View Full Version : Tuesday Night Elan

03-05-2008, 09:16 AM

03-05-2008, 10:31 AM
I'm more than a little surprised that Mr. Wright thinks SNL [!] is a momentum-shifting factor in the campaign, but that Mr. Obama's awful press-conference performance goes unmentioned. "C'mon guys. I just answered like eight questions!" This (http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/03/sweet_obama_leaving_his_press.html)ought to be the line on Obama's political tombstone, positioned next to Gary Hart's political grave.

03-05-2008, 10:45 AM
Mr. Wright's argument that Iraq has cost us too much money and contributed to our recession is a bit tendentious. I thought the central economic broadside against Bush was that he had lowered taxes too much? And further, what does Mr. Wright think those billions would have been used for that would have reduced recessionary trends? It isn't as if the feds were about to return those billions to the people: the gov't would have spent it somewhere else, right?

03-05-2008, 11:40 AM
Mickey: Tina Fey doesn't work for SNL anymore.

03-05-2008, 11:44 AM
My apologies if this has already made the rounds:


"Ann Coulter's illegitimate daughter, Gracie Ann, suspects that Robert Wright, the liberal columnist and commentator on Bloggingheads.tv, is her father?"

03-05-2008, 11:48 AM
Wow, that was weird.

David Edenden
03-05-2008, 11:59 AM
Mickey, why all the emphasis on a "blonde" lobbyist.

Is anti-blonde hysteria sweeping the USA? Would the media have mentioned a "brunette" lobbyist? What's going on?

03-05-2008, 12:11 PM
Read it and weep (or adjust):

03-05-2008, 12:26 PM
Well, she was the host on the season opener, and she delivered the "Bitch is the new black" commentary, though I think Mr. Wright is referring to the more recent episode and its continuation of the press-is-in-the-tank for Barry theme they've been playing.

Simon Willard
03-05-2008, 12:29 PM
The predicted loss of jobs described here would certainly hurt the Republicans in November.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-05-2008, 12:47 PM
I stopped reading the torture debate thread when it seemed like we were going in circles, and was completely unaware until this diavlog about the proposal to ban me. Thanks for not giving in to the ninnies, Bob! I may be evil, but I think I'd still be an acceptable and polite guest at a dinner party. Especially if kittens were on the menu.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-05-2008, 01:06 PM
It's really amazing to think what the effect a show like SNL has on elections given that it is (1) a comedy show and (2) isn't seen by that large an audience. But I think it clearly has an effect, it large part because of the people that watch it. Al Gore completely (and to his detriment) changed his debating style in 2000, because his handlers watched SNL and didn't like how he was portrayed in the skit about his first debate with Bush. To this day that still strikes me as absurd.

The SNL skits about the media's bias towards Obama were seen by maybe 6 million people, and it's doubtful that a substantial number of those were voters in Texas and Ohio (SNL does best on the coasts). But the media types saw the skit, and because it was noteworthy to them (likely because they were the skit's target), they covered it like it was significant to everyone. And their overblown coverage made the SNL skit far more significant that it should have been.

Simon Willard
03-05-2008, 01:12 PM
I’m on the edge of my chair, listening to Bob’s latest updates on the Obama/Clinton race. Never mind that (1) This is all in the past and he knows I know the result ( http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9237?in=00:12:13&out=00:12:35) (2) The votes have been cast at the time of the diavlog recording, so the final result is predetermined even while Bob provides breathless reports on the incoming data and (3) The importance of “winning” each state is vastly overblown, because states don’t select the nominee.

It is a human trait to love storytelling and storylistening. Part of this is the impatience to know the final outcome. This is demonstrated by Bob in this clip as he wonders “why they aren't calling it for Ohio” (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9237?in=00:01:24&out=00:01:34), and as demonstrated by Mickey’s “7 weeks is like a voyage to Mars” ( http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9237?in=00:05:14&out=00:05:56 ) comment.

This has political implications: when voters think they sense the final outcome, there is an irrational tendency to “go with a winner” and vote for the presumptive victor. And pundits pontificate that everyone else should drop out of the running, so as not to cause themselves embarrassment.

