Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tim Burns in #PA12

RedState has endorsed Tim Burns in PA-12.  I had been staying officially neutral in that race, wanting to let the voters hash it out, but that scenario isn't in the cards any more.  For my money, I think Tim Burns is the way to go here.

The idea that Burns' selection for the special election would turn the district into NY-23 is pretty soundly refuted by RedState and by the ever-sage Bill Pascoe. (Always think twice before disagreeing with Pascoe -- the guy knows his stuff.)  Burns is, after all, not a "Dede", but an actual conservative. From what I can tell, no less so than Russell.

Anybody who was paying attention last cycle should have found Russell's campaign wanting.  Pascoe sniped at Russell in his blog post (-"But, like much of what passes for the Russell 'campaign,' this is poppycock."), as did several commenters on GrassrootsPA threads (-1-, -2-).

First, he didn't even make the primary ballot in 2008 due to lack of signatures, and had to launch a write-in effort to make the November ballot. This early stumble probably had something to do with Russell's contentious break from his first campaign manager just before the petition period.  Russell then brought on Peg Luksik to run the campaign.  Peg's a great lady, particularly if you need somebody to die in a ditch for the cause, but some of us would rather not die in the ditch.

Yeah, he raised a ton of cash -- most of it through the inefficient direct mail process, and much of it from outside the district. Outside money is fine, but inside money is an important psychological commitment mechanism, and pays dividends in votes later on. (This is also a danger for self-funders... pay attention, Mr. Burns.)  The guy who donates $25 to a campaign is going to tell his friends and family to vote for that candidate too -- he's invested in the success of the candidate.  Dollars don't vote, people do. 

As far as I can tell from his FEC reports, there was no polling done by the Russell campaign in the last cycle. (Maybe it's implied in the consulting fees he reports, but polling is usually its own line item.) If I'm correct, that's just political malpractice, particularly for a candidate raking in that sort of money and trying to pull off an upset.  And while Russell did manage the closest margin against Murtha any challenger has gotten since Hector was a pup, it was still a 15+ point defeat in a district that McCain won narrowly. 

Can Tim Burns do better?  I think there's a good chance of that.  Russell's fundraising appeal was that he was a military guy running against John Murtha.  That's gone now, laid to rest with Murtha, notwithstanding Russell's continued direct mail campaign against the late Congressman, with mail arriving as late as today (2/27/2010).  Burns has a more well-rounded biography, one that speaks to the need for jobs in the district, and a connection to the district that precedes 2008 (when Russell moved to Johnstown).

Is this to say that Tim Burns is the greatest thing since sliced bread?  No, that has yet to be seen.  But what we have seen is the sort of campaign Russell runs, and I'm not impressed.  To use a Rumsfeldian construction, I'll go with the "known unknown" of Burns.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Quote of the Day: Rhetorical Keynesianism

Jonah Goldberg:

I think one of the great explanations for the mess the Obama administration is in — the whole cowbell dynamic — is that he, his advisers and many of his fans in the press cannot fully grasp or appreciate the fact that he is not as charming to everyone else as he is to them (or himself). Hence, they think that the more he talks, the more persuasive he will be. Every president faces a similar problem which is why, until Obama. every White House tried to economize the deployment of the president's political capital. The Obama White House strategy is almost the rhetorical version of its Keynesianism, the more you spend, the bigger the payoff.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There are worse candidates than John McCain

Look, I'm not too hot about Johnny Mac. The guy has no discernible political philosophy. He has a penchant for selling out conservatives and being smug about it. But if I lived in Arizona, I'd have no problem voting for McCain over J.D. Hayworth.

(via HotAir)

Hayworth was always sort of a talk-first/think-later guy. He rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Also, Arizona is trending Democrat due to the influx of folks fleeing the People's Republic of California. This birther stuff just pushes it over the edge.

Personalities I otherwise respect like Mark Levin prefer Hayworth to McCain. I think they're making a big mistake. There are worse people than John McCain, and J.D. Hayworth is one of them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CPAC Lies Down With Dogs, Gets Up With Fleas ( #CPAC10 )

There’s been quite a kerfluffle about Ron Paul winning the CPAC Straw Poll.

Ron Paul
[Really? You voted for this guy?]

Well, the ACU was practically asking for it. Paul-bots are normally over-represented at CPAC, and bringing Glenn Beck on as the keynote speaker is going to bring the most rabid of the 9/12'ers out of the woodwork. Not content to just complain about the Federal Reserve, the Campaign for Liberty events were particularly aggressive this year. I made sure to attend an event on state nullification (“When All Else Fails: Nullification and State Resistance to Federal Tyranny”) featuring Thomas Woods.

