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Mickey Kaus
Columnist

The Obama comeback has already come

5:28 PM 10/06/2012

That was fast:  Before the debate, Mark Halperin said the press corps was itching to write the Romney comeback story. It turns out what they were really itching to write was the Obama-comeback-from-the-Romney-comeback story. You know, something like "How Obama reset his campaign." ... Glenn Thrush of Politico has, in fact, already  written it:  There's  already a "new narrative." A "whipsaw transformation." Obama "was radically different Thursday—not just calm but buoyant, loose, focused." He gripped the podium with a fresh intensity! “That’s what he does when he’s really into it," a "top" Obama adviser revealed.  ...

MSM Guilt finally kicking in?

12:23 AM 09/29/2012

You are feeling ... guilty! Am I crazy or is today's NBC Nightly News broadcast actually almost fair in Obama vs. Romney terms? ... The network isn't exactly harsh on Obama regarding the highly suspicious intelligence-agency blame-taking on Libya misdirection--but Andrea Mitchell does offer only two alternatives: 1) "a coverup" 2) "trying to avoid acknowledging mistakes this close to an election." ... Is MSM Guilt finally kicking in? (Thanks, Howard Fineman!). Or was whoever's in charge of skewing the coverage (maybe his name is Brian) just off for the night? ...

Will MSM Guilt start working for Mitt?

9:35 PM 09/25/2012

Will MSM Guilt Start Working for Mitt? "Like Ali, Obama Floats Like a Butterfly"--that's the headline Real Clear Politics gave Howard Fineman's latest post. But even though Fineman is Editorial Director for leftish Huffington Post (and appears regularly on MSNBC) his piece isn't what you'd expect. It's basically a plea to the MSM to start covering Obama they way they'd cover a normal candidate. According to Fineman, Obama has bounced back in the polls

Something About Julia

4:03 PM 09/23/2012

A Word About Julia: Republicans have criticized the Obama campaign's web presentation, Life of Julia, as an example of the sort of  "cradle to grave, government supported existence" that the President envisions for his constituents, and for which he hopes to be rewarded politically. "[A]t every stage of Julia’s life, a government program exists to shield her from life’s woes. And just as interestingly, Julia never gets the bill for all of this government hand-holding." Very 47 percentish.

You’re only toast once

1:49 AM 09/18/2012

You're Only Toast Once -- We need a new rule: Pundits and bloggers can only declare Romney's campaign dead once.  If the race gets close after that, you can't start commenting again as if he's got a shot. He's already dead to you! No second fatal gaffes. ... Use it wisely!...

Obama: The morning after

3:02 PM 09/07/2012

The Walk of Shame! A friend once told me that a certain Mr. X must be good in bed, because women were always saying "I can't go on seeing you. It's just not working. So let's spend one more night--and then that's it!" This is kind of how I feel about Obama's acceptance speech. It was empty, but empty in a good way. We weren't crazy to be inspired by this guy. In the cold light of morning, however, .... some complications:

Credulous fact-checkers fall for 20% scam

6:44 PM 09/02/2012

Why the Fact-Checkosphere is failing: So, as I understand it, this year the MSM will righteously strike back against "Post-Truth Politics" through rigorous fact-checking, followed by a manly, non-balanced, yet authoritative calling out of transgressors for the liars that they are.  James Fallows and Jay Rosen, among others, have heralded this great new day. One problem, of course, is the ease--rather, the constant temptation--of presenting debatable policy issues as right/wrong fact issues, a problem emphasized by dissenter Ben Smith yesterday. Another is the way what Smith calls "the new pseudo science of fact-checks" opens up a giant sluice for the introduction of concealed bias, especially when "facts" are fed to the fact-checkers by the competing campaigns.

O.K.

12:57 AM 08/31/2012

Romney speech: 1) Adequate. Better than Kerry. But it's close! Made essential "failed presidency" point. 2)  "What Americans deserved"? Perlously close to the notorious "entitlement mentality," no? 3) The problem wasn't lack of "poetry." Not sure you want Mitt to try poetry. The problem was a section of pablum in the middle. (E.g.: "That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America’s communities, large and small," etc. ) Blunt straight talk all that was needed. There was some of that. 4) The attack on "attacking success"--plus claiming that for  Obama "jobs ... are about government"--seemed too ideological for potential crossover moderates and Dems to swallow.  For this Dem, anyway. Why make us go father than you need us to? 5) I'd thought modern convention speakers had learned not to wait for applause after applause lines. (Condi Rice didn't, one reason here delivery was so winning).  If there's no applause, keep talking! If there is applause, start talking again before it dies down. Romney violated these rules  and often seemed pained when the audience hesitated, which was painful to watch; 6) Oversized light bulb in the family video was the best humanizing detail, I thought; 7) No welfare reform. Must have seemed odd  to people who've seen Romney's welfare ads dozens of times. Gives unfortunate credence to those who claim his use of the issue is cynical; 8) Prediction: Small, evanescent bump. In the long run, good enough to support a win...

Mute it with meta!

5:07 PM 08/25/2012

The mainstream media comes in to Tampa with one mission, Brian, and that's to subtly give the impression that Romney is floundering: The steering committee has secretly met. The new party line: After a typical August BS tumultuous month in which he was thrown off message by one distraction after another, especially the ones we in the MSM blew wildly out of proportion, Mitt Romney is a man Desperately Seeking Reboot! Here's NPR's Liz Halloran ("Romney Reboot: Convention Could Be the Ticket")

Neither Ryan nor Obama defends Medicare

3:18 AM 08/11/2012

Obama, One of Medicare's Least Plausible Defenders: Paul Ryan's Medicare plan is certainly open to attack. I oppose it.  Dems might make great use of it as an issue. But President Obama is a highly imperfect Medicare defender, having agreed to take Medicare away from 65 and 66 year olds in the failed "grand bargain" talks with John Boehner. Indeed, according to the NYT, Obama thinks he didn't get enough credit from the press for his willingness to throw Medicare under the bus. ...

The Case for Romney’s welfare attack

11:14 PM 08/08/2012

Romney has a point on welfare: As Maggie Haberman notes, Romney's attack on Obama over welfare reform must have tested well, given the President's firehose-like stream of defenses. Many of those defenses are bogus. Some points:

Plouffe’s Payday

3:21 AM 08/07/2012

Plouffe's Payday: Doesn't Obama aide David Plouffe's $100,000 speaking gig stink, even without the Iran connection of the firm that paid him? a) It's just too much money.** I've seen Plouffe talk. He's a smart guy. But he's not a $100,000 speaker, or even a $30,000 speaker. He's not Colin Powell, or Bill Clinton, or Beyonce. What did he think his benefactors--a telecommunications firm called MTN Group--thought they were getting for their 100Gs? Just a short talk (on "digital communications")? There is some kind of bonus there for Plouffe. What was it for?; b) Plouffe was incoming, not outgoing--he joined the White House staff a few weeks later. It's hard to believe MTN didn't entertain the idea that it was making a strategic investment in a powerful new U.S. official; c) Maybe Plouffe  had no intention of doing anything for MTN, and if they were stupid enough to pay him that much money for a generic talk ... . In other words, he was shamelessly exploiting them. That might be something to laugh about at $10,000 or $20,000. It's kind of disgusting at $100,000. ....

Knives Out!

2:34 AM 08/06/2012

Knives Out! Is it that time in the presidential cycle when we pressure the candidate to dump his/her political strategist? Looks like it! Exhibit A ... Exhibit B ...

Harmonic Convergence of Gaffes

9:28 PM 08/03/2012

Virginia Postrel suggests that the answer to Obama's gaffe ( "You didn't build that") is Romney's gaffe ("Culture makes all the difference"). ... Specifically, the answer to leftish contempt for "bourgeois dignity" is that it's bourgeois culture that built capitalism's prosperity. ... Sorry, Fareed! ...

McCain: One false move and I’ll help you

4:19 AM 07/30/2012

Ruthless: John McCain threatens to keep helping Romney unless he's offered a speaking slot at the GOP convention ... In Newsweek, for example, the losing 2008 GOP nominee helps the current GOP nominee by tellling a reporter either a) Romney's doing it all wrong (e.g. in not endorsing U.S. strikes in Syria) or b) Romney took McCain's advice (e.g. on immigration)--which has the effect of making the actual candidate look weak. ... McCain is positioning himself as the easy go-to interview for MSM reporters who want to undermine Romney while pretending they're letting Republicans have a voice. ...

Are “brown jobs” more egalitarian?

4:33 AM 07/25/2012

What's the Matter with Nebraska, Anyway? Are the "brown" energy-related jobs favored by conservatives--and currently multiplying in the Midwest--more socially egalitarian than the finance and information jobs in liberal coastal states? That seems to be Joel Kotkin's point:

Is libel law saving Brian Ross’ job?

3:25 AM 07/23/2012

Note to those who want ABC's Brian Ross fired (as I do): As long as there is the threat of a libel suit, ABC executives will want to keep Ross close. If they fire him, he might turn around and testify for a plaintiff about ABC's journalistic practices, which could be embarrassing. ... A good reason for settling the defamation issue quickly is that, once it's settled, ABC is freer to show Ross the door. Canning Ross would probably have a stronger deterrent effect than a multi-million dollar libel verdict, but the possibility of a big verdict has the perverse effect of preventing it. ...

Make Ignoring Work Pay!

4:37 AM 07/16/2012

Will the GOPs take advantage of Obama's new welfare weakness? The Obama Department of Agriculture has pulled the radio"novelas" that urged Spanish-speakers to wise up and get on the dole. (“In one of these, an individual tries to convince a friend to enroll in food stamps even though that friend declares: ‘I don’t need anyone’s help. My husband earns enough to take care of us,'" says GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, describing the novelas. "The first individual replies back: ‘When are you going to learn?’")

The Trouble with “Real” Merit

3:28 PM 07/09/2012

Psst! An annoying note to Instapundit-linked post-credentialists (and N+1  editors!): A meritocracy "actually based on merit"--actual skills and actual performance--would be preferable to the current one based on college credentials and SAT scores.  The economy would be more open to people with usable talents.  Status would be impermanent--nobody would know who would end up where in life, since they wouldn't be sorted out at the start, some being rewarded with fancy go-anywhere degrees (often mostly in recognition of their skill in acquiring fancy go-anywhere degrees). Since the knowledge needed to advance in a dynamic economy would always be changing,  it would be hard to confuse discrete, particular skill sets with some sort of general rank.  A good surgeon would just be a good surgeon, a good SEO-optimizer would just be a good SEO-optimizer, a skilled machinist a skilled machinist. They'd all make good money, thanks to the market, but financial success would be harder to confuse with general, permanent superiority--a sense of perspective that would come in handy when advances in robotics put surgeons, SEO-optimizers and machinists out of business.

