Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Journal's Walking Dead series

Last weekend Karl Rove had an extended interview with the Wall Street Journal. This weekend it was Grover Norquist.

That's two weeks in a row that the Wall Street Journal has featured the politically dead or mortally wounded. What is the message or strategy of the Journal? Is it telegraphing the names of the goners among conservative pols/pundits, and are these interviews their valedictories?

Damn, now I'm hooked. I have to watch next week to see who the next corpse is.

Next week: Ann Coulter?

... or maybe the US Chamber of Commerce.

Update 12/1/12. The Wall Street Journal interviewed House whip Kevin McCarthy (paywalled). Probably a boring episode, and he may not even be politically dead.

Short: Your cost share of the fiscal cliff

How much will you have to pay if Congress doesn't work out a deal on taxes before the end of the Bush tax cuts on Jan. 1, 2013? Prognosticators and economists have been warning us for awhile that it would pitch the US economy back into recession. I hope Congress can reach a deal, but in case it doesn't, how bad will it be?

A cut of about 4% for most people

We're probably losing the Social Security 2% tax holiday anyway, so the end of the Bush tax cuts means an extra 2% loss for most of us. That's not as bad as I feared.

Worse will be the job losses if we tip into recession. I'd like to avoid that if we can. The most plausible way is to minimize the cuts for the lower and middle class --preferably just the 2% paycheck cut from reinstating the full Social Security tax.

The effect on the upper income earners... I don't know what it will do to the economy. I'm curious to find out, but also a bit fearful.


Readable numbers from MarketWatch.
More numbers, still fairly readable, from Yahoo News.
Scenarios from BankRate, including which pieces will hurt different groups the most.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The sixth sense of Grover Norquist

Here's another politician who's dead and doesn't acknowledge it. Last time it was Newt Gingrich. This time it's Grover Norquist. The Wall Street Journal just published a long interview with him where he tries to buck up the troops in Congress to hold the line on taxes.

"Going over the fiscal cliff, that's not so bad," he seems to say [not his actual words]. Here are his actual words about the fiscal cliff: [It is] "a completely invented crisis. Republicans can't allow themselves to be TARPed again."

The revolt against his tax pledge isn't a major worry to him, because the media is inflating it by interviewing the same five or six elected officials over and over. However, Saxby Chambliss, senator from Georgia, backpedaled the pledge on Wednesday, because he "cares a lot more about American" than about Grover Norquist. That's an interesting way to put it, making it about the personal power and vanity of Norquist.

Norquist seems to think that he can keep almost all the GOP in line with a threat to primary those who falter. We shall see. I predict that Norquist won't have important sway. Many Republicans will break from their pledge. They may work out the math of who shoulders the burden of voting for a tax deal (those senators not facing reelection in 2014), and those who get the safe, anti-tax vote. But a tax increase of some sort will pass.

Single-issue boogie men like Grover Norquist will pass away. The problems in this country are too complex and too pressing to let single-issue pressure groups call the shots. It's not just my view--that's the election result. Norquist is doomed already. He's still screaming as he hangs on by his fingernails, but his grip is failing, and he's going to fall... very, very soon.


Extras. Comments about Chambliss in the Atlanta Journal are mostly negative, in  these two veins: he's a sell-out, or too-little-too-late. Here's the most perceptive: "Grover will find an obedient robot to run against Chambliss. Georgia’s voters are predominantly morons who will do as Fox News and Rush tell them to do." Perhaps Chambliss will be retiring in 2014, and that's why he's making the sacrifice now that relieves pressure on other GOP senators.

The Weekly Standard is trying to line up challengers already. Whoa, I'm scared... I interpret this as maneuvering in the conservative media. Some outlets are trying to keep the pressure on. Others will give GOP officials an escape hatch. That's another prediction. I'll watch for how it plays out in the conservative media.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Short: Gaza ceasefire

I think about foreign issues fairly often, but I don't write about them because my lack of background makes my opinions as worthwhile as, um, the proverbial bucket of warm spit.

That said, perhaps I should refrain now. However, I want to share a few sources from my research into the lead-up to the recent upsurge in fighting:
This information confirmed one thing I already knew--there are frequently rockets shot from Gaza into Israel. I don't particularly want to argue whether they are justified or not. I also learned something that I hadn't heard or read before--Israel broke the most recent truce on November 8.

Maybe with four more years of Obama, there will be the impetus for the Israelis to seriously negotiate. Maybe. I won't hold my breath for that possibility.