One can tell Woods is a fairly smart guy, but it’s painfully obvious that he hasn’t an ounce of tact in his entire body, nor any grasp of electoral, political, or legal reality. He did take what was in my mind a completely insane topic and gave an interesting historical and philosophical defense of it... leaving out the part where it fell by the wayside and is now the favorite topic of cranks. Members of the public used the word “secession” a time or two in the Q&A session and nobody batted an eye.

Woods’ rather whimsical defense of the modern nullification/interposition movement is basically that nothing else has worked to stop government growth and encroachment, so why not try it. Well, you don’t try it because it isn’t legal and doesn’t work. (Ask anybody in a medical marijuana state who has been busted for pot.)

I'm no Constitutional lawyer, but did the “strict Constitutionalists” read this part of Article VI?:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Also at CPAC were the Oath Keepers, who have been discussed on DPUD before, and the John Birch Society, who still refuse to shy away from crank conspiracy theories.

So I say the ACU shouldn’t have been too surprised at Ron Paul’s straw poll victory. They invited all the nutters to town and gave them all the rhetorical crack cocaine they wanted. If the ACU wants a more reputable poll outcome, they should take better care to vet their sponsors, speakers, and panel topics.

(Cross-posted @ DoublePlusUndead)

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Blog Category: Stupid Media Matters Videos ( #CPAC )

For some reason, the CPAC attendees booing some moron off the stage reflects poorly on... CPAC?


This has happened a few times before --Media Matters posts some video that either establishes the opposite of what they say it does, or at the very least fails to make any point whatsoever-- and I'm sure it will happen again.  Thus, the new blog label, "Stupid Media Matters".

Look, I have some criticism of CPAC that I'll be posting in relatively short order, but this ain't it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Barry the Rawlsian

...or Barry, vanguard of the proletariat. At least in his college days.

I'm sure this will get some eye-rolls, but it's too good, complete, and authoritative to pass up.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Weakest "Gotcha" Ever

Seriously, I don't get the whole thing about Palin writing on her hand.  There's supposed to be some great irony that she wrote on her hand and criticized Obama for his teleprompter addiction, but those two things aren't remotely in the same ballpark. 

The prompter issue is about Obama's need to read verbatim every word that comes out of his mouth, lest he sound like a rambling fool.  Palin cribbed a few bullet points. 

I don't get it. 

Maybe it's déclassé to write on one's hand.  Is that it?  Whatever.

Obama, heal thyself

The Prez, on bipartisanship:

Bipartisanship can't be that I agree to all the things that they believe in or want, and they agree to none of the things I believe in and want, and that's the price of bipartisanship, right?  But that's sometimes the way it gets presented.

I think that statement applies just as easily to the President as anybody.

On a bipartisan deficit commission

Republicans should accept the creation of a deficit commission, even if it's not especially bipartisan.

Lost in the aether of contemporary reporting is a big problem Republicans have with a potential bipartisan deficit commission - that it will be lopsided on a partisan basis.  The idea is that a majority Democrat commission could recommend anything it wanted to, and label the recommendation "bipartisan" by virtue of having come from a bipartisan commission.

While it would be more truly bipartisan to see a 50/50 commission, I think the commission would actually be judged by its work product and not its make-up.  If a party line vote recommends something like massive tax increases and minuscule budget cuts, the committee's recommendation won't matter one iota.  If some consensus is reached, perhaps even unanimity, and the recommendations are fairly aggressive on the expenditure side of the equation, it won't matter if the panel is 6 D's to 3 R's or if it's 50/50.

After they're done trying to get a 50/50 commission (which I'm guessing won't happen), Republicans ought to just accept it for what it is, and focus on who the commissioners are and what the recommendations might be.  If some absurd work product comes out of the commission, we'll be in a good political position regardless of the commission's make-up, and there won't be any political fall-out from ignoring a potentially slanted report.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Kudlow (the anti-Beck): Just Stop It, Obama

You might think CNBC's Larry Kudlow and Fox's Glenn Beck would be birds of a feather.  Both are on the conservative side of the aisle, and they both have a history of alcoholism and some of the personality quirks inherent in that struggle.  But in an important way, Kudlow is the anti-Beck.  Beck can cry at any moment, warning gloom and doom.  Kudlow is the sunny optimist, sometimes disturbingly and irrationally so.  Kudlow has been warning conservatives not to talk down the economy too much, expecting economic expansion to return sooner or later regardless of public policy.  They can only screw it up so much, right?

Larry Kudlow is spooked.  Spooked by the global cult of deficit spending.

 [Ok, the video is a conservative bull-session. This is rather unlike a usual Kudlow show, where there's normally Robert Reich or some other similarly intelligent (and stubborn) lefty economist.]

