Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rep Baker may leave House to work for Hedge Fund trade group 


In what could be another blow to Louisiana's already diminished clout on Capitol Hill, 11-term veteran Rep. Richard Baker confirmed Friday he is considering stepping down to take a job in the private sector.
In an interview, Baker said he will enter into talks with the Managed Funds Association, the Washington trade group representing the $1.8 trillion hedge fund industry. He said he could decide within "a week or ten days" whether he will take a job as president and chief administrative officer.
"I think they are looking for someone who can bring credibility to the organization. They have not done the best job explaining how they do what they do and that they have a beneficial effect on people's everyday lives."

So, when Louisiana needed effective and experienced representation in D.C. after the storm, McCrery retired, Jindal resigned to be Guv, and Baker (might) resign in order to represent hedge funds.

I hope Baker can take the job so that he can better explain how hedge funds "do what they do and that they have a beneficial effect on people's everyday lives". I will love to hear that one.

Many hedge funds are headquartered overseas for tax purposes. Many others are basically goons who do the dirty work for big, "respectable" banks. Too often they manipulate in order to "arbitrage". They take insanely leveraged risks on opaque, exotic "securities". And that's in the good times. When it gets bad... and, say, you're a hedge fund investor... you get letters not much different than this one.

You know those index funds that are part of your retirement portfolio? Well, if you have an S&P index fund in your 401k, it gets adjusted occasionally as stocks climb and fall in and out of the 500. Hedge funds know this, and they short the stocks that are dropping out, and buy their replacements. People like you, who religiously send your hard earned money into your huge lumbering index fund, get maximum disvalue on the exchange because of hedge funds. That's just one of the many "everyday" benefits people experience from hedge funds. (I realize speculators make markets more efficient, and that there are places for vultures in the ecosystem... but still.)

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Depression era netroots history 

The progressive netroots were very troubled by Franklin Roosevelt's campaign for President in 1932. They were disgusted by FDR's pandering to the center/right on the campaign trail. They complained that FDR was too vague and that his "New Deal" slogan was inert. Roosevelt enraged them by undercutting some of his public works promises with campaign talk of "immediate and drastic reductions of all public expenditures". They wondered: had the man gone mad!?

A young pundit named David Broder smiled upon FDR's vague appeal to the moderate middle, and progressive bloggers went berserk. Liberal Democrats who defended FDR were mocked as being very naïve and hopelessly hopeful.

The netroots were very irritated at such heresy. Aren't campaigns merely contests between candidates who represent particular "policy agendas", they asked. Isn't that why people vote for candidates? The netroots thought that if only their candidates took a more stalwart stance on a particular set of policies, those messy campaign and election details would favorably sort themselves out. Somehow.

The netroots disapproved of FDR's vague policy agenda during the presidential campaign of 1932. They were very suspicious of his candidacy throughout. In protest, many in the netroots pealed away from the Democratic Party and into the purer air of the Socialist party. Others were very reluctant latecomers to the crowded Roosevelt bandwagon.

FDR decisively won the general election, carrying all but six states. Democrats swept into Congress, and an effective national realignment formed. Many in the netroots were still very suspicious of FDR, and only many years later were happily surprised at what had been achieved. But never did they put their progressive "cred" at risk, and what else really matters?

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Hillary: "blacker" 

But the great problem for Obama is that today's black identity is grounded in challenging. This is the circumstance that makes him a bound man. If he tries to win the black vote by taking on a posture of challenging, he risks losing the vote of whites who like him precisely because he does not challenge. And if his natural bargaining wins white votes, he risks losing black votes to Hillary Clinton. Why? Because Hillary Clinton always identifies with black challengers like Al Sharpton. This makes her "blacker" than Barack Obama. -- Shelby Steele Time Magazine

Whatever you say*, Shelby.

* The "say" link to the G-Bitch Spot post on the Iowa results was down when I checked it. The post reads:

"While the crowd chanted, 'HILL-A-RY!,' I chanted 'Bitch, you lost! Bitch, you lost! Bitch, you lost!' Ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Update: G-bitch's site was hacked and Loki has offered refuge. Good man!