There is a counteracting effect with a few oddballs (myself included) who don’t like the rush to coronate, and retaliate by voting for the underdog. But this is a second-order effect, and I do understand the appeal of a story with a known ending.

OK, time to rewind the VCR and re-live the Red Sox World Series victory.

uncle ebeneezer
03-05-2008, 01:14 PM
Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?


03-05-2008, 01:18 PM
Wow, that was weird.

Agreed. Not least of which the "host" of the talk show looked like Donald Rumsfeld.

Simon Willard
03-05-2008, 01:26 PM
Sadly, it's a sign of fame. Celebrities endure abuse in the media, and bloggers endure abuse on blogs. I guess diavloggers will be abused on Internet video.

Let's hope we never see Bob and Mickey on the cover of National Inquirer with speculations about cosmetic surgery.

Simon Willard
03-05-2008, 03:22 PM
Now this is interesting. Do a google search on "affair with a blonde" and you will get about 20000 hits. Searching on "affair with a brunette" or "affair with a redhead" will get you only about 10 hits. Since blondes are having all the affairs, it stands to reason that being blonde causes suspicion.

uncle ebeneezer
03-05-2008, 03:58 PM
SW, good investigative work. So technically if Bob was going to have an affair (and father an illegitimate child) Ann Coulter would have an advantage in this regard.

I'm just glad my girlfriend is a brunette.

Bloggin' Noggin
03-05-2008, 04:00 PM
Sorry, Uncle. Brunettes just fool around so much that it isn't newsworthy.

03-05-2008, 05:32 PM
Mickey suggests to both candidates that they "pivot" to the center. Bob kindly points out that Mickey is simply projecting his own ideology. I say "kindly" because Mickey is hardly a "centrist" on issues like the illegal war, torture and xenophobic immigrant-bashing.

That being said, there are other more serious problems with Obama "pivoting" to the center, the foremost being that such shifting around shows a lack of integrity and a surfeit of spin. That's precisely the "old politics" he claims to transcend.

Furthermore, Obama cannot realistically pivot to the right because he's already as far right as he can go. He is a much more progressive thinker than most people think.

If you actually read his book "Dreams From My Father" he emerges as exactly the man his right-wing critics hope (or fear) he is: internationalist, sensitive to Third World issues, lacking in chauvinism (what they call "patriotism"), agnostic, and deeply committed to key minority issues. He is also a firm believer in the cornerstone of progressive thinking on security-- i.e.,that stupid wars and hawkish defense budgets constitute a horrific squandering of treasure that could otherwise be used for health, education, the environment, and the promotion of peace and human rights.

This is why there's a real difference between HRC and Obama. She really is a centrist, whereas he is the most progressive serious candidate for the presidency the Democratic Party has ever had.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-05-2008, 06:16 PM
Mickey suggests to both candidates that they "pivot" to the center. Bob kindly points out that Mickey is simply projecting his own ideology. I say "kindly" because Mickey is hardly a "centrist" on issues like the illegal war, torture and xenophobic immigrant-bashing.

You're projecting. There are plenty of polls that show support for torture (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10345320) in limited circumstances (e.g., "ticking time bomb") and an "enforcement first" approach to immigration (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/immigration/poll_voters_want_smaller_steps_to_immigration_refo rm_with_focus_on_enforcement). Like Mickey, lots of people think the war may have been a mistake, but are also cautiously optimistic (http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm).

You may disagree with Mickey's views, but they're hardly out of the mainstream.

uncle ebeneezer
03-05-2008, 06:28 PM
thought you all might enjoy this hypothetical argument between Obama and Hillary over who should be the nominee and why. Lots of interesting points, however neither side really captured the speaking/writing style of the candidate's in my opnion:


03-05-2008, 06:31 PM
The economy is indeed a real concern. As is deficit spending. We could be heading for a prolonged, deep recession.

It bothers me that neither party seems to be seriously committed to cutting deficits. Since "free" health-care is political cake to the majority of the population, left, right or center, this is not a made-for-TV criticism of the Democrats, but for someone like Bob who makes himself out as an implicit budget hawk in his criticism of McCain on the war, a national health-care scheme is a pernicious thing.