Even Dan Mitchell from CATO is saying- look, you don't have to pay down the debt, you don't even have to stop growing sovereign debt, just for the love of Pete please slow the rate of debt growth. Kudlow, ever the Chicago-style economist, stalwart defender of "King Dollar", doesn't want the Fed to raise interest rates.  I think that's a sign of the apocalypse or something.  This sovereign debt issue could get out of control really quickly.

And as Kudlow said, John Maynard Keynes is rolling over in his grave at the structural debt.  Governments around the world are intent on pursuing a path of ruin no matter what the evidence shows.  If Kudlow were Beck, he'd be curled up in the fetal position on live TV now.

Intertubes Round-up

Stuff I've seen on the 'net recently:

(1) "Republican Group to Promote Conservative Ideas" - Sadly, this actually constitutes news, as it seems there really aren't (m)any Republican groups (per se) that advance conservatism.  Formed to exploit the recent campaign finance ruling in the Citizens United case, the American Action Network is modeled after the lefty Center for American Progress.

(2) Mark Cuban: Keep it simple, stupid - ditch the regulatory and tax reporting nightmare in order to spur business and job growth.

(3) George Will dreams about a Mitch Daniels / Paul Ryan administration.  I want some of whatever George is having.

(4) Washington Times reports that stymied investigations into the Justice Department's bizarre dismissal of the Philadelphia Black Panther voting intimidation case.... are the fault of Congress for not giving the inspector proper authority.  While this may be true, it hardly absolves the Holder Justice Department from botching the case.

(5) In lieu of the promised conclusion of my State of the Union analysis, I give you "16 Lies in 7 minutes":

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Geithner and the QOTD from Noonan

Peggy Noonan on ABC's This Week:

...[E]very time the administration speaks about economic issues, what they say doesn't sound true.  It sounds like some kind of mix between "rah-rah" and gobbelty-gook... Another problem, I think, is that the administration did not depart from the Bush administration way of spending and spending, and the people can see that Bush kind of broke the bank, and now Obama is double-breaking the bank.

This remark was especially poignant after viewing Jake Tapper's interview with Geithner.  A common administration talking point is to say how we were losing ~700k jobs per month last year, and to take credit for having changed that. Geithner repeated that -- I dunno, maybe three times or so, mostly as a non sequitur.

Stimulus unemployment projections

"Think where we were a year ago", they say. Does the administration really mean to imply that we'd still be losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month if not for the stimulus? That's a rather absurd proposition, and I'd like to see some intrepid interviewer actually follow up on that some time.

I frequently find myself asking whether this or that administration spokesperson believes what he or she is saying. Whether they really get it, or they're just opportunists. Most days I put Geithner and Larry Summers in the "true believer" category. Christina Romer, I would presume, is an opportunist -- her current rhetoric is at odds with her academic work. For some reason I get the impression that Goolsbee is not really a true believer.

Volker and Bernanke I'm unsure of. I agree with some of what those last two gents say, but am mystified at other times. The party line that the Federal Reserve was innocent in the bubble-inflation period begs credulity.  In this respect, I hope Bernanke is lying to save his job, because if he doesn't recognize what went wrong in the first place he'll commit the same mistake again.

Obama? True believer.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Quote of the Day: Ideologue

Jonah Goldberg in the LAT:

Of course Obama is an ideologue. The important question is whether he is sufficiently self-aware to recognize the truth.

I for one would be horrified to learn that the president is working from the assumption that ideological biases are something only other people have. That is the surest route to hubris and groupthink (which might explain Obama's political predicament).

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Paul and Arianna Show

Finally looked at the Jan-31 "This Week" on ABC (w/ Baba Wawa this time -- I do hope they eventually give it to Jake Tapper).

How surreal was it watching Arianna Huffington confront Roger Ailes about the "paranoid style" at Fox?!  I had to rewind the video for that one.  Like she has any room to talk.

Yeah, Glenn Beck can go over the top sometimes. Not unlike, well, this guy -- a never-ending fount of verbal diarrhea (though not nearly the worst case of it on that network):

 Ah, yes. The GOP, just like the Khmer Rouge.  Not even remotely paranoid.

Also amusing, Paul Krugman's insistence that the American electorate is ill informed (as evidenced by its rejection of Obamacare).  Such astonishing arrogance, made all the more amusing by evidence that Republicans are better informed about current events than Democrats.  This confirms findings from other surveys, including my own conclusions from the National Election Studies data.  Most interestingly, given what he said about the subject, I'm not sure Paul Krugman himself understands what was in the bill.

The voice of reason in all of this mess was Roger Ailes, making an unprecedented appearance on a rival network.  Ailes wisely cautioned against over-interpreting the election results from Massachusetts.