Friday, 10 October 2008

I've been waiting for a miracle

Via Dale Franks, the only political commentary that will be appearing on my office door this election season:

Campaign fail

Friday, 26 September 2008

Suspend this!

Fresh off contributing exactly nothing to the bailout debate in Washington, John McCain has decided to grace us with his presence at the first presidential debate tonight in Oxford. In case he hasn’t run his campaign enough into the ground this week, may I suggest that his handlers arrange a lengthy photo-op at the Cavalier Shoppe on his way to or from Oxford just to put the finishing touches on his apparent efforts to outdo Mondale and McGovern as a presidential loser.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

QotD, Obama needs a better line of attack edition

Megan McArdle on McCain’s big speech:

The words “I fought corruption” should never pass the lips of a charter member of the Keating Five.

My free advice to Obama and (particularly) his increasingly-boring surrogates like Sully: less Sarah Palin, more Charles Keating. Bad judgment isn’t a failure to follow the media-annointed process for selecting a vice-presidential nominee, it’s pay-for-play inside the beltway.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Reviving the experience argument

John McCain’s choice of little-known Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate at first blush does somewhat undercut the McCain’s campaign’s effort to go after Barack Obama on his lack of experience. Nevertheless I think there is a way to keep attacking Obama on inexperience without it rebounding against Palin.

I think McCain’s best argument with moderate voters—who, since Palin has now shored up the GOP social conservative base, are the only voters he needs to worry about—is that he’s the best positioned candidate to deal with a Congress that is, and will be after this election, well to the left of the average American voter. Even assuming Obama is willing to govern from the middle and represents something other than “politics as usual,” his inexperience—surrounded by a vice president even more liberal than he is and Democratic congressional leaders with more experience and savvy—will lead to an orgy of congressional spending and incompetent lawmaking not seen since the first two years of the Clinton presidency, when a similarly naïve Clinton who promised to govern from the center was steamrolled by a corrupt Congress, his wife, and every liberal interest group in Washington. Without any GOP resistance in the White House, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and Hillary Clinton—not Barack Obama—will be setting the domestic and foreign policy agenda. And can we really afford another four—or eight—years of an inexperienced presidency hijacked by an ideologically-committed, far-more-experienced vice president primarily concerned with foreign affairs, a vice president who took—some might say plagiarized—political inspiration from one of the weakest left-wing political party leaders in modern memory?

All that said, I basically agree that the Palin pick is born from the same desperation that led Walter “49–2” Mondale to the door of Geraldine Ferraro; it didn’t work for Mondale and it probably won’t work for McCain either, but then again nothing is working for McCain now, so why not take a shot?

Monday, 4 August 2008

QotD, everyone is clueless on energy policy edition

Kevin Drum on Barack Obama’s effort to out-flank John McCain in the race to advocate the dumbest energy policy proposal:

[B]etween the two of them, McCain and Obama have now pretty much written the handbook on idiotic energy pimping: a gas tax holiday, offshore drilling, opening up the SPR, a windfall profits tax, and nukes for all. I don’t think either one has come out for a massive coal liquification [sic] program yet, but since that’s about the only thing left that’s worse than what they’ve offered so far, I assume it can’t be more than a few days away.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

There is a time for flip-flopping

If the Iraqi prime minister thinks we should go, we should go. If McCain has any sense (admittedly, not something in evidence so far in his campaign’s response to the Maliki remarks), he’ll pivot to underbid Obama, Name That Tune style: “16 months? I’ll do it in 8!”

Mind you, I’ve already predicted that the net effect, blogospheric bloviation aside, of McCain and Obama’s positions on leaving Iraq on the actual date of departure is on the order of milliseconds, so I really don’t care that much what domestic political games the Iraqi government wants to play to shore up Sunni-Shiite cooperation in parliament.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Equal opportunity snarky question of the day

I hate to pick on my ex-co-blogger Brock, but (in fairness to him) his post is what triggered the thought. Al Gore today apparently joined those who have called for a carbon tax to replace payroll taxes, to produce a revenue-neutral means of reducing carbon emissions:

To secure this green revolution, Mr Gore said the single most important policy change would be to “tax what we burn – not what we earn”.

Social security is one of the U.S. government programs funded by a payroll tax. So, does this mean that Gore also believes social security is a “disgrace”, as the mass media have distorted John McCain’s position to be?