The larger point (about Obamacare and capitalism)

7:07 AM 07/01/2012

Thanks to Scott Galupo of The American Conservative for making a larger point about Obamacare that often gets lost (and that I forget to make also): In this country, at least, universal health care seems like a social prerequisite for more freedom and market-driven flexibility, not a precursor of less. It's one thing to take huge risks in a volatile market economy if the downside is you lose your money. It's another if the downside is you lose your life. People who are secure about preserving the latter are more likely to tolerate big risks regarding the former. That applies not only to swashbuckling entrepreneurs but also to regular workers who are now regularly expected to switch jobs and cities and skills as various industries and enterprises rise and fall. It's true even if you don't put a premium the American virtue of social equality--being "equal in the eyes of each other" [Reagan*]--which is itself a type of security that enables risk taking,** and which is powerfully reinforced in a health system (like Medicare) that treats rich and poor with equal respect and competence.***

Repealable You …

1:40 AM 07/01/2012

Not so unrepealable: Writers emphasizing the difficulty President Romney might have repealing Obamacare point to the 60-vote requirement to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Undoing the health care law "would require the acquiescence of Senate Democrats, which is highly unlikely," the NYT's Jennifer Steinhauer tells us. What's more, according to New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, "there is literally nothing Republicans could offer Democrats in return for repealing the Party’s greatest achievement since the Johnson Administration."  a) But of course, if the GOPS win control of the Senate, they don't have to obtain the acquiesence of all Senate Democrats in repealing the Party's greatest achievement since the Johnson Administration. They only have to obtain the acquiesence of a handful (10 or fewer) Senate Democrats, some from states where Obamacare is quite unpopular--and this after an election in which, by definition, many Obamacare supporters will have been punished by voters. b) And do Republican really have "nothing" to offer Democrats? For starters, it seems like Dems might urgently need some Medicaid fixes in the not-too-distant future. ...

Burying the bad news for Obama on immigration?

2:50 AM 06/28/2012

We Will Bury You? The relative popularity of Obama's DREAM immigration decree (by 10-15 points in a new Quinnipiac swing state poll) is being called "good news" for the president. But if it's so popular, then why in the same poll do more voters in all three swing states--Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania--say it makes them less likely rather than more likely to vote for Obama? In Ohio and Pennsylvania about twice as many voters say Obama's new policy makes them less likely to vote for him than say it makes them more likely  (27% to 11% in Ohio, 27% to 12% in Pennsylvania).

Axelrod and PhRMA

7:09 PM 06/25/2012

The left-leaning press should be all over this, no? Evil Big Drug Companies (PhRMA) funnel money to David Axelrod's old ad firm (which is still paying him for his share) even as they are negotiating with the Obama administration? Hello? Josh Marshall? Arianna? You there? Someone explain to me why this isn't a scandal. ... P.S.: If you can't rely on the WSJ editorial page to make the most of this because that would require blaming PhRMA, and you can't rely on the left because it would make Axelrod and Obama look awful right before an election, that leaves ...

Obamacare seems constitutional. Sorry!

3:20 AM 06/25/2012

I get as much pleasure as any Obama-bashing Democrat when I read about how the President's self-confident, cocooned lawyers and supporters got blindsided by the constitutional challenge to Obamacare's "individual mandate." But do I really think, in the clear light of Sunday morning, that the mandate should be struck down? No. Here's why. There are plenty of possible limiting principles that could constrain the government's power to "mandate" action, if you want to come up with one. ... Even if you don't, there's a good argument that the Court should punt the case for now. ... P.S.: In retrospect, the decision of Obama's acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal to speed up Supreme Court review  of the health care law seems insane, no? (Even, maybe, if the law is upheld.) Did Katyal underestimate the rapidity with which a conservative legal theory (formulated by Prof. Randy Barnett, among others) could move from the Volokh Conspiracy blog to the highest bench in the land? They have computers now. Call it the Feiler Faster Federalist Theory. ...

Harmonic convergence on Obamacare?

6:03 AM 06/23/2012

Convergence on Health Care? If the Supreme Court knocks out Obamacare's "mandate" for individuals to buy health insurance--and the penalty for not buying it--the dilemma for Obama, even if he's reelected, is this: It might be relatively easy to come up with substitutes that would be constitutional--e.g., de facto taxes on those who don't have insurance, for example, or extra charges on those who get ill and buy coverage late. But it will be hard to get such legislative fixes through a Republican House. What to do? Well, why not let the states supply the fixes?** Those states that want to make Obamacare work will pass their own taxes and have their plans approved by HHS. The states that don't want to supply the fix won't. The success of the former group of states will presumably shame the states that don't try (and as a result experience some form of  'death spiral,' leaving many of their citizens uninsured.) It would provide an incentive for voters to elect Obamacare-friendly state officials. ...

The maddening details of the DREAM Decree

5:01 PM 06/18/2012

The maddening details of Obama's DREAM Decree are becoming clearer. As this CIS report notes, 1) The decree doesn't just apply to illegal immigrants who were "brought to this country by their parents." It also would give work permits to those who snuck across the border by themselves as teenagers. "Through no fault of their own" is a talking point for DREAM proselytizers, not an actual legal requirement. 2) The same goes for the phrase "and know only this country as home." That's a highly imaginative riff on the decree's actual requirement, which is for 5 years "continuous residence."  It turns out "continuous residence" doesn't mean what you think it means. "Immigration attorneys have been successful in getting immigration courts to whittle this down to a point where it is almost meaningless," says CIS's Jon Feere. As an illegal immigrant you can go back homeabroad for multiple 6-month stints during those five years--but, if precedent holds, in Janet Napolitano's eyes you will still "know only this country as home." ...

Dream a little DREAM

8:40 AM 06/18/2012

A Little DREAM: I opposed the DREAM Act, for reasons given here. Many of those reasons also apply to the de facto temporary amnesty for DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants that President Obama announced on Friday:

More attention will save Obama!

10:06 PM 06/13/2012

More CowbellSpotlight: According to the Rushfield Theory of Buzzdeath--that in the New Media environment, generating "buzz" typically produces a counter-reaction that leaves you worse off than before--this is a mistake for Obama. ... Actually, rushing out a "major" speech on the economy is  a mistake even under the older theory that a President can seem desperate and overexposed. ... Why does Obama have to win the week, or the month? It's June! Obama doesn't have to win June. ... Let Romney take the lead and become the focus of press attention for a while. ... But of course his campaign has a huge infrastructure of people who pay the rent by pursuing maximum attention 24/7. They are unlikely to recommend a zen jiu-jitsu campaign of strategic disappearance. ... [Thanks to P for the tip.]

We Don’t Recriminate Like We Used To

8:06 AM 06/13/2012

Kf Leans Forward: As Ricochet listeners know, I'm already worrying that if Obama loses, Democrats will be deprived of the highly productive "recriminations" period that followed the party's humiliating defeats in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. Recrimination gave us neoliberalism, Gary Hart, the DLC, Bill Clinton, public school choice, industrial policy (sorry about that one) and welfare reform. It helpfully laid blame for Dem defeat on labor unions, selfish seniors, "liberal fundamentalists," civil-rights dinosaurs, litigious victims and other Democratic special interests. Dems finally elected a president in 1992 in large part because of the quadrennial ideological flagellations of the preceding decades.

Two cheers for “polarization”

5:45 AM 06/12/2012

The Fallacy of Anti-Polarization: Ron Brownstein gets pissy about Gov. Walker's Wisconsin victory: Sure Walker's plan "undeniably brought some needed changes," giving local governments the flexibility to negotiate "more-reasonable" union contracts. But Walker didn't "balance" that with higher taxes on "the affluent or corporations." It was all so "tumultuous"! Brownstein contrasts Wisconsin's budget solution with Connecticut's, where Gov. Dannel Malloy "closed a deficit as large as Wisconsin’s" with a combination of spending cuts, tax increases and union concessions:

Kausfiles blows gloat

4:17 AM 06/06/2012

How would I have spun it if the exit polls had been right, and Scott Walker had lost? Hard to say. I hadn't thought of anything by the time it became clear the exits were wrong (again). The intervening hour of despair tempers my enthusiasm for gloating about the result. There but for the grace of Quad.

Notes on Wisconsin

5:29 AM 06/05/2012

Notes on Wisconsin: 1) Tomorrow's recall may not be the "second most important election this year," as some observers have claimed. It may be the first; 2) The ramifications for American government, which are profound, vastly outweigh ramifications for the Obama/Romney presidential campaign, which are secondary at best, even though national reporters like to go on about them, perhaps because doing so avoids ...  3) The union issue:  It's a "referendum on the future of public sector unions" and maybe unions generally. Pretending it's about other things  is a bit like saying the Civil War wasn't about slavery. Sure, there were other issues. Still .... 4) Previously unthinkable: The important lesson, if Walker wins, is that it's possible to cut back on what the Left terms "collective bargaining rights" and get away with it.  In other words, they aren't rights in the Constitutional sense-no matter what Bob Beckel might say on The Five. They are creations of statutes, and statutes can be modified or repealed. When Reagan busted PATCO, he was acting within the relevant statute (which wasn't the regular Wagner Act.) This goes beyond that. ... If Walker loses, that will make two cases in a row where pols have attempted to structurally cripple public unionism and gotten their heads handed to them. (The other case is Kasich in Ohio.) ... 5) I'm for Walker. Even if you support private sector unionism, I don't think public sector unionism makes sense--if the unions win too much, we can't let the government go broke the way we cqn let GM go broke [bad example-ed you get the point--the market's restraints aren't there]. Democrats who believe in affirmative government should want it to be as  efficient and affordable as possible--so we can afford more of it, if necessary. The combination of official bureaucracy plus labor adversarialism plus dues-fueled political contributions has not been a happy one.. ...

Has Richard Rushfield explained the 2012 campaign?

4:16 AM 06/05/2012

What Would Lou Diamond Phillips Do? Has L.A. writer Richard Rushfield identified the key dynamic of the 2012 election: "there is no such thing as good attention"? Rushfield intends this to be a much broader theory, explaining everything, or at least everything cultural, including Girls. But politics is a subset of everything, as he acknowledges. The more Obama was out of the spotlight during the GOP primaries, the better he did. Now he's energetically campaigning and drawing attention to himself--big mistake! Meanwhile Romney has been a passive or absentee target, and he's rising in the polls. ...

Does Obama not know how much he’s spending?

