Saturday, November 22, 2008

The O'Hanlon Primary and Rethinking My Hillary Vote. There's good reason not to put much stock in rumors at this point. But TPM put out something on the possibility of Hillary Clinton bringing Iraq war enthusiast Michael O'Hanlon into the Obama State Department. I don't see any actualy evidence that Hillary would include O'Hanlon. But O'Hanlon was the Joe Lieberman of the foreign policy establishment in his constant public support for the Bush administration against Democratic demands for withdrawing from Iraq. If Hillary does bring him into the State Department, she's a fool.

The O'Hanlon case is a good illustration of where to draw the line on bringing "Clinton people" into the Obama administration. The Clintons tilted rightward for good reason during the 1990's. They were under tremendous pressure from conservatives and the Democratic Party would have been severely damaged if they hadn't bent to the conservative wind.

But I voted for Hillary Clinton during the primaries because I perceived her as "getting it" on issues like withdrawing from Iraq, NAFTA, free trade, health care reform, energy, and financial sector deregulation. The same case can be said for Clinton-era holdovers like Eric Holder on Guantanamo and torture, former Senate leader Tom Daschle in relation to health care, and Rahm Emmanuel on managing the Obama White House in an environment of ferocious ideological conflict.

But Michael O'Hanlon definitely isn't on board on withdrawing from Iraq and is still saying that Obama's plan to get out of Iraq in 16 months is ill-considered.

O'Hanlon definitely doesn't get it.

If Hillary does bring O'Hanlon into the State Department, that would be a sign that she doesn't get it as well.
Cures for Frostbite? Mrs. RSI has a large collections of books on menopause. I'm beginning to wonder if any of them has a chapter on frostbite.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mukasey and The Hand of God? I hope Attorney General Michael Mukasey recovers from whatever caused him to collapse last night. But I can't help but notice that Mukasey collapsed while mounting an argument that Bush administration officials should not be prosecuted for their culpability in torture.
Attorney General Mukasey was roughly twenty minutes into a speech defending the administration's torture policies and particularly arguing against prosecutions of people who made decisions in the aftermath of 9/11 (essentially arguing against what he believed amounted to the criminalization of policy differences).
Conservatives often speak of bringing God more in American public life. That might have been the hand of God right there.
The Snow Almost Covers the Ground. Therefore, there is no public school today in Morehead, KY. What a world!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where the RSI Family Went Wrong

Dear Mrs. RSI is now headed to Louisville to bring clothes to Miss Tween RSI who is on a school trip and seems to have thrown up all over the place. Unfortunately, Miss Tween RSI has a hair trigger gag reflex and throws up a lot. While Mrs. RSI was getting ready, she needed to borrow Miss Teen RSI's cell phone so she could call me while she was in Louisville. But Miss Teen RSI is incredibly absent-minded. So we had to tear down half the house before we found the stupid phone in a car.

Of course, Mrs. RSI couldn't find her own cell phone either.

And therein lies the problem with the RSI children.

They inherited our genes.

The Reagan Heritage Party?

With talk of "rebranding" in the air, perhaps the Republicans should think about a party name change. I like the Reagan Heritage Party. The Reagan Heritage Party stresses the roots of the current Republican Party in the small government, big defense, and conservative religious orientations of Ronald Reagan. The change to Reagan Heritage Party also nods to the Republican Party's shift toward a Southern base. Now that the GOP is the party of the Old Confederacy, they need to secede from Old Republican symbols like Abraham Lincoln.


I see myself as on the left side of being a progressive, but I still get thoroughly annoyed when progressives refer to themselves as "the base" of the Democratic Party or of the Obama campaign. Here's a typical item from The Progressive:
When is Obama going to appoint someone who reflects the progressive base that brought him to the White House?
The Democratic coalition has several (overlapping) "base" elements, including the largely white constituencies that identify themselves as liberals, African-Americans, Hispanics, gay people, unions, and young people.

My impression (I haven't seen any data on this) is that progressives are largely white. Certainly, one rarely sees African-American or Hispanic issues on general progressive blogs like Talking Points Media or Huffington Post. When progressives characterize themselves as the base, they miss out on the multi-racial "rainbow" character of the Democratic Party. They are also fundamentally myopic in failing to view themselves as in alliance with other groups.

When progressives view themselves as "the base," they are deceiving themselves. I just hope that it doesn't come back to bite us in the butt.
A Positive Note on Dingell. If I had been a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, I would have voted for Henry Waxman of California to replace John Dingell of Michigan as chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. A consistent opponent of environmental legislation because of his ties to the automobile industry, John Dingell is as responsible as anyone for the failure of U. S. Government to meaningfully address environmental issues.

Having said that, I'm still admire John Dingell. When the Gingrich Republicans took over in 1994, John Dingell was already 68 years old and he could have joined a lot of senior Democrats in retiring to something cushy. But Dingell stayed and fought back against the Republicans. And fought hard. Dingell is one of the reasons why the Democrats have returned to the majority and deserves credit even if he no longer deserves his chair position.

Another Television Experience

Last night, I was on "Hear Me Roar" with Misty Skaggs on MSU television. It was fun. Eric Swank and I held forth on masculinity and I didn't do so much "uhhhing." Instead I speed-talked.

The Fog of Grading

Not much blogging right now. I graded 95 papers last weekend. It looks like I've got another 100 for this weekend.

