Re: Oppo

1

So *that's* why Mr. B. keeps reading my blog. The bastard.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:00 PM
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Like, how we'd be discredited as unserious? I can't imagine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:03 PM
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Like, how we'd be discredited as unserious?

More like how you'd be arrested.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:10 PM
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Simulated pedophilia, of course. Except based on that they'd probably assume the site tilts Republican.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:10 PM
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Unfogged: soft on the bigotry of low expectations.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:28 PM
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If it were Republicans doing the oppo research, they could track down the lifeguard and show her the deleted posts.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:37 PM
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Speaking of Obama and bloggers, Jerome Armstrong no longer sees race. People tell him he's white, and he believes them because he runs a heavily trafficked Democratic blog.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:41 PM
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7: Oh gawd.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:42 PM
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I am really, really happy about the blogospheric response to the attack on Krugman by the Obama campaign. I actually do tend to buy into the hype about Obama as a potential agent of change. But the real agents of change are the people who are changing the national conversation. Obama was trolling supporters of national healthcare, and he got slapped down for it. Perfect.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:44 PM
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I don't even view Obama as black or with racial distinction.

That's mighty white of Jerome.

See? Sometimes it's the perfect phrase.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:45 PM
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Well I first came to this site as oppo research. Stayed for the laughs.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:51 PM
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I've been trying not to pay attention, but what should I think about the anti-gay Obama singer + the social security thing + the Krugman skirmish? I mean, these are some toolish dots waiting to be connected.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:55 PM
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I am really, really happy about the blogospheric response to the attack on Krugman by the Obama campaign.

I'm not. Obama was plugging a policy Krugman himself had advocated back in 2005 - a policy that would make payroll taxes more progressive while eliminating any potential shortfall in Social Security revenues. Krugman and the bloggers didn't react to Obama's actual policy proposal, though - they reacted to the fact that Obama was saying anything about Social Security at all, and jumped all over him, because they've overlearned the lesson of the 2005 Social Security fight, where half the message involved shouting "There's no crisis! There's no crisis!" over and over again. They forgot that the other half of the message involved saying "Because there's no crisis, we can wait to fix the actual problem until we get a sane, competent, non-evil president in office." Obama is basically suggesting that that should be him, and that this is how he'd fix the problem - which is reassuring, all things considered. The candidate to get spooked at is Hillary Clinton, who's said that she won't raise the cap on payroll taxes, but that pretty much everything else has to be on the table as far as SS goes.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:55 PM
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I don't even view Obama as black or with racial distinction

A mere racial pass. Certainly not a racial high pass. And racial distinction is out of the question.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:56 PM
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unfogged is a progressive blog?
the first impression is the truest they say
it didn't change for now
nice music though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 6:59 PM
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Well, I'll step up and say it: if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black. This country has become more polite about race (and that's a good thing), but it hasn't changed that much.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:04 PM
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13: The national healthcare issue and the Social Security issue are two separate matters, and the national healthcare issue boils down to this: Krugman is right; Obama is wrong; Krugman and his supporters managed to get heard. I think that's huge.

I'm more sympathetic to your reading on Obama and Social Security. I mean, let's face it, Obama was advocating progressive taxation, which is a fine thing. But Krugman's argument - that Social Security panic-talk is both inaccurate and serves conservative political ends - is a persuasive point. And it shows that Krugman, at least, understands that the only issue that matters right now is the issue of who frames the debate.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:06 PM
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if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black.

That's my gut feeling too. I hope we're wrong.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:06 PM
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if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black.

I don't think this is true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:12 PM
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Yeah, apostropher's wrong. Obama will lose because he's muslim.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:12 PM
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7:I may trust Obama more as a liberal or progressive than as a partisan Democrat, and at least at the beginning of the post, that is Armstrong's point about Obama lacking a partisan base. Hillary might triangulate on policy, might have policies to the right of mine, but when the chips are down, she will stomp Hatch's face into the mud & jump & down on him, just for grins. Same with Edwards.

I fucking NEED that rage right now. I think the country needs it. I might vote for the Repub against Obama. I am growing to hate him.

Nah, I can't vote for a Repub. Lose an arm first.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:12 PM
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I think that people are still very racist, but I think they have a lot of subcategories and complexity in their prejudices. In other words, I think that people easily differentiate between the black people that they don't know and are scared of, and the black people that they feel like they know and therefore trust.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:14 PM
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Well, I'll step up and say it: if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black.

You might be underestimating how weird this moment in American history is. Obama, Hillary and Giuliani are all entirely legitimate candidates for president, if you ask me. Ten years ago, people with their liabilities would (for different reasons) have been unthinkable.

That said, I do think people are underselling the potential for Edwards to make a big move, in part because I agree with you that people are underestimating the power of white maleness.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:16 PM
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19: Heebie, don't you know anything? Apo has black friends.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:17 PM
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19: I'd like to believe it isn't true, and people will tell themselves they aren't voting against him based on race. But racism is a lizard-brain response; they'll find another reason to vote against him to assuage their conscience (see 20). This isn't a statement about Obama; it's a statement about America.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:17 PM
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24: Really? Do they talk funny?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:17 PM
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25: But he got himself elected as senator pretty well. Lots of white people voted for him.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:18 PM
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Plus I think Oprah Winfrey campaigning for him is huge. She's the poster child for Black People That White People Trust.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:19 PM
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He ran against another black guy. A crazy black guy. A crazy black guy brought in at the last moment after his white opponent dropped out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:19 PM
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how weird this moment in American history is

That's what I'm hoping for, pf.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:20 PM
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Hillary might triangulate on policy, might have policies to the right of mine, but when the chips are down, she will stomp Hatch's face into the mud & jump & down on him, just for grins.

Not if there's a liberal's face a half-step closer.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:20 PM
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No way can we trust a fucking dego like Giuliani in the White House.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:21 PM
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23:Edwards is at least as unusual as the three you mention. probably more so. I think he is even more liberal than his professed positions, remember the bloggers, and too progressive to be allowed the nomination.

If elected, including for reasons I don't want to think about, he will be a giant. He may get no legislation passed, but if so, he is the only one of the three able to use that to annihilate conservatism for 2010-12.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:22 PM
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16: As cynical as I am, I'm with hbgb; I honestly don't think this is true any more -- and weird as it may sound, I think the fact that we've had one or two black presidents already makes a difference.

21: I fucking NEED that rage right now. I think the country needs it. I might vote for the Repub against Obama. I am growing to hate him.

bob, seriously, at this point you're just trolling.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:24 PM
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Okay, but black people do get elected to congress under normal, compete-against-white-people situations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:24 PM
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if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black WE WILL BURN SHIT DOWN.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:25 PM
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black people do get elected to congress under normal, compete-against-white-people situations

In individual House districts, sure. Likewise, Dennis Kucinich gets re-elected to his House seat every two years.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:25 PM
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I do think people are underselling the potential for Edwards to make a big move

His campaign hasn't yet demonstrated that it can find its ass with both hands.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:26 PM
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17: I actually think Obama is completely right on health care, and that Krugman is just plain out to lunch. The big problem with mandates is that they're worthless without an enforcement mechanism, and any enforcement mechanism you write into law is going to have consequences that are pretty fucking horrible, in that it will ultimately involve, as Edwards's plan describes, collection agencies coming after people who don't pay their insurance premiums - which, in the context of these plans, means people who can't afford insurance.

Mandate apologists like Ezra Klein keep saying that everyone will be able to pay, because poor people will get subsidies. But none of the candidates' plans give any detail on how big those subsidies will be, or who will get them. And these subsidies won't be set in stone - they'll have to be funded year to year and budget to budget, and like every program for the poor, conservatives will take every opportunity they get to cut them to the bone. Only it won't be like cutting Medicaid, where poor people just lose your health care - this time, you lose your health care, go into permanent debt, and get hounded by government-hired collection agencies until the day you die.

I should say at this point that I'm not actually an Obama supporter - that I'm still leaning towards Edwards - but that Obama is so clearly and obviously right on this issue that I simply cannot fathom why the pro-mandate position is at all attractive. It will be so easy to attack that there's no way it'll ever get through Congress. Keep in mind that the only reason individual mandates are in these plans at all is because Medicare-for-all has been deemed impossible to sell by the pinheads who run the Democratic Party - but "buy healthcare or we garnish your wages" is really going to work much better.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:27 PM
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Based on my wildly unrepresentative survey of acquaintances: A substantial chunk of Republican women will vote for Hillary in the privacy of the voting booth. A substantial chunk of Democrats will NOT vote for Obama in the privacy of the voting booth.


Posted by: Pink Sky | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:27 PM
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His campaign hasn't yet demonstrated that it can find its ass with both hands.

You could have said this about Mike Huckabee three weeks ago.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:28 PM
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34:"bob, seriously, at this point you're just trolling."

Bullshit. I suggest you check out the filibusters for this congressional session, the vetoes, the fact that we may not even be able to get a continuing resolution. Understand that Repubs will be total obstructionists until they are utterly powerless. When Stevens goes, the next Pres is unlikely to get a pro-choice justice.

Obama is like the bad recollections of Neville Chamberlain. I think he compromises with absolute evil.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:28 PM
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That's what I'm hoping for, pf.

I dunno. It all scares the hell out of me. I think absolutely anything could happen in national politics next year.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:29 PM
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39:I am not going to defend mandates when Ezra, Krugman et al are out there to do so. Even if it loses, losing and coming back with it is probably better than accepting a compromise that will be difficult to adjust.

Medicare Part D is going to hard to fix for our lifetimes.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:33 PM
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His campaign hasn't yet demonstrated that it can find its ass with both hands.

By all accounts, Edwards has the best on-the-ground organization in Iowa right now. And he's made a lot fewer major screwups than the supposedly invulnerable frontrunner over the last couple months.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:34 PM
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The mandate hasn't worked in Massachusetts, has it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:35 PM
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Black people also get elected governor. And you also shouldn't overlook Obama's ability to have his opponent's campaign implode in sexual scandal. Can anyone say that it won't happen if he gets the Democratic nomination?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:35 PM
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Black people also get elected governor.

Twice since Reconstruction, if I recall correctly. How many governor's elections have there been in that period?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:39 PM
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Onlly 16 comments before the conversation turns to "electability". God damn you, apo!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:40 PM
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If "Obama in unelectable because he's black & America's not ready" is being used as an argument to vote against him in the primaries, note that it would logically lead to never, ever, ever nominating a black candidate.

He gives me pause sometimes. I trust him more than Hillary.

Hey bob, remember when you thought Nancy Pelosi was the best hope for our generation? Give me a true liberal with a bit of a weakness for lofty bipartisanship rhetoric over a Rahm Emanuel type--mean & partisan enough for anyone but believes in nothing--any day of the weak.

What's Edwards DOING lately? I'm willing to believe that his lack of recent coverage is mainly the press deciding it wants to write Obama v. Hillary stories this month, but why is Joe Biden the guy with the best response to the CIA thing?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:40 PM
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You could have said this about Mike Huckabee three weeks ago.

There isn't an angle Obama could exploit that's comparable to Huckabee's culture-war bonafides.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:41 PM
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40: Pink Sky brings up the obvious point about Obama's electability, but raises an intriguing point about Hillary. Is it possible that the polls are understating Hillary's popularity?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:41 PM
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Nobody knows who's electable. Not me, not you, not the pros: nobody! What an awful, awful way to try and decide who you would want to be the President.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:41 PM
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52: obvious, and yet totally irrelevant unless Mr./Mrs. Sky happens to personally know a stastically significant quantity of the American electorate.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:43 PM
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I don't know how to calculate for race anymore, or how to describe the dynamics in American politics. The "Southern Strategy" complicated stuff.

For example, in Mississippi, if 80% of white voters supported the war in Iraq & more tax cuts, and 80% of Mississippi blacks opposed the war & wanted more social spending, and I don't such a breakdown is insane, that would be a reason for Mississippi Whites to try to suppress the black vote. Is that racist?

Partisan positions now to an extent coincide with racial divisions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:43 PM
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53 is absolutely right. I'll vote for the candidate I want to be president, not take a completely uneducated guess about what a bunch of strangers will want.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:43 PM
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I think [Obama] compromises with absolute evil.

As opposed to Clinton?

Whatever you say.

I'm just trying to minimize the negatives:

Obama: black, notactually!Muslim

Edwards: notactually!gay, notactually!hypocrite, weak

Clinton: female, notactually!lesbian, notactually!ClintonsAreTraitors, notactually!ClintonsAreMurderers


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:43 PM
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The last time we picked a candidate based on electability, we got Kerry.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:44 PM
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You're not electable, Sifu.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:44 PM
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56: I love you!

57: the negatives... for who?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:44 PM
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58: I love you!

59: good thing, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:45 PM
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The last time we picked a candidate based on electability, we got Kerry.

Was Kerry so bad? I didn't read Unfogged back then.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:46 PM
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There isn't an angle Obama could exploit that's comparable to Huckabee's culture-war bonafides.

Oh, I dunno, maybe that they both can uniquely claim membership in the most loyal voter group in their respective parties?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:47 PM
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The last time we picked a candidate based on electability, we got Kerry.

This deserves to be repeated.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:48 PM
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62: Nice guy, didn't get elected.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:48 PM
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Was Kerry so bad?

Kerry campaigned with all the force of a wet paper towel. He was the guy who thought you could reason with bullies. Dude, gotta hit back.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:49 PM
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is being used as an argument to vote against him in the primaries

I'm not using it in my decision making. I was an Edwards supporter four years before Obama got into the race and still think he'd have made an entirely better candidate than Kerry. But I understand what you're saying, though it does not necessarily lead to never nominating a black candidate. Also, we're clearly at a spot where the Democratic Party could have a black candidate at the top of the ticket.

Why I think Obama is likely not to get the nomination isn't his race, though. It's that his base is the same moderate technocratic niche that lined up for Dean and Bradley and Tsongas, a niche which represents a good chunk of the party with lots of energy and money, but ultimately not enough bodies to win.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:50 PM
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Was Kerry so bad? I didn't read Unfogged back then.

He certainly isn't president now, and while you can spin various just-so stories about how someone else would or wouldn't have been better, a lot of people seemed to think that he ran a somewhat crappy campaign.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:50 PM
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See, I don't think Kerry won the nomination yet lost the election because the democratic primaries were obsessed with electability. I think he lost solely because we were at war with Iraq.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:50 PM
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Was Kerry so bad?

Well, Kerry was unelectable, so we shouldn't have voted for him.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:51 PM
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Is it possible that the polls are understating Hillary's popularity?

I dunno. I do remain surprised both at the vehemence with which my sister (a lifelong Democrat) dislikes her, and the subdued glee with which a 60-something lifelong Republican woman friend (whose husband is a defense contractor) suggested she is looking forward to the privacy of the voting booth to vote for her.

But 54 has it right.


Posted by: Pink Sky | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:51 PM
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It's that his base is the same moderate technocratic niche that lined up for Dean and Bradley and Tsongas, a niche which represents a good chunk of the party with lots of energy and money, but ultimately not enough bodies to win.

I do not think this is true. He's a much more charismatic personality than any of those other candidates, he has a much younger-skewed organization, and he is much better at speaking to a broad audience.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:55 PM
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69: Around here (rl, not Unfogged), there was a lot of talk about how people liked so-and-so, but Kerry would be electable, and the whole thing had this air of inevitability.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:55 PM
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73: I recall the phrase "well, he's a proven winner" being bandied about.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:55 PM
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Nobody knows who's electable.