[No extra picture of destruction needed.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For posterity: Obama Claus

"Sorry but Rush had it right. This was an election where Mitt Romney was running against Santa and there are too many moochers out there that are selfish greedy people who were perfectly happy to vote for the rat-eared bastard so long as they got their special gift from Santa affirmed- be it free contraception, no cuts in expensive entitlement programs, the facade of legitimacy for sodomy, the promise of free citizenship for illegals, or whatever else the rat-eared wonder was able to pull out of his gift bag for a bunch of people that contribute nothing to society." -- HotAir comment

The other Santa theory (the complete one) here.

Short: The most hated person in America

Karl Rove. Dems have hated him for a long time, and now it's the conservatives' turn. Here are some sample comments:
"And maybe the GOP should get rid of semi-criminal dinosaurs like Karl Rove."
"Karl=Pinocchio   News Corp needs to get this guy off the payroll."

Bonus.  From the same comment page:
"UNFORTUNATELY….the majority of unknowing [Republicans], placed the religious far [right] in the driver’s seat…"
Actually, that isn't the quote. I edited to show how appropriate it would be to another current situation. Here is the exact quote:
"UNFORTUNATELY….the majority of unknowing Democrats, placed the religious far left in the driver’s seat….Rev Wright’s teachings, black liberation theology, alive and well in the White House."

What conservatives say about Romney now

At the beginning of November, I asked this:
  • What will Republicans/conservatives say if Romney wins or almost wins because he went decidedly moderate in the final weeks of the campaign?
Now there's an answer.
"The moderates have had their candidate in 2008 and they had their candidate in 2012. And they got crushed in both elections. Now they tell us we have to keep moderating. If we do that, will we win?" -- Bob Vander Plaats, a Christian conservative leader in Iowa
I should've seen this coming. The conservatives were overjoyed with the gentler Romney when he surged in the polls in October. But then there was immediate amnesia about that change when he didn't win. If he had won, there would have been no acknowledgment that moderation had anything to do with it.

These conservatives really do live in an alternate reality that has two axioms:
  • If you're a conservative, you win.
  • If you didn't win, you weren't conservative enough.
Beyond the strangeness of their alternate reality, I have another question. How can a sane person choose to live in an alternate reality, willfully closing their eyes and mind? I don't get it.


Note: Not all conservatives are saying this. Many are looking at the demographics and analyzing what campaign messages were counterproductive. Yes, there are some reality-based conservatives too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Post election: Help! What was the Dem spin?

As I said before, the GOP had much more to explain or spin away with this election. That doesn't mean that the Dems don't have some of their own spin. Nonetheless, I haven't seen a lot of Democratic crowing and breast-beating. Even Pelosi is equivocal. On the one hand, she won't accept a tax plan without a rate increase for the wealthy. On the other hand, she says "it's my role to go to the table with some ideas, to be receptive to what we can come to agreement on." That sounds plenty flexible to me.

Bottom line - I didn't find a Dem leader who had an inviolable list of must-haves. So if Dems aren't claiming a mandate for specific policies, what is their reaction to their win? Please help me suss this out by sending examples.

To get you started, these are from Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:
This was not a historic vindication of liberalism, and it doesn't mean that we can suddenly decide that demography will sweep us to victory for the next couple of decades. The plain truth is that although an increasing number of voters are turned off by what Republicans represent, that doesn't mean they've become lefty converts.--11/7/12
But if Obama spends his next four years presiding over nothing more than the implementation of laws already passed, ... then Democrats will look pretty good in 2016... It could be that doing nothing is about the best strategy the party could follow.-- later on 11/7/12
So, will the Dems restrain their crazies and make a generally acceptable deal? They kept their whackos fairly quiet during the election season. Perhaps the Dem base are finally toilet-trained enough to follow their smarter leaders and not turn this win into an orgy of partisan spending. Dems with discipline--what on earth will happen next?

It worked for the Dems.

Short: Revisiting the Senate

Likelihood is not destiny, as the Senate results showed. Back in April, I wrote about how the Dems had a lot of races in jeopardy, such as everything in the South, Midwest, Plains, and inland West. This is what the map looked like:

The results of the election were amazingly good for the Dems, who surprisingly held on to seats in Missouri, Virginia, N. Dakota, and Montana. They had expected pick-ups in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and an unexpected pick-up in Indiana. They also won toss-up races in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. A great record for the Dems and nasty for the GOP:


It's important to check your predictions against reality and outcomes. I blew this prediction.  A whole lot of GOP senate candidates blew their election bids. They blew it worse than I did.