5:58 PM 05/28/2012

Today's NYT campaign notebook has Obama sluicing the controversial Nutting Marketwatch chart straight off the Internet into a campaign speech, in which he proclaims "Since I've been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years." (The exact sequence seems to be Nutting's keyboard to Web to Carney to Obama to the world.) Obama's instantaneous embrace of Nutting's chart--a calculation so absurd even Ezra Klein tried to change the subject, since (among other things) it attributes all but $140 billion of increased 2009 spending most of Obama's $800+ billion stimulus to Bush, while giving Obama credit for the repayment of Bush's TARP loans***--raises an interesting pair of possibilities:

‘I’ve tried A, I’ve tried B, I’ve tried C’

1:47 AM 05/27/2012

Obama's Bain attack may well have flopped. (Joe Klein says no, because it must have "been extremely effective with focus groups." But do focus groups replicate the real world in which an attack is met with powerful pushback?) And Obama's embrace of tendentious statistics in an attempt to demonstrate that he's not a big spender may be too against-type to work--his Keynesian approach to the economy required lots of big spending, after all, and his team has been telling the liberal base that he would have spent more if he could have gotten it past Congress.

Joe Sixpack Get Lost!

6:23 AM 05/19/2012

So it's unanimous, then-- Thomas Edsall was right: In the aftermath of Obama's gay marriage flip, pundits seem to have concluded that Obama's Democratic party has indeed given up on white working class voters. They've been dropped from the winning coalition, which is now composed of three main groups: "young people, college-educated whites (especially women), and minorities," according to Ron Brownstein. Bill Galston agrees. Ruy Teixeira--who once wrote a book called America’s Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters--agrees. Here's Teixeira on how Obama can win Arizona:

Investing in Obama

8:58 PM 05/16/2012

Warren Buffett has bought $256.5 million of GM stock for his firm Berkshire Hathaway. Did he buy it to make money, or to help Obama**? Or is he, in an ominous corporatist mixture of the two, investing in Obama? Does even Buffett know for sure at this point?

Is Obama another Edwards?

5:49 AM 05/15/2012

Maybe I'm missing something, but if Obama's pal Dr. Eric Whitaker did offer Rev. Wright $150,000 to stay silent for the duration of the campaign, as charged by Ed Klein, how exactly is that different from John Edwards' pal Fred Baron giving Rielle Hunter money to stay out of the limelight for the duration of the campaign? It's a good question asked by lawyer/blogger Ted Frank. ... Like Frank and Prof. Rick Hasen, I think the Edwards prosecution is misguided, potentially criminalizing lots of donations that might have ulterior political motives (like money spent funding think tanks or making hagiographic documentary movies). But if what Edwards did is fair game for prosecutors, why isn't what Obama potentially did (assuming you could show a) that Obama knew of Whitaker's offer, and b) also that he knew it was illegal--the latter being something the prosecution has had trouble proving in the Edwards matter)? ...

Yes, Obama’s gay marriage stand hurts him

9:28 PM 05/12/2012

Standard MSM Mistake: Event X happens. Pollster asks voters if their choice will be affected by event X. A majority say no--they are of course interested only in important issues like the economy and foreign policy, not Event X. Press runs with story, "Majority Say X Won't Affect Their Vote." The implication is 'Nothing to worry about here. It turns out X isn't a big deal.'

Amnesty = Defeat?

3:32 AM 05/11/2012

Amnesty: Fast Track to a Prestigious University Presidency One of the issues on which soon-to-be-ex Senator Richard Lugar was most out of touch was immigration policy, where he was a consistent supporter of various forms of amnesty. (It's one of two or three issues highlighted in Mourdock TV ads.)  ... That's not something you can cure by maintaining a second home in Indiana. ...P.S.: Think this is only a big issue for those crazy Republican primary voters? Apparently not--but don't take it from me. Take it from President Obama. The Daily Caller's interview with Rep. Luis Gutierrez contains this semi-bombshell:

Obama’s gay shift will help him. In 2016.

1:43 AM 05/10/2012

Thinking two steps ahead? If Barack Obama loses the 2012 election, do you think he's going to quit elective politics, serve on a series of corporate and foundation boards, write a best-selling children's book on being a Dad and a Lugaresque memoir describing how Fox News and Peter Orszag betrayed him? I don't. I think he's going to run again, Grover Cleveland style. That casts possible additional (distant) light on today's endorsement of same-sex marriage: It may or may not help Obama in 2012. But it would much more reliably likely help him in 2016, when public opinion can be expected to have shifted further in favor of this social innovation. It would certainly help him in the Democratic primaries. ....

The John Edwards Dog Whistle

4:09 PM 05/08/2012

Where there's Prince there's fire! An ex-adviser to John Edwards has apparently testified that in June, 2008 he informed the Obama campaign that the alleged scandal involving Edwards and Rielle Hunter was an actual, true scandal. I'd be very surprised if Obama's campaign hadn't already known this for a long time--maybe for almost a year. Why? In September, 2007--before the National Enquirer's reports (but after a suggestive blind Page Six item)-- Huffington Post's Sam Stein lit a small fire under the scandal by writing about the mystery of Hunter's campaign videos, which had suddenly been removed from the Web. It included this paragraph:

What Bunny hath wrought

7:48 PM 05/03/2012

It was illegal for John Edwards to get Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to give many thousands to hide his  mistress in order to help him become president--but giving many thousands to fund a BS-y antipoverty institute that had exactly the same purpose is OK? ... It seems to me this is the key legal question the prosecution will have to answer. If the line is vague as I think it will be, should this  really be a criminal case? ...

Profits for Obama!

3:44 PM 05/01/2012

Today's corporatism-assisted paranoia: Why would GM cut R & D, the source of its future growth, in order to show profits in the short run? Is something happening in, say, November, for which the 26%-government-owned entity might want its balance sheet to look artificially rosy? .... P.S.: Latest sales figures show GM's market share has declined again. Total sales are flat for the year to date, and you'd have to say the GM  arrow is pointing down because Toyota is surging back into the market after a series of setbacks (earthquakes, floods, stuck accelerators). ... P.P.S.: Or is GM behaving like a company that wants to merge with some other company--sometime after November, presumably?...

DREAM 2.0? Krikorian vs. Coulter

2:49 AM 04/30/2012

Krikorian vs. Coulter: I have no inside info, but you'd think Team Romney must be having a fierce internal debate right about now over whether or not to endorse a modified, limited version of the so-called DREAM Act, which would offer a route to citizenship for  illegal immigrants who came into the country when they were minors.  Romney could do worse than stage a debate between Mark Krikorian--who thinks a tightly-written DREAM 2.0 might make sense if coupled with the major border-control improvements the 'enforcement first" approach requires-- and Ann Coulter, who doesn't think such proposal would even help Romney politically.

Why the Volt’s flopping

9:20 PM 04/29/2012

Volt is to Dog Food ... : Maybe the Chevy Volt's problem isn't Obama's kiss-of-death endorsement,  but instead simply that consumers don't like plug-in hybrids.  The plug-in version of the proven, reliable Toyota Prius isn't selling either in Japan, where it was launched, according to Truth About Cars.  Drivers might not want to have to plug their cars in to achieve the high-MPG they want.  It's an extra, unfamiliar hassle. Simple as that. ... P.S.:  Meanwhile, the cheaper, smaller regular old hybrid hybrid Prius, the "C", is a huge sales success.  Unfortunately, Chevy doesn't make a "you don't need to plug it in to get good mileage" version of the hybrid Volt. ...

Man Bites Dogma

4:45 PM 04/25/2012

When the Narrative becomes Fact, Print the Narrative! Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman tells her readers that Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law, S.B. 1070, is "deeply unpopular with Latino voters."  Really? A very recent Quinnipiac poll found that 49% of Hispanics oppose the law, but 47% approve of it.  If thats "deeply unpopular" I wouldn't want to be President Obama. ... A similarly slim majority of Hispanics actually wants the Supreme Court to uphold S.B. 1070. ...

Psst! Latino vote not growing so fast.

6:30 PM 04/23/2012

Psst! Don't tell anyone, but according to RCP's Sean Trende the Hispanic share of the vote has been virtually stagnant ("almost perfectly flat") since 2004. ... Latinos are a rapidly growing part of the population, but actually turning out to vote is another matter.  "[E]ven among eligible voters, Latino participation rates have lagged behind that of other groups," reports the Pew Hispanic Center.**

Obama vs. the Feiler Faster Principle

4:56 PM 04/21/2012

Does the Feiler Faster Principle create a big problem for Obama? It's April. We're basically ready to hold the election right now. In two months we'll be thoroughly sick of the campaign--the dogs, the dog whistles, the gimmicks, the scaremongering surrogates. And then it will still be another two months before the conventions. Oy. It's enough to make you long for an October surprise--and a September surprise, and a June, July and August surprise.

Romney’s ahead on immigration!

4:46 PM 04/19/2012

No Pivot Needed: Mitt Romney has taken a harder line on illegal immigration than expected, which has led many commentators to declare that the primaries have hurt his chances by drawing him too far in that direction (costing him support among Latino voters, especially). Yet today's Quinnipiac poll finds Romney favored over Obama on the issue of ... immigration (by a margin of 43% to 39%, about the same lead that Romney has on "the economy"). He's ahead by fifteen points on the immigration issue among independents.  ... So why is a "pivot" on immigration needed, again? ... What good is Hispandering if it wins Romney New Mexico but costs him Ohio? ...

James Johnson, Toxic Asset

3:13 PM 04/19/2012

"Mr. Johnson has been at the center of several egregious corporate governance debacles. ... We believe Mr. Johnson's history should disqualify him from service on the board of any public company." Managers of the Sequoia Fund are campaigning to vote former Mondale campaign manager, Obama veep-vetter, and Man Who Destroyed the World (as head of Fannie Mae) James Johnson off the board of Goldman Sachs, a position for which (Felix Salmon reports) he was paid $523,000 last year. He's also on the board of Target Corp.... Somewhere, Matt Cooper is smiling. ... P.S.: Self-righteous and self-serving, Johnson is an appropriate symbol for much of what's wrong with both Washington in general and the Democratic Party in particular. Is it possible to screw up so badly that you become toxic even by Wall Street standards? Johnson's continuation on Goldman's board suggests the answer is no. ...

El Hecho del Sketcho!

6:05 PM 04/10/2012

Smells Like Pivot: Thomas Edsall and others smell the long-awaitedfeared Pivot on Immigration in this story about Mitt Romney, in which Romney actually seems to seek votes from the "immigrant community" by blaming Obama for not following through on the issue:

Mulligan v. Maryland

2:01 AM 04/05/2012

Mulligan v. Maryland: Here's a way for the Supreme Court to punt on its big Obamacare decision, until after the election at least: Reargument! Give the stunned liberal legal intelligentsia time to regroup. Send Solicitor General Verrilli to the showers and bring on someone better. Hypothetical exchange:

Remember the Glomar!

9:28 PM 04/02/2012

Send the Envoy! This is so paranoid it just might be true: Was the recent "alliance" between partially US-owned General Motors and France's Peugeot (PSA) not about sharing costs at all, but about ... screwing Iran? It seems that Peugeot supplies crucial parts to Iran's major automaker, Iran Khodro. There is now intense pressure to cut off that supply--indeed, it's been cut, at least temporarily. "[A]n extended boycott could result in a breakown of its car production and in unrepaired cars after they had broken down." ... It's hard to find another good explanation for the deal, which has left analysts scratching their heads, since the major problem GM faces is overcapacity and the deal won't reduce capacity. ... Actually, maybe it will. In Iran. ...