Bill Clinton gets a lot of credit for cutting deficit spending and eventually balancing the budget. It is (I believe) crucial to note, however, that he did so after his national health-care plan went down in flames early in his Presidency, and the Republicans controlled the legislature for the last 6 of his 8 years in office.

So while I do give Clinton credit for spearheading centrist reforms like that of Welfare, it is hard for me to swallow that now Democrats are, as a party, the party of fiscal discipline. I would say that Clinton's budget-balancing came largely as a result of the much-bemoaned partisan gridlock that prevented any expensive new entitlements from coming online during his Presidency as much as his fiscal instincts. If there had been a much more powerful Democratic control of Congress and Hillary's health-care plan had been passed (or, for that matter, if he had not ended his Presidency during the high tide of the tech bubble) does anyone really think he still would have left office without deficits?

The point of that historical digression is that unless the internecine feuding between Obama and Hillary is so debilitating to Democrats that McCain can overcome Obama, that Obama will enter office with a large Democratic majority in both houses of Congress and a "mandate for change," the cornerstone of which will be the historic implementation of a national health-care policy. While Goolsbee may be a Chicago economist who has strong free-trade instincts, I doubt his influence will be such that Obama will not try to implement a new, permanent, massively expensive national health-care program.

Regardless of what you feel about the morality of such a program, and even if you believe that nationalization will cut overall health-care spending, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to make the case that the program will not entail a massive increase in government expenditures. And this will be deficit spending.

Alas, for those of the classical liberal persuasion, the Bush years have been quite disheartening. Putting aside the spending on Iraq, which I believe is projected to be about $3 trillion (about 1 year of Federal expenditures, to put it into perspective) Bush has presided over historic (in a bad way) increases in discretionary spending, including the political free lunches of expanding Medicare and the Department of Education. Frankly, it appears that if you care about deficit spending and fiscal responsibility, the only coherent position is to hope that the legislative and executive branches are openly antagonistic towards one another, since both parties seem committed to giving away as much "free" money as is possible to win key constituencies.

It's hardly a campaign slogan, but an argument for McCain for deficit hawks could be formulated as "Vote Republican for President: the Democrats control the Congress." He won't be able to save the Bush tax cuts (which are set to expire during the next President's term without legislative action) and he won't be able to get expensive new programs through the Congress. It's not much of an argument in favor of his particular policy proposals that the advantage to them is that they won't pass, but from my perspective it's the best thing that can be hoped for.

Simon Willard
03-05-2008, 06:36 PM
Obama cannot realistically pivot to the right because he's already as far right as he can go. He is a much more progressive thinker than most people think.
Interesting analysis. So, Obama has already pivoted. People don't realize it because most people know little about him. What he needs to do is "take root" where the public perceives him to be. He can do that without appearing to lose his integrity.

uncle ebeneezer
03-05-2008, 06:41 PM
Well it would be "newsworthy" for me (especially since my girlfriend is a journalist.)

By the way, when I was listening to the last Bob/Mickey vlog, the part where Bob alluded to the possible complications of a BN/Lemon Sorbet relationship nearly had me in stitches.

uncle ebeneezer
03-05-2008, 06:50 PM
Hey GC, where ya been?...oh wait I know...doing "research":


I must agree that neither party really can champion "fiscal restraint" with a straight face.

03-05-2008, 07:06 PM
He can do that without appearing to lose his integrity.

Can, should and will, in my humble opinion.

The challenge for Obama is to keep the campaign consistent with his message.

In other words, don't let the handlers, advisors and powerbrokers massage his positions. (This is what happened with the Canadian/NAFTA fiasco.) Obama's "inexperience is not in foreign or domestic policy. He lacks experience in resisting those backers who would dilute and sell out his vision of change.

03-05-2008, 09:15 PM
Sorry guys. This diavlog is really boring. You're talented guys, but you need to find a new shtick.


03-05-2008, 11:40 PM
Sorry, Uncle. Brunettes just fool around so much that it isn't newsworthy.

But when they do, don't they usually dye their hair or wear wigs?