Short: End the bad candidates

The GOP senators have decided that they have to get more involved in the primaries that pick the senatorial candidates. They don't want repeats on Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, and even Richard Mourdock. You can bet that every prospective candidate will be asked about rape, pregnancy, and abortion. They might have a couple chance to get to an acceptable formula, but otherwise they're out. Whether the GOP establishment, and that's what they'll be, can enforce this is another question.

The senators involved in this no-more-mistakes effort include Rob Portman, and the newly elected Ted Cruz, who is supposed to reach to Tea Party groups. Since the Tea Party has not exactly welcomed the gentle guidance from the establishment, we'll see how that goes.

By the way, according to Ted Cruz, Romney french-kissed Obama in the last debate. Oy vey.


The GOP's big risk that backfired

Conservatives had bet big on being able to defeat the Democrats and take control of the federal government. They were largely successful in 2010, retaking the House and almost capturing the Senate. But in this election, they fell far short.

The GOP now has to settle for much less as they deal with taxes and spending reductions. They were strongest in 2011, with the debt ceiling looming. However, they lost that advantage by stubbornly resisting increased taxes on the wealthy. This was an explicit promise most Republicans had made (the Norquist-imposed pledge not to raise taxes). The implicit penalty for any Republican breaking the pledge was to face a stiff primary challenge. So, between stubbornness and fear, no-new-revenue was their unalienable position.

 The Cost of Maintaining Sacred Cows
They gave up a lot to maintain that position. They probably could have gotten deeper budget cuts in a broad range of programs, and maybe would have been seen as serious "adult" budget realists. But serious spending reform doesn't happen quickly, so you have to be willing to spend several months in negotiations. The Dems were willing to do that, but the GOP grandstanded for too long and spiked negotiations at least once. In the end, the GOP were backed into the corner by a hard deadline, and had to take the only no-new-revenue deal the Dems offered. (And the Dems stacked the deck so it was an extremely disadvantageous deal.) Essentially, the GOP lost the budget negotiations over no-new-revenue in 2011.

"The Situation"
They are poised to lose in the current negotiations too. The situation is eerily similar:
  • There is a huge fiscal issue with a detonation date.
  • Negotiations that should take months have to be squeezed into a few weeks. 
  • The Republicans risk being nationally hated spoilers unless they seriously negotiate.
So, they are back in this position because they went for broke on their philosophy and agenda, hoping that they could win it all and simply impose their solutions.

 The Perks of Flexibility
I can't accuse the Dems of doing the same thing. They said they were putting everything on the table. The Dems never walked away and even offered a higher target for spending cuts in 2011. They didn't have sacred cows that they had to protect at all costs. The GOP could have asked for all the cuts they dreamed of, and they might have gotten a substantial number of them. But only if they were willing to make some big concessions too. However, the GOP weren't willing to do that.

This has been a lesson to me in negotiations, but it seems that the wise men of the GOP didn't learn what I learned, because they are back in the same situation this year. The best they can do is retrieve their crib notes from 2011 of what the Dems offered in their "grand bargain" and try to embarrass the Dems into accepting the deal now. But the headlines for "grand bargain" are decidedly unoptimistic.

Prepare for the Downside
This is also a reminder to me that you always have to consider the downside risks. What should you do in case the market falls, sales stall, or you miss your electoral goals? You better have a plan. The GOP didn't. That makes them even bigger losers, and it didn't come from the voters.

...but don't choke on it.

PS. I don't consider this deeply insightful. I think lots of people share this perception. However, the GOP hasn't acknowledged this situation since the election, so I decided to write explicitly about it and commit it to pixels. Perhaps many more Repubs are saying "oops" now.

Extra. An explanation of the Dem bargaining position regarding higher tax rates vs. a cap on deductions. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Short: A conservative rejoins reality

It's a week after the reelection of Obama, and I'm checking in on HotAir. They don't have any stories on secession or the preliminary tax negotiations, but those gaps are for another post. This headline catches my eye: 

Rasmussen: 54% now call themselves pro-choice, 38% pro-life

It's followed by a reasonable analysis of the shift to pro-choice. Basically, whackos on the right pushed moderates into the pro-choice camp, at least temporarily. 

The next article has a headline about Dems wanting to go over the fiscal cliff, but the point is that some GOP might prefer it too because it gives them cover for not raising taxes.