Limit this, Jack!

3:30 AM 04/02/2012

So you have limiting principles in that basket! On the latest Left Coast/Right Coast podcast Jennifer Rubin and I searched for the fabled "limiting principle" that would restrain Congress from going berserk if it could impose an individual mandate to purchase health insurance.  I had some thoughts. Now that I've read more I have more thoughts--though they're all tentative, as well as a bit late:

This is a secure border?

5:11 AM 03/29/2012

Joke fence: Here's some of the 700 miles of border fence the Obama administration takes credit for. "Your grandma could get over or under," notes Mark Krikorian. [H]eck, I have gone over and under." This unimpressive barrier is only designed to stop cars, not pedestrians, but it doesn't stop cars either. Where taller, more formidable fences have been installed--and they have been in many places, Krikorian says--they've worked.  ...

UAW vs. VW: It’s On!

4:57 PM 03/23/2012

It's On: An unannounced, semi-stealthy UAW effort to collect signature cards from workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga factory comes to light. ... The timing is inauspicious, TTAC notes, because sales of VW's America-sized nonunion Passat are booming and the company just announced plans to hire 800 more workers. But the UAW has little choice but to try, because sales of VW's America-sized nonunion Passat are booming and the company has plans to hire more workers.. ... kf boilerplate insert A: It's hard for bailed-out GM to compete using $28/hour legacy auto assemblers when VW and other non-union transplants are paying $14-19/hour and (more important) don't have to deal with UAW-negotiated work rules. ... P.S.: Could Obama intervene somehow to save the UAW? I don't quite see how, but perhaps I lack imagination. ... What might save the UAW at this point is VW's spotty reliability rep. ...

Obama’s extra bonus for the UAW

1:17 AM 03/22/2012

Barn Door Dept.: A Canadian think tank study supports the auto bailouts but argues that in the future they should include cuts in the above-market wages of auto workers. Seems fair enough. ... The study notes that even if the autoworkers had given up their entire above-market wage "premium" it wouldn't have saved enough money to finance the entire bailout. But it would have financed over a third of it ($6 billion out of Canada's $14.4 billion). And even a much smaller giveback would have saved a significant sum, and set a useful precedent. ... P.S.: When you think about what might happen if GM starts to nosedive in sales and profits, you realize what a big favor the Obama administration did for the U.A.W. when it converted its loans to the company into stock. If there were still huge loans outstanding, after all, and the company threatened to default on them, it would be fairly easy for a politician to argue that GM's workers should give up a bit of their premium wages** before they stiff the taxpayers. But now, with the government still owning 26.5% of GM's stock, all that happens (at least for a while) is the value of the government's stock goes down, and down, and down. Old news! And no dramatic default moment at which to ask the UAW for the obvious sacrifices they didn't make in 2009.  ... P.P.S.: I'm not saying this is the only reason, or the main reason, for converting the bailout loans into equity. I'm just saying it's an added bonus for the U.A.W. ..

Example, please!

4:28 AM 03/16/2012

How Not to Win the "Death Panel" Debate: Arguments in favor of Obamacare's appointed, cost-cutting "Independent Payment Advisory Board"--like this effort from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--would be a lot more persuasive if they gave at least one (1) concrete example of ineffective health spending the IPAB will eliminate to achieve its cost target. We're assured the "board may not make recommendations to ration health care, cut benefits, increase premiums and cost sharing, or restrict eligibility" for Medicare. Good to hear! (And we know they would never try to finesse the definition of "ration.") So what would they recommend? ...

Why About Schmidt?

2:21 PM 03/09/2012

If you were choosing the parts of Game Change to turn into an HBO movie, why would you decide to tell the story of Steve Schmidt when you could tell the story of John Edwards? ... I smell Hollywood Liberalism! It's fun for leftish industry types to mock Sarah Palin. But the Edwards incident is deeply embarrassing--to much of the left, and the press--even though it's a much more dramatic, complex tale. ...

Obama scared of Occupy?

1:47 AM 03/07/2012

Evacuate, Occupy! Is Obama worried that front-page Occupy-style protests might be starting to hurt his reelection campaign? That's one obvious explanation for the sudden shift of the G-8 summit to Camp David from Chicago. ... At some point, you'd think, from Obama's point of view, the Occupy movement will have done its work (giving the MSM an excuse to write about the rich getting richer) and begin to mainly convey a damaging image of 60's-style lawlessness. Are labor unions supporting Occupy now so they can pull the plug on it later, when it starts to be counterproductive for Dems? ...

Andrew Breitbart, R.I.P.

4:46 AM 03/02/2012

Andrew Breitbart R.I.P.: One day in the summer of 2010 I woke up to a commotion outside my door. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but it turned out that my neighbor, Jodie Evans, was having a fundraiser for her friend Jerry Brown, then running (successfully) for Governor. But there were protesters. Specifically, Andrew Breitbart, who was gliding around on rollerskates with a video camera, trying to catch Brown in the act of attending the party. I thought it was a little risky of Brown to go to Evans' house--her Code Pink organization does some wild things. But what struck me most was the mood--the way the lefties in the party and Brietbart waved to each other. It turns out they knew him. He'd gone to the Brentwood School with some of them. "Everybody tells me he's a good guy," one of the aggrieved Brown funders later conceded.

Obama’s bailout boast

5:03 AM 02/29/2012

Mission accomplished: I wanted to hate Obama's UAW speech, but it's undeniably powerful--aided by the White House policy of not dropping "g"s in the transcript, thereby eliminating one of the President's most annoying, condescending tics.  Note, however, Obama explicitly boasts that he's helped fix Chrysler and GM "in the long term," so they won't "run out of money" in the future. Doesn't that mean we can't judge whether his bailout is a success based on current short-term appearances? You'd be successful in the short run too if the government gave you $80 billion.

David Brooks’ Sad Elite

6:21 PM 02/28/2012

David Brooks' Sad Elite: David Brooks says extremist "wingers" have taken over the Republican party--because those condemned as RINOs are too timid to "stand up to those who would destroy them."

Hang on Mitt!

8:03 PM 02/26/2012

Hang on Mitt! Obama "success story" GM's market share set to plummet in February. ... P.S.: Romney's "let Detroit go bankrupt"  bailout defense points out that UAW wages and benefits, pre-bankruptcy, were out of line.  Why can't he also, more profitably, go on offense by charging that because a) Obama didn't ask for enough sacrifice from the union (something even "ethically challenged" auto semi-czar Steve Rattner admits)  and b) Obama didn't sufficiently rip up the management culture at GM, a legendarily badly-run company, pre-bailout, c) GM may well not survive in the medium to long run. (Never mind the "moral hazard" precedent that's been set for future corporate failures.)  ... In a recent  Ricochet podcast, Jennifer Rubin suggests this wouldn't be  boosterish enough. But "GM is back" isn't really Romney's campaign tune. It's Obama's. I'd think "GM's stock price is in the basement for a reason" would be Romney's counterpoint. ...

Americans Elect: Pretty Obamish

3:08 AM 02/24/2012

Too Close for Obama's Comfort: I've just spent a couple of hours on the website of Americans Elect, the outfit that plans a computerized nominating process to get a "nonpartisan" third candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. Anyone can sign up on the site and answer questions, the answers to which will supposedly "shape the Americans Elect process."  After you've answered, they tell you how others answered.

Big Swinging Swingers

2:08 AM 02/22/2012

Big Swinging Swingers: You say Latinos are key swing voters in swing states? How about lower-income whites? Fivethirtyeight.com's Nate Silver notes that "low income whites are concentrated in swing states ...." If a presidential candidate loses these voters by, say, Hispandering on immigration, he loses, no? Maybe Mitt Romney's strategists have seen the same numbers. ...

Note to MSM: Boost Newt Now!

4:09 AM 02/17/2012

From Media Central--All Member Action Alert: We need to give Gingrich another boost--immediately.  He's dragging along at under 15% in national polls. If we want a brokered GOP convention--and we do--we can't let this thing become a two-way race between Romney and Santorum. A two way race means it's highly likely that one of the two will get 51% of the delegates, as Sean Trende points out.  The plan clearly calls for three (3) semi-strong candidates splitting the pie. Yet Gingrich is now doing so badly he's on the verge of becoming a non-factor. He might even lose Georgia on Super Tuesday. Pump him up stat or prepare to be bored in Tampa. ... Take-away: Let him have another magical put-down moment at the February 22 CNN debate in Arizona.  Flatfooted questioning by an earnest moralistic reporter will be needed to provide the requisite foil. This is no time to take chances. Is it too late to get Soledad O'Brien? She could defend contraception and abortion as a "women's issue." Maybe even quote Nancy Pelosi. Hanging curve.  Then get the B-matter on Christie and Jeb ready. ...

End of the Fight Club?

5:49 AM 02/10/2012

End of the Fight Club?** Now JournoList eminence Matthew Yglesias tells us he has "come to think that 'mean' arguments are counterproductive." ...  Hard-to-resist working thesis: This is what happens when you end a private institution where ambitious young leftish political writers preen for each other (and Scoutmaster DeLong) by showing how vitriolic and thuggish they can be about their ideological opponents. ... Jonathan Chait had to be especially mean on domestic issues to make up for his New Republicish pro-Israel positions. ... P.S.: Yglesias is a nice guy. That's the point. JournoList encouraged nice guys to try to be nasty. ...

Psst. Conservatives! …

4:15 AM 02/10/2012

Note to my CPAC friends: Why do conservatives want "local control" of education again? Don't the teachers' unions typically have more power at the state and local level? In California, where I live, the teachers' unions more or less run the place, in part because in local races they they bring to bear the kind of muscle that can make or break a rising Democratic pol. At the federal level, this power is diluted--the unions are one big player among many. Maybe that is why Obama has been free to push reforms (including charter schools) that make teachers' unions quite uncomfortable. ... P.S.: Don't tell me, as some twitterers have, that the unions' power is weakened in right-to-work states.  You mean it's easy to fire bad teachers in Virginia? ...

The Reinhardt Ratchet

3:58 AM 02/08/2012

The Reinhardt Ratchet: I recommend the Volokh Conspiracy bloggers for instant unpacking of Judge Stephen Reinhardt's decision striking down California Prop. 8's ban on same-sex marriages. Two initial thoughts: 1) Any decision based on the "rational relationship" test is almost certainly a crock. As a famous Yale Law Journal note by Robert F. Nagel argued decades ago, every statute is perfectly rationally related to ... doing exactly what it does! When judges find that a statute has "no rational relationship" to a legitimate government purpose it usually means they've simply given rein to their biases and arbitrarily ruled out or ignored various conceivable purposes. Here, Orin Kerr argues, they ignored the blindingly obvious purpose of swatting down the California Supreme Court--which you might want to do if you support same sex marriage rights but think they should be instituted legislatively, with maximum "buy in" by the public. 2) Reinhardts's ruling seems to say that after the California Supreme Court had required same-sex marriages, voters couldn't reverse that decision without being motivated by impermissable animus. In other words, once state judges grant rights to a new discriminated-against class, it's unconstitutional to take them away, even by amending the state constitution--a sort of Brezhnev doctrine of liberal judicial activism. ...