Flashback: Hillary identifies with that great "challenger" Colin Powell.

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Iowa entrance poll numbers 

According to the CNN Iowa "entrance" poll,

Obama beat Clinton among women 35% to 30%.

Obama beat Edwards among voters in union households 30%-24%.

Obama beat Clinton and Edwards in (almost) every income level, and beat them both among "health care" voters, "Iraq" voters, and "economy" voters.

Matt Stoller has more:

Obama's coalition was also extremely liberal and Democratic, with 41% of self-identified very liberal Democrats going his way. Edwards actually walloped Obama among conservatives, beating him 42-21 among that group.

I'm going to have more on turnout, but exit poll comparisons between 2004 and 2008 show that this was a Democratic primary with increased turnout from Democrats. Lots of Obama staffers and media types want this to be a show of independents and Republicans coming over to Barack, but the reality is actually better. In the 17-29 age bracket, Obama took 57% of the voters; in the 30-44 age bracket, he took 42% of the vote. He took 41% of new caucus goers, while Edwards led with prior caucus goers. This was a liberal, Democratic, young group that went for Obama. In other words, Obama is in fact capitalizing on or creating new Democrats. And demographically, this generation is as large as the baby boomers, and if they vote as Democrats, which it looks like they will, that's huge.

In terms of share of the vote, the 17-29 year old demographic made 11% of the Republican vote versus 22% of the Democratic vote. Young people are coming out, they are Democrats, and they like Barack Obama.


“If we run a conventional campaign and look like a conventional candidacy, we lose,” -- David Axelrod (Obama's chief political strategist)

"Maybe he does know what he's doing." -- Atrios


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Here's an excerpt from Thursday's T-P story entitled "Oliver Thomas enters prison today" that I want to highlight and preserve:

The U.S. attorney's office asked the judge to hand Thomas, 50, a longer jail term to punish him for his alleged refusal to "rat" out other corrupt officials. Thomas denied that charge, telling Vance that he had done his best to be "open and honest" with federal prosecutors, adding that he couldn't "make up stuff."

On Wednesday, Thomas declined to elaborate on the matter but indicated he was at peace with the decision to maintain his silence.

"I'm free," he said, speaking in a hushed, calm tone. "I feel better mentally and spiritually than I ever have. My job is to make it through this as a better person, a better husband, a better neighbor and a better friend."

[Cryptic YRHT comment redacted]

An affable, gregarious personality who appealed to voters across racial lines, Thomas, who is African-American, enjoyed an outpouring of support from some quarters after he admitted accepting the illegal payments. But he was derided by many others, who denounced him in Web blogs and letters to the editor as the latest corrupt figure to be brought down by federal investigators.

Those pesky "Web blogs" are always so quick to deride and denounce.

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"If there's a fire on the block..." 

Michael highlights a delicious Krugman post. Paul Krugman is in Nola attending an economics conference. I'm sure the latest job numbers enlivened the conversation.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama's "heart and soul" bill 

There's a revealing op-ed in the Wapo by Charles Peters about Obama's legislative accomplishments in Illinois. I recommend reading it in full. Kevin Drum raises skeptical concerns, but Archpundit answers them convincingly in the update.

However, as an opponent of Capital Punishment, who marched at the Tejas State Capitol back in the day, I have to alert you to a monstrous claim Peters makes. He says:

There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama's bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument.

Absolutely outrageous! Who are these so-called "abolitionists", I would demand to know? In the early 90's, I was President of the second largest Amnesty International group in Tejas, and I never, ever encountered such a hideous mindset among death penalty activists. Ever! And I doubt that it existed in any measure in Chicago politics, either. Sure there might be an isolated wackaloon, somewhere, who is motivated by such logic. But is it possible that several of these twisted souls joined forces to oppose Obama's bill because it would protect innocent lives, like Peters claims? I'm profoundly skeptical.