What is going on here? Two articles in a row that challenge typical conservative thinking--that's amazing. Both are by Allahpundit. I look at an archive, and it doesn't look particularly insightful before the election. A dose of reality seems to have helped at least one pundit. I'm hoping that plenty more reality-based medicine is delivered during the next three months, and other conservative pundits recover too.

Be sure to read the comments. The HotAir audience hasn't joined Allahpundit in reality yet.

Update 11/21/12. Allahpundit is back to nasty. It was highly likely if not inevitable.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bad news for spending cuts

The results of this election, with Obama reelected and more Dems in the Senate, point to a harder line by the Dems against spending cuts. This is regrettable, because our government has grown too large, spending too high a percentage of our GDP and crowding out other parts of the economy.

Sometimes the electorate shows its displeasure by voting in a government that will cut expenditures. That happened in Massachusetts when we passed a 2.5% cap on property tax increases (Prop 2 1/2). However, on a national level, it's never worked--the spending cuts have never materialized.

We need spending cuts more than ever, but the GOP, the side that pushed hardest (if only recently) is weakened by this election. Spending cuts will be more anemic because of this. I'm noting this likelihood, not bemoaning it. Government almost always misses the perfect balance, and the outcomes if the Republicans won a sweep would probably have been worse.

So this new government won't be great on spending cuts. I hope they do enough. If not, I hope the public forces them to do more. I'm expecting to be disappointed, but preferably not so disappointed that I think we should have gone with the Republicans this time.

We'll see. I've known that adjusting the budget wasn't going to happen in one iteration, but will evolve over many cycles. I hope to see a strong start to entitlement reform and trimming the scope of government. But more than that, I'm glad that we won't be seeing the Bush tax cuts made permanent.

It's too bad that we have to settle for such mediocre results from our government, but that seems to be the price of democracy.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Last outpost of crazy: Secession talk

Well, I expected this in some form or other since Obama won reelection.

Many of our fine citizen are using their constitutional right of petition to request to secede from the US. Louisiana and Texas are the top states in a list of 19 states.

Peachy. Blow off some steam, and try not to look too stupid in the process. Prediction: this goes nowhere.


Negotiations at the edge of the fiscal cliff

This will be an unsourced piece, and unfortunately, that means I'll be doing that reviled job called punditry. But I've actually been pretty pleased with some bits of my own punditry, so here goes.

Congress and President Obama have 7-9 weeks to work out a deal prior to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. When these tax cuts end, almost all the paycheck earners in America will have some nasty news, hence there is HUGE incentive for both parties to strike a deal. (For those who need a review: The GOP wants to keep all the tax cuts. The Dems want to end the tax cuts for the highest earners.)

Obama has issued a veto threat, but he won't have to veto anything. The Senate won't be passing anything the prez can't sign. Boehner is pretending he won't budge, but he surely will due to the huge incentive I mentioned above. There is also the recent history, which includes Dems and GOP negotiating the August 2011 debt deal and the GOP caving on the Social Security tax cut extension.

So there will be a deal, either before the end of the year or early in January. It might be a deal to extend the tax cuts a few months as serious negotiations take place, but there will be something. The exact form of the deal I can't predict. However, I definitely predict that Dems will include sunset provisions or other provisions that don't take effect yet, but require additional votes. This will provide Dems with leverage that is so valuable. The Dems will also try to reduce GOP leverage by including automatic debt ceiling increases without a vote.

I predict some very disappointed Republicans/conservatives. This is an easy prediction because the Dems have a lot of leverage, and the GOP is in a very weak position.

Elections have consequences

By the way, the sequester issue is not nearly as major because Obama has a fair amount of control over the timetable for parceling out the sequester cuts. He can make them tougher or gentler as he needs for his negotiating position. He's already announced that they will start off gentle, especially on defense contractors. Again, this is a leverage advantage for the Dems.

Update 11/17/12. There are so many angles on this, that I forgot a few that I wanted to mention. The deal will come out of the Senate, and the House will reluctantly pass amid much gnashing of teeth and perhaps some vomiting. In this way, the House will continue its tradition of NO COMPROMISE, that  is, passing dozens of grandstanding bills before caving to the deals worked by some senators. Sigh. I'm tired of these children--maybe we should abolish the House.

Post-election: The demographic surprise

The biggest surprise of the election was the demographics, with blacks and Latinos increasing their participation over the record turnout in the historic election of 2008.