Did the Great Recession hammer the rich?

3:38 AM 02/06/2012

The recession's end will be good news for ... Tim Noah! Noah's got a new big book lamenting the rise in income inequality, and it looks like the Great Recession actually reduced inequality substantially, at least at the top. Inconvenient! In 2009 the income share of the top 1% actually fell precipitously to Clinton-era levels, according to the Tax Foundation. Lucky this post-2008 data didn't get out until the book contracts had all been signed--and, more important, until the recession seemed to be ending, something that will probably drive the share of the top 1% back up again. ... Pay no attention to that little dip in the chart ...

What does Obama do all day?

3:42 AM 02/02/2012

What does he do all day? Are you impressed with the image of Obama-at-work left by Ryan Lizza's "Obama Memos" piece in the New Yorker? The President's decision-making method--at least as described in the piece--seems to consist mainly of checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him. ... They offer him four stimulus packages, none bigger than $890 billion. He does not ask for more but does push for an "inspiring 'moon shot'" initiative. At first it's a "national 'smart grid'"--hard not to get inspired just hearing those words! When aides explain that this isn't stimulating enough, he settles for "high-speed trains." ... He's presented with a list of $60 billion in cuts to his core stimulus policies, and writes "OK." ... He "authorize[s] his staff" to plan a likely-to-be-useless "bipartisan 'fiscal summit,'" asks "what are the takeaways"" is told he could "ask .. for continued dialogue," and doesn't write "this is all BS" and cancel the summit, which in fact proves useless. ... He asks, "Have we looked at any of the other GOP recommendations (e.g. Paul Ryan's) to see if any make sense" instead of, I dunno, looking at them himself.  ... He's given a memo on cutting government waste and writes "This is good stuff--we need to constantly publicize our successful efforts here." Does he later notice that either the efforts or the attempt to publicize them were wildly ineffective?  ... He's asked to check a box saying whether he wants to fund his "child nutrition agenda" out of the money for community colleges. ... He's asked about including medical malpractice reform in his health care bill, and writes ("in his characteristicaly cautious and reasonable style") that "we should explore it."  ... He's presented a plan for a watered-down tax on multinationals or a very watered down tax. He writes "worth discussing."  ... He's advised to appear less hostile to "the anti-government right" and its concerns by discussing "what small businesses mean for the freedom to be your own boss" and doesn't write 'look, we passed a huge health bill and we're spending billions on 'green jobs.' I'm not going to assuage  the Tea Partiers with some throwaway rhetoric about small business and it insults them if it looks like I think I can.' ... He's offered a box to extend a one year non-defense spending freeze into a three year freeze. He doesn't ask for a bigger, smaller, longer or broader freeze. He draws "a check mark." ... Finally, he's presented with a classic three-box-con memo--two extreme boxes (big new jobs package, big new deficit package) and a safer middle box ("smaller, more symbolic" deficit efforts), a matrix clearly designed to get him to choose the middle option. He chooses the middle option.

Post-Florida Spin Challenge!

6:18 PM 02/01/2012

Tough spin day for supporters of "comprehensive immigration reform" legislation, whose consistent, principled election message (stoked in the press) can fairly be summarized as "give Latinos some kind of amnesty for illegals or you'll pay."

Say It Ain’t So, Tim

11:36 PM 01/30/2012

Tim Noah: You're writing a whole big book on rising income inequality and you say all you want to do is "make the rich pay their fair share" and stop banks from causing another economic crisis? Really? You don't want to reduce the massive economic inequality that will persist even after the rich and super-rich pay their "fair share"?  I understand why President Obama might want to water down the money-egalitarianism of the left into a simple "equal sacrifice" argument for higher upper tax brackets. But when even crusading opinion journalists who work for The New Republic have to deny their interest in actually equalizing incomes for its own sake then it kind of proves Andrew Kohut's point that Americans reject that point of view, no? ... P.S.:  I suspect polls will show Americans do care about social equality (that we are "equal in the eyes of each other," as Ronald Reagan put it).  The popular desire for social equality is why Mitt Romney ate at McDonald's today. In any case, I've argued, instead of focusing on rising income inequality (about which they can do little) liberals would be better advised to focus on ensuring social equality even in the face of disparate incomes. ... I'm not saying that's easy easy to do--even completely eliminating povery (J.Q. Wilson's suggested focus) would not necessarily produce social equality between, say, the middle class and the ultra-rich. But it seems doable, and it's something voters will want to do. ... More tk! ...

Where’s the Osawatomie?

3:52 AM 01/25/2012

SOHUM: I just finished reading Obama's State of the Union. Didn't see it. Reactions: 1) Was it as boring to see as it was to read? Because it is really boring to read. About a third of the way through I put it down and switched to reading the ingredients on the granola bar I was eating, just to perk myself up. Made me long for Newt Gingrich, a feeling Obama surely did not want to produce; 2) Where's the Osawatomie? In his allegedly table-setting, voice-finding December Kansas manifesto, Obama made a big deal about rising money inequality, citing statistics on the relative growth of the "average income of the top 1%," referencing the Occupy movement, etc.  There was none of that in Tuesday's speech. Obama only wants "an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." He didn't say everyone "gets their fair share." That's not money-equalizing populism?** It's moderate Republicanism. Looks like Walter Russell Mead was right--Osawatomie was just a ploy to stroke Obama's left base, quickly abandoned when more Americans were paying attention. Or else it polled as badly as he suspected it would. Sorry, E.J. ... Here I was all ready to attack Obama's focus on money equality and make my traditional pitch to substitute social equality. But there was no focus on money equality.  So annoying! (Don't tell me about the Buffet Rule: Obama pitched his higher top tax rate for "millionaires" as a way to ensure equal sacrifice (as anticipated by W. Galston) not as a way to help reverse the growing income inequality trend.)  3) Obama made a big fuss about keeping out unfair products (e.g. Chinese tires) and penalizing outsourcing companies in order to preserve U.S. jobs.. But he still seems oblivious to the threat to U.S. jobholders from low-wage illegal immigrants. In short, he appears unwilling to import cheap products from abroad but he's quite happy to import cheap workers. This seems to me exactly backwards. For one thing, we can always cut off trade if we want. It's not so easy to reverse immigration flows, as Obama and Gingrich constantly remind us. 4) "No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts." No bailouts? But ... but ... but you ... but ... 5) Labor unions mentioned only once, in an incidental way. Tim Noah notices. Are they still part of Obama's solution? If so, they aren't a part he wants to talk about in public. ... Overall: I'd expected something more powerful. ...

Kausfiles averts constitutional crisis

5:07 PM 01/21/2012

Kausfiles solves constitutional crisis--There oughta be a law:  Emailer "E" upbraids me for taking a narrow view of the debate over Presidential "recess" appointments: I tried to decide whether Obama's constitutional position or the GOP's  position would prevail in court. Instead, he suggests,  I should try to figure out what solution would make the government work better, whatever the Constitution's' language says. 

Is economic inequality really a “driving” issue?

4:40 PM 01/19/2012

Who's driving? Bob Shrum says Mitt Romney's "tax avoidance" embodies "unfairness in a moment when economic justice has emerged as a driving issue." Maybe I'm missing something, but where is the evidence, in actual off-year or primary election returns (and not the hopes of Bob Shrum and the media) that "economic justice"--and not jobs and growth--is now a "driving issue" in the election? Who has actually been driven? I mean, "economic justice" could be a driving issue--income inequality has certainly been rising the past few decades. There've even been a few off-year elections--1982 comes to mind--when "fairness" actually has been an issue.  In this election, so far, press has hyped the Occupy demonstrations and written lots of articles reporting, in a self-fulfilling kind of way, an

The Fraud of Iowa strikes again

3:23 PM 01/19/2012

Forget Iowa: This is not the first time the Iowans have botched the count in their caucuses. ... Let's see: They run an 1) unrepresentative non-primary 2) controlled by small numbers of each parties' more extreme elements 3) with proven record of bad judgment** and 4) they can't even count the votes. ... Stop them now, before they kill again. ...

Dangle-room for Romney?

5:21 AM 01/19/2012

Did Romney leave himself room to dangle an immigration amnesty? I've been predicting that if Mitt Romney secures the nomination he will at some point pivot away from his seemingly tough stance against illegal immigration in order to dangle a possible amnesty in front of Latino voters. But will he have to actually contradict himself to do it? Here is Romney's answer to the immigration question at Monday's debate [E.A.]:

Has Obama abandoned unions?

4:32 PM 01/18/2012

Has Obama quietly abandoned (private sector) unionism? As noted by William Voegeli, Obama's big Osawatamie speech conspicuously did not look to Wagner Act unionism to redress the long-term rise in income inequality. (He barely mentioned unions.) Now Remapping Debate suggests that the President's vision of a revived manufacturing sector may rely on a non-unionized work force:

Will Mitt re-flip?

4:37 PM 01/15/2012

Will Mitt Flip Again? Many smart Republicans are convinced Mitt Romney won't change his new, conservative positions back to his old, less-conservative positions after the November election. I agree. I think he'll change them before the November election. On at least one issue, anyway. On immigration, I fully expect a post-Tampa "pivot" to a message that dangles the prospect of near-term amnesty in front of the Latino voters for whom it is supposedly a central concern. The sort of advisers a moderate like Romney has will surely recommend this. It's a big mistake, of course: the only way to really remove the incentive for illegal border crossing is to first kill the idea that there will always be an amnesty down the road somewhere. Which means no dangling! ...

Don’t Count the Grand Bargain Out

5:27 PM 01/12/2012

Yes, We Klain! The White House says there's not much on President Obama's 2012 pre-election legislative agenda beyond an extension of the payroll tax cut, leading to the conventional expectation that very little will happen in Congress this year. Comes now veteran Dem aide Ron Klain to suggest this CW is wrong:  At some point, previously gridlockish Republican legislators may decide that its in their interest to start passing things that actually have a chance of being signed into law.  The analogy is to 1996, when Newt Gingrich finally decided to pass a welfare reform bill that Bill Clinton might sign, even though that deprived GOP presidential candidate of a big potential issue (i.e. that Clinton hadn't reformed welfare as promised).