03-06-2008, 12:33 AM
hi all,

i had a quick comment and a quick question . . . the comment is just that when you watch the "percent of precincts reporting" statistic go up when election returns come in you have to remember that's not a percentage of voters, and, moreover, that different precincts have different numbers of voters per precinct, so i think that's one reason they often hesitate to make a call . . .

the question is just whether anyone else thinks a big thing that changed these past two weeks is the 'obama is a muslim/islamophile" meme . . . i'm not talking about hillary's response to steve croft's second comment that daily kos etc. are so exercised about . . . but it seems that given the old people who voted for her in OH, TX and RI probably do watch 60 minutes i think you could count croft's questions as one example, then you've got the farrakhan question/answer that bob did mention, then you've got jon stewart's oscar joke specifically about obama's name -- gadolf bitler or something? then you've got the talk show guy in cincinnati also on his name and all the coverage that got, then, above all, you've got the drudge photo. i can see why people don't want to dwell on this in the post-mortems on the big networks, but i guess i was sort of hoping bob and mickey would be all over it given previous discussions . . . is it just me or is it kind of crazy to think ohio/texas seniors are in a tizzy about rezko, etc. but that they're totally cool with it even if obama is down with islam?


03-06-2008, 02:34 AM
First of all, it's not small change:


And, even given the debate here, Stiglitz's arguments are valuable:


Secondly, you might have heard of the Social Security denouement, the crisis in education, or, even (and I am opposed) a fence around the country?

Jeff Morgan
03-06-2008, 03:34 AM
Another consideration... for people who don't care very much about which one wins the nomination, this is all a bunch of theater that may cost general election campaigning time.

Apparently over 70% of both Obama's and Clinton's supporters approve of the other candidate.

But then there's people like me who think one candidate is clearly better (in an 'objective' sense), and we're just getting impatient waiting for people to see it.

After reading what I just wrote, I imagine your type thinks I'm a huge asshole, hehe.

I guess the reason why there's no Mo this election is because so many of each candidate's supporters are people like me thinking their candidate is the dead-obvious choice.

Jeff Morgan
03-06-2008, 04:00 AM
even if you believe that nationalization will cut overall health-care spending, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to make the case that the program will not entail a massive increase in government expenditures. And this will be deficit spending.

Here I assume a change in taxes makes the change in government expenditures a non-issue. So now I wonder, if you didn't assume a equivalent tax increase, is it because you believe taxes are inherently bad?

My POV: I don't care very much what return address is on my health care bill. All I care about is what I get and how much it costs, so if I judge single-payer for example to be more bang-for-my-buck, then it would defy my economic interests to prioritize an ideological belief in what the return address on the metaphorical bill should be.

And if single payer for example does cut overall health-care spending, then our economy just gets that much more efficient, opening up more money for economic growth, increasing our deficit-reducing capability.

03-06-2008, 06:24 AM
Is Germany export oriented? Germany is the world's largest exporter of goods (http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/search/article/560241/why-germany-worlds-biggest-exporter/). Look around the next time you're on the 405 -- where do you think all those BMWs, Mercedes and Porsches come from?

German agricultural protectionism had more to do with WW I than WW II. Before WW I, the German Empire blocked Russian wheat exports (at the behest of its dominant Prussian Junker class) which worsened relations between the two countries (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9405EED61139E733A25755C2A96E9C94 6097D6CF).

03-06-2008, 01:30 PM
The problem with Mickey's analysis of the NY Times story on McCain and the blonde has little to do with truth, per se, and everything to do with methodology. At the NY Times and most reputable news organizations, a fundamental rule of journalism is that reporters not quote or repeat pejorative informants without identifying them. In other words, no anonymous trashing. Exceptions are occasionally made when there is really strong independent corroboration. Example:

"Mr. Jones cheats on his taxes and beats his wife," said a neighbor who insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation from Mr. Jones. Both the IRS and the local police department confirmed that Mr. Jones is currently being investigated on both counts.

In the case of the NY Times story, based on quoted interviews with former McCain aides, there is neither corroboration by independent research nor any names attached to the pejorative sources, so no other news organizations can follow up and ask the crucial questions that the NY Times neglected to ask: what made you think Sen. McCain was having an intimate relationship with this woman?