According to conservative pundits, this wasn't supposed to happen. Well, too bad for those pundits and too bad for the GOP. Perhaps there is no surer way of increasing the vote of a group than trying to suppress it or vilify it. This is just desserts for those who passed voter ID laws or tried to change voting schedules to disadvantage Dem voting blocs.

The changes in demographics is the major issue conservatives will have to grapple with if they want electoral success in the Senate and the presidency (that is, beyond Congressional districts subject to gerrymandering). As I wrote earlier, some conservatives are doing a better job than others to start this work.

I actually wish them well because competition creates improvement in many areas, including political ideas. A Democratic party that can count on a huge proportion of minority votes is likely to be a corrupt or hackish party.

Here are some sources for demographic data: CNN, WaPo, and FoxNews.


Extras. Is Fox News already trying to nudge conservatives into acceptance and strategic engagement with the new demographics? Beautiful graphical representations of demographics and electoral choices from the NYT. Brief, pointed discussion of demographics and get-out-the-vote in Ohio.

Voter fraud or reporting fraud?

I'm fucking tired of lying right-wing media, so this won't be a pleasant post. Last night as I worked to document poll predictions, I came across this story of voter fraud in St. Lucie County, FL.

It seems that there was 140% turnout of registered voters. How did this fraud go unnoticed in a Florida county, but was detected by those hard-working watchdogs of liberty? They actually linked to the evidence, which was vote tallies. The first two pages show the fraud (example):
001 Lakewood Pk Vil Hall - County  (Reg. Voters) 4815   (Cards Cast) 6550   (Turnout) 136.03%
However, for anyone who bothered to go forward to page 3 of the pdf document (yeah, just click the arrow), you would find out the votes cast for president totaled 3280 in this precinct, so a turnout of 68%. Go to page 5, and you'll see that the votes in this precinct were 1869 for Romney and 1383 for Obama. This is the basis for, the Examiner, and FreeRepublic screaming about voting fraud.

Let me say something to the conservatives who are spreading this shit. Do some homework before you repeat this crap, and then you won't have to hide your mistakes (ahem, Conservative Commune).

Also not to be believed: 108% voter registration in an Ohio county. As I said, I'm so fucking tired, specifically, I'm tired of all the tremendous effort it takes to rebut liars.


Post election: Electoral map

This is my favorite electoral map  (from the University of Michigan). I like the county-level detail. Most interesting to me is the Obama-leaning border counties both northern and southern. But really, why is northern Minnesota so blue? Curious.


Post-election: Third party votes

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, received 0.9% of the vote nationally, and 2-3.5% in some of the more libertarian states (source here). That isn't anywhere close to all the Ron Paul supporters who swore that they wouldn't vote for Mitt. What happened to them?

This commentator thinks a lot didn't vote for anyone for president. That sounds believable to me, and I don't have time at this point to research it. I invite others to fill in the gaps.


Post-election: Prediction success, or not

One of the questions I asked before the election was whether polling was still useful. If pollsters' methods could no longer capture what was likely to happen on Election Day, that would signal the loss of an important tool.

Well, we don't have to worry. The pollsters provided helpful information, and the aggregators like Nate Silver used this raw material to create fairly accurate predictions. The best pollster was PPP. Rasmussen and Gallup were near the bottom of the pack, tied at 24th out of 28 (source: Atlanta Journal).

Here's a roundup of interesting commentary on the pollsters:
  • Sizing up Nate Silver's results.
  • Forbes lets UnSkewedPolls' Dean Chambers blather about how he didn't do so badly--getting only 3 or 4 states wrong. Hilarious.
  • LA Times lets the winners and losers explain themselves. Good and concise.
  • Votamatic, an aggregator who made an early and accurate prediction, and also has pretty graphs.
  • Business Insider lists the assumptions that led the unskewers to their blazing wreckage. Short and pithy.
  • HuffPo skewers a few fools too.
  • Atlantic Wire enjoys listing many conservative pundits' predictions, and shouting "WRONG" after each. It is juvenile, but somehow cathartic. (Scroll to the bottom.)


On a personal note: My favorite way to follow the predictions was by reading Meep at the Conservative Commune. I'm disappointed that 1) she didn't follow up on accuracy as she said she would, 2) they don't let me comment at the site anymore. Too dangerous to let an intelligent alternative like me speak there. 