Nobody knows who's going to win the Super Bowl either, but people take he odds into condieration when placing their bets.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:56 PM
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67: You raised a provocative point in 16, but now you are wimping out. Race (as you know deep down) really is a huge matter in US politics, and Obama has an advantage that the Dean-Bradley-Tsongas types lacked. He's black.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:57 PM
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50:Hey bob, remember when you thought Nancy Pelosi was the best hope for our generation? Give me a true liberal with a bit of a weakness for lofty bipartisanship rhetoric over a Rahm Emanuel type--mean & partisan enough for anyone but believes in nothing--any day of the weak.

What I remember is giving the enthusiasts at ObsWi six months to back up their optimism. We got nothing except a self-weakening ethics bill. I knew what this Congress would look like if the acommodationists(?) got their way. I wanted scorched earth rhetoric from day one, and I still think I was right. There are some vulnerable freshpersons who will have nothing to show their constituents.

I am no fan of Rahm. Too DC & DLC. I am not a huge fan if HRC. I think Pres Obama would be like Carter the hyenas and crocodiles and piranhas will eat him to the skeleton.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:57 PM
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75: If Obama happens to win the nomination, want to put money on November?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:58 PM
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a lot of people seemed to think that he ran a somewhat crappy campaign.

"A lot of people" S/B "John Emerson" and "he ran a somewhat crappy campaign" S/B "ran such a bad campaign that one tends to believe that he had found a horse's head in his bed."



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:58 PM
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By the end of this thread my dropped letters will spell out a secret message.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:58 PM
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75: yes, but we're not betting. We're voting. The question being asked is not "if you had ten bucks to bet on who would win the election, who would you bet on?", the question is "who do you think should be President?"

In any case, is sports betting really the metaphor you want to go with? People often do not attain optimal outcomes betting on the superbowl.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:58 PM
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Let's bet!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 7:59 PM
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Does anybody have polls of HRC and Obama with black likely voters? Last I heard, she was very competitive.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:00 PM
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Besides which, you know the odds in sports betting much better than you do in a political contest, because people know way, way more about the intricacies of football strategy than they do about -- e.g. -- the private voting philosophy of the specific, unidentifiable 40000 people out of 120 million who will actually be key to the general.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:00 PM
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I am not going to defend mandates when Ezra, Krugman et al are out there to do so

Krugman, like I said, is out to lunch - he looks at the plans, sees that on paper Edwards's and Clinton's should be better than Obama, and thinks to himself, "well, that's that!" Because on paper, those subsidies for the poor will of course cover everyone who can't afford insurance - and political reality doesn't enter into it.

Ezra Klein has learned one and only one lesson from the failure of 90s-era Clintoncare, and that's "don't mess with people's insurance." So he thinks any sacrifice is necessary to preserve the core of the current employer-based system, and has ended up endorsing a set of messy, overly convoluted patchwork plans simply because they have the benefit of leaving the core of the employer-based system intact. Ezra concedes this makes the plans worse than single-payer, but insists they'll be easier to sell because they won't be "socialized medicine." But the GOP will attack any plan for national health care as socialized medicine anyway; as long as that's the case you might as well get socialized medicine. Instead we're getting plans that are worse at controlling costs, far more convoluted, and involve draconian enforcement mechanisms like collection agencies and wage garnishment.

Medicare Part D is going to hard to fix for our lifetimes

I don't know what this has to do with your previous paragraph.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:01 PM
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Well, I'll step up and say it: if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black.

Sadly, I'm moving around to that view. So depressing.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:01 PM
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And as far as polls go, unless you're a professional pollster willing to describe your methods in detail, I'm not sure I want to hear it. Likely voters? All voters? Sorted by affiliation? Being asked about a contest almost a year in the future? Might as well use a Ouija board.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:02 PM
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86: but why depress yourself with facts that you are inventing based on your own biases?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:02 PM
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76:I will raise a point that Petey might. What new or marginal states will Obama win that the others wouldn't because he is black? Mississippi? Texas?

Whereas Petey thinks Edwards, and I think Clinton, will bring new white voters to the Democratic side.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:03 PM
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75: but it's not a fucking game. And there's no spread. And really, I can't think of a single way in which this analogy is helpful.

Insofar as your assessment of electability differs from your assessment of who'd be a good president, it's usually based on either: (1) simply jumping aboard the bandwagon of the likely winner; or (2) a belief that the American electorate is too stupid, selfish, racist, xenophobic, etc. etc. to vote for the best candidate. They'll never vote for Obama, he's black--I don't care, but the voters will. They'll never vote for Dean, he opposed the war, and I agree with him but they won't.

(1) can't be a good measure of electability, because it basically means that whoever the Democrats nominated was by def'n the most electable politician. (2) is worse. It's the same thing that leads to Chuck Schumer, voting for Mukasey because no amount of calls from his constituents can outweigh his conviction that his imaginary friends from Massapequa don't give a damn about torture. Don't buy into that crap. It's hurting America.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:04 PM
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86: I'd think that concern would pop up more in the primaries, where the choice is 'if we elect him, we'll lose to the Republicans because while I personally am not racist, everyone else is' than in the general, where the choice is 'if we elect him, he wins.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:05 PM
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That's funny, apo, because I'm coming around to the idea that if Hillary's nominated, she can't win, but Obama can because he's the nicest black man any white American I'm-not-a-racist-but has ever seen.

I still like Edwards, though. Which is surely the kiss of death for the man.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:06 PM
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John Kerry was pretty bad, at 24 minutes in.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:06 PM
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maybe that they both can uniquely claim membership in the most loyal voter group in their respective parties?

One of these groups has more money than the other.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:06 PM
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90: I think there's a difference between backing someone because you prioritize "electibility", which I agree is totally ass backwards, versus analyzing how a candidate might land on the voters, which has gone on since the dawn of time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:08 PM
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Man. I should bow out. This is making me crazy. It's like ten times worse than people talking about sports because with sports it really doesn't matter if you don't understand things at a very deep level and get it wrong like 60% of the time.

Seriously I just can't fathom why people -- when deciding who to support -- would privilege their best guess at the likely outcome of an immensely complex, fantastically complicated process over their ability to say "hey, I like that dude/lady for presidenting-related reasons X, Y, and Z," and rest assured that -- by taking that easy path -- they will make the system work (a) better and (b) like it's supposed to. Why introduce all this extra feedback? All anybody wants is for us to say "I'd like that person as my President."

By trying to pick the choice with the best possibility of succeeding (a natural impulse, because the stakes are so high), you are actually making it less likely that choice will end up being made.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:09 PM
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if Obama is nominated, he will lose and he will lose because he's black

and

What new or marginal states will Obama win that the others wouldn't because he is black? Mississippi? Texas?

The question can be just as usefully posed the other way: what state does Obama lose because he is black that HRC otherwise wins? I'm asking sincerely, not rhetorically.

Maybe you could make an argument that Pennsylvania falls into that category; I doubt it, but you could argue it, and you might find some facts to support it.

Unless you can point to an "electability" impact on a particular state, the argument doesn't carry much weight even on its own terms.

And the answer to McManus' question in 89 is (possibly) "Virginia".


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:09 PM
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90: I love Katherine.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:09 PM
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The last time we picked a candidate based on electability, we got Kerry.

Who won more popular votes than any presidential candidate in history except for George W. Bush.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:09 PM
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90: Katherine yer so awesum


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:10 PM
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By trying to pick the choice with the best possibility of succeeding (a natural impulse, because the stakes are so high), you are actually making it less likely that choice will end up being made.

But I don't think anyone here is voting on "electability" instead of on issues. We're just analyzing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:10 PM
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Who won more popular votes than any presidential candidate in history except for George W. Bush.

Gosh, too bad he had to run against George W. Bush.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:11 PM
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99: I thought he won more votes than Bush. Just in the wrong places.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:12 PM
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86: but why depress yourself with facts that you are inventing based on your own biases?

It's not biases I'm worried about. Hope is not a plan, as people point out about Iraq.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:12 PM
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101: but even still that's not what the conversation should be about, and that's what the conversation is always about. The ratio of "I like Edwards/Clinton/Ron Paul for policy/charisma/sex appeal reasons X, Y, and Z" to "I think Edwards probably can't win the bald vote" should be like 99.999 to .001, but it's exactly the opposite of that; of course people take "electability" into account: it's all they hear about!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:12 PM
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I had a long comment, but on preview 101 says it more succinctly.

I'm not trying to talk anybody into voting one way or the other. I have no illusions that anybody here is making voting decisions on *my* stupid recommendation. I spend all day making cock jokes on the internet and think KISS is one of the greatest bands ever. I'm just giving my sense of how particular situations play out.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:13 PM
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104: er..."my biases"


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:13 PM
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I'll vote in the primary (VA) for the candidate whose policies are the closest to my ideal candidate. I am for Edwards right now. I don't worry about electability. That's a mug's game.

In the general election, I'll vote for the Democratic nominee.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:13 PM
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104: it's not your job to make a plan, man. You're not running any campaigns. Also, if you did make a plan? Odds are it wouldn't work, because (a) it's not really up to you and (b) you don't know what you're doing.

Don't be a planner. Be a voter!

I'm totally making bumper stickers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:13 PM
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I think Kerry got it not because we the people thought he was electable, but because They the DNC thought he was electable. I remember at the time thinking, Kerry?

That's why I think Hillary'll get the nomination this time.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:14 PM
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106: but see, right there you prove yourself a man of otherwise extremely sound judgment, and then you say nobody's paying attention to what you say about the election. I bet there's like two dozen lurking Kiss Army members who took thirty seconds away from giggling at their cocks to nod sagely and say "that Apo's got a point. Obama's too much of a risk."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:15 PM
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Which states would Obama lose because of his blackness that he would otherwise win?

||

Today I finally made it to the café of Emerson frère, where I met Emerson himself. The fabled SIL pie was not to be had, because apparently she doesn't make pie for just everybody; we had to settle for apprentice pie, which was still delicious. Conversation was tentative and ultimately truncated, because my daughters were intent on demonstrating that I am a complete fucking failure as a disciplinarian.

|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:15 PM
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97:"what state does Obama lose because he is black that HRC otherwise wins?"

I really am not considering negative voting, based on race or gender. I don't know how to calculate it. I do think HRC would get the votes of woman who would not otherwise vote for a Democrat, but there are very few black votes out there that Democrats don't already have. And yes, I hate taking the black vote for granted.

And those marginal white voters who will vote for Obama because he is black but would otherwise not vote for a Democrat I would guess is a tiny bloc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:16 PM
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(to be fair, charisma & good political instincts do affect electability & don't require us to make assumptions about how the American voters unalterably hate liberals. But I think they also have a major effect on our "my favorite"/"would be a good president" assessment, so I don't separate them that much. I don't think "Dean isn't electable, he's terrible on tv" is a great basis for a primary vote, but it's much, much better, than "Dean isn't electable because of the war & civil unions."

Also, if voters vote based on our wild guesses about who will win rather than who will be the best president, how can we be surprised or indignant that the press writes a bunch of useless, wild speculation about the horse race instead of engaging with substance?)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:16 PM
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of course people take "electability" into account: it's all they hear about!

I think we're overestimating how much most people think about electability. I think people vote with their gut, and to some degree on issues.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:17 PM
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my daughters were intent on demonstrating that I am a complete fucking failure as a disciplinarian.

Yeah, I know that one. Kids suck.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:17 PM
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Katherine is making so much sense it hurts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:17 PM
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On the question of Hillary's inevitable acquisition of the Dem nomination, I think this analysis is about right.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:18 PM
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115: I'm just going by what I see and hear from people I know who are in any case the ones I'm trying to convince to leave the subject alone, and those you people? Horse race fanatics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:18 PM
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On the race thing: there was a li'l story in the local paper today about the local folks working for Obama. Every face in the photo, including Mr. B.'s, was white.

Also, if voters vote based on our wild guesses about who will win rather than who will be the best president, how can we be surprised or indignant that the press writes a bunch of useless, wild speculation about the horse race instead of engaging with substance?

I think you've got the causality thing backwards here, Katherine.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:19 PM
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Katherine and Sifu get it exactly right.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:19 PM
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One reason not to care much is that these decisions tend to be made by power brokers and money people. We really are not part of the process. My guess is that with equal financing throughout, Edwards would run against Huckabee in the general and win. Clinton has enormous financial and institutional support.

Whenever you hear talk about "the stupid American people", ask yourself whether you're really talking about the political media, the campaign donors, and the political pros. Voters all put together are only a small part of the process, and we here are scarceely part of the process at all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:20 PM
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I think we're overestimating how much most people think about electability. I think people vote with their gut, and to some degree on issues.

"vote with their gut" involves a large amount of internalizing what appears to be inevitable, and what appears to be impossible, in order to rule some things out. and inevitability is similar to electability.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:20 PM
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I know I'll volunteer and do GOTV for whoever wins the Democratic nomination but Jesus Christ if I don't cringe in pain every time I think of volunteering for Hillary Clinton. It's going to be so hard to convince people to vote for her through clenched teeth and a wince.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:21 PM
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God fuck it, people. What's the point of making a catastrophic mistake if you don't learn anything from it? In 2004 Dem primary voters picked Kerry, even though they didn't like him, because he was Electable. Well, surprise, surprise, nobody liked him in the general, either, and he lost. Now in 2008 you'd think we'd have learned to just vote for the people we like. But no, instead it's yet another round of outthink-yourself-with-the-iocane-powder.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:21 PM
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I agree with 118.

Also, I've looked over the summaries of Obama's positions on various issues, and: meh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:21 PM
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I'm going to take the via media here and argue that yes, in principle, electability is a valid criterion, but no, in practice, the 2008 primary should not be decided on that basis. If, in some parallel universe, the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination were Barney Frank and Mark Warner, I might cast my vote for Mr. Warner even though I find Mr. Frank's views more congenial.

But in the here and now, any one of the top five or six Dem candidates could put up a good contest against any of the plausible Republican nominees, so we might as well vote our consciences.

Also, I think it is important to distinguish between "electability" in the sense of "policy views acceptable to the median voter" and in the sense of "has enough fire in the belly and campaigning savoire faire to wage a good general election campaign. The latter is a valid consideration in any election--and I have to give HRC the edge here--but I'm inclined to trust all the leading 2008 Dems to have this quality in at least minimall sufficient amounts.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:22 PM
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b--no, I'm really not. I'm not asserting a causal relationship at all & if it did the press obsession would be the cause & voter obsession the effect. My point is: (1) we hate it when the press does this; (2) we're in less of a position to get them to stop when we do the exact same thing.

If you think I don't like "electability" arguments, ask me how I feel about "you can't be mad about the press, they're just giving the public what it wants" arguments....


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:22 PM
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"Katherine and Sifu get it exactly right."

Like hell. I ain't voting for Kucinich in the primary, and it is because I don't want to waste my vote.

And I have a perfect right to take the fact that my politics is way to the left of most Americans into my political calculations. Crazy to do otherwise.



Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:23 PM
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A transparent and very common example of what I just was talking about is when someone like Chris Matthews or David Brooks or Bill O'Reilly tells you what The American People think. Often they wildly disagree with the actual poll results. They aren't reporting opinion, they're inventing it. People watching TV who disagree end up feeling alone and powerless, even though they might be the majority. "The American People" are defined by specific processes controlled by big infusions of money, and "The American People" aren't us.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:24 PM
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Am I going to have to go to New Hampshire to assuage my conscience about this?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:25 PM
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128: Ah, got it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:25 PM
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Some sensible responses to a recent NYT public editor's column about horse-race coverage, which noted that:

[A]study found that news organizations -- including newspapers, television stations and Web sites -- long ago narrowed the field of eight Democrats and eight Republicans to only five presidential candidates who matter....

Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:26 PM
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Becks, if/when time comes to volunteer for Hillary, focus on abortion rights. Should make backing her a lot easier.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:26 PM
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120 gets it right. The press consists of things that have to be updated many times daily, requiring them to write (and say) almost nothing but arbitrary horserace nonsense. The press is interested in what can be done within the confines of a process in which they cannot analyze or consolidate the truth about anything before being required to write about it. In fact, by now the campaign press consists of people who are completely unable to analyze or consolidate the truth about whatever they're reporting about, or even take the time to wonder which of the stuff they're being told is true and which of it is lies.

That's the press, it's not written for readers who actually want to read it, it's written for the lowest common denominator of readers. And it warps everyone's mind into apathy because it's the only press most people encounter and everything they read in it implies that the horserace is the only thing going on and the "issues" are all too complicated to spell out or even summarize.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:27 PM
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I used to make "come on, don't waste your vote on Kucinich when Dean has a shot" arguments in 2004, but I realized I was being a total hypocrite: when I started supporting Dean I neither thought he had a chance in hell at the nomination, nor cared. The only reason I was telling Kucinich supporters not to waste their votes was that I thought Kucinich would be a terrible president.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:27 PM
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If you want to vote for Kucinich, vote for Kucinich in the primary. I don't know why you wouldn't if that's the candidate you agree with (except for contrarianism). Look at the effect of Tancredo and Paul in the GOP race. It isn't just that they hold those views; it is that people are supporting them for those views.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:27 PM
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I agree with 129, and also I think that winning elections involves a lot of unpredictable herding of cats.

The only reason "electability" was a buzzword in 2004 was because so many people voted for Nader in 2000. I don't think we have any clue what is going to influence this election.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:28 PM
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There is another aspect of "strategic voting" beyond the electability argument, and that is the "anti" vote. I, for one, will vote for the primary candidate most likely to beat HRC. Right now, that appears to be Obama, so he's my man, even though I am closer to Edwards on the issues. If there is an Edwards surge and he emerges as the leading challenger to HRC, I'll be on that bandwagon by sundown.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:28 PM
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I just sent an email to the Obama NH team. I cannot volunteer for Clinton in the general without wanting to hurl myself off a building.

I hate you all.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:28 PM
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I've come to accept that the American people disagree with me about most things. My candidate had been Edwards all along, but he's not doing well, in large part because of money reasons.

I recently saw something that said that some big money people are deserting the Republicans for Hillary. That's good for Hillary and bad for the Republicans, But it makes a lot of her intolerable stands on the issues easier to understand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:28 PM
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Whoops, 133 was me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:29 PM
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The only reason "electability" was a buzzword in 2004 was because so many people voted for Nader in 2000.

Whoa, I don't think that's right. Nader had no effect at all. If he had, the "electability" issue in 2004 would have been "We need to elect someone the Nader voters like, so they don't run off again". That sure didn't happen.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:31 PM
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focus on abortion rights. Should make backing her a lot easier

My problem with Hillary Clinton is that her position on rights seems to be "Enjoy your right to an abortion. That's the only one you'll have left by the time that I'm done."


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:33 PM
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143: No, I mean the "electability" buzzword sprang from the Nader voters who felt guilty about their impact on the election and were overcompensating by not focusing on issues at all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:34 PM
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That's the press, it's not written for readers who actually want to read it, it's written for the lowest common denominator of readers.

That's not the problem at all. The press is owned by people with agendas. Frivolous political news helps the agenda because they don't want citizen involvement and especially don't want issues campaigns.

Frivolity does sell papers, but frivolous political coverage is for other reasons.

The people writing that bad coverage, people like Cilizza or Brooks, are very sharp people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:34 PM
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139: same game by a different name, I'd say. How do you know -- aside from probably unreliable polling -- who's most likely to be able to beat HRC? Now, if it comes time for your primary and one candidate is much closer to her delegate count than another, sure. Up until then, though, it's really not something that you can know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:35 PM
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winning elections involves a lot of unpredictable herding of cats.

I agree! Knueven in '08!


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:35 PM
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144: Nice and succinct. Gah.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:37 PM
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137:"Politics is the art of compromise" is a principle. I haven't a clue how the primary is shaking out here in Texas, and I doubt Texas will matter. Since I haven't seen any ads. Course I don't watch TV. But I just can't vote for Kucinich in the Texas primary.

And Gus Hall is dead.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:37 PM
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137 -- You wouldn't want to spend your vote on Kucinich, even if he's your favorite, if you have a strong preference as between Obama, Edwards, and Clinton.

I've yet to hear anyone give a plausible explanation why Dean would have won Iowa, NM, and/or Ohio in 2004, while Kerry couldn't. Consequently, I consider all claims about the mistake of nominating Kerry to be blather at best, sour grapes at worst. Oh, is it because the guy who couldn't beat Kerry in Iowa and NH, and more or less fell apart, would've been stronger against Bush? Someone's back on the bucket.

The biggest problems in the general in 2004 were fraud in the Sec of State's office in Ohio and the last minute appearance of Osama. While the former is solved for 2008, the latter is still a real risk. Which of the big three is least vulnerable to this risk?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:39 PM
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I was planning to write in Ron Dellums, but now I see that he's endorsed HRC. I don't know who to trust anymore.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:41 PM
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Back in the summer of 2004 I genuinely believed we'd captured Osama and he was going to be personally stage-captured on network TV by W. himself in late October.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:42 PM
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if it comes time for your primary and one candidate is much closer to her delegate count than another, sure.

If the nomination isn't already decided by then, you and I both live in a late-voting jurisdiction where this could turn out to be the case. So count me officially undecided for the moment.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:43 PM
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152 is funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:45 PM
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146: John, we've disagreed in the past about why the political media suck. I propose that people have figured out the actual problem and are doing something about it. As I said in comment 9: the real agents of change are the people who are changing the national conversation.

When liberals spend a decade or two pounding on the media the way the conservatives have for at least five decades, things will change. That project has just gotten underway, and the early results are promising.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:45 PM
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153: Spoiler Alert-- HRC is really KSM!! Bet you didn't see that coming!


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:47 PM
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151:"While the former (voter supression) is solved for 2008, the latter (security moms?) is still a real risk. Which of the big three is least vulnerable to this risk?"

a) I think cheating is always a threat.
b) I think HRC is better in a security/war election
c) I think Edwards is much better in a bad economy
d) With a lot of scandals and partisan smearing, Obama might be better. Not on fighting back, but in restoring peace & love to Washington. Kumbaya.

I think you are gonna get everything on 2008. All of the above and unknown unknowns

I think the argument for Dean was based on an active but untapped anti-war vote. Mighta been a delusion.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:48 PM
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When liberals spend a decade or two pounding on the media the way the conservatives have for at least five decades, things will change.

No, they won't.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:48 PM
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I was planning to write in Ron Dellums

I almost used "Ron Dellums" as my example instead of "Barney Frank" in 127, but then I wondered whether anyone would get the reference.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:48 PM
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Becks (144), Tim (149) are you really discounting Hillary's position on national healthcare? Or is that a position you don't find particularly salient in the context of this election?

I dunno. This seems like a big issue to me, and Hillary's got it dead-right.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:50 PM
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I'm beginning to hate these threads as much as I hate threads about Israel.

Also, I think there's a cricket hiding in the corner of my living room.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:50 PM
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Ron Dellums appears to be doing a really bad job as mayor of Oakland right now, according to his no doubt objective Wikipedia page. Barney Frank would be a much better president.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:51 PM
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It's okay, B. Everybody wrong-thinking has been intimidated into silence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:52 PM
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Why did I say that in 163? I have no idea. But really, I do hope my state primary actually matters. Because that would mean the earlier primaries didn't all give in to inevitability-talk.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:52 PM
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I love Barney Frank, but holy shit would he ever be a terrible President. That dude is less diplomatic than a titty twister.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:53 PM
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166: But remember, he's already president. Party on!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:54 PM
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I didn't support Dean because of some soothsaying about swing states & I can't do soothsaying counterfactuals now. He was right on the war. Voting against someone for agreeing with you on the war is irrational; it sends Democratic politicians exactly the message they do NOT need to hear.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:55 PM
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But really, I do hope my state primary actually matters.

Yeah, me too. On May 20th.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:56 PM
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I love Barney Frank, but holy shit would he ever be a terrible President.

But you've got to admit, his would be the best inaugural festivities in history. Just the image of Wolf Blitzer reporting live from the transvestite ball would outweigh any potential downside to his administration.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:57 PM
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I could vote for Kucinich - and in fact, I haven't ruled it out.

"Electability" is a reasonable concern in only one sense: politics is (rightly!) about building coalitions to achieve political majorities. The Democrats are one such political coalition, and Kucinich is a Democrat. He has answered the only concern that I have about electability in that he is attempting to gain a political majority.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:58 PM
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That message being: "If you vote based on your liberal convictions, not only will Joe & Eileen from Massapequa vote against you for being too liberal--LIBERALS will vote against you in the primaries because you're too liberal & obviously unelectable."

There's actually less of this going on now than in 2004, mercifully.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:59 PM
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Barney Frank would be a great president. If he were running, I wouldn't be fretting about who I'm going to vote for. The effort to be "diplomatic" is the big problem with Democrats. Certainly Bush hasn't fretted about being diplomatic, and he's had great success in getting his policy priorities enacted.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:02 PM
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168 -- People didn't think Dean would win the general and they were right. There's nothing wrong with crossing him off your list, and deciding which of the remaining candidates you like the best. Or voting for him in the hope of sending a message. That a politician probably isn't going to hear/understand.

158(a) -- Sure cheating is a threat, but the kind of systematic stuff we had in Ohio in 2008 isn't going to happen. Not in the general. It will happen in Florida again, I suppose.

158(b) -- Our nominee is going to have to be able to withstand a last minute Osama appearance. His reasons for favoring Bush in 2004 will apply with equal force to whichever Republican is nominated. I wish HRC was not in the race; I like other people better. I can't say, though, that she's not done a good job blunting the thing she probably fears the most.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:06 PM
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168:Irrational? Me? Politicians have a binary computer, an old AT with 64 k, to measure what the people think. Perot or Nader did nothing, achieved nothing.

I want the recession/stagflation to hit hard on Bush's watch (it is gonna hit hard soon), and I think recession could be the road to landslide. Lord I don't want a Democratic President to have to deal with a recession without a mandate on it.

So the 1/4 point was good/bad news today. Inflation is still too scary for Helicopter Ben to monetize continued delusionary growth. This is gonna be real bad, folks. Housing devaluation foreclosures.defaults are gonna kill proprty tax dependent entities.

Ain't gonna be 1933, but for a country that has had "moderation" for twenty years, it may feel like a depression. A real opportunity for progressives.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:08 PM
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I'd vote for Frank.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:08 PM
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172: Voting for Kerry was entirely consistent with voting based on liberal convictions. It is weird that the people who criticize "electability" as a voting criterion are the same people who ridicule Kerry primarily because he lost an election. Kerry would have been a fine president.

We probably don't disagree on this, Katherine. I'm merely emphasizing that supporting Kerry in the primary was an entirely legitimate choice.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:09 PM
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I don't mean "diplomatic" as in "plays nice with his opponents." I mean "diplomatic" as in "can barely avoid pissing off everybody around him once in a while." I love Barney, but seriously, he's barely socialized enough to be seen in public, let alone be a chief executive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:10 PM
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Our nominee is going to have to be able to withstand a last minute Osama appearance.

This is one area where the blogosphere has been a big disappointment. The al Qaeda-Republican alliance is something that should have become a political meme a long time ago.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:14 PM
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179:Did anybody like Nixon? If so, what did they like? How the fuck was that guy near the center of politics for 25 years? Aw, kids, never mind.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:15 PM
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uhh, 180 179 s/b 178

what a waste of comment space this one i mean


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:16 PM
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I'm beginning to hate these threads as much as I hate threads about Israel.

Me too. I don't have any strong preferences about who wins the nomination (they all seem good enough to me, and electability is entirely dependent on who the Republican nominee is, which is just impossible to predict), which is good because I'm not a registered Democrat and thus can't vote in the primary.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:21 PM
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168: You don't actually know that they were right, nor do I know that they were wrong. It's completely plausible that he would have lost by more than Kerry, but treating hypotheticals as proven because they're plausible is a recipe for lousy half baked analysis--it reminds me way too much of Posner's arguments on war-on-terror cases: "The NSA program COULD very plausibly has saved lives. Therefore, I will assume that it has saved lives. Therefore, it is morally required." Yes, and consequentialism would work great if we were all psychic.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:21 PM
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Also, this discussion isn't nearly as fun as doing oppo research on ogged.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:22 PM
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doing oppo research on ogged

Isn't that what the dating threads are for?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:22 PM
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There are no Ogged dating threads.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:24 PM
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People didn't think Dean would win the general and they were right.

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Sure cheating is a threat, but the kind of systematic stuff we had in Ohio in 2008 isn't going to happen.

Also assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:25 PM
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Also, I think that Hillary's better-than-expected plans on health care, global warming, etc. are informed by Dean's success--she's made some conscious effort to prevent Edwards or Obama from getting to her left. No one seemed much concerned about being outflanked to the left on the war in 2004.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:26 PM
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Ogged has no respect for the self-appointed anarthrous. Sadly, this is the very face of the Democratic Party today.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:27 PM
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189. Yeah, really. Its totally racist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:29 PM
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The apostrophe is part of the secret message.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:30 PM
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(note, also: I'm not primarily interested in rehashing the 2004 primaries (during which I took the position that the most electable candidate was either Edwards or Clark depending on how much a long shot a Democratic victory was). "I'm voting against Dean because he's bad on tv & therefore unelectable" is one thing. "I'm voting against Dean because he opposed the war & is therefore unelectable" is entirely another. It's the latter--the self-fulfilling prophecies about the American Voter made by journalists, Democratic politicians, & liberal voters--that have gotten us to the place we are today.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:31 PM
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Surely you mean "apostropher is part of the secret message."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:35 PM
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There are no Ogged dating threads.

I didn't say there were.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:36 PM
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156: In what way was that a response to anything I've said today or before?

The early results are promising.

Not in the major media. I really don't know what you're trying to say, but apparently you think that the media owners themselves are neutral, and are only responding to outside pressure. I don't believe that. They all have interests, and many of the media owners are enormous conglomerates.

The alternative internet media are great but they don't reach enough people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:37 PM
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189: there's really no way to predict what names will be anarthrous. Which is better, to use some definite article on some plural phrase that you didn't even come up with, or just say "hey, they say it should be anarthrous, and you know what? I'm a goddamned American citizen, and so do I."

All this coverage of the article race. It's really so simple.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:38 PM
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But sometimes people are falsely modest. I, for example, am THE bitch, but I don't tell people that. Only Kotsko's blogroll uses my name properly.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:40 PM
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Ok, Katherine has won me over with her lawyerliness, reason, and idealism.

I'll change America! Dead or not, I am voting for Gus Hall again! Write him in, everybody!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:41 PM
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Also, this discussion isn't nearly as fun as doing oppo research on ogged.

Ogged dogged by troppo oppo.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:44 PM
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okay!

who's gus hall!?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:44 PM
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Gus Hall


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:47 PM
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oh, a communist. See, if you're an honest to god communist & you don't live in a swing state, I think it's actually pretty rational to vote communist. The talk about "throwing your vote away" to "send a message" implies that if you resist the temptation of a protest vote, you have some plausible (albeit tiny) chance of affecting the outcome on election day. That's sometimes true, but it's relatively rare. I've never voted in a presidential election where it true--the votes I regret, I regret because they sent the wrong message, not because I passed up a plausible chance to affect the outcome. That, I never had.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:50 PM
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187 -- The proponent of the view that a guy who won only one real primary -- and that in his home state -- wouldn't have won the general election does not have a very heavy burden to bear. Sure, Dean would have won if only people had voted for him.