This fundamental laxity in reporting methodology, as supervised by an editing committee of multiple Pulitzer Prize winners, is stunning. And I say that as a former NY Times reporter.

03-06-2008, 01:52 PM
Interesting stats regarding the differences between Primaries and Caucuses are clearly illustrated by the gap between Washington States caucus results and their mail-in primary results a few weeks later.

Obama 67.6%; Clinton 31.2%

Statewide Primary
Obama 51.22%; Clinton 45.67%

The difference in the Texas results also bears out the undemocratic nature of caucuses since they are not an accurate reflection of what is likely to occur in a general election.

03-06-2008, 02:11 PM
Hi Deebee,

I agree there's a real gap between the two systems but if it was purely a mail-in primary in Washington and if ballots were mailed to voters' addresses that would favor older voters (and thus Hillary supporters) insofar as they move around less. Texas is probably a better test of the two systems so I wish they'd hurry up and finish it . . . my girlfriend has a friend who specializes in transgender studies and who's a big Hillary supporter but apparently it's the fact that ornery senior Hillary voters didn't want to fill out the LGBT question that's slowing things down : )



03-06-2008, 06:06 PM
Here I assume a change in taxes makes the change in government expenditures a non-issue. So now I wonder, if you didn't assume a equivalent tax increase, is it because you believe taxes are inherently bad?

Taxes aren't inherently bad. A tax increase commensurate with a massive increase in government expenditures is better in today's fiscal environment than simply writing more obligations for the Chinese to buy (which they are increasingly tiring of, BTW).

However, given the dampening effect of a tax increase (particularly a large tax increase) on the economy, any way you slice it an increase in government expenditures is going to hurt. Unless you're a committed Keynsian and you think that the government expenditure is going to be a stimulant to the economy (somewhat belied by the fact that current massive deficit spending is occurring during what appears to be the first stages of a bad recession) then there is no free lunch. It's either going to increase the deficit, slow the recovery of the economy, or both. The size of the effect is going to be related to the size of the spending increase.

The only argument, then, for such an increase, is that the moral exigency of the situation demands it. The current health-care situation is so bad that it will be worth the deficits ("letting our children pay for it") or the deeper recession/slower recovery (or some combination thereof) to implement a national health-care plan.

While I don't think it is worth it, even if you do, if you admit the first part (that in principle, government paying for health-care is going to hurt the economy) it seems hard to outflank McCain on the war in this manner in an intellectually consistent manner. If you admit that some policies necessitate big dollops of Federal money as the result of a moral imperative of governing, then the argument is not actually about the economy, but about whether domestic health-spending is more morally justifiable than money spent on the war in Iraq.

As I have noted, this doesn't mean it can't be done, or that anyone will care about the intellectual inconsistency of saying "the policies that you favor are driving the country to financial ruin" while favoring fiscally imprudent policies yourself. I would note, however, that I believe this to be the case.

I would like it if people would note the cognitive dissonance of opposing one massively expensive set of government expenditures on the basis of the damage they will do the economy (the war in Iraq) while at the same exact time favoring another, more expensive government program (national health-care) that doesn't even have the advantage of the Iraq war of presumably ending at some point.

At this point, the fiscal irresponsibility of the government may well necessitate tax increases. The good done to our financial standing by tax increases, however, will be totally undone if we can't (at least) keep spending constant or better yet cut spending.

While Obama will certainly be able to raise taxes (as would McCain, since there's no way the Congress undoes the sunset to the Bush tax cuts that begins in 2009 and will finish in 2011) but if he does so only to get through a bunch of expensive new, perpetual government programs and in so doing stagnates or worsens the already unfathomably large shortfall between government revenues and expenditures, then attacks on McCain during the campaign season about fiscal discipline will be bitterly, bitterly ironic, indeed.

03-06-2008, 06:16 PM

I don't think it's fair to compare the expenditures on health care with expenditures on Iraq. It's at least arguable that even if creating a national health care plan is initially hard on the economy, the long-term effects might well be positive. The whole point to doing it, after all, is to decrease costs. (I grant it's being sold to the public as a way to cover the uninsured, but the only way it's ever really going to get implemented is if those in power see it as a net gain for themselves.)

