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The Third Estate
What Is The Third Estate?
 Everything
What Has It Been Until Now In The Political Order?
Nothing
What Does It Want To Be?
Something

Cute Picture Of The Day

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I haven't animal blogged in a while, but here's a good replacement. It's just adorable. Tip to Christopher Hayes.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:40 PM

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Acting Locally

So I've been getting involved with local politics (shocker, I know), helping a first time candidate win a county legislative seat in the last election and now advising a re-election campaign for chairman of the City Council. Last night at our little Drinking Liberally both of them showed up. So there the three of us were, plotting political strategy and coming up with neat laws to pass. I am quite unable to describe the sensation of politically influential people getting excited about and taking notes on your ideas.

Yes I'm sure that a small part of it is the heady feeling that you're an "insider," but I've had that feeling before and after a (very) short while it loses its appeal. No, what is really giving me the warm fuzzies is that there are still a lot of good, honorable people out there in public life who know good advice when they hear it, and are willing to act on it. Anyone who says that politicians are all a bunch of corrupt assholes obsessed with their own vanity hasn't spent much actual time in politics.

Or maybe they've just spent that time with Republicans......
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:03 AM

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Ayn Rand Utopia

Monday, February 26, 2007
When the Bushies strolled into Iraq, they though they could throw a few switches, toss a couple of bad guys in jail, privatize everything, hold an election, and voila! Instant democracy. Instead, we got instant bloodbath. Sad. Predictable. But sad.

Why predictable? Simple. Because you can't have a democracy in a country where there aren't enough democrats. The real recipe is a) a common sense of social solidarity, b) a tolerance for difference, c) a belief in law, d) a willingness to participate in public life, e) a reasonably prosperous middle class. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

The problem comes when there are a substantial number of intolerant, militant, desperate people who will do anything to get their way. They don't need to constitute a majority. They just need to be large enough and aggressive to bully everyone else, preferably if the "moderate" majority is a passive, self-absorbed, or atomized. And no I'm no longer talking about Iraq, in case you were wondering.

I've been reading Bob Altemeyer's online book on authoritarianism. It's a fascinating and accessible book that should scare the hell out of anyone who reads it. I'm serious. It's more frightening than The Shining. Without realizing it, Altemeyer puts his finger on the key problem with liberal politics - it doesn't know how to cope with an anti-democratic minority. You can't reason with them, you can't ignore them, and you can't silence them and remain true to your own liberalism. Rawls didn't have an easy answer for it and neither do I.

We have all seen how the American Right bullies and smears its opponents, accusing them of being internal enemies and not "real Americans." We've all watched the Republican political elite feather their and their friends' nests, lie, cheat at elections, and bungle wars while all their followers can see is the flag-waving and hypocritical militaristic God talk (Like Jesus would have ever supported a war. I mean .... really. Pull your heads out already.) I watched them go after Amanda and Melissa, I've read Joe Conason and Orcinus, I've rolled my eyes at deluded pollyannas like Jane Smiley, and I've had it up to here with those people are so bent on their own slavery they can't think of of any word but "yes" to those who tell them to obey.

In the long term, we are going to have shove critical thinking down the throats of kids in school if the parents choke on it. And in the short term, we are going to have to make them look like the incompetent corrupt lunatics they are. In that sense, Bush is actually doing us a favor.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:17 PM

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I Have No Mind Of My Own

I am just a conduit for the thoughts of Robert Kuttner.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:16 PM

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More Mainstream Media Absurdities

1) The New York Times not-so-subtly implies that Obama's anti-war stance is a cynical ploy to win votes. No evidence of course, just insinuation. Funny. I don't recall the NYT suggesting that about McCain's position on the war. But maybe I'm just forgetful....

2) Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt argues that the only problem with traffic is that there aren't enough roads. No I'm not kidding. Apparently he has no problem with a world-as-parking lot as long as his limo can get him to where he's going. Why is it that we expect that people can have individual control of transportation (i.e. the car), urban amenities, a good job, short commute times, a big house, a yard, low taxes, and a pretty world all at the same time? Isn't maturity the recognition that you can't have everything - that there must be tradeoffs? Hiatt seems to be living in the best of all possible worlds - the one in his solipsistic head.