I don't need to rehash 2004 either, but then I'm not the one who keeps going around saying we shouldn't make the same mistake we made in 2004.

On Ohio 2008, it really does make a big difference who the Secretary of State is. The guy in 2004 was out at the end of the distribution bad. The current guy is nothing like that.

Gay baiting is a wasting asset, and while it may not be down to zero, it's harder to imagine getting an election changing turnout in 08 in a swing state.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:54 PM
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168/183/203: My problem with the "Dean woulda lost" thinking is that it is so tied up in my mind with the utterly incredible abomination of the "Press" coverage of his campaign. (From freaking Diane Sawyer and Maureen Dowd telling me how "strange" his wife was on through the motherfucking scream) He probably could not have fucking won because of what would have been done to him by the insane mix of money, corporatism, egos, syncophancy and insanity that puts Chris "my sexual issues have sexual issues" Matthews and Tim "Big Russ would totally kick his ass if he saw what a fatuous suck-up phony I've become" Russert on freaking TV screens all across our fair land every night. Le sigh. I have no idea what to do with that little bit of reality when it comes to my personal political choices.

see Exceptionalist/Militaristic Empire, Inexorable Slide Towards.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:56 PM
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see Exceptionalist/Militaristic Empire, Inexorable Slide Towards

"Slide towards"?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 9:58 PM
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I stopped reading around 110, so maybe this point has already been made, but: let's grant that electability in the general (meaning chances of winning 270 electoral votes in various hypothetical match-ups) is a legitimate consideration in deciding who to vote for in the primary. Let's also accept the crazy position that who will try to (and actually manage to) enact better policies is also a something that people might want to take into account. What I haven't been able to understand for years is why people think it's easier to figure out who is electable than it is to figure out how will enact better policies. Not that we have great sources for the latter, but surely they're much, much better than they are for the former.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:00 PM
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205:Stras, it is not the majority view, but I have seen arguments that we are currently in the Late Roman Republic stage.

Continued massive military spending, another bit larger war, and much of the world just might further disarm.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:02 PM
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OK, diving in.

If we had infallible Gayatollah-given electability information, for most values of that information we should clearly support the candidate who's most likely to win. Urgh as Hillary is, a 60% chance of her and 40 of Giuliani is better than 40-Obama vs. 60-Giuliani any day.

Is anyone disputing this?

The way I read Sifu/Katherine, they're arguing that we have literally *no* information about electability, that our electability guesses might even correlate worse with actual electability than our simple preferences. Which strikes me as unlikely, but is definitely possible (Kerry).

But if you do believe you can make anything close to a good electability estimate, you have to go with it. The differences between the Democrats swamp the differences between the Republicans. Fortunately in this election the most electable (Edwards) and the most awesome (Edwards) are the same dude, but if even if they traded policy views you'd still have to support Edwards.

This is all different from the question of how much we should *discuss* electability. The consensus has this right: almost never.


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:04 PM
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Little known fact even if you knew who Gus Hall was: he was a Finnish American of distant Swedish descent, original name Arvo Kusta Halberg.

Also: Apo is a Trot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:05 PM
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Fuck all this shit, I'm voting for Labs.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:08 PM
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Choosing between major candidates on the basis of electibility is silly, but for someone like me to support an electable candidate makes sense, because no one I enthusiastically support could get more than about 15% of the vote in the best of near-term circumstances.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:11 PM
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205: "Slide towards"?

Yeah, that did occur to me. Add something along the lines of Hunter Thompson's line of "throwing out the baby and endorsing the bathwater" - i.e. getting rid of any redeeming aspects of the American democratic experiment and just endorsing the 1000-year Consumer-Normative Reich.

When the going gets imperial, the imperialists drive 50 miles roundtrip in their SUVs to shopping malls.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:12 PM
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"But if you do believe you can make anything close to a good electability estimate, you have to go with it."

GAH!!!! No you don't.

First of all, you can't make a good estimate.

Second of all, no you don't have to go with it. To know whether it's a good idea you also have to know:

--how likely your vote is to affect the outcome of the primary
--how much better a president Democrat X would be than Democrat Y
--how MUCH more electable Democrat Y would be than Democrat X.

Say that Obama would be twice as good a president as Clinton, but she is more electable. Well: how much more electable? What are the odds that you'd win the election if you nominate her, & lose the election if you nominate him? 40%? 20%? 5%? 1%?

So many Democrats take the position: "if there's a 1% chance that voting the right way on this bill would cost us Congress, we have to treat that as a certainty." "If there's a 1% higher chance that this candidate would win us the presidency, we have to treat that as a certainty." No, you don't have to treat it as a certainty--that's no way to do a cost benefit analysis.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:13 PM
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There's a poll floating around right now saying that Edwards is the Democrat who polls best against all of the Republicans, but the money people don't like him and he's less electable for that reason.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:13 PM
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214: This poll, I think you mean.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:17 PM
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Ah, so that's why Edwards is quieter than Obama or Clinton.

All the more reason to vote for the man, of course.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:19 PM
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I live in Utah, so I might as well put a fucking unicorn down as a write in candidate.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:20 PM
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Hippos are traditional.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:22 PM
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I thought unicorns didn't fuck.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:25 PM
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Basing one's primary vote on matchup polls conducted well before the general campaign has begun in earnest strikes me as completely fucking insane.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:25 PM
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It's mermaids that don't fuck. They lay millions of tiny eggs and then the merdude ejaculates on them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:26 PM
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@Katherine:

Everything you wrote in 213 is completely true. (Well, maybe except for "you can't make a good estimate".) I just think you have to have some really weird priors to make the cost-benefit analysis come out in favor of supporting the less-electable Democrat.

None of us know who's electable, but we have some ideas. If you think that Edwards has a 10% better chance than Obama of beating Giuliani, vote for Edwards. The Obama/Edwards difference is nowhere near as big as 10% of a nuclear war.

If you have different priors, great. I completely made up 10%, and don't really have a formal way of comparing the costs of nuking Iran to the benefits of one Democrat over another. For people with priors close to mine, which I think is a pretty big majority, electability is an eminently reasonable way to make one's private decision. On the other hand, if you think people are just absolutely clueless about electability, which I don't think is an unreasonable position, you should vote on issues alone.

Comity?


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:27 PM
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But I have heard the mermaids fucking, each to each.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:29 PM
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My congressman is a Dem, but a useless Blue Dog. In this state though, it's Blue Dog or nothing, thanks to some pretty brazen gerrymandering. City of Salt Lake has gone blue, so they literally split the city three ways when they did the district lines.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:29 PM
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Whoops.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:29 PM
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(223 was me. New hard drive not have cookie.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:30 PM
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Katherine, we are not without information. Electability is a blunt calculation, to be sure, but I think we can agree that Kucinich isn't going to win a general election. Gravel isn't going to win. Paul isn't going to win. Biden probably can't win. Cheney can't win. How sure am I? Sure enough.

People constantly raise electability concerns about Clinton and Obama. I'm not yet convinced in either case that they cannot win. For me, then, electability drops out of the equation.


I'll say one last thing about 2004, and then no more (and I invite reminders, if I slip in the coming month). Dean didn't get more votes than anyone else in a nomination race, only to lose out to another recond setting performance. He didn't win a large number of states, and only lose the nomination by losing a few states by narrow margins. He was annihilated. In state after state after state. To the extent the point was to get a candidate in office, his campaign was a total failure. Was the press mean? In 2003 no, but after the loss in Iowa showed that the whole thing was a media-elite creation, they turned on him. Wah, wah, wah: the guy who couldn't beat Kerry -- whom the press never liked either -- could've beat Bush? In the world we live in?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:31 PM
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I thought unicorns didn't fuck.

Now wherever did you hear that? Unicorns fuck like hippos.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:34 PM
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There is a poll which says that, but it's not what the average of what the most recent polls say when it comes to the matchup against Giuliani (it is what the average says for McCain or Romney, and that link doesn't include head to head Huckabee matchups) and I have no reason to think that CNN's methodology is better than that of the polls it's being averaged with.

I will of course vote for whichever of Edwards and Obama has a better chance of beating Hillary on February 5th, but I think that's obviously going to be Obama.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:38 PM
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Unicorns are all pure n shit. It's the *entire point* of unicorns.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:41 PM
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I thought the entire point was that big phallic symbol protruding from their foreheads, but if I'm mistaken, I blame the patriarchy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:42 PM
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Where did this movie come from? My bedtime cable search comes up with Little Children, 2006 directed by Todd Field of , starring Winslet & Connelly, 7.9 at AMG, 3 Oscar noms and multiple other awards, and I had no memory of it.

I think unsubscribing to the newspaper & the very limited TV watching is isolating/insulating me more than I realized. This is a good thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:43 PM
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You guys obviously haven't seen "Two Unicorns, One Cup." The great fall...


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:44 PM
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I'm not a registered Democrat and thus can't vote in the primary.

That condition is curable if detected early. The major reason that the democratic party is so corrupt in this state is that the only people who vote in the primary are the party hacks, good old boys, and those who owe their jobs to the party. There is an important primary fight for the CD1 nomination.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:51 PM
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Nápi, I don't want to pick apart your 227; suffice it to say that I disagree completely. What you originally suggested was that people were right to assume that he couldn't win in the general, which I think is fundamentally indefensible.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:52 PM
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There are many reasons the Democratic party in this state is so corrupt, many of them dating to well before the institution of the primary system. I don't even know who's running for the CD1 nomination, nor do I care.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:57 PM
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Unicorns totally do it. But they're gay, which is why they have to be converted into existence, like Shakers.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 10:59 PM
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"Unicorns fuck like hippos."

Skinny hippos fuck like unicorns.
http://www.threadless.com/product/1000/Runnin_Rhino#zoom


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:00 PM
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236: Mirthless L.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:09 PM
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Gay unicorn sex is something that I'd rather not think about. They're all male, right? Not sure why I assume that. Fucking patriarchy.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:12 PM
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They're all male, right? Not sure why I assume that.

I could hazard a guess.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:18 PM
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Most of the candidates who cannot plausibly win the general can't plausibly win the primary either. It's not like if every Democrat refused to play the electability game we'd screw ourselves over by nominating Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich. "Too weird", "kind of creepy", "too flaky", "clueless about foreign affairs", "too uncharismatic", "too nuts," "too broke" are factors in primary voters' preferences too.

Dean may well have lost because a lot of people just plain didn't like him very much--that's fair enough, & would have also been a problem in the general, but it's not particularly a reason for Democratic voters who DID like him best to second guess themselves. Unless the Democratic primary electorate is systematically out of touch with the public in some way, then we're better off if every Democrat votes for the candidate HE finds most appealing instead of voting for the candidates that he's guessing that a bunch of strangers will find most appealing 5 months from now.

The way in which Democratic voters are systematically different from general election voters is: we're more liberal. We were more likely, in 2004, to oppose the war, and support gay rights. We're more likely to support habeas & oppose torture. We're more likely to support abortion rights & carbon taxes & national health care. We're more likely to oppose draconian immigration policies & war with Iran.

Like I said, it seems crazy to me to vote against candidates because they agree with me. For some of those issues, a majority of the American public already agrees with me. For others, they could be convinced--they're especially likely to be convinced if I'm right on the merits: if the Iraq war is as huge a mistake as I think, it's going to be a lot less popular in November 2004 than October 2002. For others, they might not agree with me, but they might vote for me anyway--at least, enough of them might.

Voting this way is a signal that there's a constituency for my views these issues, that there's a constituency for political courage, that there's a constituency for doing the right thing. Voting against a candidate because he's too right sends the opposite signal.

Not a very powerful signal in either direction, granted, but what other effect does my vote have? What harm am I doing by supporting my favorite candidate? What are the odds that the nomination's still in play when my state votes? What are the odds that my vote affects the delegate count? What are the odds that we will lose an election we otherwise would have won if my candidate is, by some miracle, nominated? When you multiply those numbers together, & you add in all the uncertainty about every single one of them--it's just not worth it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:27 PM
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The point about 2004 isn't that we screwed ourselves out of a triumphant Dean presidency by voting on electability grounds. It's that: (1) we sure didn't gain anything. (2) I don't really think Kerry was our best shot (as I've said, I don't think Dean was either.)

If you take the position that Kerry WAS the most electable & no one had a shot, then we should've been thinking about long term effects rather than a short term guess about electability anyway. & if you take a longer view, I think the benefits of voting for the candidate you think is best are even clearer.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:32 PM
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240: Possibly from this old drinking "song".

Your father was a unicorn,
He only had one ball.
And if he had known,
That the rubber was torn,
You'd've never been born at all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:33 PM
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243: I will add that I think going for "electable" makes you more vulnerable to falling prey to concern trolling from establishment pundits and the press.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:36 PM
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243: OK, so who was our best shot? I have to admit, I liked Dean, and I don't like anybody, ever.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:37 PM
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Gay unicorn sex is something that I'd rather not think about.

Planet Unicorn, hey.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:50 PM
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Like I said, my guess at the time was Edwards. He was southern, fairly charismatic, the least alienating to liberals of the pro-war candidates, & even people who didn't support him seemed to like him better at the end of the campaign than the beginning. He was a lot of people's second favorite. Kerry, in contrast, had been the candidate I assumed I would support & completely alienated & annoyed me on both substantive & superficial grounds. Back when I'd considered supporting him, everyone had argued that massachusetts residents, senators, & liberals were unelectable--despite the war record, no one really decided he was so electable until he won Iowa. But obviously, if winning democratic primaries was proof in itself of electability, there was no reason for any of us to guess about electability at all.

I thought that Clark was the most convincing on the war & foreign policy & had the best bio but someone without campaign experience was a big risk. However, if this was a really long shot election for the Dems about national security, it was possible he was the best option. And if he was a poor, gaffe-prone campaigner he wouldn't win the nomination.

With Dean, I took the position that he was more likely to lose big than Kerry, but maybe also slightly more likely to win. A lot of people will find that silly, but remember, this is counterfactual: we're operating on the assumption of a Howard Dean who came from nowhere to win the primaries largely because of his opposition to the war. That had the potential to really change the debate. Obviously, it didn't work out that way--but the fact that it didn't also means that supporting my favorite candidate did no harm.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:51 PM
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What is the evidence that Democratic primary voters all voted for Kerry because they thought he was more electable? I remember this became conventional wisdom a week or two after Iowa, but I've never seen it substantiated.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 11:58 PM
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248: Fair enough. I didn't like Dean (just) because of his early opposition to the war, but rather his mode of thought that allowed his opposition to the war. He also suggested, and took a lot of flak for, being an "honest broker" in the I-P thing. Both of these positions were anathema to everybody at the time, yet he opened his big mouth and took them. I've not seen a politician with his balls since, and the man has done a hell of a job at the DNC.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 12:01 AM
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Relevant, if only for the unicorn icon right near the end.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:50 AM
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219: Define fuck.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:38 AM
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240: or the "Punch" cartoon of two unicorns standing at the bottom of the gangplank leading on to the Ark, and Noah saying "They're right, you know. We should accept at least one gay couple."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:09 AM
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195: The alternative internet media are great but they don't reach enough people.

This reflects the core of our disagreement. The alternative media, as you say, don't reach enough people, but they reach the right people.

I've counted at least six separate public responses by individual Washington Post people to that outrageous Obama/Muslim story. You may not know what story I'm talking about, because you may have missed the alternative media on the subject. I promise you, though, everyone at the Post knows about it, and they know they'll stir up a shit-storm the next time they do something that despicable.