Add to that the possibilities raised by employers not having to deal with health insurances benefits, costs for which have been rising faster than inflation for years, if not decades. How good will it be for the economy when business has more money in its coffers to reinvest and to give raises?

By contrast, the Iraq War expenditures are close to throwing money down a rathole. Short of a little boost given to sectors that supply and enable the war, I don't see a whole lot of overall economic boosts coming from putting this war on our Chinese credit card.

03-07-2008, 04:25 AM
Bob seems to think Obama's involvement with Rezko is small potatoes.

Let me remind him
Obama got a sweetheart deal and a $600,000 loan
for the purchase of his house.

It is a federal crime for a congressman to receive a favour.

Ask Duke Cunningham.

On March 3, 2006
he received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison
for similar transactions.

Jeff Morgan
03-07-2008, 07:25 AM
The way I frame things, I see the national healthcare as rearranging the pipelines. I mean, we're all paying for health care now and it's seriously detracting from the economy; what I'm supposing is that if we change to single-payer, we're all paying for health care as before, but more efficiently, thus detracting less from the economy. In other words I don't see where your dampening effect of taxes is coming from. In the same vein, I don't see what Keynes has to do with it. Any stimulating effect I thought would require the government to create new demand.

There is a great demand for the service of health care (which is one reason why it isn't analogous to the Iraq War, because there is no economic demand for it), so supplying that more efficiently is only natural. No moral exigency required!

I think what I should be attacked on is the economic efficiency of a single-payer system compared to the current "market."

03-07-2008, 07:42 AM

Your comparison of Obama with Duke Cunningham is so far off that I'm inclined to think you're part of a McCain or Clinton Astroturf campaign. On the small chance that you're not, and still have an open mind, you might be interested in a few facts (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/03/obama_rezko_purchase.php).

Are there some hints of impropriety in Obama's dealings with Rezko? Possibly. But so far, after well more than a year of digging, nothing has emerged that even comes close to a crime on Obama's part. Cunningham, by contrast, pleaded guilty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Cunningham#Scandals_and_corruption) to a number of charges, including tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Recall also that he offered these pleas, along with a promise to cooperate with the prosecution in related matters, plus the forfeiture of assets worth millions of dollars, just to keep his sentence as low as it turned out to be.

As far as I can tell, your claim about the "sweetheart deal" on the house and your claim about a $600K loan are unsubstantiated. Perhaps you can offer some evidence?

Your claim that it is "a federal crime for a congressman to receive a favour" is flat-out incorrect, at least as stated. You might wish to be more precise about what you're trying to say.

03-07-2008, 06:49 PM

I don’t believe Canadian citizens are permitted
to work for the McCain or Clinton campaigns.

Have a look at

this (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3499430.ece)

and this (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/columnists/HughHewitt/2008/03/06/ruh-roh_rezko__the_leak_in_obamas_boat).

This (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/f9fe1d2e-0c06-4fc7-a883-05939589acfa&comments=true#commentAnchor) also is very interesting.

03-07-2008, 07:39 PM

The Times story did not add anything to the story that I haven't already heard, but thanks for the link. It was interesting to get the Murdoch slant on the issue, compared to the Marshall view.

Still wondering about the mysterious $600K loan you mentioned.

As for the "sweetheart deal" on the house: I have heard it reported that Obama has said the house was on the market for a long time (to explain the price drop). The fact that Rezko bought the lot next door, apparently as a favor to Obama, is of concern, I agree. It remains to be demonstrated that Rezko benefited from any quid pro quo, though. As far as the story stands so far, it appears to be a player trying to buy access to a politician. Hardly admirable, to be sure, but not at all unusual.

As for the other links, I do not in general consider opinion pieces evidence. Especially when they're written by political enemies. Especially when they appear on a site called ClownHall.com. If you're letting Hugh Hewitt tell you how to think, all I can say is I am glad you don't have a vote in this election.