Michelle Makes It Worse

7:06 PM 01/11/2012

Michelle Obama's thin skin is the best thing to happen to Jodi Kantor's new book, as John Hudson notes. ...  Mrs. Obama may not fit "angry black woman" stereotype she's complaining about, but she's confirming the "over-adored political wife who can't stand bad press" stereotype, no? Kantor's book, from all accounts, is by and large good press for the Obamas. Not good enough, apparently. .. P.S.: This view--that Michelle Obama is making bad press out of good press--is the press corps CW. I wouldn't be surprised if pieces like Hudson's won't at some point be encouraged by concerned White House politicos who want to get a message to Mrs. Obama (that she's engaged in textbook counterproductive PR) but are unable to say this to her face. ... She doesn't "have conversations with [her] husband's staff," remember! ... P.P.S: And remember, if you want to dispel the impression that you are an "angry black woman," grouse about it to Gayle King! ...

Did Obama’s Populist Power Play Backfire?

3:33 AM 01/11/2012

Did the Cordray "Recess" Power Play Backfire? Why is Barack Obama's approval number sinking again on both Gallup and Rasmussen? He hasn't been in the news much--something that often helps him. Instead the focus has been on the fussing and feuding GOP candidates, the so-called "clown car." Could it be that the President's brilliant populist power play of making a questionable recess appointment to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau backfired? It certainly doesn't seem to have helped. On January 2, the RealClearPolitics average put Obama one point underwater, with a disapproval rating of 47.8 and an approval of 46.8. He appointed Cordray on January 4. He's now almost 6 points underwater. ...

Obama vs. The Constitution

10:50 PM 01/08/2012

It's been noted that both sides in the dispute over President Obama's "recess" appointments are making arguments with potentially ugly logical consequences.

He Sure Can Spin!

2:42 AM 01/04/2012

In a decisive Hawkeye masterstroke, Mitt Romney appears to have beaten a recently-defeated Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, by 8 votes--though they can't find the guy with the official records.  But really Romney was a winner any way you cut it:

Perry’s Solvable Problem

9:42 PM 12/28/2011

This is the argument against Perry and Santorum? Nate Silver thinks that "for [Mitt Romney] to fail to win the nomination, someone else has to, and it’s hard to see who that is." Really? Here is his argument that Perry is "too flawed":

Why is Romney Iowa “frontrunner”

2:59 PM 12/28/2011

Why is Mitt Romney the "new frontrunner in Iowa"? He's still behind Ron Paul in the many Iowa polls. He has weak favorability ratings. He's doing surprisingly well among mainstream FOX-viewing conservatives, but that would also seem to make him vulnerable to a late surge from Perry or Santorum. ... Romney has great spinners. I've been turned around by one of them myself. But they seem to have let expectations get out of control here. ...

Mo’ Stake-Raising

9:02 PM 12/26/2011

More Stakes-Raising: Thomas Edsall thinks Mitt Romney's attacks on "an Entitlement Society" are intended to tar all recipients of entitlement spending--including Social Security pensioners and Medicare patients--with the stigma of "welfare." Specifically, Edsall argues, Romney would lump these programs in with programs that send cash to the "undeserving" poor--programs like the old AFDC program, widely believed to "perpetuate poverty and discourage work."  Edsall's characterization seems a bit unfair.

It’s Raised-Stakes Week!

2:22 PM 12/26/2011

Sorry, E.J.--Obama vs. Romney is not a "momentous choice": E.J. Dionne takes the vague platitudes Mitt Romney feeds the Republican primary electorate ("a choice between two destinies") and concludes 2012 really is a "make or break moment" for "the consensus that has governed American political life since the Progressive era." Please. Even in December Romney isn't saying anything that commits him to radical change, and unless he has a simultaneous strategy and character transplant he won't be saying even that in September. And even if he says it in September he wouldn't be able to implement it in February. ...

The Osawatomie Stroke

3:58 AM 12/19/2011

The Osawatomie Stroke? Polls are not detecting the popular concern about money inequality, or the faith in government, that might undergird an effective voice-finding populist-pushback Obama presidential campaign. More the opposite. ... Walter Russell Mead suggests a coming Obama pivot away from populism in a few months, once the base has been effectively stroked. ... Stupid me. I actually thought last month's Latest Obama Strategy might be real and not just an E.J.-pleasing feint. ...

Did Obama Punt on Light Bulb Ban?

9:27 AM 12/16/2011

Did Dems Secretly Punt on Light Bulb Ban? Maybe Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats would just as soon that Congress put off the de facto ban on cheap, familiar incandescent bulbs until after the election. If the ban can drive the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker into the Tea Party, who knows how many other voters it will annnoy.  This would explain the strange lack of strong Dem opposition to a GOP rider that defunds the incandescent ban until Sept. 30. Politico reports:

How is New Poverty Like New Coke

3:01 AM 12/13/2011

How is New Poverty like New Coke? Richard Bavier, a respected policy analyst with the OMB for many years, reams the Obama administration's new bait-and-switch poverty line. ... Bavier argues the new line is "carefully designed so that the public will think it is one thing when it is really something else."

Newt: Damning Photo Edition!

12:23 AM 12/13/2011

Mark Krikorian on the secret bond between Newt Gingrich and Paul Krugman--with damning photographic evidence. ... When Gingrich talks about "right-wing social engineering," it turns out he's projecting! ... P.S.: I always thought Hari Seldon was an associate professor at UCLA who didn't get tenure. ... More: Here ...

Bill Keller’s Convenient Omission

2:33 AM 12/12/2011

Bill Keller praises Newt Gingrich's immigration stand but conveniently omits Gingrich's support for the Krieble "red card" plan--essentially unlimited new immigration leading to dead-end second class citizenship. Worst of both worlds: it would further destroy wages of unskilled Americans while building a two-tier society--something that would undoubtedly, and rightly, offend Keller.  It's not a minor omission! Especially since Keller's thesis is that Newt, alone among the GOPs, has this immigration thing all figured out.

Flopulism?

3:42 AM 12/09/2011

Flopulism? So pro-business, centrist chief of staff William Daley is demoted, Obama moves to a feisty, fight back, progressive posture, casting Republicans as the party of the 1% , and ... he loses three points in Ohio? Isn't Ohio one of the states where populism is supposed to work? ... The poll in question was taken before Obama's big "inequality" speech in Kansas. Still ... the shift's been going on for weeks. ... Look at this chart of the President's national approval rating and tell me it's working. ...

Obama’s Charity Capitalism

5:52 AM 12/07/2011

What was the matter with Kansas: The weakest part of Obama's grand Kansas manifesto was this passage, in which the President worries about how to "grow our middle class again" in a world where "huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere in the world."

Lust for Amnesty

3:57 AM 12/06/2011

Anytime is the right time for amnesty! Border arrests are down--more confirming evidence, if any was needed, that illegal immigration into the U.S. from Mexico has slowed. According to WaPo:

The Emerging GOP Dilemma

4:54 PM 11/30/2011

Alert reader E notes that Thomas Edsall's piece--on Obama abandoning the white working class--seems important and wonders, "Is all we're going to hear from you on it a shot at Weigel? Answer: No! It's discussed in an exciting, just-released bloggingheads. The one point I make is that the shift Edsall describes is not an unmixed blesssing for Republicans, who are now stuck with a lot of white working class people in their coalition who aren't really that conservative, economically (or even on "social issues," really--they seem mainly culturally disgusted with Democrats). ...

Weigel Will Find a Way to Sneer

5:08 AM 11/30/2011

Sneer Will Find a Way: Note to Dave Weigel, who found a way to turn Thomas B. Edsall's clarifying post on Obama's strategy into a constituency-pleasing sneer at Fox News: 1) It's "Edsall," not "Edsell;" 2) The Ruy Teixeira essay Edsall commented on was co-authored by John Halpin, not by John Judis; 3) It's "Teixeira" Not "Texiera;" 4) Fox's headline, "NYT: Obama Campaign Plans to Abandon White Working Class" is a completely fair summary of Edsall's thesis, which (as Weigel himself notes) is that "preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class."  It's the New York Times' headline ("The Future of the Obama Coalition") that's scandalously boring. 5) Teixeira and Halpin's point isn't just that Obama will be "continuing to lose voters who have been voting Republican since 1966"--voters he only got 40% of in 2008.  It's that Obama should be planning to make up for unprecedented presidential-year losses among these less educated whites--in Edsall's words, a "repetition of 2010, when white working-class voters supported Republican House candidates by a record-setting margin of 63- 33."  That's not a non-story, as both right-wing Fox and left-wing Talking Points Memo understood. 6) Is it really true that Obama "isn't switching policies in or out of a playbook because whites won't vote for him," as Weigel confidently asserts? Arguably, for example, Obama might have not delayed a decision on the jobs-producing Keystone XL Pipeline if he were as eager to mobilize a base of working class whites as a base of elite environmentalists. And he almost certainly would pursue an altered immigration policy--focusing more on protecting jobs from illegal undocumented unauthorized immigrant competition and less on suing states (like Arizona and Alabama) that have passed tough enforcement measures. ...

Mandatory Ezra Klein item

4:55 AM 11/26/2011

Clustersuck: Tell me again why we must be outraged that WaPo's Ezra Klein gave a briefing to Democratic Senate aides. “'I have never heard of a reporter briefing staffers,'" sniffs "[a] longtime Washington editor."  On a normal day, you see, Klein is regurgitating what Democratic aides and experts tell him. Isn't it ethical progress if the spin goes in the other direction for a change? If only I thought that were really true in Klein's case.** ...

The poverty of “near poverty”

11:07 PM 11/20/2011

Not "poor" but "poor adjacent"? A stat too far: Let's just suppose, as a thought experiment, that the New York Times is a liberal conspiracy.  In this hypothetical alternate reality, the paper's editors would like the government to do more to redress the material disparities generated by our version of capitalism, and they commission stories designed to bring this better world closer. They might think it a brilliant idea to get the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate, not just how many people are poor according to the government's fancy new Supplemental Poverty Measure (which takes into account regional cost of living, and government benefits like food stamps, plus medical expenses and taxes**) but how many are under 150% of this new poverty line. Not poor, but "near poor." Bet there are a lot of them!

Let the broccoli rot!

4:59 AM 11/17/2011

You can make a horse buy water, but you can't make it drink: I'd just as soon get rid of the Commerce Clause and have a simple constitutional principle: "The Federal government can do anything a state government can do, and if there's a conflict the Federal rule wins." It would shorten legal textbooks considerably. Unfortunately, it's not what the document at issue says.

Obama Dinkinsized?