The media has changed in the last 30 years because its practitioners began to fear the right-wing nut factory. They are now visibly shaken by outside professional critique - whether because they are cowards or because they are amenable to legitimate professional critique doesn't really matter.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 4:46 AM
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Bloody Unicorn Hack!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 5:06 AM
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It was Private Eye.

Anyway, that chart of Bagel Matt's shows my point about HRC very well. Note that she's the only candidate who loses in any of those scenarios; she goes down badly against McCain. Obama ties with him, and we all know what happens when that happens. According to the data, such as it is, McCain is the hardest Republican to beat, and Edwards is the only candidate who polls convincingly ahead of him.

Said it before, say it again; Hillary is Hubert Humphrey 2.0. The 25%ers will all pile out to vote against her, she'll appease and promise to invade Switzerland, no-one on our side will turn out, and she'll lose.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 5:28 AM
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249: It's anecdata, but this is totally what carried my little caucus of overseas Americans. In the discussion round, there was a terrific presentation for Dean (admittedly I was biased in favor), a set of questions about what Clark's precise views on abortion were, and a tidal wave about electability and Kerry. You've been to meetings at work where the fix is in but nobody's saying it directly? That's what this was like. I don't know where they all got their ideas from, or what it was like in primary states, but Kerry&electability was an eerily uniform schtick. I suspect parroting from major media, but I couldn't say for sure.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 5:54 AM
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Do people on conservative message boards sit around and worry about supporting candidates who espouse their batshit insane beliefs (because millions and millions of liberals won't like them)?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:09 AM
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I liked Dean because I'm sick of the goddamn lawyer presidents, apparently the only thing worse than a lawyer president is an MBA president. And who do we get to choose from this year? A white male lawyer, a female lawyer, and a black lawyer. Woot. No offense to the lawyers here, I'm sure you'd all make great presidents.
Speaking of lawyer candidates, where's the Doddmania, people? He's not worth discussing as a real contender, but no one's even mentioning him as one of the unelectable candidates either. No respect.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:20 AM
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257: It's anecdata
OK this once, but remember this is a peer-reviewed newsgroup.

Kerry was the Beltway Kool Kidz/Rovian concern troll candidate.

The same group who have helped Dems paint the lines so that Dennis Kucinich is 'outside the mainstream'. You know, kind of a crazy uncle Dem counter weight to Tom Tancredo. In case there is any danger of people not getting the message, we'll just ask him a UFO question at a debate.



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:21 AM
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254:
You may not know what story I'm talking about, because you may have missed the alternative media on the subject.

Go piss up a rope please. I've been following blog media criticism on a daily basis since 2002.

Look at the hirings in the last year or two: Goldberg, Kagan, Joe Klein. Look at the Atlantic: Yglesias balanced by three slightly-less-obnoxious conservatives. Look at Feinman's response to the Obama-Muslim story. Look at Glenn Greenwald's comment on the Post's response. Look at Deborah Howell's responses to critics. Look at Klein's repsonses to critics. Look at the Hillary cackle story -- exactly the kind of stupid thing Somerby has been ranting about for eight years now. Look at the non-coverage of the NRO fiction-writing reporter vs. the TNR's

The alternative media, as you say, don't reach enough people, but they reach the right people.

You seem to think that the problem is rogue individuals with bylines, not management. Maybe some embarrassed individuals are trying to cover their asses, but the Post hasn't changed and hasn't even retracted. Those people are employees, not free agents, and they know what they were hired for. When Joe Klein was hired, he knew Time wanted more Joe Klein product. (Krugman was almost certainly a hiring mistake, and people still grumble that he should only write about economics).

Media are advertiser and management controlled. They'll change when advertisers or management want them to change. If there actually were a competing national daily newspaper, the Times and Post might be responsive once readers started switching, but there isn't one and they don't have to change.

Democrats and the left have been extremely poor at developing and propagating a message, limiting themselves to responding to each election as it comes up. That hasn't changed, because the money Democrats want a party that's just strong enough to fight for them on the few issues they care about, but not too strong. There's no liberal Regnery to publish and promote good liberal books, and a very weak liberal think-tank world. (How many major bloggers are fully-funded so far? Most of them still seem to be self-financing)

There's evidence that the media have burned out on Bushism at long last (going into the last year of his criminal Presidency), and some of the malefactors who brought us Bush are starting to say moderately nice things about Hillary, but whatever media change there has been has been glacial. They'll still smear anyone to the left of Hillary.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:32 AM
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However the Kerry/electability meme established itself, I'm ashamed to say that by the time of the last primary, even I believed it, and I've been determined not to think that way again. So I've long since reached a conclusion equivalent to Katherine's, which I would have thought would make choosing easier, but it hasn't.

So of the three, the answer to "which house didn't you choose, and why?" has always been HRC, for the usual reasons, mostly the war and refusal to take a stand against broadening the war to Iran. I mostly think that makes O the most likely choice for me, although I can't say why him over Edwards.

I'm afraid I think resentment—not another f'ing Southerner, and my feeling about what Southerners and Westerners have said about Kerry, whom I didn't like either but whom I resemble so much in affect, at least in my own mind, as to be unable not to take personally; is that convoluted enough?—may play a role, and this deprecation of Edwards is where media bias may be playing its most important role with me.

On the other hand, O's dithering—and that Nation article a few weeks ago connecting his impulse to distinguish himself, as on SS, from earlier consensus as an essentially GenX characteristic, has made that click for me—has drained me of all enthusiasm I might ever have felt for him. I've been Krugmanized.

So it feels like I'm making the same kind of decision: they're all immensely better than the alternatives, and their positions are hard to distinguish over a reasonable time, and I don't really like any of them—that I made last time. I'll suck it up, of course, but this is all going to break late and fast.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:40 AM
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if/when time comes to volunteer for Hillary, focus on abortion rights. Should make backing her a lot easier.

"Lie back and think of Planned Parenthood"


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 6:43 AM
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He ran against another black guy. A crazy black guy. A crazy black guy brought in at the last moment after his white opponent dropped out.

This is a bogus argument. His white opponent dropped out because of scandals and didn't have much chance of beating Obama. The only republican who had much chance was the former governor, who refused to run again.

The reason the Illinoise republicans went for a crazy, out of state, black guy was because no one else from the party had any better chance.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:15 AM
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I like Dodd a lot.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:23 AM
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What is the evidence that Democratic primary voters all voted for Kerry because they thought he was more electable?

There was actual polling on this done by the time it got down to Kerry vs. Edwards, where a majority of voters polled indicated they liked Edwards better, but thought Kerry was more likely to win in the general. Voters who thought this way generally indicated they were planning to vote for Kerry.

This wasn't just voters parroting a line from the media, either - this was Kerry's major message in the primaries (i.e., that his experience and his biography were so strong that they gave him the best chance of taking out Bush).


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:33 AM
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Also, 229 to 228.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:34 AM
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I like Dodd a lot.

Dodd's been pretty good on wiretapping and the war lately, but really, talk about a late bloomer. And I lost a lot of respect for him when he used an anti-illegal immigrant line in the Vegas debate. It's hard for me to "like" any of these people, really - I just have varying degrees of greater and lesser distrust. I distrust Chris Dodd a whole lot less than most of this field, certainly, but he's no Kucinich.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:41 AM
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261: They'll still smear anyone to the left of Hillary.

They smear Hillary, too, as you rightly note.

Certainly the Left needs a Regnery and an American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News and other things, but that's an infrastructure that took the Right years to build, and it will look different when operated by the Left.

But that's awhile down the road. Even today, you'll hear liberals talk about the "liberal media". That reflects a lifetime of brainwashing, and liberals are only now starting to push back in a serious way against such nonsense. These things take time, but the effort has finally been begun in earnest.

The 1970s media was never as great as its reputation, but it was considerably better than what's replaced it. I've offered my explanation for the change - and I think you agree that there has been a change. What's your explanation?

I said this:

The alternative media, as you say, don't reach enough people, but they reach the right people.

To which you responded:

You seem to think that the problem is rogue individuals with bylines, not management.

My comment means something close to the exact opposite of your interpretation of it. At least two of the responses I'm citing came from management, and the other responders - again, all making public responses, and generally negative toward the Post's handling of the matter - weren't fired by those managers.

Look at the Atlantic: Yglesias balanced by three slightly-less-obnoxious conservatives.

This is exactly my point. The media has been screamed at for years for publishing people like Yglesias, and they feel the need for spurious "balance". Where is the screaming from the left on this, even now? Whose phone at the Atlantic have you rung on this issue?

The Left is characterized by learned helplessness - and other kinds of helplessness, of course. (I haven't rung any phones at the Atlantic either, and I entirely agree with you about the existence and severity of the problem.) All I'm saying is that the Left is learning.

You think the management of the Atlantic is motivated by advertiser pressure?. That seems pretty unlikely to me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:45 AM
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Nobody needs another Regnery. I could see starting a Fox News, just to prove a point, but only if nobody watched it. I think I prefer the decline and fall of the American civilization to a dueling brainwashers scenario.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:53 AM
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FWIW, I was convinced by Kerry's record, which in 2004 was significantly more liberal than Edwards' - "Two Americas" aside, most of the stuff liberals love him for has happened since 2004, not before. Kerry would have been the most liberal president since Truman. He may have been the Establishment candidate, but he was not the DLC candidate.

Furthermore, I cannot fucking stand Edwards - I have a visceral negative response to his goddamn pretty-boy smile and unctuous speaking. The fact that he seems clearly the most thorough-going liberal running complicates things for me considerably. Fortunately, as a PA voter I will have no say in the matter.

Dem for President '08.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 7:55 AM
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Who was the DLC candidate then? Lieberman? Fat chance.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:01 AM
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Krugman, like I said, is out to lunch - he looks at the plans, sees that on paper Edwards's and Clinton's should be better than Obama, and thinks to himself, "well, that's that!"

This is an excellent point. If I had to describe Krugman, it would definitely be as someone who looks at things in a superficial way and then comes to unrealistic conclusions. That's why, for the past 8 years, he has been the wrongest columnist in America.

Get a fucking grip, jones. I'm sorry a Clinton is actually holding the more liberal position on a couple issues, but shit happens.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:02 AM
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Who was the DLC candidate then? Lieberman? Fat chance.

Oh, I'm sure the DLC abandoned Lieberman and backed Kerry at some point - that doesn't make him the candidate of the DLC. If the Teamsters back HRC, that won't make her the Labor candidate, either.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:04 AM
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Nobody needs another Regnery.

As I said, it'll look different when the left does it. The media critique on the right is that the media is too liberal. The media critique on the left is that the media is factually inaccurate and analytically useless. The left is only now beginning to understand that its priorities have diverged from those of the media.

The thing that the left lacks is anger. If you read Howell's discussion of the Obama matter, you'll see her defensive derision of those big ol' internet meanies. This is exactly the sort of thing Howell types used to say about the right wing before surrendering to them. This is progress.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:05 AM
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for the past 8 years, he has been the wrongest columnist in America

This is a supremely silly statement, JRoth. He isn't even the wrongest columnist at the NYT.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:06 AM
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268: I hadn't heard about the anti-immigrant crack. But privacy and anti-war are big issues for me, even if he is late to the party -- he's earlier to the party of any of the major candidates, except Obama, who was early to the party and seems to have checked out.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:08 AM
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JRoth forgot his /heavysarcasm tag, necessary on this subject.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:08 AM
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The children slowly wear down the apo's sarcastimeter. Painful to watch, really.

sar-cas-TI-mitter


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:12 AM
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Thanks for the pronunciation tip, O.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:16 AM
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Huh, it looks really obvious now. I suppose next you're going to tell me ogged isn't really gay.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:26 AM
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275: I don't think the country needs more bound pages of lies with "Non-Fiction" printed on the back. Do you want the left to get angry? Have them read a newspaper. If that doesn't do it, nothing will.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:31 AM
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So, now that I've walked face-first into the glass door, we never did speculate on what Unfogged's oppo dossier would look like, did we? I think it's worth returning to now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:31 AM
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281: Didn't I just denounce comfortable lies, like, one comment ago?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:32 AM
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If the Teamsters back HRC, that won't make her the Labor candidate, either.

And I don't believe she's really the candidate who shares the priorities of Ron Dellums.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:34 AM
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254, 261: If anything, Emerson isn't cynical enough here. The problem with the media isn't individuals like Joe Klein or David Broder, and it isn't even with individual figures in management like Rupert Murdoch. The problem is structural and systemic. These are private, money-making enterprises that depend on high ratings and advertising fees for their success. Accuracy doesn't matter; journalistic integrity doesn't matter; what matters is attracting viewers and keeping their corporate sponsors happy. This means that coverage of the news will tend to remain sensationalistic, shallow, and pro-corporate as a rule, regardless of who's running GE or how many posts Media Matters makes about the partisan breakdown of Meet The Press panels. I don't really know what the solution to this is, but it's not going to come from shifting around personnel - the entire basis for news as a profit-making industry has to be challenged.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:42 AM
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273: JRoth, if you want to actually answer my argument about individual mandates instead of invoking the name of Krugman as an appeal-to-authority, be my guest.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:47 AM
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Ron Dellums is a douche. How'd you come up with his name?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:48 AM
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and think KISS is one of the greatest bands ever

I don't know from politickin' but I feel strongly that apo represents my views on this issue.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 8:53 AM
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PF: Glenn Greenwald's interpretation of the Post's response was much, much less less positive than yours, as was Foser's at Media Matters. (NOTE: Above I meant Howard Kurtz, not Howard Fineman).

Advertiser pressure: TV and the newspapers. I don't know much about the Atlantic, but they went bad when they hired the late unlamented Michael Kelly as editor about 5 years ago. My guess would be is that the publisher is right wing.

I will never understand the idea often expressed here that the media owners and managers just can't possibly be political agents or have their own biases. Sometimes its as if I'm talking smack about y'all's family member or old friend.

Chomsky, Nader, and others have been talking about the media for most of those last 3 or 4 decades, to no effect. The problem was that the Democratsa big part of the problem -- oblivious at best and right-wing at worst. And we can't be sure that they've changed.

I do not share your faith that media ownership and management are neutrals equally responsive to pressure from either side. Starting in the early 70s an enormous part of the US establishment shifted sharply right, and the "pressure on the media" was part of that shift, not its cause.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:01 AM
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Ron Dellums is a douche. How'd you come up with his name?

mr and mrs dellums were pretty much the decision makers in that case; I was just along for the ride.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:03 AM
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Foolish mortal, rather than accept the end of American civilization, why don't you just jump off a bridge? Don't drag the rest of us along with you. I've heard that stupid line from fastidious stupid liberals hundreds of times by now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:08 AM
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JRoth, if you want to actually answer my argument about individual mandates instead of invoking the name of Krugman as an appeal-to-authority, be my guest.

I believe the issue is that Krugman thinks Obama is showing an absolutely bizarre set of priorities by saying anything at all, without being prompted, about how he plans to fix Social Security, because even if there's objectively some sort of problem with it, there's a few dozen things he should want to try to do with the government before tackling that issue. Since presumably, unlike the Republicans who say it is a priority to fix Social Security, he does not want to fix it by handing over all its money to Wall Street.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:08 AM
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Presidential candidates should speak only when spoken to.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:19 AM
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Chomsky, Nader, and others have been talking about the media for most of those last 3 or 4 decades, to no effect. The problem was that the Democratsa big part of the problem -- oblivious at best and right-wing at worst. And we can't be sure that they've changed

I know this is tedious, but it bears repeating. I'm sure it's true of JE as it is of me that we've understood the need for alternative sources of information for almost all of those years.