By the way, I agree with everything Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise says here.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:29 AM

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Behind the Curtain

Friday, February 23, 2007
Tom Vilsack has dropped out of the Presidential race - a year before the first primary. Why? Because he couldn't raise enough money. Why? Because he couldn't get any media attention. Why? Because he couldn't raise enough money. Why? Because he couldn't get any media attention. Why? Because....oh, you get the point.

So in case anybody hasn't figured it out by now, our elections are effectively dominated by big money contributors and washington journalists who get to narrow the field down to 1 and a half for each party (a frontrunner and challenger) before a single vote is cast by any of the 1% of Americans who get to vote in a primary state that matters. Then the 1% of Americans who are swing voters in swing states get to pick the President.

I shouldn't complain, I suppose. It's better than the elections for Congress - where we don't get any meaningful ability to participate at all.

I just love our wonderful democracy, don't you?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:18 PM

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Ennui

Thursday, February 22, 2007
There's been all this political stuff I've been planning on writing about, but I don't think I will. I am a little burned out on the whole thing right now. The last election was 37 seconds ago and candidates for the 2008 race are already running ads and getting nasty with each other. Can we please have an hour or so without campaigning? If nothing else, give the voters a break! If political junkies like me are getting annoyed, can you imagine what the "typical" citizen is experiencing?

Between my dissertation (wearisome), my job (boring), and my political activities (annoying), the only fun things I do anymore are chat with Brazen, watch old Buffy episodes, and irritate my pets.

I need a hobby. Any suggestions?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:57 AM

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The Power of Kos Compels You!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
exorcist

Apparently by Jerome Armstrong's definition I am a "conservative" style blogger:

Progressives, wanting to get the movement moving, get involved with community blogs through commenting and writing diaries. Conservatives go out and create their own blog, with an individual voice that adds their own voice.
Pardon me sir, but isn't the whole point of blogs to allow individuals to express their own unique voice? I'm as community-activism oriented as anybody, but I see no reason to subsume myself in the Kos mindmeld.

320x240
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:11 AM

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Voting Identity

Monday, February 19, 2007
Between the questions about whether Barack Obama is "black enough" to Mitt Romney's recent claim that America needs a "person of faith" to be President, it is clear that identity politics is still a powerful force in American politics. I think it's important to recognize that there are different kinds of identity politics, however. I don't see anything necessarily wrong with voting for a candidate in part because he/she has a background characteristic that appeals to you. It needn't even be the case that a candidate shares your identity. Even though I'm (very) white, I like Barack Obama in part because I'd like to see a black president. For the same reason I know a lot of people are supporting Hillary - they want to break the glass ceiling in presidential politics. I have no problem with that.

Generally I'm going to give voters a lot of slack when it comes to identity politics. I do think that we should put very clear boundaries on when identity voting is acceptable. We should never vote against a candidate because of their identity. There's a big difference between voting for Barack because he's black and voting against him because he's black. One is a reasonable statement of social solidarity - of wanting someone who looks like you to represent you. The other is a position of naked bigotry profoundly at odds with how this country is supposed to work.

More importantly, I think candidates should be very, very careful when framing their appeals in terms of identity politics. Candidates who say "vote for me because I'm religious" run the risk of drawing a line between the in-group and everybody else. There's a serious danger of being exclusionary - of saying that we should vote against any candidate who doesn't share that identiy. This does nothing but encourage bigotry and political tribalism. We should repudiate any demagogue who directly or indirectly argues we should vote against a candidate because of their race, ethnicity, religion, etc. I also think that identity appeals are bad politics in the tactical sense - why alienate a whole constituency of people who might agree with you on real issues?

Do I wish that we could dispense with identity politics entirely? Of course I would. But to pretend that there isn't any now is akin to abolishing civil rights laws because we wish there was no racism. It might be better if we all wore paper bags on our heads, but until that day comes African-American voters are going to be more likely to vote for African-Americans, and Protestants to vote for Protestants. It wouldn't work that way if this were the best of all possible worlds, but as should be obvious by now we don't live in that world. We live in this one.