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Barack the vote 

"There's a word for politicians that count on bringing new voters to the poll: 'loser'." -- James Carville

Not always, Jimmy.

At Open Left, Chris Bowers writes:

Tonight, Obama won because he did something many campaigns have claimed they would do in the past, but never until now had never actually accomplished: he turned out young voters and new voters in record-smashing numbers. This has long been the holy grail of progressive politics, and until now no one had been able to pull it off. Well, Obama pulled it off. That is a remarkable and historic accomplishment. That is why he won.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Who will the caucusing caucasians select for us? 

This is my audacious "hope" for tonight's Iowa Caucus results. It's basically what I think will happen, plus or minus a couple points for favoritism. Remember: if this guess is correct or way off, it is not a great reflection of my analytical abilities when it comes to politics.

Obama 33
Edwards 31
Clinton 29

On the face of it, it should concern Obama supporters like myself that

1) The most persuasive argument in support of Barack Obama was written by Andy Sullivan.

2) Obama's catch-phrase is "hope".

3) Obama is betting the farm on youthful first timers and independents in a rural caucus state.

But it doesn't worry me. If he should "lose" in Iowa, I won't second-guess his strategy. Obama was playing to win, and I respect that in a candidate. Many of the things the liberal blogosphere has got so huffy-puffy over are actually quite minor little things when looked at in context. Do you think Obama creating separation between himself and other candidates on Social Security had anything to do with Iowa's geriatric caucusing base? Do you think his Broderist, bipartisan rhetoric had anything to do with winning strategy?

A smile creeps over my face when I read comments like these:

It just gets me to wondering: Did Obama pick this whole bipartisan bull s**t line because he knew it would play in Iowa and guarantee him the nomination? Or, was he just lucky and a natural fit for the weird worldview of the Hawkeye state?

What do you think? Obama's just getting "lucky"? He raises a hundred million dollars and campaigns for a year, and he's not going to position himself to win Iowa?

Over in the comments at Adrastos, I tried to put things in context:

Jeffrey writes: "I also think the Obama-enthusiasts are too overconfident. I think they are placing too much Audacious Hope in the idea that we have turned some sort of magical corner regarding racism in this country."

And remember, that this isn't "anonymous voting". These white Iowans are caucusing; they are standing in front of their neighbors (while the country is at war) and affirming their support for "Barrack Hussein Obama", a black man who they never heard of 5 years ago. In some cases these white supporters will be actively trying to persuade their neighbors-- often moderate or slightly conservative older folks-- away from a white male or female candidate who they've known longer, and towards Barrack Obama.

Think for a second what it takes for a candidate and a campaign to successfully do that, in political terms.

In the comments at this Yellow Blog post, David asked why I liked Obama. I replied:

He opposed a trillion dollar war of choice that has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead, and is probably the biggest strategic mistake since Vietnam.

He arguably has the best plan for New Orleans/Gulf Coast recovery.

He has the best chance to win a serious electoral majority, and get a "mandate", and provide nationwide coattails with enthused independents and new voters.

And He's playing to win when he doesn't have to. (For example: He's not rolling over in a debate like John Edwards did with Cheney in 2004, knowing that he can afford to play it safe because there will be opportunities down the road.)

I believe that "serious electoral majority" stuff, btw.

I'd love to know what Edwards' post-Iowa gameplan is if he has momentum coming out of Iowa. Improve on his 4th place finish in New Hampshire in 2004, win South Carolina and get thumped on Super Primary Tuesday?

More soon.
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So true 

Tomorrow's Blogosphere ... Today!

I want to have Athenae's baby.

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USACE misses deadline for Cat 5 plan 


Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, said it is "inexcusable" that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to meet a [Dec. 31] deadline for a plan for Category 5 hurricane protection for Louisiana.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Corps is again ignoring the intent of Congress by delaying their report,” Landrieu said. “While it is essential that the Corps get the report right, it is inexcusable for them to continue to delay when they have had more than two years to complete it.