It was painful watching my dad come to terms with Vietnam, because he saw what the media showed him. Even though he subscribed to The Reporter and other left/liberal magazines, he didn't break until Cronkite did; even then he couldn't quite believe it.

However much bemoaning goes on of the balkanization and compartmentalization due to the internet, blogging and blugging, it seems alternatives are much more straightforward to find than they were until just a few years ago.

Short-wave receivers and obscure subscriptions used to be how it was done, at least by me.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:20 AM
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PF: Glenn Greenwald's interpretation of the Post's response was much, much less less positive than yours, as was Foser's at Media Matters.

This is because Greenwald/Foser and I are talking about two different things. Greenwald is talking about the content of the response, and rightly ridiculing it. I am talking about the fact of the response - and praising Greenwald et al for eliciting it.

Someday, people like Greenwald will elicit an appropriate response. When they do, the correct move will to ridicule and vilify the responders anyway.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:25 AM
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292: So you want reasonable people (lefties) to become fucking insane 20 years from now? We have a leftist press now, presenting their case as best they can. I don't see the value of abandoning this in favor of more palatable propaganda.

I do value the written word more than I do America. There! I said it! Fucking castrate me, if you must, but I will jump off a bridge sooner than I will piss up a rope.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:31 AM
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I will never understand the idea often expressed here that the media owners and managers just can't possibly be political agents or have their own biases.

It's not me expressing this idea. For my part, I am confused that you see media-types as being nonresponsive to public pressure.

To pull an analogy seemingly from leftfield, I think it would surprise people how much corporate support there is for affirmative action programs. Some might argue that this support exists primarily because of goodwill at the top of corporations, but I woudn't agree. Corporations are amenable to social pressures, and, as you note, media companies act like other corporations.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:32 AM
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rather than accept the end of American civilization, why don't you just jump off a bridge? Don't drag the rest of us along with you

But John Emerson, you were my hero.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:33 AM
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Well stras, I do think you're wrong on the merits about mandates, but I thought that your completely off-base criticism of Krugman showed something significant about your argument.

If you tell me that Al Gore is wrong about a climate change issue because his understanding of the matter is facile, that will make me doubt you. If you tell me that Wes Clark is wrong about a peacekeeping mission because he doesn't think deeply about multinational forces, that will make me doubt you. And when you claim that Paul Krugman thinks superficially about economic proposals and politics, I doubt you.

Your point about the year-to-year uncertainty about subsidy of funding is a legitimate one. Otherwise, I think you're wrong. The mandate is not (in practice) enforced by garnisheeing wages. It's enforced by signing people up when they use medical services. Both Edwards' and HRC's plans include community rating - insurance companies can't reject anyone, and can't charge more for pre-existing conditions. Therefore, when an uninsured shows up at the doctor's office or emergency room without insurance, they get signed up on the spot. How do they pay? Well, subsidies for households up to $60-80k are a pretty good start. Which also gets to your legitimate concern - both Edwards and HRC take their subsidies up into the middle class, which makes them politically untouchable, or close to it. Note that Social Security is also technically subject to Congressional cuts - but they never happen. Similarly, there's no politically plausible story that gets a successful Universal Health Insurance system, once established, defunded 5 or 10 or 50 years hence.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:34 AM
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Kobe.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:34 AM
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Goddamnit. And so a gesture to elicit memories of a more civilized Unfogged goes for naught.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 9:36 AM
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Hey, I got a question for all you imaginary people who have met Ezra Klein in "real life." Is he really as good-looking as he seems in his Prospect photo or on Hardball? I've only seen the latter online, so it's hard to judge. But he seems to be remarkably attractive for a healthcare wonk. Does this man have a future on the TV, or what?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 10:01 AM
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PF, at the glacial rate of change you find so cheering, perhaps we will have a decent press ten years from now. But a lot can happen in ten years. What you said is like some girl saying to herself "I think [dreamboat guy] looked at me!" "Two different things" indeed.

FM, butt out. You have nothing to say. You misunderstood my original statement, but who cares?* You'd say some other prissy bullshit anyway. (And it isn't America, it's the world that's at stake. Globalization, preponderance, unitary presidency, monopolar world, shit like that.)

Yes, the media are sometimes responsive to popular pressure, but mostly it's to pressure from advertisers, and the owners have their own agendas.

* What I actually said: If there actually were a competing national daily newspaper, the Times and Post might be responsive once readers started switching.... There's no liberal Regnery to publish and promote good liberal books, and a very weak liberal think-tank world.

The alternate liberal media would not have to to be as dishonest and trashy as Regnery and Fox -- it would just have to get the word out effectively. But what does FM care?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 10:14 AM
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293: JRoth was responding to my point on health care mandates, which I maintain will be a political and policy disaster, but I'll defend Obama on SS, too. Obama didn't bring up raising the payroll tax cap out of the blue; he brought it up as a critique of Clinton, who had previously said she wouldn't raise the cap as president. I still don't know what Clinton's ideas for Social Security are; apparently everything but a more progressive payroll tax is "on the table."

It bears repeating that the Democratic strategy of stridently insisting there's nothing wrong with Social Security was only a short-term strategy, intended to thwart George Bush's plans to destroy the program at a time when he was coming off re-election with what appeared to be a major bounce in his level of support and an expanded GOP majority in the Senate. That is to say, Social Security really seemed to be in trouble, and it seemed very necessary to push back as hard as possible to stop any effort to do anything to it. But 2007 is not 2005: we're going into an election year that favors the Democrats very strongly against the GOP. The Democrats stand to hold both Congress and the White House for the first time in fourteen years, and if there's any time to kill the "Social Security is doomed" meme, that's the time. So I'd like to hear what each of the Dem candidates plans to do with SS. Obama and Edwards both pass. Clinton, as usual, is creeping me out.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 10:15 AM
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Your point about the year-to-year uncertainty about subsidy of funding is a legitimate one. Otherwise, I think you're wrong.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

The mandate plans depend entirely on subsidies. The only way they can justify requiring people who can't afford health insurance to buy health insurance is if those people get subsidized. If enough people aren't covered by those subsidies, those people won't be able to afford health insurance - but the law will require them to buy it anyway. And when they can't pay their premiums, the law will penalize them.

The mandate is not (in practice) enforced by garnisheeing wages.

This is simply wrong. From Edwards's website:

"For the few people who refuse to pay, the government will help collect back premiums with interest and collection costs by using tools like the ones it uses for student loans and taxes, including collection agencies and wage garnishment."

You may point out that Clinton's proposal doesn't talk about collection agencies, but as Edwards points out (at the same link), a mandate without an enforcement mechanism isn't a mandate at all. Either Clinton's plan is going to end up having collection agencies going after people like Edwards's does, or Clinton's plan isn't going to have a mandate, and will more or less look like Obama's plan.

Note that Social Security is also technically subject to Congressional cuts - but they never happen.

This is because Social Security isn't a program for the poor - it's a universal program. But subsidies within a national health care plan that specifically target the poor are. The correct analogy here isn't Social Security, it's Medicaid - which has suffered tremendous cuts over the past several years. See also: food stamps, S-CHIP, home heating assistance, etc. When you create a program that only covers the poor, it's going to get fucked. And the poor will get fucked a lot worse when they're poor, without health care, and getting their wages garnished by a government-endorsed collection agency.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 10:31 AM
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A good way to kill the "Social Security is in trouble" meme would have been to let it lie, rather than bringing the topic up again. If Hillary screwed up too, that's unsurprising. I don't think that Social Security reform is one of the top twenty issues anyone should be thinking about now, either from a policy POV or an electoral POV.

As I understand, the problem isn't that Obama disagreed with Krugman, or even that he was wrong, but that he attacked Krugman, and basically he attacked from the right. Obama has also shown many other signs of a "let's work with the Republicans" strategy, which is why I've scratched him from my list for the primary season (along with Hillary).

I'll vote for any Democrat in the general, but Obama and Clinton make the move to British Columbia look more attractive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 10:31 AM
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A good way to kill the "Social Security is in trouble" meme would have been to let it lie

Or, you could just fix Social Security's funding shortfall. By, say, raising the payroll tax cap!

Really, is the assumption here that Republicans Will Always Win, and thus that any change to Social Security will always be a bad one, so no Democrat should ever try to make its funding mechanism more progressive? Because that's awfully self-fulfilling.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 11:06 AM
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A good way to kill the "Social Security is in trouble" meme would have been to let it lie, rather than bringing the topic up again. If Hillary screwed up too, that's unsurprising. I don't think that Social Security reform is one of the top twenty issues anyone should be thinking about now, either from a policy POV or an electoral POV.

As I understand, the problem isn't that Obama disagreed with Krugman, or even that he was wrong, but that he attacked Krugman, and basically he attacked from the right. Obama has also shown many other signs of a "let's work with the Republicans" strategy, which is why I've scratched him from my list for the primary season (along with Hillary).

I'll vote for any Democrat in the general, but Obama and Clinton make the move to British Columbia look more attractive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 11:09 AM
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No, the assumption here is that the SS shortfall is not a critical problem, that Obama and Hillary were wrong to bring it up (if Hillary did), that what Obama said revived some right-wing memes that had been left for dead, that Obama wrongly attacked Krugman rather than merely disagreeing with him, and that Obama accommodates himself to the right too often (e.g. the homophobe gospel singer).

Obama came to the fore on the basis of a great speech, and he does make great speeches, but it's come to be time to look at his electoral strategy and policy proposals.

Hillary may be as bad or worse, but that doesn't help Obama in my eyes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 11:24 AM
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310: That doesn't answer the question. Why is it wrong to bring up the SS shortfall? Do you honestly think that if every Democrat on the planet is sworn to a Social Security-related code of silence, that Republicans will stop talking about how SS is doomed? That the media will stop repeating their claims? Obama isn't the naive one here.

The only way this subject gets taken off the table is if something gets passed, and the only way something good will get passed will be if Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House. And hey, look, they've got a chance to do just that next year! Gosh, it'd be nice if one of the major presidential candidates had a plan to fix that funding shortfall in a way that's progressive and fair, wouldn't it? Oh wait - two out of three of them do, and it's the same plan. And not only is it the same plan, it's the exact same plan Krugman endorsed back in 2005.

Again, the "don't ever talk about it" plan was a short-term delaying tactic to last until a sane and competent administration could make the minor, positive adjustments to SS that need to be made. Again, Krugman himself said this over two years ago. What's happened is that too many Democrats have internalized the "whack any Dem who talks about Social Security" instinct until it's become a knee-jerk reaction. So no one on the left is bothering to think this through.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 11:57 AM
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Fuck substance, Obama 's implied attack on Krugman's credibility is the equivalent of Romney attacking Rush Limbaugh, fercrissake. Think about it, loyalty & message discipline are critical, and Krugman nor only knows that, but leads in it. HRC has taken policy positions that piss off MY, but has done nothing I know of that could irrevocably weaken the Party. Obama has.

If the Party had any skirt the Obama candidacy would just be over.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 12:55 PM
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Why is it wrong to bring up the SS shortfall?

Because it's not real. It's something that might happen, if all our predictions are accurate, which history has shown they generally won't be. And treating it as a real problem that needs to be solved now, rather than at the point in the future when it happens, feeds into the narrative that claims that the social welfare state can't possibly work, given that even as moderate and unambitious an income support program as SS is tottering.

There's no practical benefit to talking about it now, and immense political harm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:00 PM
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And to add on to 313, it's not "if our predictions are accurate, there will be a shortfall in 2046", it's "if the weirdly low-ball predictions of the SS Trustees, which they label `intermediate cost' are accurate, there will be a shortfall in 2046".


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:14 PM
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313: That's silly. Yes, the shortfall won't happen for quite a while, but projections show it's there. Yes, it's a long ways off, but that doesn't mean we never have to do anything about it - it just means there was no need to do anything about it while the White House and Congress were being run by evil corporatist thugs who wanted to dismantle the program. Again, this was Krugman's line in 2005.

Obama and Edwards want to raise more revenue for Social Security, and they want to do so by making the payroll tax more progressive. What's wrong with that? The worst that can happen is that Social Security ends up with a really huge surplus, and the obscenely rich end up paying something close to their fair share for once.

There's no practical benefit to talking about it now, and immense political harm.

The practical benefit to talking about it is that we as voters get to find out what our Democratic candidates would do to the SS funding mechanism. Obama and Edwards say they'll raise the payroll tax cap; Clinton says she'll... do something else. This is information worth having.

And the immense political harm? Well, Obama's talked about it, and Clinton's talked about it, and Krugman and every hyperventilating left-of-center blogger has talked about it, and - shock! - Social Security is still with us. The big fear, as far as I can tell, is that merely by breaking the omerta, Obama would galvanize an army of right-wingers intent on SS privatization. But the Right was largely absent from this exchange. They don't care about Social Security - they're too busy proving who hates Muslims and Mexicans the most to bother hawking plans to dismantle SS.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:25 PM
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Oh, c'mon, we always get distracted by substance.

Obama's attack was more important for its form, which was "Krugman said X last year, but is saying Y this year." It was an ad hominem attack on PK's integrity, an attempt to weaken the single strongest voice progressives have.

It was obviously some serious beltway butt-kissing, some snuggling with the Kool Kids.

Like McCain's attack on the Christian Right, it should disqualify Obama among progressives. THe PARTY can either agree on policy and allow disloyalty, or it can accept diversity in policy and demand partisan committment, but it can't be both diverse and without identity and survive or be effective.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:33 PM
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Yes, the shortfall won't happen for quite a while, but projections show it's there.

No, projections show it might be there if the assumptions that have in the past consistently been way too conservative are now accurate.

Yes, it's a long ways off, but that doesn't mean we never have to do anything about it

Actually, I understand this is a genuine possibility.

The worst that can happen is that Social Security ends up with a really huge surplus, and the obscenely rich end up paying something close to their fair share for once.

Social Security surplus... like the one we have now, that's been used to fund general spending from regressive FICA taxes, rather than from progressive income taxes? That worked out great when Greenspan set it up in the 80s, didn't it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:34 PM
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Yikes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:39 PM
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C'mon, LB, respond to the rest of my post. Where's the immense political disaster supposed to come from?

There's a pretty obvious reason why the GOP candidates haven't spent much time on SS privatization, by the way - Bush's SS privatization plan is now seen on the right the way Clinton's health care plan was in the 90s, as a monumental misfire that's made the issue radioactive. The party's money men have been putting their efforts into pushing more tax cuts, school vouchers, big energy subsidies and HSAs.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:44 PM
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"The Republicans Clinton campaign are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use,"

Pretty transparent.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:45 PM
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Social Security surplus... like the one we have now, that's been used to fund general spending from regressive FICA taxes, rather than from progressive income taxes? That worked out great when Greenspan set it up in the 80s, didn't it

And this is just a bizarre non sequitur. My point is that raising the cap on payroll taxes is an unalloyed good; it brings in more money for Social Security while making the payroll tax itself more fair. But instead of actually considering the plan itself, we're encouraged to ignore the substance and just jerk our knees at the fact that a Democrat said something about Social Security.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:46 PM
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318, 320: So... what are the odds, you think, of Edwards winning Iowa at this point?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:50 PM
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I don't know about immensity, but the disaster is Obama standing up and saying "(1) Democrats who say Social Security isn't in trouble are fools or liars -- either they are too stupid to see a real problem, or they are denying the existance of a real problem in the hopes of fooling you, the voter, for their own political advantage. (2) Republicans who want to shut down Social Security, on the other hand, are reasonable people who have correctly identified a genuine problem that must be dealt with. While I disagree with them about how to solve the problem, they're at least facing reality."

