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USA: Conservatives & GOP Archives

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December 2, 2010

Sarah Palin's Alaska & "Country Dumb"

By Joe Katzman at 07:16

Just finished watching the TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska. Stunned at the political brilliance of the concept.

Ray Charles used to use a phrase "country dumb". Which actually meant a country boy (like Ray) smart enough to play to city prejudices when convenient, so they'd underestimate him and end up handing him ground-breaking contracts. He was. They did.

Sarah Palin is "country dumb"...

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  • Robohobo: Thank you for letting us 'Country Dummies' know what our read more
  • mark: The correlation between electoral success and talent/intelligence/personality is something less read more
  • Glen Wishard: I agree that Palin doesn't have a record as a read more

November 19, 2010

Have Some More Tea: K-Street GOP Blinks on Earmark Ban

By Joe Katzman at 06:46

In "Tea? Yes Party? Not so Much, I Hope," I talked about a coming dust up involving the Tea Partiers and the GOP. Looks like some people have been getting some mail from constituents:

"The GOP caucus in the House of Representatives has come together to propose a ban on congressional earmakrks -- those pork barrel projects that get written in by an individual legislator and which do not face specific up or down votes.... At first, Senate GOP leaders balked at the idea, but the writing is on the wall.... As reported by, on Monday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to a two-year moratorium on earmarks."

McConnell was the K-Street Republican most in the way of earmark reform. His capitulation deprives the Tea Partiers of both a teaching moment, and a hard shot at the GOP. As it happens, however, likely Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski [I-$$$] is unapologetic about her embrace of this corrupt culture, and Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid [still D-NV with a big bullseye] is also digging in.

Earmarks may still become a teaching moment - but a far more partisan one. We'll see how it goes.

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  • mark buehner: Oh this is going to be very interesting. The K-streeters read more

Tea? Yes. Party? Not So Much, I Hope.

By Joe Katzman at 04:05

So, the elections have been held. California looks like an even better place to leave, though it will have its black humor moment when its bankruptcy bailout request runs into a Republican Congress. The House is now solidly Republican, the Senate is back in its standard mushy grey zone of an under 60 seat majority.

Obama, no matter what he says (and really, how many people are listening at this point?), isn't going to change one iota. This will depress both his supporters and his opponents. His Godzilla class, city-destroying level of suck can be expected to continue.

The Republican leadership, no matter what they say, aren't going to change, either. They will still sort of suck, in the same old way. Therein lies the dilemma - and the opportunity - for the people that make up the Tea Party movement...

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  • mark buehner: I hope this report doesn't get swept down the memory read more
  • Glen Wishard: This panel plan is a good start, but instead of read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Joe, #19: Everybody, absolutely everybody, is going to be forced read more

Enough of the "Birther" Crap, Already

By Joe Katzman at 00:02

I've written before that I'm pretty tired of this, and less than amused by the few who keep trying to keep the "Is President Obama Really a US Citizen" meme alive. Over at Breitbart's "Big Journalism", Kurt Schlichter has also had it, and gives the whole thing both barrels.

"Birthers" are very much a fringe thing, but there are times when fringe things are dishonest about something serious enough that they deserve to be targeted in the public arena. And the responsibility for doing so should fall, as it does here, to their allies/ co-belligerents on the political spectrum. Responsibility is something that has taken a huge holiday in modern culture, on way too many levels. Politics is no exception, for reasons of technology and policy. Centralized party systems have become weak in America, and we can talk sometime about whether that has really been a good thing. But no matter the reasons, the result is a shift to generalized responsibility within political movements to balance accountability with coalition building.

That's why I'm cautiously pleased to see conservative spokespeople who continue to take on this particular issue, and hope the more general lesson spreads. The years ahead may well be filled with very angry politics, across the spectrum. Political centers of gravity that take more responsibility are something we're going to need, as a nation, in order to pull through.

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  • Joe Katzman: No, Andrew, I did not. Glad to hear it. read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Andrew, That's not surprising. Sad, but not surprising. Of the read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: The vast majority of comments at that link are pro-Birther. read more

February 3, 2010

42.7 Percent Of Statistics Are Made Up On The Spot

By Armed Liberal at 03:17

Check the update at the bottom...

Kos released his poll of Republican attitudes (he's doing the polling to support his contention that Republicans = Taliban) and shockingly, the results make them look like - Taliban.