Update on the same day. Here's Michael Barone's prediction. He projects a calmer GOP partisanship than most, but he was just as wrong. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post election: Survey of conservative reaction

Just before the election, I promised to check on four aspects of the election, of them being the partisan spin. Since the GOP expected victory but suffered a clear loss, they have much more spinning to do. Here's my survey:

Anger, War, and Assorted Violence
In this small conservative site I started following just before the election (they tracked Nate Silver's prediction until they were proved too accurate), their first reaction was anger:
Keep in mind, though, that every year these assholes [moderates and libertarians] buy season ticket seats in the peanut gallery and no matter how much you try to appease them they will continue to fling turds at you until you completely concede every single one of your ideological positions. -- Starless, Conservative Commune
It's going to be so much fun seeing all those "unexpectedly" stories continue for the next four years.  Medicare patients "unexpectedly" seeing their actual healthcare access go away. Full-time employees "unexpectedly" getting turned into part-timers. -- Meep, Conservative Commune
When I was a child, we were still proud of our political forefathers... A majority of Americans still believed in things like Honor, Love of Country, Service, Charity, God, Providence… No longer is this so... Half of the people I pass on the street are takers. Half of them are in it for themselves. Entirely. Half of them really do believe the Government is their savior. -- Enoch Root, Conservative Commune
I am sick to death that the class warfare worked for the rat-eared wonder. When he was giving his concession speech last night he was talking about “we did it” but those comments were not addressed to all Americans ...
 ... goin' Galt -- HotAir comments declared war:
The defeat of Barack Obama would have launched the beginning of America coming together. But apparently, liberal America prefers to battle for the soul of the country... The war begins now. -- Ben Shapiro
From Breitbart comments:
I was torn before the election and am still conflicted about whether a country of ignorant, obese narcissists was worth saving.  It seems unfair that the other fifty percent of us have to go down with them...
Well... we could always pull a "reverse Christopher Columbus."  Invite all the dumbies here and then go elsewhere.
 Its not worth saving.   Let it burn.

The Usual Suspect - The Media
Naturally, there were the usual complaint about the media:
Most of us who follow politics understand the reasons and have a pretty good idea of why [Romney's] going home and the Obama's are staying in the White House.  Short version: They let the left define the election issues....It was a masterful job of distraction aided and abetted by  a complicit media (hey, "60 Minutes", you have NO credibility anymore). ... The winning issues: Jobs.  Economy.  Debt. Deficit.  ObamaCare.  Benghazi. Fast and Furious. -- Bruce McQuain, Conservative Commune
My response: No one gets to own what the issues are, what topics get more continuous coverage, and what people think is important. The issue of Romney's tax returns withered. So did Benghazi. Both died because of the general population judged them as less important. Quit whining that you didn't get to choose the issues--it's a general decision, not yours, not one campaign's.
Damn Them All
The Wall Street Journal lashed out at a lot of targets, including Ben Bernanke, John Roberts, and Hurricane Sandy. The editorial is chock full of instant talking points and over-the-top rhetoric.
  • Boehner has as much of mandate as the president does. 
  • Obamacare "will spread like termites" as Obama consolidates "this liberal entitlement dream." 
  • "However implausibly" voters believed Bush was more to blame for the state of the economy than Obama. [Yes, that's totally implausible.]
  • John Roberts' sin was providing "a salve of legitimacy" to Obama. It also helped him "unify his party around something to protect..." [Roberts really should have considered the electoral effect of his ruling, even though he's part of an independent, third branch of government.]
  • Obama's victory was "the definition of winning ugly." Well then, how should we label this editorial--maybe "partisan gynmastics."
That king among the haters, Rush Limbaugh, had this to say:
We are outnumbered.  We're losing ground... Why does putting Condoleezza Rice front and center at the convention not work?  Why does putting Marco Rubio front and center at the convention not work? ...We have done the reach-out. We have done everything they, quote, unquote, say we should do to show that we're not just the white guys party... Why doesn't it work? Is it seen as not genuine?  Is it seen as tokenism?
My response: Rush, in the real world, no,, it is not seen as genuine, and yes, it is seen as tokenism. Just look at how you started this discussion--"we are outnumbered."But according to you, it's the media's fault for ridiculing these tokens in the GOP.
Here's the most concise answer to the whiny Republicans:
What is funny is that there are a LOT of us white folks out there who voted for Obama as well. The Republicans are simply on the wrong side of history. They still think they have a God given right to dictate how everyone should live and until that stops, they will lose. -- Atlantic comment