“Coastal erosion and hurricane protection are two of the most pressing issues faced by south Louisiana, and bureaucratic foot-dragging leaves in lingering jeopardy both our coast and the safety of the millions of Louisianians living there.”

Corps spokesman Steve Wright said the Corps was “not quite done with it (the plan).”

Oh, you're "not quite done"? Really? You couldn't get enough time on the supercomputer? Is that it?

Well pardon us all over the place. Do you need another 2 months? 2 years?

You can blame this on bureaucracy or USACE finickiness, but it must be noted that this pattern of delays fits very well with the Bush administration's initial aim to delay any discussion or commitment to Category 5 protection for South LA until they were on their way out of office.

For perspective, recall that we're FOUR YEARS into our commitment to send astronauts to Mars by 2015.

As for our commitment to build Category 5 protections for our energy coast after the worst catastrophe in the nation's history... well that "commitment" doesn't exist, now, does it? We were told to patiently wait to see "what the science dictates". And now we're told that the "science" is "not quite" ready, despite the Congressional mandate.

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Last month, WCBF went on record saying Tulane men's basketball would beat LSU. They did, for the first time in a quarter century. Go Wave!

elle, phd makes an excellent observation about Kobe Bryant's complaints about wearing short shorts.

The Times Picayune gave Hornets star Chris Paul some "jazz" for being the NBA player of the week. Actually, they should've celebrated Chris Paul's selection as NBA Player of the Month.

Paul averaged 24.5 points, 10.4 assists and a league-high 3.00 steals in guiding the Hornets to a Southwest Division-best 9-5 mark in December.

The exciting Hornets are currently streaking, and deserve your support. Indeed, at his crib, Cliff writes:

I am watching this Hornets game on NBA-TV and I would like to apologize to Chris Paul and the rest of the team. See, I have been mad at Byron Scott for two years about some comments he made when the team was in Oklahoma City and I haven’t been to a game since. That has been a mistake. I spend all this time following the Saints who sometimes play with absolutely no passion whatsoever and possibly the MVP of the league is representing every night with my city’s name on his chest. Not only is he a great player, he also has high character and a young brother like this could be an example for some of these young soldiers walking the streets. This kid is a role model plus he’s got mad game. He reminds me of a young Isiah except he hasn’t punched anybody yet. I hereby endorse going to as many Hornets games as possible.

Add buying Hornets tickets to the list of things to do in 2008.

Apologies to Cliff for copying the entire post, but I totally agree.

(Isiah Thomas, of course, led the Indiana Hoosiers to the 1981 NCAA basketball championship. The Hoosiers had a difficult path to the championship game against UNC that year. However, they managed to crush LSU 67-49 in the semifinals despite a rude Tiger fan who insulted Coach Bob Knight and was promptly deposited in a trash can.... heh. And last night, Indiana beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, led by freshman phenom Eric Gordon.)

WCBF has more professional basketball fun here.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"A people preeverted" 

A new Rudy Giuliani campaign ad includes the sentence "A people perverted", referring to Pakistanis or Muslims in general.

Would it be opportune to note here that Sen. David Vitter is still the Southern Regional Chairman of Giuliani's cratering Presidential campaign?

Rudy thinks Muslims are "perverted", but Vitty's serial whoring is perfectly jake? Is that it?

Update: After a second viewing of the ad and some reflection, I think TPM is pressing the scale a bit on this one. In context, the ad seems to indicate that the "people perverted" designation applies to extremist "enemies" versus, say, pro-democracy Muslims or Pakistanis. The ad is more ambiguous than I'd like, but it doesn't cross the line like TPM seems to suggest.

And these bumper stickers are popping up on various autos around town (Thx to Ashley and JD for the image).

In the MSNBC video clip below, Dan Abrams interviews Larry Flynt and Wendy Cortez about Vitty-cent. Abrams plays the infamous radio exchange between the Flaming Liberal and Vitter, where Vitter denied the Cortez rumors in a public forum (despite a Freudian slip). In the video, Cortez mentions Vincent Bruno, who recently raised some new questions about Vitter's past on nationally syndicated radio.