The quality of the papers has generally been high. It's good to be a professor at Morehead State University.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Election Short-Cuts

Last week's GOP navel gazing boils down to this question.

Do the Republicans have short-term rooted in the unpopularity of the Bush administration or long-term problems rooted in the unpopularity of conservative ideology?

But the answer is both.

For those who see the problems as only short term, the recent election was hopeful because Obama only beat John McCain by 6.7%. McCain rallied a conservative base that added up to 46% of the electorate even in the worst conditions of an unpopular war, financial meltdown, and hostility to President Bush. In this context, Republican optimists believe that conservatives should be able to rally a majority when conditions get more favorable.

But this is the rub for the optimists. The Bush administration is not going to stop being unpopular on Jan. 20. The war in Iraq isn't going to be less unpopular. The same with the Bush administration's war on science, ignoring the environment, and refusal to deal with climate change. Figures like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales are going to live on in American politics but aren't going to get any less unpopular.

The Bush administration is a long term rather than a short-term problem for the Republicans.

So is Barack Obama.

The McCain campaign was able to effectively raise questions about Barack Obama being an "empty celebrity," "pal of terrorists," and "socialist" during the campaign. But now that Obama's going to be president, those questions aren't going to count anymore.

Worse for the Republicans, there's a lot that Obama can do to make the broader American public happy. At the top of the list is withdrawing from Iraq, but closing Guantanamo, ending torture, cutting middle-class taxes, getting a start on alternative energy, addressing climate change, are all going to be popular as well.

That's how the short-term trend is primed to be a long-term trend.

Global Warming: Family Update

Miss Teen RSI wonders why it's snowing in November. Come to think of it, it probably hasn't snowed in November in this part of Kentucky since she was born.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hillary Accepts?

The Guardian has an article on Hillary Clinton planning to accept Obama's offer to become Secretary of State.

I still don't think the Secretary of State position is a natural for Hillary.

But Hillary would certainly make a hell of a lot better Secretary of State than the over-rated Bill Richardson, the over-bearing Richard Holbrooke, or the over-the-hill Madeleine Albright.

So, I'm on board with the selection.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Doris Kearns Goodwin and The "Team of Rivals" Fraud

Perhaps the worst thing I've seen from the left recently has been the rehabilitation of plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin. As a presidential historian, Goodwin was the friendliest face of liberalism on public television at a time during the 1990's when liberalism needed all the media-friendly faces it could get.

But Goodwin was also corrupt down to her tippy-toes.

First, Goodwin's The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys "used a number of phrases and sentences without quotation marks that had been drawn from three earlier works: Rose Kennedy's "Time to Remember," Hank Searls's "The Lost Prince," and Lynne McTaggart's "Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times."

It wasn't bad enough that Goodwin was writing yet another useless book on the Kennedy's, but she couldn't even write her own book.

Then, Goodwin dug further into corruption by paying off Lynn McTaggert when McTaggert called her out on the passages taken from McTaggert's book.

According to McTaggert,
"I read her book and was shocked because there were many similarities. I contacted my publisher, combed the manuscripts side by side, and my lawyers contacted her at my behest with threat of a suit" for "serious copyright infringement" and "papers ready to be filed in court."

To top it off, Goodwin then had the gall to lie to the media and deny the plagiarism even after paying off McTaggert.

Personally, I don't see where Goodwin is any better than a fabulist like Stephen Glass who just made up the sensational stories he wrote for the New Republic.

But Goodwin didn't take being caught light. Her book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln about Lincoln and his cabinet was a determined attempt to rehabilitate her reputation and get herself back in the good graces of polite liberal society.

And I'm sorry to say that the gambit was successful. Now that Barack Obama's considering Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, the "team of rivals" idea is all over the media and Goodwin's being interviewed once again as an "expert" on the presidency.

And the fact that Goodwin is a cheat and a fraud has practically been forgotten.

Conservatism: The General Motors of Politics

On Friday, Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina tore into John McCain for his various apostasies from conservatism:

The conservative senator . . . described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which . . . should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government . . . "McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election."

Conservatives need to ask themselves this question though. Would a more "orthodox" conservative have done better than John McCain? Line them up. Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal--would any of them come as close as John McCain at 52-46%? What about the Tennessee Triplets of Hard-Working Fred Thompson, LAMAR! Alexander, and "Diagnosing Terry Schiavo is Easy" Bill Frist? Ex-Senators George Allen or Rick Santorum could have run. They're both effective politicians and about as orthodox as "movement conservatives" can get.

But the answer is no. Newt Gingrich has only recently been replaced by Sarah Palin as the most unpopular politician in America. Giuliani is extremely popular until people actually have contact with him. Mike Huckabee isn't any more of an orthodox conservative than McCain. Allen and Santorum were defeated in the swing states of Virginia and Pennsylvania respectively--Santorum by 19 points.

And Bobby Jindal wasn't any more ready for prime-time than Palin.

Conservativism just isn't that popular right now and conservatives would have found that out if they had nominated someone more conservative than John McCain.

William Ayers--Outlaw Pragmatist

Right-wing blogger Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom is still obsessing about former Weatherman and current media sensation William Ayers.

But isn't there a kind of harmonic convergence between Goldstein and the Weathermen now that Jeff' has embraced his inner "Outlaw" and embarked on a minor (very minor!) terrorist campaign against coffee shops and recycling.

Maybe Jeff should look on Ayers as a role model.