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  • Marcus Vitruvius: Chris, #10, I realized a few hours after I posted, read more
  • Armed Liberal: Not really, bgates; there's a nucleus on both ends of read more
  • bgates: What meaning does "socialist" have when it is used to read more

Pyrrhus Bowl 2010: GOP, Democrats Compete

By Joe Katzman at 01:24

Pyrrhus of Epirus wasn't a bad general - he beat the Romans twice, and was widely considered to be one of the great military commanders of his age, even by enemies. He was also smart enough to realize that while winning was better than losing, his tactical victories in 280-279 BC had cost him dearly.

Peggy Noonan can hardly help but see the analogy concerning Obama and the Democrats, whose talk of a permanent majority sure undid itself quickly. Though she doesn't mention it, she could add that it has quite a ways left to fall. If they keep going the way they're going, the bottom is a long way down. I hope they do, because it's probably the fastest way to get America back on its feet, and headed on a smarter course.

So do the Republicans, but Noonan's "The Risk of Catastrophic Victory" is also wise enough to see that the Republicans are gearing up for a Pyrrhic victory of their own - and provide evidence. I think the party's leaders have actually done well on the legislative front, given their position. On the other hand, many of those same people are part of the reason for that unenviable position. However capable in legislative tactics, they are also weak public leaders who project little vision, and display little behind the scenes. As a result, bright spots like the "Young Guns" are happening as much in spite of the party as because of it. With respect to the larger party, it remains deeply disconnected from its base, with the main bright spots of progress in 2009 being Sarah "Donna Reed-Quixote" Palin, and Ron Paul for his connection to the Tea Party Movement. With an honorable mention to, of all people, Dick Cheney.

The party is, in short, not ready for prime time. While it was impolitic of him to say it publicly, Michael Steele is absolutely right - and the lack of clue among senior Republicans concerning the truth of that message is a fundamental indictment of their own leadership. Their chosen approach of sitting back and letting the Democrats destroy themselves may result in tactical victories, but it will leave them incapable of winning the larger conflict.

There's an interesting subtext to this situation, and the Young Guns. Palin has been very publicly backing GOP reformers, and this kind of new blood. Contemplate what level of political clout that translates into, if her backing, fundraising assistance, etc. is seen by many of Capitol Hill's bright new talents as having helped put them there. And if Steele gets tired of being the RNC Chair, I really hope he's one of them.

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  • toc3: Funny, last time I heard, elections were won on electoral read more
  • Glen Wishard: mark:As far as the Republican part goes- this idea that read more
  • mark buehner: As far as the Republican part goes- this idea that read more

December 16, 2009

Petrilli on "Whole Foods Republicans"

By Joe Katzman at 00:35

I think Petrilli is correct here, as the notes the slippage of America's college-educated vote into a Democrat advantage in the last electoral cycle:

"There's no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation."

As the economic crisis, and attempts to paper it over, replace the aftermath of the financial crisis, those opportunities will increase. I'm personally less worried about Ms. Palin's admission that she doesn't read newspapers than Petrilli is. This in an era where that trait is shared by many, many college educated people - and will be shared by more in future. And she has a role to play in revitalizing the party around its principles, even as she climbs in approval ratings and shows people that hey, she's actually pretty smart (full Gridiron speech text here). Which, unless you're a partisan moron like MSNBC's nominated "losers" (this, from a guy who thinks Obama is a great President), was well demonstrated by her achievements in Alaska.

There's absolutely room, in the GOP and clearly in the country, for someone like Palin, who doesn't "speak politician." As a Presidential candidate? Don't know. The way her "revitalize the party" gig is going, I'd advise her to recognize a fantastic, fun, profitable, and necessary gig with few entanglements - and keep it. Beyond his dropped ball on Palin, though, the GOP would do itself a favor to take Petrilli's advice.

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December 1, 2009

Preparing for a Weak Dollar World

By Joe Katzman at 02:42

Yale School of Management's Jeffrey Garten, in the Financial Times:

"The two most significant structural consequences of the recent financial debacle are the massive deficits and debts of the US and the shift of economic power from west to east.... Washington will therefore have little choice but to take the time-honoured course for big-time debtors: print more dollars, devalue the currency and service debt in ever cheaper greenbacks. In other words, the US will have to camouflage a slow-motion default because politically it is the easiest way out.

There is another factor pushing America towards a weaker dollar: lacking the domestic consumer demand that came with the unrestrained credit of the past 15 years, the US is desperate to find buyers abroad, especially in emerging markets where the middle class is growing and infrastructure requirements are soaring. A cheaper dollar could make US products and services more competitive."