 The Good News
The National Review had a more practical take on the election results, which serves as a blessed counterweight to the WSJ's caterwauling:
Blame for this debacle is widely shared... Until conservatives devise a domestic agenda... that links small-government principles to attractive results, they are going to have a hard time improving their standing with women, Latinos, white men, or young people.
The surprising number of commenters on HotAir (who are better than those of FreeRepublic but not as generally intelligent as commenters on Atlantic or Washington Post) offered insights:
We are doomed. We can’t “appeal to Latinos” — Ted Cruz lost every Latino border county by 35 points to a fat white good ole democrat in Texas. HISPANICS WILL NOT VOTE GOP... Look, I don’t see the GOP winning the presidency again in my lifetime. We have lost 5 of the last 6 popular votes...THERE IS NO PATH TO 270. Once Texas flips to Latino, CA+FL+PA+MI+NY+IL gives a 200ev route from day one... I think the GOP should say gay marriage and drugs are state issues and basically absorb the libertarians. I hate to say it but suck up the Ron Paul wing. -- picklesgap
I actually think that Romney was probably the strongest candidate we had this year. And that’s a pretty pathetic statement on the quality of the GOP field... Fewer GOP senate candidates who feel compelled to share with the world their Very Special Personal Insights on rape and pregnancy would probably help. -- Hayabusa
I’ll tell ya, in my neck of the woods, most of the younger voters are more libertarian or conservative than they realize but are turned off by the hold religious types have on the Republican Party. Anecdotal but still.  -- oddjob1138
We also need to be aware of the fact that this high turnout among young voters might not be an anomaly... [Kids] who used to be completely indifferent to politics (out of sight, out of mind mentality) are now bombarded by friends on FB/Twitter who share their political musings 24/7. -- Good Solid B-Plus
...When you ask if Obamacare should be repealed and we go back to the days of insurance companies deciding your fate, the majority says no, keep Obamacare... If you watched the Dems you saw a rainbow of colors. This isn’t a white country anymore. Reps better change or go the way of the Whigs... This country needs 2 strong parties to fight it out over ideas. It’s terrible when one goes off the deep end and allows a radical fringe to dominate. -- independentvoice
The Republican Party needs to be more inclusive and welcoming. You can not have issues with minorities, gays and single parents and expect them to vote for you and win elections. As a single mother never having been married I did vote a straight R ticket yesterday in PA, but I need the GOP to change path to stay an active Republican. I can’t defend comments about rape and abortion being illegal even when it risks the life of the mother... I don’t expect the party to adopt my beliefs, but I want to feel welcome within the party. -- LawnGnomeFanFirst
I think we seriously need to look at two things: one, our candidate quality, and two, making small compromises to win bigger... Everything the pollsters were saying about turnout models was right, and everything we said about them was wrong. -- KingGold

Extras: The blame (and 20 minutes of cursing) lays with the libertarians and all those people too scared to post negative stories about Obama on their Facebook pages.

No, it was fruition of a Soviet plan: "Raise the young to be takers and after a few generations when the old conservatives die off, the country is ripe for the taking."

Romney's campaign was convinced by its own spin and were "shellshocked" by the loss.

Still more interesting HotAir comments.

Update 4/27/14. Here's a good post from the National Review. It points out that Romney did better than many GOP senate candidates, so it wasn't Romney that dragged down the ticket.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The pending extinction of the Tea Party

The demographics of this election finally opened my eyes to an important political situation: the Tea Party movement is doomed. It was always doomed for two reasons:
  • It was demographically old. The average Tea Partier was significantly older than the mean among American voters.
  • It was ideologically reactionary. 
"Take back our country" essentially meant "turn back the clock," which is impossible. The TP's core message was that it wanted things to be like they were under Reagan or Bush, with Medicare untouched, more tax cuts, and Republicans in control, pretending to be for small government.

This was never a reality-based movement. It was for and by a small, insular slice of the electorate who were so self-obsessed that they couldn't see how their rhetoric plays to the real, broad American electorate. (That criticism is equally applicable to many progressive groups, by the way.)

The Tea Party may hang on poisoning Republican primaries until more of them age out of the active voter pool. But if they want to have an impact beyond the 2010 election (and little else), they'll have to develop some actual plans, not just empty slogans. There aren't any signs of that yet. Even the election of Ted Cruz, who is supposedly the intellectual of the movement, isn't particularly promising because his platform is a bunch of platitudes.

So, Tea Party, evolve or die-- the quicker the better.