Having said that, I think it is better for the country is we refrain from indulging in identity politics as much as we are able. Voting for a candidate like Hillary or Barack is in part an attempt to get past old tribal loyalties, not reinforce them. Saying that only Christians should be elected to office is to reinforce them. I think that a large portion of the country is eager to get past these fundamentally trivial divisions, and that any candidate - of either party - would benefit from such a message. Meanwhile I hope that candidates who attempt to exploit those divisions pays the political price they deserve - defeat and humiliation.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:57 AM

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Why Do I Still Read These People?

Friday, February 16, 2007
Just a quick sketch of how little the national press corps has learned over the last few years. I'm not going to bother commenting on their willingness to (Again!) fall for pro-war propaganda. Or all the anti-Hillary, anti-Edwards, anti-Pelosi, anti-Obama, pro-McCain, pro-Giuliani spin. Here are some less notorious but equally aggravating examples:

An article relying almost exclusively on quotes from business describing how unrealistic conservation is.

An article on the upcoming war vote skewed entirely towards the Republicans. How often did we get these sorts of stories when Democrats were in the minority in the House?

Stu Rothenberg slams Obama for voting "present" while in the State Senate. There is no mention of any other candidate doing so while in Congress.

David Broder describing Bush's comeback
. Riiiiight.

Have they gotten worse, or have I just wised up?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:11 AM

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Save Falling In Love For Romance

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I've been reading a lot of comments and diaries on the major political blogs, and I have noticed a worrisome degree of political idolatry. People fall in love with candidates in a very unhealthy way. These men and women who want to be our leaders are not auditioning to be our spouses, and we do everyone a disservice by acting as if they should. Politicians are human beings, ones who will doubtlessly disappoint as often as they inspire us.

Beyond that, it is especially dangerous for citizens of a democracy to invest too much in their chosen leaders. They are not meant to govern us, after all. We are supposed to do that job ourselves. They are not our friends, or our family, or our spouses. They are most certainly not our masters or our gods. They are our co-workers, placed by us in a temporary position of responsibility. To start making more of them than that, to pretend that we can simply trust them to make all the decisions for us, is to reduce us from citizens to subjects.

So save you passion and devotion for your significant others. They're the ones who deserve it. Not somebody who makes clever speeches on the tube.

P.S. I love you, Dr. Brazen Hussy! You're the only person I have any interest in putting on a pedestal!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:24 PM

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What Is Barack Up To?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Barack Obama is a fascinating politician. A dazzlingly eloquent orator, community organizer, viable black candidate, and a pure enigma. He's a riddle that many liberals are trying to solve, myself among them.

I've read his 2nd book (although not yet his first), watched all of his major speeches, read the biographical pieces, and considered his candidacy for months. I have ultimately narrowed the possibilities down to two: the Little Obama and the Big Obama.

Little Obama is a liberal, to be sure, but one scarred by his defeat in 2000 at the hands of Bobby Rush, well aware of the role that dumb luck has played in his rise, and deeply aware of the vulnerabilities confronting any black candidate for national office. Little Obama uses sweeping rhetoric that inspires liberals, while delivering consensus-based policies that give few targets for attack. If elected, Little Obama will support liberal policies when circumstances allow, but will in the end be about re-electing Little Obama. In essence, Little Obama is the true successor to Bill Clinton.

Little Obama is the Obama that many liberals fear, and his vagueness is the lever by which the Republicans and their tame press corps will strike at him. Little Obama is a worthy candidate for office, but nothing to get so excited about. Except, of course, that he would be the first African-American President - no small thing.

But there is another Obama, one that peeks out from between the pages of his book and whispers in background of his speeches. That Obama is the Obama that might be - Big Obama.

Big Obama is first and foremost a student of rhetoric. His campaign is therefore a sustained act of public persuasion - it is in fact structured like a single speech. First you establish a rapport with the audience, then you lay down core principles which earns their consent, after which they are locked into the policies that flow from those principles. He is presently only in stage I and hinting at stage II, so you can't complain that he doesn't have specifics. It is, after all, only February of 2007.