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Har har har 

So, after coupling Hillary with Stalin, Mao, Fidel and Che, 99.5fm's hilarious "Hillary's Heroes" series continues with her and... King George III.

I suppose it's good good to see that ole Hill has broadened her pantheon beyond communists. (At first glance, I thought they had put her with David Hume, and I was like "Actually, that's pretty cool!") But, silly me, I forgot about the playful humor inherent in 99.5fm's "editorial cartoon" series. See, it's funny to put Hillary next to autocrats because Clinton is perceived as being a liberal, and liberalism is tantamount to tyranny. So, naturally you need only to group the two together for the audience to get the "joke".


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Gold $850, Oil $100 

Nothing to see here. Everything's fine.

Go shopping or something.


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Alan takes a look at the government "process" that can lead to wrongful demolitions.

Update: David at Moldy City asks some vital questions.


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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

When is March #2? 

AP article via the DP:

The bloodiest city in the country in 2006, reeling from crime in its struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina, got even worse in 2007.

New Orleans registered 209 homicides last year, a nearly 30 percent increase from the 161 recorded in 2006.
The killings are drug-related or retaliatory for the most part, police have said. The upswing comes despite continued patrols by the National Guard and state police and the addition of two new classes of police recruits in the past year.

But beefed-up policing efforts can only do so much, said Rafael Goyeneche, executive director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of Greater New Orleans.

"The police and the criminal justice system is expected to clean up the mess, but they didn't create the mess," Goyeneche said. "They aren't responsible for the social problems of the city, the failure of the school system, the degeneration of the family unit. And until the city does something to rectify those problems, crime and murder will continue to be a problem."

Well, yes, there are persistent systemic issues... but there is also a place between "bloodiest city" and "murder is not a problem", where the police can have an effect.

After Mayor Morial brought in a new police chief from the outside to restructure the dept, murders and assaults fell 60%. The bad schools and "social problems" still existed, but crime sharply decreased and New Orleanians felt safer. Murders were still "a problem", but they weren't the overriding problem. It proved that competent leadership and effective police strategies can produce significant reductions in crime even when schools aren't improving and "family units" aren't regenerating.

With the help of Couhig Conservatives and other enablers, New Orleans re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin-- one of the very few people in the city who didn't view rising crime as a serious problem. Nagin was also one of the few people in the city that thought Police Chief Warren Riley was the best person for the job, and shouldn't be replaced. Nagin's opponent, Mitch Landrieu, was concerned that rising crime was a threat to residents, businesses and the city's recovery. Landrieu promised to do a nationwide search for the best police chief to restructure the dept.. Unfortunately, he was not elected.

Last January, thousands participated in the "watershed" crime march... they felt shamed, diminished, angry at the post-flood crime conditions. They felt ignored by city leaders-- and said so. The mayor and his chief nodded in sympathy, and said they would focus and work harder, and coordinate better, during the important "tipping point" months ahead.

And after all the nods and the promises, another 200+ New Orleanians were killed in 2007. You can read the names if you like.

In May, Silence is Violence wrote a strongly worded notice to urge Nagin to "speak more forcefully" on the issue of violence in his State of the City address. Predictably, that had no effect.

In fact, the only thing that has had an "effect" on rising violent crime during Nagin's term is the Federal Flood-- not stupid promises, stupid cameras, stupid "zero tolerance" policies, stupid misleading population figures, nor stupid excuses about "blips", "upticks", "national trends" or "social problems"... etc. The plenitude of bullet-ridden corpses on our bloody streets does not help the recovery. It does not help business. It's not a useful national reminder about the city's recovery "needs". It's a disgrace. It's shameful. It diminishes us. Its persistence makes us angry and galvanized.

Just like last year.

When is March #2? Must we wait for another "headline murder" to occur?

Most importantly, how can March #2 be structured so that there will be no March #3?

Title idea from Dambala.

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Quotes of the weak 

"The bigger the government gets, the less competent it is to run our lives."

