companies), and has been blocking regulations aimed at curbing global climate change for years and years.

Oftentimes when people aren't acquainted with how the federal government really works, they'll read about a problem, like, say, climate change, with some widely agreed upon measures that need to be taken, and say "why doesn't the government just do that?" Nine out of ten times the answer is because of someone like John Dingell; A congressman or senator with seniority and a chairmanship who uses his or her power to myopically advocate for a narrow constituency.

I'm a Nerd

Take the quiz. Yes, I know the ISI is a bit of a right-wing institution, but I have no particular problem with any of the questions. Just for fun.

Rush Limbaugh is an Idiot

Shocking news, I know. I found myself driving around 1 in the afternoon today, and I did what I always do when I'm driving by myself; I listened to right-wing talk radio! Limbaugh was bleating about how the call by Senate Democrats and President-Elect Obama for the automakers to submit viable business plans to congress with an emphasis on fuel efficient vehicles before forking over tens of billions of dollars, amounts to the end of freedom and the dawn of the Democratic centrally planned economy.

He kept insisting that "Obama and Pelosi" were demanding that the automakers "bend over and grab their ankles" (his words, not mine) and would force automakers to stop making cars that everyone wants (SUVs, trucks) and force them to make cars that "nobody wants" (only pussies drive small cars, dontcha know). He seemed to think that his argument that in America car companies should be able to make whatever cars they want to was some kind of brilliant insight.

The point he was missing, though, is pretty obvious. The fact of the matter is that car companies do have the right to make whatever cars they want (subject to existing regulations), but they don't have the freedom to be entitled to billions of dollars of taxpayer money without strings attached. If the automakers want to walk away from the table right now and just keep selling Rush Limbaugh more SUVs that's entirely their perogative. But Rush never explained why they are entitled to billions of taxpayer dollars if they're running their companies so profitably in the first place.

Funny, But Enough Already

I thought that the video of Palin giving the interview right in front of the turkey slaughter was amusing, and I must say, this collection of MSNBC chyrons was pretty funny. Somebody was just having a good time in the control booth when they wrote the following chyrons;

Gov Palin apparently oblivious to turkey carnage over her shoulder.

Turkeys die as Governer Palin takes questions from the media

And so on, and so forth. Click image for a larger version.

But enought already! David Shuster spent another 10 minutes discussing it tonight on Countdown, and it's just way too much. The election is over, and Sarah Palin is now just Joe the Governor. Sarah Palin was grotesquely unqualified to hold the office of the Vice President, intellectually and otherwise, but there's nothing about this interview that shows bad judgement or particular callousness on her part. I won't accept umbrage from anyone who isn't a vegan, and it's worth pointing out that the slaughter going on around her was significantly more human than most factory farms and slaughterhouses, as Ana-Marie Cox noted.

(via PhillyBits)

What Ray Said

Yesterday Ray over at PhillyBits patiently explained to the denser than usual ALa at Blonde Sagacity that no, there is no "Cult of Obama." This debate was tiresome before the voting even started in the primary, but Ray does a great (and funny) job of going over all the salient points.

The only thing I would add is that those crying "cult!" aren't really making a good faith argument. The goal isn't to make a point for the ten thousandth time, it's to belittle those of us that concluded that Obama and his policies would be better for more people than McCain. It's made to dismiss us, not to engage us, and above all to make ALa and her ilk feel better about themselves for living in the 13th century.

I do find it interesting, though, that this charge has been leveled so often and so vociferously by supporters of President Dubya Bush, a Presidency built on personality until the country started crashing down around him. Remember this fun from over the summer, when the GOP platform was rewritten to scrub the references to Bush, found on 91 of the document's 100 pages? This administration campaigned and governed on an idealogy of incompetence and corruption, but was hailed and defended by "conservatives" because Bush had a certain swagger and a cowboy hat.

So spare us the "cult" chatter.

(As an addendum, I'm not a regular reader of ALa, but I do see that she embraced the Newt Gingrich theory of sloganeering-as-energy-policy, meaning that I will continue to not be a regular reader of her blog.)

Electability Fail

John Cole invites us to look back unkindly at "Big Tent Democrat's" (aka Armando) gnashing of teeth about Obama's "electability" during the Democratic primary, and I had to oblige. I read TalkLeft during the primary, mostly as a lark, the same way I still read those hilarious PUMA blogs, So I certainly remembered how silly a lot of the punditry got. In BTD's defense, stupid arguments were made on both sides of the Clinton-Obama divide, and ultimately intervening events and the epic fail of the McCain campaign probably had a lot more to do with the outcome than favorability ratings of candidates from April. That said, please enjoy this trifecta of electibility genius from Big Tent Democrat. May he never cease making predictions!

First, on April 10th, and after months of arguing that Obama's "electability" in PA/OH/FL made him a toxic nominee, BTD made this startling admission:

At the end of the day, sadly and perhaps shamefully for me, I actually agree that Obama should be supported on elctability grounds. But I sooo detest the nasty Hillary Hate that sanctimonious Obama supporters like DeLong will display while feeding the most vile behavior. If they dropped the act, it would be much easier to swallow.

Yes We Did.

To all our volunteers, members, and well-wishers, please allow us to once again thank you for the time, effort, and passion that you brought to this election. It truly warmed my heart to see Drexel so engaged and informed about this historic election. To TJ, Emily, Diana, Renato, and everyone else from the campaign, thank you. You guys did an unbelievable job and really made a difference. We showed a lot of skeptics that Drexel isn't a hotbed of apathy, but rather host to a vibrant political community, composed of a broader and more diverse array of majors and students than most other colleges.

Now that we're coming down from the excitement and recovering from the exhaustion, I thought you would want to know exactly what we did. As many of you already know, we were responsible for managing turnout operations in 10 of the 17 divisions of the 24th ward, and to that end you all did an amazing job. There were hundreds of volunteers, thousands of volunteer shifts, and very satisfying results. In 2004, 736 people voted in the 10th division of the 24th ward, which encompasses all of the dorms. That was 51% of registered voters. This year, there were 2054 voters, representing nearly 75% turnout, and 77% of those voters voted for now President-Elect(!) Obama. Thanks to all of your work registering students and getting them to the polls, we tripled turnout over 2004, and did what a lot of people said wouldn't happen.

Obama's Intellectual Style

After our debate with the College Republicans this past Wednesday (smoked em, natch) I was talking to the faculty advisor of the CRs, and I promised him I'd pass on this information to him. He said, revealingly, that at least if Obama wins he'll take comfort in knowing it will piss off the hippies (it's always about spite, no?) when US troops are still in Iraq on January 21st. As we digressed into a discussion about which ideological groups held sway over Obama, I took the opportunity to point out that one of the things that I like about Obama is the way he isn't afraid to seek counsel from opposing sides.

Indeed, I've often heard of his reaching out to both prominent conservative and liberal thinkers before making major decisions. It's not that he's "centrist," or "moderate," because those words are hollow and meaningless; it's that he has an intellectual curiosity to seek out opposing points of view, and an intellectual robustness to sift through them and still come down on the correct side of things.

I think this piece by Cass Sunstein is a prime example of this phenomenom.

Not so long ago, the phone rang in my office. It was Barack Obama. For more than a decade, Obama was my colleague at the University of Chicago Law School.

He is also a friend. But since his election to the Senate, he does not exactly call every day.