Big Obama understands that appeals to national unity can be the greatest ally of liberalism. The unity propagated by the right is one that demands obedience to authority, while the unity of the left calls for civic engagement. If one has hope that we can solve our problems, and demands of his fellow citizens that they help do so, then government is no longer the problem or the solution. Government, in fact, becomes merely one instrument among many.

Big Obama realizes that the problems facing the country today are not simply a matter of laws, but of attitudes. The conservative hegemony of the last generation is predicated on our own inability as a community to solve problems - it denies in fact that there is any we at all. The reason Big Obama's rhetoric is so powerful is that it speaksinstead to deep-seated but long-ignored desires in this country to be one country, and a juster one at that.

Big Obama's aim is not only to change party control or public policies, but to revive democracy itself. Democracy is not just a matter of substance, but also of process, a process of public debate and elections that has become thoroughly debased. Big Obama is trying to elevate the tone for its own sake, but also by doing so he reduces to conservatives to a gaggle of screeching, unattractive naysayers.

A Big Obama would be the most formidable liberal political leader since Robert Kennedy, and would have the opportunity to smash the long stalemate in American political and social life. He would also have deployed the rhetorical weapons to fatally undermine conservatism's ideological dominance. It would be the liberal renaissance we have all been waiting for.

So which is it? As of yet it is impossible to know. Either Obama would at this stage of the race behave in the same way. The question remains whether Obama will be a Cicero or a Demosthenes, for when Cicero spoke, the people said "How well he spoke." When Demosthenes spoke, the people said "Let us march."
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:25 PM

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Where's The Gaffe?

So Barack Obama makes a comment to the effect that the 3,000 plus lives lost in Iraq are a waste, and this is described as a gaffe. Tell me, when thousands of young men and women die in a futile cause, what else do you call it? A glorious sacrifice? Glorious sacrifices require glorious causes, which the Iraq War is most definitely not. Their deaths are no sacrifices to democracy or American national security. They are sacrifices to hubris, incompetence, and imperial dreams. Our soldiers aren't dying to defend the country. They're dying to serve the interests of the Bush family. I can't think of a better example of "waste."
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:23 PM

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It Was Also A Great Year For Wine

As seen at Penguin's.

In 1974 (the year you were born)

Gerald Ford becomes president of the US

Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run to beat Babe Ruth's record

Impeachment hearings are opened against President Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee

President Nixon resigns

President Gerald Ford issues an unconditional pardon to ex-President Nixon for all federal crimes

Muhammad Ali knocks out George Foreman in the eighth round to regain the heavyweight crown in Zaire

Heiress Patty Hearst is kidnapped by and eventually joins the Symbionese Liberation Army

Dungeons & Dragons officially released

People magazine is published for the first time

Kate Moss, Alyson Hannigan, Penelope Cruz, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ryan Seacrest are born

Oakland Athletics win the World Series

Miami Dolphins win Superbowl VIII

Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup

Blazing Saddles is the top grossing film

All the President's Men by Bernstein and Woodward is published

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" wins Grammy for song of the year
What Happened the Year You Were Born?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:00 PM

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A Hypothetical

Monday, February 12, 2007
It is at least possible (if not probable) that Hillary Clinton will be the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee. Tell me, Mr. Stoller, who do you think will be best served by your development of an anti-Hillary narrative? What happens when your least favorite Democrat is your only hope against 4-8 more years of Republicans? Why make the enemy's job that much easier?

Why is it so difficult to highlight the good things about your candidate, rather than bashing the others? Have we forgotten that every Democrat running for President is a liberal? The fact that someone is not as lefty as you might like or who disagrees with you on a salient issue is no reason to facilitate the success of a party that agrees with you on precisely nothing.

A little restraint please.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:03 PM

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I Been Tagged!

Thanks, Brazen. I think.