"Lots of Republican voters died, and lots of Democratic voters came into being." -- The American Conservative

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pre-election: Deep breath and last thoughts

I've written a lot about the election, the proposals of the candidates, and their histories. I don't have any final words on those topics in the last two days before the election. Instead, I'm reflecting on what I don't know.

I don't really know how this election will turn out. It looks like a squeaker, with an edge to Obama. But maybe Obama will have a comfortable margin, or maybe Romney will squeak through. Maybe the polls are worthless. I'm ready for almost anything because I don't have a sense of certainty about any of this, other than I expect a pretty large turnout.

Mostly, I will be asking questions and looking for answers:
  • How are the results stacking up against the final polls of the places I've been following (RealClearPolitics and Nate Silver)? Was UnskewedPolls more realistic than I gave them credit for?
  • What are the vote totals for third party candidates? Did Gary Johnson get above 1% anywhere? Did he receive mroe votes than the margin between Obama and Romney? How about Jill Stein?
  • Any surprises? I generally hate surprises. Will I hate the surprises, or find them delightful?
  • I'll be looking out for the partisan spin as an immediate reaction and as it develops.
 Much more important than my words.

Note: I still have my heavy and inflexible work assignment, so I won't be posting until sometime on Wednesday at the earliest.

Update 20 minutes later. I'm also glad that the campaigns are getting a little gentler at the end, rather than shooting off the nuclear warheads. That's how I can tell Gingrich isn't running.

Last outpost of crazy: Jim Cramer

This is a great stunt! Make a prediction no one can believe, and you'll get coverage. Jim Cramer says Obama will win 440 electoral college votes. How? Well, an explanation costs extra, I guess, because there isn't one. But it doesn't matter that no one takes this prediction seriously, but it's just good fun.

Donald Trump, previous focus of the Last Outpost notice, is probably fuming that he didn't think of this.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Short: The Economist endorses...

Starting with the Des Moines Register endorsement of Romney, I've looked at some of the newspaper endorsements, mostly to skim their logic... or lack of it. Then I remembered the one endorsement I might care about--The Economist.

Their endorsement came out today. It's a concise but accurate appraisal of Obama's strengths and weaknesses, and also a critique of crypto-Romney. The Economist ends up endorsing the "devil we know." As someone who is rather risk-averse, I can second that.

Update 11/5/12. I forgot to add this, which I wrote elsewhere. It's not the endorsement that matters. It's the logic leading to the endorsement. Read the The Economist endorsement, and any others, and ask yourself whether the arguments are strong, and also ask what is missing. Don't take any argument purely at face value.


Benghazi: Incompetence or political smear?

This happens when the MSM doesn't cover a story--you don't know how big it is. We know that the conservative media isn't trustworthy in its assessment of how serious an issue is, since their prime criterion is how embarrassing it is to a Democratic target. A lot of their stories are molehills photographed through ground level microscopic lenses. This was the case when I looked into Fast and Furious (with its 1.5 years of Congressional hearings).

Now the RWM (right-wing media) and opportunistic politicians are doing the same with the attacks at Benghazi. It feels like another trumped-up GOP gripe, doesn't it?

That's because it is. When you read the actual reporting by David Ignatius (the reporter everyone ultimately refers to), the sense is of a fast-developing, minute-by-minute situation that overwhelmed the professional diplomatic staff. It's not surprising that we can't call down airstrikes in another country, and I'm not sure what else would have worked. But I try to be fair--rather than to look for an issue with which to beat my opponent senseless. So Benghazi is another dishonest issue that conservatives are ruthlessly trying to exploit. It would be nauseating except that we've become accustomed to these tactics and their stench.


Other sources:
Update 11/2/12. Spurred by Couves' comments, I've looked at more sources.
There's no sign of rank incompetence or a breakdown in foreign policy. This tragedy is being used opportunistically. That would be sickening except, sadly, I've gotten used to such poison.

The coming GOP narrative

The election is finally close, so I will get an answer to two burning questions.
  1. (The obvious one) Who will be the next president?
  2. What will Republicans/conservatives say if Romney wins or almost wins because he went decidedly moderate in the final weeks of the campaign?
I'm not going to predict what the GOP will say since I have no idea. Those aren't shoes I've walked in, so I have no instinct for such matters. However, I'm keenly interested. Expect at least one follow-up post.

Update 11/25/12. This is where I post the follow-up. Short answer: There's no such thing as "almost win" in their analysis, so my question isn't answered.