03-08-2008, 01:11 AM
How many people think it's ok to torture people, even if they have info that may save lives? Imagine a case when a fighter pilot of a foreign power is shot down over the homeland. He most likely has targeting information about your country, as their jets have indiscriminately targeted civilians-- women, children, etc. Is it ok to torture him for these targets? Bear in mind that these targets are more than a single bomb-- this is OK city times a hundred plus. Would we condone torture in this case? This is how Viet Cong saw the capture of John McCain.

how many of us sanction torture of everyone in the world except american forces? And still attempt to make a case on logical grounds? you can argue that it's ok to torture everyone except us, or you can argue that torturing McCain was acceptable. But you can't justify torture on logical grounds, even the highly improbable "ticking bomb" scenario, unless you are prepared to condone the torture of McCain. Which is unthinkable and disgusting.

03-08-2008, 01:34 AM
I'm kind of astounded at the standard narrative coming out of March 4. Obama, as he has in just about every case, made up 10 plus points in two weeks of campaigning. Down 15-20 in TX, he ends up losing by 5. Down 20 in OH, he loses by 10. Massive gains in 2 weeks time. As in CA, NH, NJ, Obama makes up 10 or more points in 2 weeks, and, because Clinton hangs on to 5 to 10 points at the end, the narrative becomes his "failure." Even Obama supporters buy in. It's pathological. Or am I missing something? How is losing ten plus points in two weeks of campaigning a victory for Clinton?

03-08-2008, 10:42 AM
On what set of facts, I wonder, does Mickey base his opinion that the economy has done reasonably well under George Bush.

Is it the massively huge increase in indebtedness to the Chinese? The fact that Bush turned a surplus into a deficit in a way that only seems to have benefitted the elites in this country? The continued loss of US influence based on the massively sinking value of the dollar? The tripling of the price of gas? The loss of industrial base? The onset of what certainly looks like stagflation? The fact that adjusted household incomes have never recovered to where they were in 1999?

I have some concerns about all of the remaining candidates for president, but it would be practically impossible for any of them to be as inept, foolish and incompetent as George Bush. Bush will go down in history as a catastrophically bad president. Bush apologists such as Mickey Kaus well deserve a great deal of the blame.

03-08-2008, 03:04 PM
Pod 2:

I think this narrative will change here in the next few days when Texas caucus numbers come out (along with the Wymoning win) in favor of Obama. I don't understand why his camp has not constructed this narrative already ("Let's wait until all of the votes have been counted to see who won Texas"), but once he wins Texas, Tuesday does not look like such a big win for HRC. It looks like an Ohio blip on the screen. If this indeed works out this way, then does HRC = Huckabee? That seems like a nice frame to put their camp in before Pennsylvania.

Bloggin' Noggin
03-08-2008, 07:30 PM
I think you're right. Hillary regarded these states as her "fire wall." If there hadn't been any polling immedately before the elections, Obama's improvement over polls months ago would have spoken in his favor.

Reporters are too caught up in constructing narratives, connecting the dots to make a story. They ought to learn a little social science -- or at least learn a little logic: get them all to chant over and over "post hoc isn't necessarily propter hoc!"
Of course, they are paid to make stories exciting, so even if they know logic, they might well try to forget it since they feel they are paid to spin their fictions.
At least those of us who read blogs have access to Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein who actually do understand things like "regression to the mean". And strangely enough, they don't seem boring at all -- it's the fact-free, reason-free journalism of the newspapers' political reporters that strikes me as boring.

03-08-2008, 09:22 PM

Reporters are too caught up in constructing narratives ..

Yes. And the really annoying thing is that one would think a narrative would take into account history beyond two days prior.

Pod2: You made excellent points. A pity you're not the one headlining on page 1.

03-08-2008, 10:56 PM
It's funny that you mention "regression to the mean." It made me think a little bit more about February and why Tuesday could be billed as a 'let down' for Obama. his success in WA, VA, MD, WI, etc. truly did not regress to the mean. They were blowouts that exceeded even the trend lines. OH and TX, finally, did not surprise, when examined in the context of two weeks' trend lines. It basically confirmed big Obama gains, but we didn't see the blowout of expectations that we had come to expect after the month of Feb. In fact, it merely confirmed 2 or 3 weeks of progress for obama, without confirming or exploding the trends of the final 5 days of polling. It is totally legit to question why Obama did not continue this trend-- it's an interesting question. But it hardly changes the momentum or can register as a victory for the Clinton campaign.