-- Presidential candidate Fred "heir of Reagan" Thompson explaining why government competently "running our lives" is one of the founding principles of the conservative movement to which he's faithful.

"Anything this outrageous and childish and nonsensical would have a significant fallout on whoever did it and on whose behalf it was done."

-- Warren Tompkins, a political consultant who ran George Bush's 2000 campaign in South Carolina and who now is Mitt Romney's top consultant in the state, talking about dirty tricks in S.C.. Romney opponents sent X-mas cards quoting Mormon passages asserting that "God the Father had a plurality of wives" and that the Virgin Mary "was exceedingly fair and white". (Thanks to the Drive By Blogger who directed me to this Katrinacrats post, which alerted me to the story.)


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Videos worth hearing 

1. Amazing Irwin Mayfield performs-- Grandmere Mimi writes: "[Mayfield's Elysian] trumpet produced the sweetest sound I have heard come out of a horn - ever. And I have heard many trumpets. Mayfield played the most magnificent "Amazing Grace" that I have been privileged to hear. Two such superlatives, one after the other, may be hard to believe, but they are true. I was crying during his performance. What heart! What an instrument!"

2. The Book has video of the throwdown in remembrance of his cousin-- "We Dance in The Spot she was killed, The New Orleans Way to Shake The Devil Off!"


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Monday, December 31, 2007

Claiborne homeless camps 

Laureen Lentz spares some copper for the homeless living in camps on Claiborne Ave under the I-10 overpass. Last night, while driving to the pink houses, I was shocked to see how far the homeless camps extended. They go on and on and on. Here's a photo Laureen took of just one small segment.

Lentz is told by homeless men that "most [of them] converged on New Orleans with hopes of getting cash jobs. However, they all agreed disappointedly that, 'It's cheaper for people to hire the Mexicans.'"

Last night, I noticed a family of (probably lost) Georgia Bulldawg fans in winter jackets hurrying along the river side of the Claiborne sidewalk, nervously glancing at the encampments across the street. As I drove by, I wondered what these tourists must be thinking. But then I soothed myself, saying "Well, at least these camps keep the New Orleans brand out there".

The weather forecast calls for near freezing temperatures later this week.
Update: More here.
Also, this WBG post about coming home to N.O. is not to be missed.


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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Collected Political Notes 

In the comments to my 12/18 "Dodd post", commenter "matter" got the answer I was looking for. The simple fact is that, until two weeks ago, Dodd wasn't running to become president. Until recently, Dodd was campaigning, but not in a way that could win. He didn't create a campaign identity to differentiate himself from his fellow Senators running for President, nor did he press his (few) angles, and play the media game. Until recently, he played it safe. You won't win the presidency unless you're running with a plan to win the presidency. And that's a different thing than simply running for president. And voters can smell it if you're not in it to win it. They want someone who wants it. (Witness the limpness of Fred Thompson's campaign.)

Recently, Newsweek's Johnathan Alter wrote that: "The candidates who connect best to their real selves and deepest motivations usually win. Contrary to popular belief, phonies fade fast in politics."

I absolutely disagree. Presidential politics is totally phony. It's just a horserace that is too often decided by superficial narratives and trivia. Don't think that the big candidates don't understand this, either. They do, and they subject themselves to this phoniness out of ambition and powerlust. (And perhaps late at night they are able to justify this madness by thinking back to the lofty goals they had when they were younger.) Nonetheless, they are playing the game to win, and while it would be honorable if they all went to war against "the game" simultaneously, and changed the game for the better, and made today's politics less "phony"... one shouldn't expect such coordinated courage. Nor should one compare candidates who are playing the game to win with those who are in the game without a plan to win.

Back on December 7th, at Jeffrey's place, E and I were debating Huckabee's chances to win the GOP nomination.

E wrote:
[Huckabee is] peaking when he needs to be.
He's going to take Iowa and South Carolina and I don't think a GOP guy can be beat with those two victories. (Don't even act like New Hampshire isn't out of Huckabee's reach too.)