Obamacon yawn

Andrew Sullivan links the debate between Steven Taylor and James Joyner over the merits, or lack thereof, of the Obama alternative for disaffected conservatives. From my point of view, which is a bit more apathetic than disaffected and libertarian than conservative, and thus theoretically (at least) a bit more analytical, things work out as being roughly outlined as follows:

  • John McCain is, by all reasonable standards of analysis, more conservative than Barack Obama, across the issue space. (At worst on some obscure issue dimensions they may be tied.)
  • All other things being equal, this means the expected policy outcome would be more conservative under a McCain administration than an Obama administration.
  • Therefore, if you want to cast a instrumental vote, and you are conservative, you probably should vote for McCain.

Personally, I don’t think there are large, meaningful differences between Obama and McCain on the few issues that poorly map to ideology, like executive power, where there are few politicians of principle whose positions don’t reflect the partisanship of the executive officeholder. Obama is probably a bit more of a liberal internationalist than McCain when it comes to small-scale interventions, although I can’t see this making a huge difference or really being a useful voting criterion. By and large I think what’s happening in Iraq, rather than who’s in the White House, really matters when it comes to bringing the troops home sooner rather than later, although I suppose there may be a difference in the semantic game we’re going to play with distinguishing “the troops” who leave and those who remain. Afghanistan isn’t going to be fixed until the Pakistanis fix themselves, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. McCain as a hawk can probably more credibly produce a rapprochement with the various pariah states of varying degrees (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, etc.), but I don’t think there is a huge obstacle to Obama doing the same (he may just have to do less).

From an apathetic libertarian perspective, neither candidate is particularly appealing, although generally speaking I find critiquing Washington from the (Postrel-1990s Reason) economic classical liberal perspective more interesting than from the (Gillespie-current Reason) social/cultural left. As a future upper-middle-income government bureaucrat I suppose the Democrats are more likely to govern in support of my personal, short-term financial interests (throwing money at higher education, lower taxes on the “middle class” which seemingly tops out right at the peak Congressional salary, transferring more of my personal health care expenses onto the backs of Bill Gates and Mark Cuban), even if I have to balance that against the possibility that eight years of Democrats at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue could fuck up America economically to the point it becomes Britain circa 1978, and the billboards won’t even be as catchy.

All this is, of course, really just a boring way of saying that since my vote really won’t matter I’m having a hard time feeling all that motivated to care one way or the other.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Paging Dr. Occam

Ezra Klein sees sinister relationships everywhere:

Mark Schmitt wonders why John McCain has had such an interest in America West’s runway operations throughout his career. The answer, it turns out, is predictable enough. “America West was a major financial backer of McCain, and one of his top aides, John W. Timmons, became America West’s lobbyist. America West donated a charter plane to Cindy McCain’s charity, American Voluntary Medical Team, for a trip to Kuwait, and this story in says that Cindy McCain’s Hensley Group holds a large stake in US Airways, the successor to America West.”

How about a simpler explanation: America West was and US Airways is headquartered in Arizona. John McCain is the senior senator from Arizona. McCain has thousands of voters in his constituency employed by AW/US, so maybe it makes sense for him to do things in their interests.

This logic also works for Democrats, by the way. Or are you going to tell me that Barack Obama (you know, from Illinois) has never done anything to support Chicago-based (that’s a city in Illinois) carriers American and United?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Veeping with the Enemy

The Libertarian ticket for ‘08: Barr and Root. With a name like that, you’d think they have a no-bid contract in Iraq or something.

Meanwhile, John McCain is allegedly talking with potential running mates at his ranch, including Bobby Jindal, Mitt Romney, and Charlie Crist, and the Obama veep spin cycle is ramping up too.

I have no real substance here, I just wanted to use this post title before I forgot it…

Friday, 4 April 2008


I’ll just take it for granted that some idiot leftists will decide that John McCain’s presence in Memphis today on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King is a really deeply-coded appeal to racists. Your challenge: guess their rationale in the comments. Bonus points if you can work in the concept of James Earl Ray not being the lone gunman/involved in a conspiracy/also being the shooter in both Kennedy assassinations and making Ted run off the road at Chappaquiddick. Super bonus points if you can somehow tie Hillary Clinton’s simultaneous presence in the same city to a plan orchestrated by The Man to make Barack Obama look bad.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

McCain rounds up 43 of 47 delegates at La. convention

The Times-Picayune reports that the end result of last month’s Louisiana caucus and last week’s primary is that John McCain has pretty much swept the state’s delegates who were appointed at today’s state GOP convention, adding another 43 delegates to McCain’s prohibitively large total that’s now somewhere in the mid-800s depending on exactly who you ask.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

MDS on the left coast

The Right Coast blogger Mike Rappaport lists the following bill of particulars against nominating John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate:
1. Not only does McCain support McCain-Feingold, it is one of his signature issues. This will infect many aspects of his presidency, including his appointment of judges. It will be devastating to have a President and a Congress who strongly support this issue at the same time.