MAybe I'm missing something...

03-08-2008, 11:14 PM

MAybe I'm missing something...

The only thing you're missing is that you're failing to take into account the rapid decay of the memory component of the MSM groupthink mind.

I do salute you for making the effort to remind people of the facts, but I'm afraid "yesterday's news" is the operative principle here.

So, in the spirit of adapting to reality, we may now note that Obama's 61-38 win in Wyoming tonight wiped out at least half of the delegates that the Monster (http://hillaryclinton.com/) picked up by virtue of her predicted wins last Tuesday. And that's without adding in the Texas caucus results, the counting of which are apparently being delayed by those people forgetting how to take their shoes off.

03-09-2008, 01:15 AM
Couple things--

i didn't get the comment about taking the shoes off.

Did you hear about the reversals in the CA delegate allocation? Dailykos and TPM are reporting an 8 point swing in the CA delegate count in recent days, negating the entire 3/4 gain by Clinton. This makes WY nothing but gravy for the Obama camp.

lastly, i take your 'yesterday's news' point. the news cycle is no longer days, it's hours, so the fact that obama did not retain the gains he made in the final 3-5 days before the primary can seem like the only story, instead of looking at trends over weeks or months-- long term trends that actually reflect the political movement of the electorate.

03-09-2008, 05:06 AM

i didn't get the comment about taking the shoes off.

Old joke: How do [fill in your preferred dumbass group here] count past ten?

Did you hear about the reversals in the CA delegate allocation?

I have not. Thank you for calling this to my attention.

On the other hand, I was already sanguine about Obama being ahead in the pledged delegate count. What I was, and continue to be, worried about is all the rest (since he probably can't win a definitive majority of them): the "momentum" talk, the "big state" nonsense, the "media picking on Hillary" meme, etc.

Happy Hominid
03-10-2008, 11:33 AM
If Texas and Ohio had been closer and dragged on for hours, I wouldn't have been able to watch this episode with Bob doing this (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9237?in=00:02:35&out=00:03:40).

03-10-2008, 12:32 PM
SNL factor goes to Wright's money. Recession does recessionary people. Weird lobbyist would weep and bitch. Republicans torture me. Large effect of Gore didn't bias Obama. People in Ohio saw noteworthy skit.

Significant updates never state overblown storylistening. Impatience demonstrated in political pundits drop embarrassment. Counteracting oddballs detect sarcasm.

Rumsfeld-fame and internet speculations do 20,000 hits.

Newsworthy points simply say, "centrist".

War and ~ -bashing are problems. Obama is the internationalist agnostic. Key cornerstone wars constitute squandering. Education and peace may enjoy concern. Prolonged recession bothers the population. Criticism makes McCain pernicious.

Party discipline came as gridlock prevented progressive analysis. People realize little. Vlog-complications challenge. Handlers' inexperience in boring shtick usually comment in numbers. That's a question.

You've got Oscar Bitler. Security Crisis or Nomination Theater. Care. Germany and German protectionism blocked Prussian countries.

Methodology and journalism are really police. Intimate reporting by Pulitzer voters is bad.

Expenditures better buy the hurt government. Deficit-economy is the point. Expenditures don't think. Obama's Rezko potatoes got $600,000. Congressman Cunningham received prison. Pipelines for change. Stimulating the war is required. The far dealings after that crime of bribery and fraud offered a sentence I can favour. Citizens look to Obama for quid quo.

The player-politician links general evidence by letting you vote.

Logical Torture Scenario is disgusting.

Buy something. Victory of Mickey has the elites sinking. Gas certainly would go.

Logic-spin to boring newspapers. Funny Tuesday exceeded the examined context. Fact merely changes victory. Missing groupthink is reality. Obama's shoes hear Clinton. Camp in CA on the sanguine memes.