6:12 PM 11/16/2011

I'm on Instavision with Glenn Reynolds, which is fun because he isn't scared to talk about cars or sex. Today: cars! ... Also discussed: 1) Was Occupy Wall Street on the verge of Dinkinsizing Obama?  After all, one social malady Obama hasn't had to contend with, until now, has been a rising crime rate or, more broadly, a general sense of things spinning out of control in cities--something that is almost invariably toxic for incumbents (ask David Dinkins and Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton in 1994**).  But now Occupy Wall Street has provided at least a whiff of authentic 1960s semi-anarchy, and the Democrats' attitude toward the protests has been generally supportive (or "permissive"). I remember  the President who got elected in 1968. Not a Democrat. ... 2) Will Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker get beat like Ohio Governor John Kasich? ... 3) GE bails out the Volt. ... P.S.: My big problem with these appearances--as in other, more painful, life situations-- is that my "inner smile" often comes off as smug. I think I avoided that today through a rigorous program of gesticulation. But let me know. ...

President Newt?

4:11 AM 11/14/2011

Newt Gingrich did very well for himself in the foreign policy debate Saturday, especially when he put down a smug Scott Pelley on the issue of whether killing Al-Awlaki comported with the "rule of law."  ...  Jennifer Rubin and I discuss what a Gingrich Presidency might be like in our most recent Ricochet podcast here (starting about 4:20 in).  Rubin also has a detailed post on why Gingrich is not a "conservative dreamboat."  ... A key point not addressed by issues papers is his firmness in negotiation, or lack thereof. During the welfare reform debate of 1995-6, my impression was that Gingrich always wants to be the hero who walks into the room and cuts the grand deal. As a result he is all-too-ready to make dramatic concessions, which is one reason Clinton cleaned his clock in the post-1994 budget negotiations. Fastest sellout in the West! ...

Project Voltwatch!

10:20 PM 11/08/2011

The Mystery of the Volt: Where Will They All Go? General Motors is sticking by its prediction that it will sell 10,000 electric/hybrid Chevy Volts by the end of the year. Only 5,000 had been through October, meaning GM has to double that amount in just the final two months of the year.  Until now, Volt production seems to have been wildly outstripping actual sales.  But GM CEO Dan Akerson says sales are "starting to hit the pace,"  some reporters claim the Volt is "hot," and the company has made a big show of allowing dealers to sell off their demo models, allegedly to supply the now-insatiable "customer demand."  ...

The Secret Patriotism of the Press

6:22 AM 11/03/2011

In Which We Modify the Theory to Fit the Data: Larry Elder offers a seemingly devastating "apples-to-apples" comparison of MSM's sex scandal coverage: Jesse Jackson in 1988 vs. Herman Cain in 2011. Both were at some point frontrunners in a presidential race.  But Jackson basically got a pass on his "alleged numerous and rampant instances of infidelity."  (Later he fathered a child out of wedlock).  Cain is getting slow-broiled by the press. Yes, 1988, was a long time ago. But it was only 3 years later when conservative Clarence Thomas was the focus of a similar potential scandal and ... got broiled by the press (though he still made it onto the Supreme Court).

Bad Nuze for GM

2:37 AM 10/26/2011

Bad Nuze for the Cruze: The new Consumer Reports reliability ratings are out, and the much-hyped Chevy Cruze rates ... "significantly below average,"  according to the Detroit Freep. Yikes.  According to David Champion, CR's head of auto testing, the poor result was "due to a number of small issues such as electrical functions and electronic parts." Electronic parts. Who needs them?

Blow This Graph, Matt Yglesias!

5:05 PM 10/24/2011

Yglesias Blows Graphs, Part II: Matthew Yglesias says he never said private jobs losses "since the beginning of the recession" were smaller than public job losses, though I also never said he did. Yglesias does argue that the public sector has taken a bigger hit lately, specifically since the start of the Obama administration. But why pick that period? It's often possible to choose a period where what you'd like people to think has been tragically declining (e.g. public sector employment) has in fact been declining even though in a slightly wider view exactly the opposite is true. It's still deceptive. That was Yglesias commenter Peter Schaeffer's point. To see how deceptive, it helps to look at the whole post-2000 picture. Here it is (from Schaeffer**):Obviously the recent public sector cutback is a modest correction to the dramatic growth in government employment since 2000. As Schaeffer notes, there's often a time lag between when a recession hits and when government employment finally contracts. You can always take a snapshot of only the period of lagged decline (the far right portion of the chart), ignore what went before, and say "see, the public sector is dangerously shrinking." And I guess Yglesias-style Democrats always will.

Schaeffer 1, Yglesias 0

1:25 AM 10/22/2011

Epistemology of Matt Yglesias:  Center for American Progress' Matt Yglesias presents some graphs in an attempt to show that public jobs have taken a bigger hit than private jobs (so Harry Reid was right!). Unfortunately for Yglesias, he has a comments section, and in it Peter Schaeffer shows why Yglesias' graphs are pretty much completely deceptive. It turns out we've lost more private jobs than public jobs, even as a percentage, and even after "public sector jobs grew much faster in the run up to the crash."  ...

Dumbest Daily Beast Yet!

3:35 AM 10/20/2011

Tina's Teens Home Without Adult Supervision: Tina Brown's youthful webworkers, trying to come up with a feature riffing off the Republican debate, have produced a slideshow of "anchor babies." The only problem is that, embarrassingly, they missed the part in the definition of an "anchor baby" (including the one they themselves cite) where it notes that an "anchor baby" is the child of illegal immigrants born on American soil (the idea being that having an American citizen child anchors the entire otherwise-illegal family by insulating them from deportation).

Ford-UAW Deal in Trouble

7:16 PM 10/13/2011

Hey, let's cripple the only non-failed U.S. automaker! More Wagner Act jobs magic: The deal between the UAW and Ford is in trouble. UAW members appear to be on the brink of rejecting it. That means a strike is possible. Will the UAW win a strike? I don't think so, and the UAW leadership apparently doesn't think so either. Remember that hundreds of thousands of competent American workers would happily perform UAW members jobs for half of UAW pay.  A UAW Facebook post warning members that Ford could hire "replacement workers" has been withdrawn, but that doesn't mean Ford won't and it doesn't mean the union hierachy isn't worried. ... P.S.: Whether the UAW strikes or grudgingly accepts the deal, it will be good vibes, cooperation and productivity all around thanks to the adversarial mindset institutionalized by the New Deal Wagner Act.  ... P.P.S.: Remember that the structured "economic contest" set up by Wagner--in which workers get whatever they can get by physically leaving the plant and trying to prevent their employer from carrying on with business--is morally arbitrary, almost as arbitrary as if they settled the dispute with a boxing match. Unions that don't have the UAW's advantages--big centralized factories that can be easily blockaded, jobs that managers can't easily do, a reputation for physical confrontation--don't get UAW pay.  Ask the garment workers. ...

Was Reid Thinking Lame Duck?

4:56 PM 10/12/2011

It's Never Too Early for Lame Duck Speculation! I can't help but wonder if Harry Reid didn't spring his surprise procedural maneuver last week--setting a new precedent that limits the ability to offer amendments after the Senate votes for cloture--with one eye on the possibility that, if the GOPs sweep the 2012 election, a lame duck session next year might be his last chance to enact Dem-supported legislation. After all, when does the (now curtailed) ability to offer endless amendments have the most chance of actually killing a bill that has supermajority support? Answer: When the clock is running out. And when is the clock most definitively running out? A: At the end of a lame duck session. ...

Horserace Coverage!

9:06 PM 10/09/2011

Close Contests I'm Following: 1) Cruze vs. Jetta: GM's long-term survival hinges on Chevrolet, by far its biggest brand.  The Chevrolet Cruze compact (which is really a Daewoo built in Ohio) is off to a strong start, helped by the earthquake that crippled its Toyota and Honda competition. But Chevy is now threatened from a new direction: VW, which is trying to gobble market share by building cheap anodyne anycars in factories with low labor costs.  The Jetta (built in Mexico) and the larger Passat (built in a new nonunion plant in Tennessee) are daggers aimed at the heart of GM and, more significantly, the UAW. This month, Cruze sales fell (compared with last month). It held on to the bestseller position--but Jetta sales are up, it's now #3 and is closing in fast. Exciting! If Obama really is a corporatist he'll find some way to hobble VW. ...

More Bogus Solyndra Defenses

4:58 AM 10/06/2011

China Grove is Not a Doobie Brothers Song: My friend Joe Nocera has, er, refined his defense of Solyndra. He no longer seems to think giving it a half-billion-dollar guaranteed government loan was a really neat idea. (Megan McArdle demolished that notion.) He concedes that  "Solyndra wasn’t ready for prime time and that the Department of Energy, which gave it a $535 million federally guaranteed loan, should have known as much." He now argues that sure, Solyndra was a loser, but that doesn't undermine the general rationale for the government's loan program:

Will WaPo’s Anti-Perry Scoop Help … Perry?

7:41 AM 10/03/2011

Just when we had Rick Perry on the ropes, WaPo has to go and give his candidacy new life by creating a Perry vs. Liberal MSM controversy. GOP primary voters don't like being told they have "no heart"--but they don't like the press trying to take a Republican out with a second-order racial-insensitivity scandal either. ... If I had to guess which candidate's camp leaked this story, I might guess Perry's. Who benefits? ....

Would a SCOTUS loss help Obama?

5:49 AM 09/30/2011

Why does Politico assume it's in the White House's political interest to have the Supreme Court approve Obama's health care law, with its controversial "individual mandate," before the November, 2012 election? And why assume the Obama White House was also thinking that a favorable ruling was in its interest when it chose to pursue a rapid Supreme Court review? If the law is as unpopular as it seems to be, and if the individual mandate is "the most hated piece of the law," then the Court, by removing the threat of the law, or at least the mandate, on constitutional grounds, would remove a big reason to oppose Obama, no? Health care "repealers" could reelect the President without fear that he'd require them to buy insurance--or, if the entire law collapses, without fear that the law would not be repealed over his veto. The Court would already have done the repealing. ... I'm not saying Obama wants to lose the case. But he could easily have figured that if he's going to lose the case, he might as well do it when a loss would remove a thorn in the electorate's side. ...

Why Perry P.O.’d the GOPs

1:33 AM 09/26/2011

Heartless Bitter Clingers, On the Move!  It's always about respect.  Telling voters who worry about illegal immgration that they don't "have a heart" is dissing, not disagreeing.  If Rick Perry had said "I'm sorry, I understand the arguments against it but I just don't have the heart to tell those kids 'no,' and I don't think we should do that as a society. There's a place for compassion," I don't think his debate remark would have stirred up nearly as much resentment, though substantively it would have amounted to the same thing. Luckily, Perry didn't say it that way. ...

Will the UAW run out of money?

5:15 AM 09/23/2011

How does the UAW end? I understand how the UAW could be in the middle of an existential crisis: the Detroit carmakers that employ its members are facing very strong competition from auto companies that assemble cars in the U.S. but don't have to pay UAW salaries and pensions and don't have to deal with UAW work rules. Unless the union cripples this competition  organizes the foreign "transplants" (e.g. VW, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda) the companies its members work for may go broke (for a second time,, in the case of two of them). No employers, no UAW.