A- Available or Single? No.
B- Best Friend? Dr. Brazen Hussy, Zola.
C- Cake or Pie? Cake.
D- Drink of Choice? Bourbon.
E- Essential Item? Glasses
F- Favorite Color? Purple
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Bears. I still know the words to the cartoon theme song.
H- Hometown? Warner Robins, Georgia. Now anybody can figure out who I am.
I- Indulgence? Books. Lots of them.
J- January or February? January. February is too frickin' cold!
K- Kids and names? Nope.
L- Life is incomplete without…? Conversation.
M- Marriage Date? August 11, 2001.
N- Number of Siblings? 3 that I know of.
O- Oranges or Apples? Apples.
P- Phobias/Fears? Having my teeth fall out.
Q- Favorite Quote? "Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them" - Aristotle
R- Reasons to smile? Friday nights with Brazen.
S- Season? Summer.
T- Tag 3 people? Zola. He's the only one left!
U- Unknown Fact About Me? I was born left-handed, but learned to write right-handed.
V- Vegetable You Hate? Brussel Sprouts.
W- Worst Habit? Biting my nails.
X- Xrays You’ve Had? My wrist, when I broke it at 13.
Y- Your Favorite Foods? Mexican. Sushi. Chocolate chip cookies. Good French bread.
Z- Zodiac? Leo.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:16 PM

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Okay I lied

Friday, February 09, 2007
One more post.......

Stu Rothenberg thinks that Democrats shouldn't bash Republicans for "not supporting the troops", as the VoteVets did when it ran ad against Bush:

If supporters of President George W. Bush's policy of sending another 20,000 troops to Iraq had aired a television ad that argued that opposing the new Bush policy means "you don't support the troops," opponents of the President would have rightly gone bananas.

Uh, Stu? Have you not been paying attention. How many times have we heard the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet, Republican Senators, Republican Congressmen, Republican candidates, Republican Governors, Republican political operatives, conservative pundits, media hacks, and Joe Lieberman say that the Democrats are "against the troops." I don't recall you writing an article any of those 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 times Republicans have claimed Democrats are unpatriotic. Why now? Is it because a Democrat has the temerity to do what Republicans have been doing for years?

Our liberal media in action
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:01 PM

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Later

Thursday, February 08, 2007
Brazen Hussy and I are making our first real weekend getaway in like a year or something. No blogs, no news, no politics (I swear!). Just a quiet B&B in a secluded spot.

Aaah. I wish it was tomorrow already......
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:38 PM

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Good For Edwards

So Edwards has issued a press release saying that he isn't firing Amanda and Melissa. I'm very glad he did so, obviously, and I think he struck the right balance, acknowledging that some people might be offended by some of Amanda's more explosive statements but refusing to kow-tow to the wingnuts.

From scanning the comments of various liberal blogs, it's clear that some folks think Edwards should have come out stronger, turning the smear around by attacking the hypocrisy of those criticizing Amanda and Melissa. I think this is a judgment call. Edwards wants this election to be about issues, not blogging. If he got down in the mud with Malkin and Donahue, it would become a bigger story. As it is, if the media continue to press the issue he can always pursue a more aggressive strategy later. Remember, not everybody is as militantly angry as we are.

Having come to Amanda and Melissa's defense, I must say I am conflicted at the wisdom of hiring professional bloggers for a political campaign. Ideally what someone writes on their personal time shouldn't matter, but as a practical matter it very much does. Big time bloggers are ultimately public figures, not private ones. And those two are explicitly political bloggers. This is not quite like somebody getting fired from a private sector job for just having a blog. It's more like if Edwards hired Richard Dawkins to write speeches for him. Amanda and Melissa are minor public figures, but public figures nonetheless. This puts them in a different category from your run of the mill political aide. (However, I think it is very interesting that they just happen to go after two women.)

Of course, if we're going to hold candidates accountable for the behavior of every one of their staff members, then both parties should be held up to this standard. I hope this doesn't happen. I hope we can focus our attention on the candidates rather than the people who work for them. It's hard enough to get anybody involved in public life as it is. We don't need to establish a rule that anyone who has ever made a controversial utterance about anything is excluded forever from politics. Regrettably I think that's where we're heading. Which is why part of me believes that Edwards, Obama, whoever, should make the nature of the public discourse a campaign theme. Run against negative politics and the right-wing smear machine. You might be surprised at the outcome.