I responded:

[W]atch what they do to Huck, and watch who does it to him (they're the ones who call the shots)-- it will be very instructive.

Huck will be brought down, but he will open up unpredictable openings for other candidates. This thing is very volatile-- entertainingly so.

[Update: in that comment thread from 12/7, I also wrote: "There will be a small, tiny opening for John McCain to re-emerge a la Kerry in 04. I seriously believe he could get a second chance in this thing. But... he will have to jet that political sluice at exactly the right moment."]
So the NRO's Nick Lowry joined a slew of conservative commentators, and bashed Huckabee as soon as he rocketed in the polls. Among Lowry's many criticisms of Huckabee is the following:

Huckabee has declared that he doesn’t believe in evolution. Even if there are many people in America who agree with him, his position would play into the image of Republicans as the anti-science party. This would tend to push away independents and upper-income Republicans. In short, Huckabee would take a strength of the GOP and, through overplaying it, make it a weakness.

I pressed Dems to pin down Senatorial candidate John N. Kennedy on the false controversy of teaching evolution and/or Intelligent Design in the classroom for similar reasons. In Huckabee's case, Lowry correctly pointed out that his disbelief in evolution would confirm a bad "image" of Republicans. In Kennedy's case I believe it would assist in corrupting Kennedy's political personae as a straight-talking, common-sense pol-- it would play into a different narrative, one that says Kennedy is a party switcher and an office shopper who is willing to adjust his views to pander to extreme elements in his own party.

It's fun when the tax zealot corporatists and the fundagelical reconstructionists can't agree on a candidate.

Now, while Lowry is narrowly correct on a couple criticisms of Huckabee, the Anonymous Liberal correctly identifies how disingenuous Lowry is about the main point of his argument:


The reality is that Lowry and other establishment Republicans aren't really concerned about Huckabee's qualifications or political skills or ability to attract advisers. What concerns them is Huckabee's priorities. All the GOP candidates are basically saying the same things. But what Lowry wants is a candidate who genuinely believes in the GOP's fiscal and foreign policy platform and merely goes through the required motions on social issues (while never really doing anything to advance those issues). Hence, Mitt Romney. Huckabee is the converse of that. He genuinely believes in the GOP's social platform but seems to be less than a true believer on other issues. Republicans like Lowry are worried that, if elected, Huckabee would be willing to compromise on the wrong issues (taxes, foreign policy) and would use his political capital on the issues he cares the most about (social issues).

A couple of weeks ago, Howie Kurtz raised the curtain on the media's (utterly predictable) desire for certain campaign narratives:

Some reporters confess that they are enjoying Clinton's slippage, if only because it enlivens what had become a predictable narrative of her cruising to victory. The prospect of a newcomer knocking off a former first lady is one heck of a story.

Halperin, who surveys political news at's the Page, says: "Your typical reporter has a thinly disguised preference that Barack Obama be the nominee. The narrative of him beating her is better than her beating him, in part because she's a Clinton and in part because he's a young African American. . . . There's no one rooting for her to come back."
If you missed the Daily Howler's commentary on this passage, I recommend reading it.

Such a media-driven "campaign dynamic" is highly predictable. It's also unfair and absurd. But, I don't think we should blame politicians (too much) for playing this absurd game, as long as we're lapping it up. We should blame ourselves for not excoriating and embarrassing the media which feeds us this utter shite on a daily hourly basis.

How a candidate capitalizes on such dynamics, how a candidate responds and preempts such dynamics is a key factor in any presidential race.

Mark Schmitt wrote one of the most observant pieces on Obama during this campaign season:
[L]et's take a slightly different angle on the charge that Obama is "naïve" about power and partisanship. Suppose you were as non-naïve about it as I am -- but your job wasn't writing about politics, it was running for president? What should you do? In that case, your responsibility is not merely to describe the situation exactly, but to find a way to subvert it. In other words, perhaps we are being too literal in believing that "hope" and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure. Claiming the mantle of bipartisanship and national unity, and defining the problem to be solved (e.g. universal health care) puts one in a position of strength, and Republicans would defect from that position at their own risk. The public, and younger voters in particular, seem to want an end to partisanship and conflictual politics, and an administration that came in with that premise (an option not available to Senator Clinton), would have a tremendous advantage, at least for a moment.