What really terrifies Dems about NY-9

5:22 AM 09/14/2011

HOBBITS BOBBITT TWITTER QUITTER! At the end of his analysis of the GOP's shock win in the race to replace now-resigned Rep. Anthony Weiner, Slate's Dave Weigel hits upon what should really terrify Dems, especially Congressional Dems, about the loss.

Obama’s Worst Idea

4:22 PM 09/09/2011

Worst Idea in the Speech? Charles Lane notes that, to ease employers' fears of regulatory and legal uncertainty, Obama wants to create another dubious grounds for people to sue employers. The provisions of the law "[p]rohibiting employers from discriminating aginst unemployed workers" seem almost reasonable until you realize that all those reasonable provisions have to be litigated by well-paid lawyers at someone's expense. A museum-quality case  of liberal legalism ignoring the economic cost of the mechanisms of liberal legalism. ....

Perry on Immigration: Even weaker than you think

2:11 AM 09/06/2011

Rick Perry's record on immigration isn't as bad as I thought. It's worse! ... It's not just that he doesn't want to build the border fence. Many fence opponents argue (though I disagree) that it's far more important to take away the "jobs magnet" that lures illegals to try to cross the border in the first place. But Perry hasn't supported the quickest, best way to take away the jobs magnet, which is to require all private employers to use the "E-Verify" electronic check of Social Security numbers. Perry wouldn't even require his own state government to use E-Verify, let alone private employers, declaring "E-Verify would not make a hill of beans' difference when it comes to what's happening in America today." ....

Krueger Union Heresy!

10:32 PM 08/30/2011

As Neil Munro points out, the cases where incoming Obama economist Alan Krueger agrees with Democratic orthodoxy--the cases the Republican National Committee is emphasizing--aren't as intriguing as the instances where he's disagreed. My favorite so far is this1992 paper on unionism, which reviews surveys of union and non-union workers and concludes that the decline in union membership between 1977 and 1991 resulted from a "decline in demand for unionization" especially a decline in the percentage of nonunion workers who "would vote for union representation." And why the decline in demand?

Top 10 Things Obama Should Have Done Differently

6:54 PM 08/28/2011

Top 10 Things Obama Could Have Done Differently: Excessively well-sourced Obama boosters are now channeling, not just White House spin but White House self-pity. Both Ezra Klein and Jonathan Alter wonder aloud why our intelligent, conscientious, well-meaning, data-driven President is taking a "pummeling."   "What could Obama have done?" (Klein) "What, specifically, has he done wrong .. .?" (Alter)

Krugman is no hippie!

5:02 AM 08/18/2011

Hippie Check: Paul Krugman decries "hippie punching." This is now an accepted way to mock almost any contemporary criticism of unabashed liberals. I was a hippie--hippie adjacent anyway. I knew hippies. Hippies were friends of mine. They hated liberals. That goes double for the '60s New Left. Liberals were the enemy, and many of the New Left's critiques (e.g. of Big Labor/Big Government corporatism,  interest-group politics and anti-participatory bureaucracies) were very similar to today's Tea Party critiques. ...

Becerra’s Golden Thing

12:25 AM 08/12/2011

Xavier Becerra's got this thing and it's f--king golden! ... P.S.: Isn't Sen. Kyl the obvious ringer on the Supercommittee? a) He's sold out his side and gotten Strange New Respect for it at least once before; b) He's retiring--what does he care if the Tea Party hates him? c) He's a national security hawk who doesn't like cutting the defense budget. You think he's not going to agree to some revenue increase to save defense from automatic cuts? ....

Is Obama ‘Intellectually Incurious’?

3:21 AM 08/11/2011

We've reached the stage in Obama's presidency when he can't seem to do anything right. Even his summer house is on fire.  At a similar point in Jimmy Carter's presidency Carter collapsed in a road race.  (I urge Obama to refrain from strenuous athletics until his approval rating gets back above 44%.) Everyone's piling on--from the left as well as the right and the center. It's almost enough to make my inner contrarian demand that I defend the guy. Almost, but not quite.

Unions fail again in Wisconsin

2:04 AM 08/10/2011

Unions Lose Again in Wisconsin: It looks as if the organized labor movement has failed to recall enough Wisconsin Republicans to regain control of the state senate. That's a) in an off-year election where union turnout usually makes the difference b) in famously progressive Wisconsin c) after spending many millions d) with a nationwide media and organizing push e) when labor had a galvanizing issue in Gov. Scott Walker's direct assault on the institutional collective bargaining power of public employees, which led to a dramatic walkout by Democrats.

Greece could have used a Tea Party, no?

4:48 AM 08/07/2011

Is it really clear that, thanks to the Tea Party, the U.S.'s creditors are at greater risk than they were, say, two years ago? Yes, the Teeper "madmen" have made default--through a failure to raise the debt ceiling--thinkable in a way it wasn't before. On the other hand, they've made changing the trajectory of federal spending thinkable in a way it wasn't before.  Lower spending makes it easier to raise the revenues to close the budget gap, no? Greece could have used a Tea Party. ... I don't know which factor is more important. But I know it's not as simple as S&P's report makes it seem. ...

Wallowing in Obamalaise!

4:21 PM 08/04/2011

The new Left Coast/Right Coast podcast (with me and Jennifer Rubin) is up, and it's not behind the Ricochet paywall. ...We wallow in Obamalaise! ... And wonder how the MSM will react, now that even Obama's supporters are turning on him. (I have an idea). ... Also: I accuse Rubin of being a hitwoman for Bachmann. ... Also: Why cutting entitlements is easy, cutting bureaucrats is hard. ... Also: The secret anti-Medicare concordance between Obama and Paul Ryan. ...

Read My Lips. No Non-New Taxes!

6:46 AM 08/02/2011

Baseline Madness--'No Non-New Taxes!': A big selling point of the debt deal for conservatives seems to be that it will be hard for the new 12 member Joint "SuperCongress" Committee to meet its $1.5 trillion debt-reduction goal by raising tax rates--because the committee's "baseline" will already assume that the Bush tax cuts are going to expire at the end of 2012. From Jennifer Rubin's blog:

Boehner’s Briar Patch?

11:34 PM 07/26/2011

Googling "Obama" and "Boehner Plan" and "briar patch."  Nothing there--at least nothing recent.  This seems odd. ... Maybe I am missing something, but isn't the Boehner Plan the President's most promising route to the "grand bargain" (including revenue increases) he says he wants? It would set up a commission to propose $1.6-1.8 trillion in deficit closing measures--which could include tax increases and entitlement reforms. Then it would force an up or down vote under threat of default if Congress votes "no." It almost seems like Obama's dream bill, if you take what he says seriously. If you were cynical you would say that this is why he has semi-threatened to veto it. ... By contrast, the Reid plan seems unlikely to produce a "grand bargain" of any sort because it doesn't make avoidance of default contingent on passing a big new cuts-and-revenues package. ... But I am not Standard & Poor's, which seems to have waded into the debate fairly obtrusively. ... P.S.:  Now Googling "S & P" and "Nobel Peace Prize Committee." Would S&P have threatened a downgrade if Congress had just given Obama the clean debt-ceiling increase he wanted? If not, why are they making a fuss about plans that promise to increase the ceiling and reduce the deficit a bit?  ... It's lucky I'm not paranoid, because if I were I might think that, like the Oslo judges, they are doing their part to help our President out. ....

Obama Wins in Alternate Universe!

4:21 AM 07/16/2011

Scientists Discover Alternate Universe in Which Obama has "Rolled" GOPS: Headline in Politico--"How Obama rolled the other side." Really! Let's count the ways: 1) He didn't get the deal he wanted--a $4 trillion "grand bargain" involving new revenues; 2) His White House command performance negotations--"Obama's smart play" that gave him "home field advantage" (whatever that means)--seem to be increasingly not where the decisions are being made, the action having shifted to Congress; 3) He may well have to sign a law with substantial cuts and no revenues; 4)  He's been "defining the opposition" as immature extremists who want to protect millionaires. There's been just one problem with this always-appealing "disgusted headmaster" act,  however--he has, as Politico puts it, "struggled to move public opinion his way."

How is this an Obama victory again?

7:39 PM 07/14/2011

How would this not be a defeat for Obama? So Obama's macho "Deal-by-Friday-or-time's-up-on-to--Plan-B" ultimatum is actually an obvious, slightly desperate attempt to avoid the cuts-only take-it-or-leave-it no-brainer ploy that Even E.J. Dionne and Jennifer Rubin and NRO's editors talk about, right? ... P.S.: Looks as if Obama might get a cuts-only deal in a McConnell Plan B "hybrid" anyway. Jon Alter seems to have missed that part. ... P.P.S.: Objectively (as we Marxists say) that would be a defeat for Obama, after his showy insistence on revenue increases, no? He'd still wind up with all cuts, no new revenues. But why do I suspect it's all OK with Obama as long as he can  look like he's in charge? Avoiding Carterization is Job #1. ...

Krugman: ‘I Didn’t Mean That Stimulus!’

3:25 AM 07/12/2011

Paul Krugman now says that some kinds of Keynesian stimulus spending just aren't as effective as other kinds. Specifically, he suggests, aid to state and local governments (to enable them to keep government workers in their jobs) is a sort of second-class stimulus:

Cuts First!

4:40 PM 06/25/2011

Cut First! Andrew Sullivan (along with Ezra Klein and every other respectable center-left writer)  believes the solution to the deficit problem will require a "balanced" mix of budget cuts and tax increases. Of course it will. But that doesn't mean the partial deficit cut package Obama negotiates now has to include tax increases.  Why can't we have a deal with just tough spending cuts (and some stimulative short-term tax cuts)? We can raise taxes later.**

Peter Falk, RIP

10:38 PM 06/24/2011

Peter Falk, RIP: 1) Peter Falk starred in the best TV show I've ever seen, Trials of O'Brien. He played a seedy lawyer trying to get back with his ex-wife. It was up against The Defenders, a self-righteous morality play. It didn't stand a chance. I think there were maybe eight episodes? [Update: There were 22.  My brother says it didn't compete with The Defenders but was a failed replacement]  2) Falk also played a major real life role in the true tale of duelling tabloid reporters chronicled in Jay Gourley's Washington Monthly story, "I Killed Gig Young." If they still made Walter Matthau movies it would be a great one. 3) Falk used to hang around the park near my house sometimes. Once he joined our basketball game. I think he was actually wearing a raincoat. People said, "Pass it to Columbo." He was a terrible player. ...

Republicans More Likely To Think Ted Cruz Is US-Born Than Obama

10:52 PM 09/01/2015

A new poll released Tuesday suggests that Republican voters continue to believe President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim, and that he was born outside the United States. In fact, Republicans are more likely to think Ted Cruz was born in the U.S. than Obama, even though Ted Cruz actually was born abroad.