I don't know how immense a disaster it is -- there's a perfectly reasonable chance no one's paying attention to him on this issue, because there isn't a big push for privatization at the moment. But still, (1) is false, and false in a way that slanders progressives generally, along the lines of a standard narrative: they're just unrealistic, they want to hand out benefits that can't possibly be paid for. I don't want a presidential candidate saying that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:50 PM
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322: Given the complexity of the caucus system, it's pretty impossible to handicap it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:53 PM
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My point is that raising the cap on payroll taxes is an unalloyed good; it brings in more money for Social Security while making the payroll tax itself more fair.

Not this year it doesn't, because Social Security is still in surplus. It brings in money that gets lent to the general fund and spent, and will have to be paid back by raising other taxes when Social Security goes into deficit. Why are we raising a tax that even without a cap isn't progressive now, so that we can put off raising a progressive tax until something that may or may not happen in the future happens?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:53 PM
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Stras, you're hopeless. The Social Security shortfall becomes a problem several decades out and is easily fixable in several different ways. To use it to attack Clinton with it is unforgivable. And as I've said twice so far, it's consistent with a lot of other questionable stuff Obama has done. We just finally shut up the Kerrey up, and then Obama steps in.

I'm putting you with B on my list of people with random but strongly-held opinions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:55 PM
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Why are we raising a tax that even without a cap isn't progressive now, so that we can put off raising a progressive tax until something that may or may not happen in the future happens

Because raising the cap will make it more progressive.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:56 PM
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The Social Security shortfall becomes a problem several decades out and is easily fixable in several different ways.

For example, by raising the cap on payroll taxes, as suggested by Paul Krugman on 2005.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:57 PM
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Not as progressive as the income tax. If you wanted to raise the cap and cut the percentage, so that the same amount of revenue was raised flatly rather than regressively, that would be a net win. But bringing in money with even a flat tax, to lend to the general fund rather than raising the progressive income tax, is not a good thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 1:58 PM
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Not as progressive as the income tax

Income taxes don't pay for Social Security.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:00 PM
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"the jerk Kerrey" up.

Stras, in this case your talk about omerta and knee-jerking is really obnoxious. The Democrats have lots of problems, but during the year before Obama opened his fat mouth Social Security was not one of them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:00 PM
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Income taxes don't pay for Social Security.

No, Social Security gets plundered to pay for things that should properly be paid for by income tax.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:01 PM
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Look, LB, no one besides you and Clinton seems to dispute that the best fix for a Social Security shortfall would be to raise the cap on payroll taxes. What's at issue here is whether or not Democrats are allowed to say this is the case, and to say they're in favor of doing this.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:03 PM
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Not as progressive as the income tax. If you wanted to raise the cap and cut the percentage, so that the same amount of revenue was raised flatly rather than regressively, that would be a net win. But bringing in money with even a flat tax, to lend to the general fund rather than raising the progressive income tax, is not a good thing.

"lifting the cap" is not bringing in money with a flat tax, it's adding a 14% payroll tax on all W-2 income over 92k (or whatever it is) in a given year. i agree that there might be other, more better alternatives out there, but i think that this change would be a dramatic improvement from the current state of affairs.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:05 PM
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The Democrats have lots of problems, but during the year before Obama opened his fat mouth Social Security was not one of them.

And Social Security is still not one of them. Again, show me the massive movement on the right to gut Social Security. It's not there, it was effectively beaten into submission in 2005, and it certainly isn't coming back any time soon with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:05 PM
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Holy shit, is stras wrong about SS, and won't fucking admit it.

Here is what has to happen for SS to be a problem:

Over the next 75 years, average annual economic growth has to be worse than it has been over any 25 year period in US history.

So, unless our economy goes to shit and never gets better, SS IS NOT IN FUCKING CRISIS AND WON'T BE.

I'm sorry to shout, but being lectured by someone who obviously doesn't know the underlying numbers, but keeps scolding us for ignorance, is infuckingtolerable.

In 1996, they said SS would go into the red in 2008 (it's a fake date, but one that they - and Obama - use to scare people). By 1999, the red-date had moved back to 2012. Now it's 2018 or later. Why? Because the estimates were BS. Honest people who looked at the numbers - like Dean Baker and, yes, Paul "Authority" Krugman - knew that the estimates were BS, and so the dates were BS, and anyone harping on them was either ignorant or lying. Why should anyone listen to someone who is ignorant or lying?

On preview, LB has said (some of) this in much more reasoned, sensible tones, as is her wont. I'm not editing, tho.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:07 PM
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330:

But Social Security is in surplus. Raising the payroll tax this year doesn't pay for Social Security, it gets lent to the general fund. If we have a Social Security shortfall in the future, we can raise taxes then, or borrow from the general fund then -- whatever we do now, money we spend in future years will have to be brought in in those future years somehow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:08 PM
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I do, of course, think the regressive nature of the current payroll tax setup is appalling.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:09 PM
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SS IS NOT IN FUCKING CRISIS AND WON'T BE

Get a grip. Where have I said SS is "in crisis"? As I've already said, Obama is proposing a minor fix. It's a good fix, and it'll make the system better and more fair. I see no reason not to discuss it, given the fact that this election cycle is about as favorable as Democrats are likely to see in a long time.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:10 PM
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Raising the cap on payroll taxes makes sense. There is a point near the end of the year when suddenly there's no more Social security deduction from my paycheck. It's a nice little boost at the end of the year, don't get me wrong. But why should I get that boost when people who make less and could probably use it more don't? In fact, I should probably be a good progressive and donate that windfall to an appropriate charity or campaign.

(I won't actually. But I should.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:10 PM
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334: After lifting the cap, the SS payroll tax would be a flat percentage on all wage income, making it a flat tax. The change, in lifting the cap, would change the SS payroll tax from a regressive tax to a flat tax, so the change would be a progressive one, but the resulting tax would be flat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:11 PM
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Raising the payroll tax this year doesn't pay for Social Security, it gets lent to the general fund

And the general fund is bursting at the seems, then? More revenue is good. A more progressive payroll tax is good. What's the problem here?

If we have a Social Security shortfall in the future, we can raise taxes then, or borrow from the general fund then

Unless some crazy fucknut right-winger is in charge, in which case they'll butcher the program. So why bother raising more revenue now when we can wait a few decades and roll the dice on what lucky loon ends up in the Oval Office?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:14 PM
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339: If it's a minor fix, there's no particular reason he needs to talk about this rather than a million other minor policy issues. This one has the effect of slandering progressives as the kind of dishonest fools who think it's possible to pay for a welfare state without crippling pain.

(I should note that I have nothing against a capless payroll tax -- it would be better than our current capped payroll tax, in that a flat tax is better than a regressive one. My problem is with the idea that we need to bring in more revenue for Social Security this year, or in the near future. Any revenue-neutral messing around with making it less regressive, or not regressive at all, I'm good with.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:16 PM
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The change, in lifting the cap, would change the SS payroll tax from a regressive tax to a flat tax, so the change would be a progressive one

Exactly. Hence, "making the payroll tax more progressive."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:16 PM
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Unless some crazy fucknut right-winger is in charge, in which case they'll butcher the program. So why bother raising more revenue now when we can wait a few decades and roll the dice on what lucky loon ends up in the Oval Office?

Because if some crazy fucknut rightwinger is in charge, he can butcher the program whatever we do now. How do you think raising payroll taxes now changes that?

And the general fund is bursting at the seems, then? More revenue is good. A more progressive payroll tax is good. What's the problem here?

Because more revenue for the general fund raised by a flat payroll tax, rather than a progressive income tax, is not a good policy choice. If we need money for the general fund, raise the progressive income tax, not the deductionless-regressive-or-flat payroll tax.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:19 PM
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If it's a minor fix, there's no particular reason he needs to talk about this rather than a million other minor policy issues.

Once again, Obama brought it up because Clinton had previously specifically ruled out raising the payroll tax cap. What was he supposed to do, sit on his hands while an opportunity to distinguish himself from Clinton went by? As a lefty, I appreciate the information, from Obama and Edwards (who endorses the same fix). And it makes me more wary of Clinton, who, as I've noted several times previously in this thread, said that everything but raising the cap was "on the table" when it came to fixing SS.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:19 PM
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Because more revenue for the general fund raised by a flat payroll tax, rather than a progressive income tax, is not a good policy choice

But right now it's being raised by a regressive payroll tax. If that money gets raised by a flat payroll tax, it's an improvement.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:21 PM
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if some crazy fucknut rightwinger is in charge, he can butcher the program whatever we do now. How do you think raising payroll taxes now changes that?

Because it won't have the shortfall in the first place.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:22 PM
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From the Nation profile:

But does Obama represent a new generation of lefty politics? The Audacity of Hope certainly hits all the same notes as many of his X-er peers: the journey from political alienation to commitment; an impatience with the ideological legacy of the '60s; measured skepticism toward liberal verities; a push for a new paradigm for a new millennium. And he displays characteristic X-er impatience with the traditional left/right divide on policy matters. As Obama told a New Hampshire audience, "I'm a Democrat. I'm considered a progressive Democrat. But if a Republican or a conservative or a libertarian or a free-marketer has a better idea, I am happy to steal ideas from anybody, and in that sense I'm agnostic."

Why don't we all relax; he's just showing impatience with the ideological legacy of the '60s, with the traditional left/right divide on policy matters.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:22 PM
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If that money gets raised by a flat payroll tax, it's an improvement.

If we're talking about a revenue neutral change, lowering the percentage and lifting the cap, it's an improvement. If we're talking about raising money because the general fund needs it rather than Social Security, and doing it with a flat tax rather than a progressive income tax, it's a bad policy choice, and not one that has anything to do with the needs of Social Security.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:24 PM
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Watch the economy & the budget, and remember it will be more expensive to withdraw from Iraq than to stay, and pray for John Edwards.

Understand the "monetization of debt", and its consequences on fixed incomes, or indexed incomes when inflation reporting has become politicized. SS is in crisis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:24 PM
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Because more revenue for the general fund raised by a flat payroll tax, rather than a progressive income tax, is not a good policy choice. If we need money for the general fund, raise the progressive income tax, not the deductionless-regressive-or-flat payroll tax.

but it's not a proposal to raise a regressive or flat tax, it's a proposal to impose a new progressive tax on top of an existing regressive tax, thereby altering the nature of it.

i don't see this as really slandering progressives, and i think that if it takes a bit of dishonesty or misdirection to get a dramatic progressifying of the payroll tax through, that's a relatively minor sacrifice and one worth making.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:24 PM
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If we're talking about raising money because the general fund needs it rather than Social Security

i don't think that thinking of the ss trust fund and the general fund as seperate in any meaningful way is useful. indeed, it was the creation of this concept that gave cover for the increase and regressifiying of the payroll tax in the first place.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:26 PM
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348: So he's crazy enough to dismantle social security rather than raising payroll taxes, but come on, no one's crazy enough to default on the bonds in the SS trust fund! It's not like anyone ever raised that as a possibility the last time they tried to privatize SS.

I never thought I'd say this to you, stras, but you have an oddly circumscribed notion of the potential for craziness out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:27 PM
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It's a good fix, and it'll make the system better and more fair.

It could be a good fix, if the excess contributions were secreted away in Al Gore's "lockbox", i.e. were taken off-budget. Ideally, the surplus would be invested in securities other than U.S. treasury notes, but that it politically impossible, as the Right will never stand for allowing the federal government to become a major equity or debt holder in U.S. companies, and the nativists would never allow our tax dollars to be invested overseas. So for all practical purposes, I'm with LB and Josh Marshall on this one.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:27 PM
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On healthcare. If we can't get people to buy into a single payer plan, then we can go for vouchers with a public plan as an option. No subsidies, 100% of the cost of an FEHB or better type of plan. Even billionaires get a voucher.

Every time Hillary opens her mouth I am reminded of teh reasons that I don't want her to be president. The most recent thing was her comment about not wanting to retroactively reduce crack cocaine sentences, if the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine is ever changed.

Is there some kind of chart that compares Obama and Edwards on the issues. I like Obama for opposing teh Iraq war from the start. I prefer Edwards' proposals on healthcare, and he's said some good things about climate change. I know people who can't stand him and are voting for Obama as the anti-Hillary candidate. That's my big fear: Hillary will get the nominatio with a plurality of the votes, but the majority of the party won't want her.

Here's the positive spin to put on Obama's lack of a mandate. Krugman's right that adverse selection will make community-rated policies more expensive without a universal mandate. I think that that's probably what happened in Massachusetts, but I think that eventually that may drive further reform. People will be pissed off about the freeloaders and eventually a mandate or some sort of national insurance scheme will be put into place.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:27 PM
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If we're talking about a revenue neutral change, lowering the percentage and lifting the cap, it's an improvement. If we're talking about raising money because the general fund needs it rather than Social Security, and doing it with a flat tax rather than a progressive income tax, it's a bad policy choice, and not one that has anything to do with the needs of Social Security.

Why? I honestly don't understand this. For the vast, vast majority of Americans, the payroll tax is flat anyway. Most of us make under $90,000; why does extending that tax to the lucky few who make shitloads of cash become a bad policy choice?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:29 PM
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353: If they're not separate, then why do we need payroll taxes at all? I agree with you -- I'd rather have everything, SS included, funded out of a progressive income tax. But as long as we're in theory funding SS out of a (now) regressive or (possibly in the future) flat payroll tax, I want no more than the minimum necessary to fund SS benefits raised that way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:30 PM
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The slander is saying that progressives - who are united in saying (truthfully) that SS is not in crisis - are lying/in denial about the SS crisis. Stras may not have said SS faces a crisis, but he's defending Obama for saying it does. That's a mighty fine distinction.

But that's a great point about Obama not missing a chance to distinguish himself from Clinton. I wonder what his plans are for funding Head Start in 2081? What? He hasn't talked about his Brave and Nonpartisan stand for Saving Head Start? Why not?

Oh, right. Because it's not a bullshit, anti-progressive pseudo-issue beloved of Beltway pundits who fancy themselves Clear-eyed Realists.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:30 PM
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What was he supposed to do, sit on his hands while an opportunity to distinguish himself from Clinton went by?

Yes!

I'd just love it if Obama chose to distinguish himself from Clinton in any one of a number of other ways, and I've written him off because he's refused to do so and I don't expect him to do so in the future.

It's not disagreeing with Clinton and Krugman that was wrong, it's the other things he said, the way he said it, and the way he kept the SS issue alive. Clinton was responding to a question (probably a hostile question), not raising the issue herself.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:30 PM
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What was he supposed to do, sit on his hands while an opportunity to distinguish himself from Clinton went by?

Yes!

I'd just love it if Obama chose to distinguish himself from Clinton in any one of a number of other ways, and I've written him off because he's refused to do so and I don't expect him to do so in the future.

It's not disagreeing with Clinton and Krugman that was wrong, it's the other things he said, the way he said it, and the way he kept the SS issue alive. Clinton was responding to a question (probably a hostile question), not raising the issue herself.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:30 PM
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you have an oddly circumscribed notion of the potential for craziness out there.

Circumscribed by what makes a Clinton look worse.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:31 PM
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Clear-eyed

Racist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:33 PM
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Oh, and let me add that I don't like Obama's comments on Social Security either.

My aunt in Oregon who was ready to vote for Kucinich last time (as a message to the party about certain issues) likes the stuff that Obama says about bringing the country together. I don't quite get it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:35 PM
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335

"And Social Security is still not one of them. Again, show me the massive movement on the right to gut Social Security. It's not there, it was effectively beaten into submission in 2005, and it certainly isn't coming back any time soon with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress."

Social Security would instantly become a problem if the Democratic candidate for President proposes eliminating the cap. Whatever the substantive merits of this (in my view none) it is political suicide.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:36 PM
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why does extending that tax to the lucky few who make shitloads of cash become a bad policy choice?