George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold despite believing it to be unconstitutional. I’ll take the guy who believes that the laws he proposes are constitutional over the guy who expediently decides to ignore what he believes the constitution says any day.

2. McCain opposed the Bush Tax Cuts, and what is worse, used class warfare rhetoric to criticize them.

Fair enough. I’d have preferred to see the Bush Spending Cuts than the Bush Tax Cuts, and generally think that we’ve ludicrously expanded the idea of a “middle class” income, but maybe I’m weird that way.

3. McCain has taken strong positions against doing anything about illegal immigration. I don’t believe his recent “conversion” on the issue. For the record, I favor a large amount of legal immigration, but I believe that illegal immigration needs to be addressed.

I think that’s a misstatement of McCain’s position, which after all was initially the same as the president’s.

4. McCain opposes strong interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, for top members of Al Qaeda like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Yeah, we really need to have another president who supports torture. That will surely help America’s standing in the world.

5. McCain wants to close down Guantanamo.

If you believe the Bush administration’s public statements (nobody does, but that’s beside the point), so do they.

6. McCain favors reimportation of drugs.

Yeah, free trade is a bitch. And Big Pharma is free to stop exporting drugs to countries that reexport the drugs if they aren’t paying a fair market price for them.

7. McCain takes a strong position on opposing global warming. For the record, I think that the evidence probably supports taking some actions now, such as establishing prizes for the development of technology reducing greenhouse gases, but not the kind of strong regulatory actions that McCain seems to support.

8. McCain opposes drilling in ANWR.

Those “strong regulatory actions” include, by the way, actions supported by Mitt Romney too (such as respecting the right of the states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions within their own borders). That federalism’s a bitch too.

9. McCain generally favors regulating American business, including pharmaceutical companies and transportation companies. This is his instinctual reaction to actions he does not like. He does not seem to understand economics. Recently, he spoke about the subprime problem in terms of “greedy people on Wall Street who need to go to jail."

Is there anyone in the race who doesn’t favor regulating American business? Well, except Ron Paul, but his priority is more on keeping brown people out of the country than deregulation.

10. McCain would not be good on judges. Despite his claims to the contrary, there is strong evidence that he would not have appointed Alito. And he is not likely to appoint people who think campaign finance is unconstitutional.

Would anyone other than George W. Bush have appointed Alito?

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

QotD, McCain Derangement Syndrome Edition

My blog-colleague James Joyner on the results of the Florida primary:

Conservatives ranging from Michelle Malkin to Robert Stacy McCain can’t believe [John McCain] beat Romney. Republican primary voters, apparently, figure an 82% conservative who sometimes takes positions seemingly designed to anger the base is preferable to a guy who was a Massachusetts liberal a few months ago but now says exactly what conservatives want to hear. Go figure.


Friday, 25 January 2008

Bizarro campaign logic land

So, it’s not OK for Democrats to boycott debates held on Fox News, but it’s just dandy for all the Republican candidates except John McCain to refuse to meet with the New York Times editorial board. Apparently petulance is only petty when one is a Democrat.

Monday, 28 November 2005

McCain as Teddy Roosevelt

Stephen Moore adds more fuel to Stephen Bainbridge’s discomfiture with John McCain. I’m not exactly a huge McCain fan either, but given the likely contenders on both sides of the aisle I’m hard-pressed to pick a better nominee—or, for that matter, a better president.

Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Three parties good, two parties better

Nick Troester on the latest round of arguments about the potential success of third party presidential candidates:

Political parties, being more-or-less coalitional, actually need to take positions on a wide number of issues to be able to draw in people who are oriented towards things other than the party’s main issue—that is to say, one might think both parties are bad when it comes to good government issues, but one still probably lines up as a D or R when it comes to entitlement spending, the deficit, foreign policy, etc. A lot is needed to uproot people from where they are.

Or, to put it another way, there just aren’t enough people who care about politics who’d support the “not stupid or evil party” just because it’s not stupid or evil.

And, many observers suggest Roosevelt would have won the Republican nomination—and almost certainly the presidency—had the 1912 convention not been stacked with Taft patronage appointees from “rotten borough” delegations from the South. I don’t know that there’s a specific lesson for John McCain in there, but the route to power is much easier if you can take over a major party than starting your own… ask the Christian Coalition or the Deaniac crowd, who now effectively control the two major parties, if you don’t believe me.