Oh, and just in case there's any doubt - I think Malkin and Donahue are McCarthyite smearmongers who would sell their mothers' souls for a centimeter of political advantage. Goebbels could have learned a thing or two from them. To risk barring myself from a future political career: they can both go fuck themselves. And that goes for that GOP owned and operated conveyor belt of a "journalist" Wolf Blitzer too. I have never been able to decide whether he's a tool or a hack. Probably both.

update: Paul Waldman has an interesting take on this.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:58 PM

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By The Way.....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I really like John Edwards. I was strongly tempted to support him for the nomination in 2004, and have seriously considered getting behind him in 2008 (although I've been leaning towards Obama). His clear stands on trade, unions, and health care have pushed me into a corner, waiting for Obama to deliver specifics and preparing to jump if he doesn't.

But if John Edwards fires one of my favorite bloggers because of right-wing ravings, he can forget it. He'll be dead to me, and, I suspect, to a lot of the liberal bloggers who've been supporting him.

I hope Edwards knows how much trouble he's buying if he cans Amanda.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:46 PM

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If It's Hard, Why Do It? After All, We'll Only Die.

Thus says Robert Samuelson. Apparently because there is no "silver bullet" solution to global warming - because we don't currently have the technology to zero out carbon emissions, and because there would be serious economic costs, why bother?

I won't bother debunking Samuelson's absurd suggestion that we could "adapt" to the conquences of a 2-foot rise in sea level. Even if he's right and we could only cut the rate of increase in carbon emissions in half? To me that sounds like a foot less of the U.S. coast underwater.

To be fair, Samuelson does encourage support for new technologies. But for some reason he de-couples caps on carbon emissions with such innovation. Where does he think the incentive for the new technologies is going to come from, if not from businesses eager to get out from under the burden of CO2 caps?

The reality is that Samuelson resists placing any responsibility on the corporations producing the CO2 in the first place. He wants to place the whole burden on consumers (through carbon taxes) and government (through r&d subsidies). Now I wonder, why would that be?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:43 PM

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Giuliani's Viability (updated)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Glenn Greenwald has a very interesting post today arguing that, contrary to what I and many others have asserted, Giuliani does in fact have a real chance to win over Christian conservatives. According to Greenwald, Giuliani's tough anti-Muslim rhetoric, his record in New York in combating pornography and obscenity, and his generally authoritarian demeanor will appeal to conservative evangelicals. Furthermore, Greenwald thinks that Democrats are deluding themselves if they think the Theocons will be dissuaded by Giuliani's personal life.

Glenn's assertion that Giuliani would be far and away the most dangerous general election foe is certainly true, as he would neutralize the concerns of seculars and social liberals while competing in Democratic base states like New York. And he is correct to say that the religious right has never cared much about people's personal lives.

Where I think Greenwald is wrong is his evaluation of the relative importance of anti-Islam as opposed to issues like gay marriage and abortion. There is a great deal of religious chauvinism on the Christian right. Bush has been brilliant at tying millenarianism to the so-called War on Terror. But having lived in the South, I can attest to the naked power that gay marriage and abortion have over many voters. Conservative evangelicals are quite simply obsessed with these issues. Any candidate - no matter his position on any other issues - will be summarily rejected by religious right voters if they express tolerance to the "gay lifestyle" or flirt with the pro-choice position. Guiliani's support gun control laws are just as lethal with respect to many blue collar males in exurban regions.

The minute southern conservative christians learn that Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay right, and anti-gun, they will label him a New York liberal masquerading as a Republican and move on. I can assure you that Giuliani's rivals for the Republican nomination are as aware of this reality as I am, and will be eager to make Republican voters aware of his positions.

If Giuliani were to win the Republican nomination, I would be worried. But he won't be.

P.S. Lawrence O'Donnell chimes in here.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:30 AM

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Gorebama?

Not so fast.

There are a lot of people holding out hope that Al Gore will jump into the Presidential race. They have well thought out reasons to want this, and to believe it could happen. I have friends who are refusing to get involved in the 2008 nomination contest until they know what Gore intends to do. Some folks have a ticket planned out and everything.