No, no, no! Senator Obama is purely an ego-maniac with no grasp of successful political tactics. (How could he possibly learn such things organizing communities in Chicago's South Side?)

And Obama's supporters are all star-struck observers, drinking the Obamade.

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RSCC member challenges Vitter to sign affidavit saying "he never had a homosexual encounter" 

On December 13, 2007, on the nationally syndicated Rollye James talk program, Vincent Bruno, who holds two positions in the Louisiana Republican Party, stated:

I think I am going to run against the Senator in the next election and I am going to say, you know, when they say "can you beat him" and will say, ahh, I don’t know. But I tell you what, if Senator Vitter will sign an affidavit that he never had a homosexual encounter, I will get out of the race.

That may take a couple of readings to absorb.

Let's say at the outset that Vincent Bruno has many faults, and that Vitter is blessed to have him as an enemy. However, over the past eight years, on this issue, Bruno has made very accurate claims about Vitter's criminal activities with prostitutes. He's been impeccable, actually. Bruno was the first to publicly state that Vitter was visiting prostitutes. He was the first to break the Wendy Cortez story.

Now, all of a sudden, Bruno states on a radio talk show that he may oppose Vitter for his Senate seat, and in the next breath he says he will challenge Vitter to sign an affidavit that he never engaged in a "homosexual encounter".

Oh no! Bruno!

Knowing all that I know, I can only interpret this quote to mean that Bruno is sending a message to Vitter about issues he intends to raise during Vitter's re-election campaign. (Vitter recently formed the Vitter Majority Committee to assist with fundraising for his re-election campaign. I will henceforth refer to this as the Vaj Committee, for short.)

The absolutely fascinating aspect about Bruno's comment is that it doesn't involve the Wendy Cortez affair, of which he knows all kinds of details. No. On nationally syndicated radio, he chose to introduce this new "homosexual encounter" question for Vitter. And Bruno apparently believes that is the lethal political play against Vitter. How can he be so sure?

Ask yourself: Why would Bruno do such a thing? After finally being vindicated before the critics about Vitter and Wendy Cortez, why would Bruno introduce some baseless smear into a conversation about his own political ambitions? Why would he bring something like that up, now, if he didn't believe it to be true?

Recall that during the height of the Vitter scandal this summer, I was expecting some piece of hard evidence to turn up, showing that Sen. Vitter lied when he denied those "New Orleans stories". If a photo of Vitter and Cortez had surfaced, Vitter's career would've ended immediately. And Vincent Bruno understands that.

Also, please recall how much less harshly conservatives treated Vitter's heterosexual whoremongering versus Sen. Larry Craig's lightfooted "stall tactics". Clearly, the homosexual subtext to the Craig scandal was an unspoken factor there. Vitter was applauded, and Craig was asked to step down. And I think Bruno understands this political reality, too.

So, if Bruno understands those two things-- the need for "hard proof" to nail Vitter, and how politically explosive the "gay" angle is in the GOP-- would he dare raise this issue, at this time, if he was just blowing smoke? Would Bruno spring that obvious "affidavit" trap without something in his back pocket to support his claims? I don't think so.

What possible "proof" of a gay encounter could Bruno have on Vitter? I can't say. But I will say that I think it's exceedingly unlikely that Bruno was inventing a gay "smear" out of whole-cloth. And I believe that "affidavit" question was a trap, not an empty bluff. (Bruno's affidavit question is similar to the one posed by the Flaming Liberal to Vitter years ago on talk radio in 2002.)

Thanks to the Flaming Liberal for transcribing Bruno's quote for me.
Speaking of Bruno, here's a video of Nomeansno performing the song "Oh no! Bruno!". And here's some bass genius lagniappe.

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