It will also have numerous negative personal effects on Americans, to compound their future problems with rapidly increasing taxes that pay for fewer and lower quality services. Abroad, the question is whether we're going to see what is, in effect, a cycle of competitive devaluations. There is already early movement to that effect in Vietnam (affected by the Yuan's peg to the dollar) and Russia. Future protectionism may not look like Smoot-Hawley, though outright protectionism triggered by currency policies deemed predatory is definitely a possibility. Either way, the effects on global trade could be very interesting, in a Chinese sense. The Chinese already find it a bit too interesting, judging by their recent comments.

Beyond that, there's the issue of yet another Fed-spawned bubble, and its consequences. From Doug Noland's "Reflation Issues Heat Up" in the Asia Times:

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  • Joe Katzman: toc3 is right that China is not immune to the read more
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  • mark buehner: I'll tell you- one of the things the Chinese majorly read more

November 24, 2009

Speaking Of Orwellian...

By Armed Liberal at 01:33

I kind of drifted away from Andrew Sullivan when he got so obsessed with Sarah Palin's uterus that I started to think that what he really wanted to do was visit it.

But I do regularly read Ann Althouse, who I think is a kindred spirit in calling it like she sees it without regard to 'tribes,' and her recent back-and forth with Sullivan can't be missed.

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  • Barry Meislin: Oh goody, Let's become obsessed with Ann Althouse obsession with read more
  • Glen Wishard: The flying carnivorous vagina from Pink Floyd: The Wall is read more
  • mark buehner: I do think its clear that Sullivan is an authority read more

November 5, 2009


By Armed Liberal at 01:42

As a part of what I'm reacting to in the Watertown Times editorial last week (note that I'm not necessarily weeping and rending my garments over the election outcome - I don't know enough about Owens to have an opinion yet), let me toss this out. In the LA Times today, there was an op-ed which - to a large extent I agree with. the author complains about the political idiocy that's ruling California today:
The ineffective response to the current financial crisis reflects trends that have been hurting California public education for years. To win votes, political leaders mandated long prison sentences that forced us to stop building schools and start building prisons. This has made us dumber but no safer. Leaders pandered by promising tax cuts no matter what and did not worry about how to provide basic services without that money. Those tax cuts did not make us richer; they've made us poorer. To remain in office, they carved out legislative districts that ensured we would have few competitive races and leaders with no ability or incentive to compromise. Rather than strengthening the parties, it pushed both parties to the fringes and weakened them.

When the economy was good, our leaders failed to make hard choices and then faced disasters like the energy crisis. When the economy turned bad, they made no choices until the economy was worse.

In response to failures of leadership, voters came up with one cure after another that was worse than the disease -- whether it has been over-reliance on initiatives driven by special interests, or term limits that remove qualified people from office, or any of the other ways we have come up with to avoid representative democracy.
So what's not to like?

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  • mark buehner: Which will be an order of magnitude better than any read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: According to Google, 54 percent of football teams (not athletic read more
  • mark buehner: "That's nice for Texas. But most athletic departments appear to read more

October 8, 2009

Is Glen Beck Conservatives' Friend?

By Joe Katzman at 01:04

Over at the America Enterprise Institute, Charles Murray asks the question, links to some folks with a different view, and describes the people he tries to write for.

Who's right, do you think, and why?

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  • Alchemist: Hmmmm... apparently too many links prevents posts. I'll have to read more
  • Alchemist: No comments on the "fake messages in roosevelt art thing read more
  • bgates: Our job is to engage in a debate on great read more

Wall Street is Part of the Economic Problem

By Joe Katzman at 00:35

Simon Johnson is right:

"China mostly invests in activities that raise productivity, raising the amount of goods and services that they can produce. This could be manufacturing or infrastructure or various kinds of services. Agriculture lags but continues to get some new investment. And of course they pour money into education. I'm not a fan of the Chinese way of organizing their economy or their society.... But contrast their pattern of investment in recent years with ours. What sector in our economy has expanded more than any other? ....Finance.... What has this really added in terms of productivity?"

He adds:

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  • Tom Grey - Liberty Dad: The cure for Too Big To Fail is, and was, read more
  • lewy14: Joe I'm not in substantial disagreement with respect to the read more
  • Joe Katzman: "...implied social visions seem to be driving much of the read more
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