You can count me among Al Gore fans. In fact, I'm one of the oldest Al Gore supporters. I've been fond of him since I was a kid living in Tennessee in the 1980's. I wanted him to win in 1988, I wanted him to run in 1992, I was ecstatic when he was elected VP, I campaigned for him in 2000, I was heartbroken when he "lost," I was inspired when he became a leading critic of the Bush administration, and I was eager for him to run in 2004. The only person who might like Al Gore more than me would be Dr. Brazen Hussy, who wore his campaign button for four years after he lost. As much as I like Edwards and Obama, I would dump both of them without a second thought if Al Gore got into the race.

So I get it. I'm not very good at getting over first loves either. But there is a time to move on, to realize that you can't go back to the past, that old dreams just aren't going to come true. And I think this is one of those times.

A recent article in Rolling Stone magazine lays out the clearest rationale for a Gore candidacy. In it Tim Dickinson argues that Gore combines the best elements of all the potential candidates: experience, early opposition to the Iraq War, a newly impassioned charisma, and can tap into America's (long delayed) desire to wish the Bush presidency had never happened. He could run the greatest "I told you so" campaign in American history. Dickinson believes that Gore can wait until near the end of the year to jump in, letting the other D's cut each other up while he collects Oscars and Nobel Peace Prizes.

But I don't think things would be quite so easy.

First, the press has a special hostility for Gore - he got even worse treatment than Kerry. I'm not sure why that is, but it's a fact. Second, waiting until the fall will be more difficult than the article indicates - $100 million is a lot of money to raise, many activists will already be committed, and you can't build a campaign infrastructure overnight. . Third, his support is among Democratic activists, but the numbers I've seen so far as to his support generally in the electorate (among independents and Democratic primary voters) is less impressive. Fourth, like Hillary he would find it difficult to run as a change agent. Fifth, I question the article's assumption that he would sweep the south. He's no longer the Southern Democratic champion he was in 1988. That was Mark Warner and he's not running.

Al Gore's power to shape the debate right now is conditioned on the fact that he's NOT a candidate for President. There are many in the media who believe that Gore's global warming commitments are simply a way of positioning himself for 2008. If Gore were to get in the race, those suspicions would be confirmed. As I've said before, I think Gore is using the possibility of his candidacy to force the other candidates to take strong positions on global warming. He loses the ability to do that the moment he declares his candidacy. I could be wrong, but I just don't think he's running. He was scarred by 2000, and I don't think he wants to live through that again.

Having said all this, if he does run Hussy is going to have to tie me down so I don't do something crazy like quit my job to work on his campaign. Because like I said, I never was one to get over my first loves - political or personal.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:37 AM

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Sick and Outraged

Monday, February 05, 2007
I am home sick today with the crud that everybody seems to have. My attempts to get some medical attention this morning were a bit of an adventure. The doctor's office wasn't too bad, but it took 2 hours and as many pharmacies to get my prescriptions filled. Ah, the wonders of modern capitalism! The convenience! The speed! The wonders of consuming in this best of all possible worlds!

Before I return to my strict regimen of naps and CSPAN, I feel I must comment a statement by the Darren McKinney, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, that I read on Hullabaloo. Mr. McKinney's words have to be read to be believed - that those Americans who don't have the good fortune to be able to write $2000 checks don't deserve the right to determine our nation's political future. I attest that Mr. McKinney is an examplar of why corporations and wealthy interests' monopoly on our national debate must be broken. To put it bluntly, if anyone has demonstrated that they don't merit participation in the public debate, it is Mr. McKinney.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:39 PM

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Don't Be A Sucker

Thursday, February 01, 2007
Is Senator Hagel the new McCain?

Yes. He's another Republican media darling who talks moderation and walks wingnut.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:10 PM

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Is It 5 Yet?

So I have this annoying head cold/sinus infection. I've been having sinus problems for months, but the last few days it's been really bad. Like most males I delay going to the doctor until there is no other choice. What I was not aware of is that new patients can't get into to see said doctor for a month or so. Shows me!

But I carry on, consuming piles of antihistamines (hard word to spell) - which certainly helps, but doesn't really make me feel hunky dory. What's worse is that the "maximum strength" kind I bought also makes me drowsy.

I have nothing to do at work today.

And it's very warm in my office.

And there's nothing on the internets.

And it's only 12:30.

And I'm very ....very .....sleepy.......

I'm never gonna make it.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:28 PM

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