Because it displaces revenue generated at a 33% rate on the very wealthiest with revenue generated at a 6.4% rate on people who may be above average in income, but are far from the wealthiest.

And because, as we've seen with the Greenspan bait-and-switch that you somehow find irrelevant, the money raised from FICA - whether it's flat (bad) or regressive (worse) - is used by Republicans to reduce progressive taxes on the wealthy.

In other words, stras, Obama's flat tax is far more likely to be used to reduce taxes on millionaires than to fund retiree benefits.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:36 PM
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358: The payroll tax isn't going away. As long as it isn't, why not make it more progressive? I really don't understand where the vehemence is coming from. A very small percentage of very wealthy Americans get to stop paying that tax when they hit a certain income bracket, and that's just wrong.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:36 PM
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As I understand it the cap isn't tied to inflation, so it's actually getting lower (=more regressive) every year. Isn't that a reason to do something about it?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:38 PM
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357:

Why? I honestly don't understand this.

Let me try it again. There is no current need to bring in more money to fund Social Security. It's in surplus now, and projections that it won't be in surplus are pretty far out, and have been wrong in the past. If a shortfall gets closer, there's no harm in dealing with it then -- we don't get anything out of getting ahead on this.

So if we're just talking about Social Security, we don't need to raise taxes. Lifting the cap and dropping the percentage would be dandy, and I'm all for it; not to save Social Security, but to make the tax system less regressive.

But, you say, it's not just Social Security, it's the general fund. We need the money. And damn straight we do -- we're running crazy deficits. But there's no reason not to do it by raising the progressive income tax, rather than leaning more heavily on a regressive (even with the cap lifted, given that it doesn't touch investment income) tax.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:38 PM
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I really don't understand where the vehemence is coming from

The vehemence is coming from the slander that I've explained a couple of times. Wonky screwing around with the tax system to make it fairer, if it does make it fairer, is fine. Running on "I'm willing to face up to the problems with Social Security, not like those other head-in-the-sand Democrats" is not fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:40 PM
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Ooh, JRoth's 366 is good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:40 PM
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Lifting the cap and dropping the percentage would be dandy, and I'm all for it; not to save Social Security, but to make the tax system less regressive.

Agreed wholeheartedly.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:40 PM
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Lifting the cap and dropping the percentage would be dandy

Lifting the cap and exempting the first X dollars of income would be even dandier. Also, I'd like my pony to have a white spot on its nose.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:43 PM
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Since more than half of Democrats believe that Social Security is in crisis, punishing any Democrat who speaks to that audience is just a good way to expand the audience for the Republican who proposes a (final) solution to the crisis.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:43 PM
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371: After the initial burst of anger, I get articulate.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:46 PM
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Educating them about its not being in crisis is in fact a way of speaking to that audience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:46 PM
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But there's no reason not to do it by raising the progressive income tax, rather than leaning more heavily on a regressive (even with the cap lifted, given that it doesn't touch investment income) tax.

What, and we can't do both? The rich are undertaxed under income taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes and estate taxes. Raise them all, and take the cap off the payroll tax.

And it bears repeating that the payroll tax, right now, is regressive, and would be much fairer without a cap. That is, a payroll tax without a cap is more just than one without one. So why am I supposed to want to keep the current, regressive tax the same?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:47 PM
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Yeah, for instance, you'd say that the system isn't going to go bankrupt and there's no need for any radical changes, just a tax increase down the line, or else a benefit cut. Which happens to be exactly what Obama has been saying.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:51 PM
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To re-emphasize my frustration, LB, so you don't just copy and paste the same things you've already said: yes, I know that the income tax is more progressive than the payroll tax; yes, I know that a payroll tax, even without a cap, would still be only a flat tax. But it would still be better than the payroll tax we've got now. Given that the payroll tax isn't going away, I want a payroll tax that's slightly more just, instead of the totally shitty one I've got now.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:52 PM
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The payroll tax is regressive, but that was part of FDR's political genius. If it's too progressive, then it's just about providing things for the benefit of the general welfare, and we all know what happens when you can something a welfare benefit. Social Security was supposed to model pensions, and that's how people think of it today--it's not welfare; it's their pension. SS is tricky in that its taxation is pretty regressive, but its benefit structure is reasonably progressive.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:52 PM
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368

"As I understand it the cap isn't tied to inflation, so it's actually getting lower (=more regressive) every year. Isn't that a reason to do something about it?"

The cap is indexed to wages and goes up every year.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:53 PM
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Most pensions don't let you contribute from earnigns above a certain amount, and social security was meant to mimic pensions.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:54 PM
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Why don't we all relax; he's just showing impatience with the ideological legacy of the '60s, with the traditional left/right divide on policy matters.

Before I respond, is this supposed to be funny?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:55 PM
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I guess I misunderstood because I've seen the cap described as being $90,000 for several years running, without realizing that it's being rounded down.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:55 PM
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377: To repeat myself:

Wonky screwing around with the tax system to make it fairer, if it does make it fairer, is fine.

Lifting the cap on payroll taxes, as a standalone intervention, is a bizarre place to start that process. Go raise capital gains taxes, or the top income bracket by the same amount. Lift the cap but make it revenue-neutral, to give the lower earners a break.

But the only reason you're trying to raise more revenue by fucking around with the payroll tax rather than some other intervention is that you think that lifting the cap politically possible, because of all the "Social Security's in crisis" bullshit. And that is bullshit, and if we buy into it, it weakens us generally. Trying to make use of fraudulent right-wing narratives for short-term political gain is always going to be a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:56 PM
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377

"And it bears repeating that the payroll tax, right now, is regressive, and would be much fairer without a cap. That is, a payroll tax without a cap is more just than one without one. So why am I supposed to want to keep the current, regressive tax the same?"

The tax considered by itself is regressive. The combination of tax and benefit structure is progressive. It could be made more so but limiting the income redistribution aspects of SS helps preserve broad political support. Do you want to means test benefits also a la Kaus?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:57 PM
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383: I think it was.

379: Given that the payroll tax isn't going away, I want a payroll tax that's slightly more just, instead of the totally shitty one I've got now.

So what's the problem with lifting the cap in a revenue-neutral way? If you just lift the cap, the payroll tax ends up bringing in much more than Social Security needs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 2:58 PM
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As for the whole "Obama is slandering progressives" thing:

It's not like Obama tried to pick a major fight with the left over this. He didn't get up behind a podium to deliver a sweeping address entitled "How I, Barack Obama, Will Save America From The Sinking Ship Of Social Security." This started out as a fairly minor exchange between campaigns that exploded when it hit TPM and bloggers went into "don't you dare say that" overdrive.

The whole "it's not the substance, it's the way he said it" thing is just plain loopy. It's not just that the substance is a basically sound idea endorsed also by John Edwards and Paul Krugman (apparently in a previous life), it's that the way he said it wasn't that objectionable. He wasn't trying to smear "progressives" or "the Left"; he just wanted to give primary voters another reason to vote for him and not his chief rival. I seriously doubt that anyone on his staff thought that anyone would be giving it this much thought this long after the initial exchange.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:02 PM
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To re-emphasize my frustration Stras, you're nuts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:05 PM
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Before I respond, is this supposed to be funny?

If not funny, I thought obviously sarcastic, anyway.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:05 PM
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obviously

It was dry enough that I wasn't dead sure. I was right, but I wasn't confident.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:06 PM
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384

Social security wage cap by year.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:07 PM
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What, and we can't do both? The rich are undertaxed under income taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes and estate taxes. Raise them all, and take the cap off the payroll tax.

I missed Obama's stirring speech, in which he beseeched all Americans to recognize their duty to pay for the government that they use, the gov't that we have learned, through disasters like Katrina and the current tragedies in the Midwest, we need.

Probably because he was too busy giving speeches about how Some Democrats don't have the courage to fix the phony SS crisis.

Are there any other great policies that Obama doesn't actually support that you want to credit him with because they somehow relate to his attacks on progressive voices?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:08 PM
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There's a definitional issue that puzzles me. Surely, as stras says, a tax that hits those who make 90-plus thousand a year and has no effect on those making less is, by any reasonable definition, progressive, no? LB, JRoth, can you explain to me why this is a matter of debate? What am I not getting?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:08 PM
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So what's the problem with lifting the cap in a revenue-neutral way?

The point of lifting the cap is to bring in more revenue. I'm not saying that the reform you're proposing wouldn't be a vast improvement, because it would be - but so would simply raising the cap. The point is to improve the current payroll tax. So let's improve it.

If you just lift the cap, the payroll tax ends up bringing in much more than Social Security needs.

And again, I've no problem with bringing in more money than SS needs. The government, in general, needs a lot of money, and unless someone decides to chop the Pentagon budget in half that money's got to come from somewhere. And as much as I'd like it to, it's not going to all come from income tax.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:09 PM
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394: Because it will, in reality, displace revenue from more progressive taxes.

If there really were an SS shortfall, then raising the cap would make sense. But we have no real reason to believe that there will be such a shortfall, and, regardless, it is far away and a tiny amount. This is like arguing about parking ticket fines in a city that has gone bankrupt. SS is worth zero expenditure of political capital at this date.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:14 PM
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And as much as I'd like it to, it's not going to all come from income tax.

This is crap. This is what you settle for, after fighting with Congress because they won't raise progressive taxes, not a starting position that you make speeches about how great it would be. If a President Obama ended up having to bring in more revenue with the payroll tax because it was the only budget-balancing tax he could politically pass, that wouldn't be a problem at all.

But it's not the sort of positively good idea you run on -- it's surrendering before a fight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:15 PM
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393: I have no idea what this comment has to do with the text of mine that's quoted.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:16 PM
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And again, I've no problem with bringing in more money than SS needs. The government, in general, needs a lot of money, and unless someone decides to chop the Pentagon budget in half that money's got to come from somewhere. And as much as I'd like it to, it's not going to all come from income tax.

You would raise a fuckload more from any number of fixes that would be more progressive and more just. I think there's a false assumption here that you can just get the cap eliminated without trading anything else. You can't. In fact, the cost for eliminating the cap would probably look an awful lot like... privatization.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:16 PM
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If Obama really did say that other Democrats were dishonest or that they were deceiving himself, Stras, that's the same old bullshit Kerrey centrist meme come back to life, and Obama's beyond the pale, and so are you. That's what I meant about "the way he said it". That's complete bullshit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:18 PM
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And as much as I'd like it to, it's not going to all come from income tax.

But at this point it ceases to be a social security tax, since the money isn't actually going to social security. It's just an income tax.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:18 PM
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Because it will, in reality, displace revenue from more progressive taxes.

This is the part that's responsive to my very limited question, and I see that you tried to explain in more detail in 366, but I'm still not getting it. You've got your income tax, and you've got your social security tax. I'm not seeing how raising a social security tax has any effect on revenue raised from other taxes - absent some other policy change. Are you saying that some other tax change will likely follow a lifting of the SS cap?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:18 PM
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It's not like Obama tried to pick a major fight with the left over this. . . . This started out as a fairly minor exchange between campaigns that exploded when it hit TPM and bloggers went into "don't you dare say that" overdrive.

I thought this started when Obama released a campaign ad that focused entirely on social security and his plans to "save it." Prior to that ad, there was little or no discussion of social security. My first thought when I saw the ad was that Obama was trying to pick a fight.


Posted by: NotaTurtle | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:19 PM
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This is like arguing about parking ticket fines in a city that has gone bankrupt.

Analogy ban be damned; this is a great line.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:21 PM
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I think there's a false assumption here that you can just get the cap eliminated without trading anything else.

JRoth, should I read this as your answer to my question in 402, or is there some additional information?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:21 PM
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398: In the quoted text, you're talking about how great it would be to raise all sorts of progressive taxes. Which would be great. But you're defending a man who isn't talking about raising those taxes, who isn't talking about how and why our gov't needs revenue. You're defending a man who wants to raise a pretty marginal tax while using it as a rhetorical cudgel against those on his left.

Obama has amazing potential. As has been noted recently, his post-partisan mojo is so strong that he can sweet-talk dyed-in-the-wool rightwing hacks. But he's not using that post-partisan mojo to redefine the debate to a place that's better for progressives. With SS, mandates, the homophobic preacher, and more, he's doing the opposite. Every fucking speech is a Sistah Souljah moment.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:22 PM
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If 403 is right, that's what I'm talking about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:25 PM
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JRoth, should I read this as your answer to my question in 402, or is there some additional information?

A little bit. There are several moving parts. One is that the tradeoff for raising/eliminating the cap will undoubtedly be some flavor of weakening of SS - whether it be private accounts, de-progressifying the benefits, or something - Reps won't just give away a huge tax like that, and neither will the despicable Blue Dogs. Another is that, if/when the budget is ever in the black again, income taxes, not FICA, will be trimmed. Yet another is that this change makes SS operate differently, which is destabilizing aside from however it is changed when the legislation passes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:29 PM
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Obama has amazing potential --> "had".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:30 PM
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I still may vote for him, he may be foxing us. It so, I wish his wink were easier for such as me to see.

If he moves the country left, I'll be happy to cry "Barry, we hardly knew ye!"

But it's hard when you're determined to vote according to who's actually run on the issues you care about and has a chance.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:30 PM
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LB, no one - not Edwards, not Obama, not Clinton - is going to repeal the payroll tax and replace it with a progressive tax. Which is to say, the payroll tax is not going away. Are we agreed on this?

Given that the payroll tax is not going away, I would like a payroll tax that's more fair than the current, regressive payroll tax, that stops taxing you once you become obscenely wealthy. Lifting the cap would accomplish that. Lifting it in a way that's revenue-neutral would do that, too, but no one - not even the very-sainted Paul Krugman - is suggesting that at the moment. So I'd settle for raising the cap.

I don't buy that raising the cap displaces revenue we'd otherwise have brought in through income tax. And I don't buy that making the payroll tax fairer would be worse than leaving it as it is now. From where I stand, raising or eliminating the cap is a good move, period. You're arguing that it would be an even better move to raise the cap and then do some other stuff. Well, fine, I agree. But failing that, I'd still raise the cap.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:31 PM
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Stras, this isn't about taxes and it never was. It's about what Obama said about the other Democrats, the issue he chose to put forward, the way he framed the issue, and a lot of other center-right pandering he's done.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:34 PM
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408: I understand completely. Thanks.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:35 PM
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397 to 411.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:36 PM
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400: Emerson, you really don't get it. Obama spent several months using "other Democrats" as a transparent code word for "my chief rival in this primary race, Hillary Clinton." Yglesias and a bunch of other pundits wrote any number of articles about this. You're trying to cram this picture into a frame it doesn't fit.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:36 PM
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In fact, the cost for eliminating the cap would probably look an awful lot like... privatization.

Excuse me? How exactly does privatization of Social Security follow from the elimination of the cap on payroll taxes?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:38 PM
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403: Pretty sure it started at one of the debates and then the ad was crafted to build off of the story coming out of the debate.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:39 PM
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408 seems exactly right.
412 is also right.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:39 PM
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417: It started before the debates. The TPM/blog stuff was going on before the debate took place.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:40 PM
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I don't buy that raising the cap displaces revenue we'd otherwise have brought in through income tax.

You don't have to buy it - we're living it. The Greenspan Commission in 1982 raised income from FICA, and Bush (and a few cowardly Dems in the Senate) massively cut progressive income taxes in 2001 using FICA income to justify it. The fact that Greenspan didn't change the cap is irrelevant to the model. If you eliminate the cap and bring in more income, that income will end up going to cut rich peoples' taxes by more than cap-lifting will cost them. The only way it doesn't is if you first win the rhetorical war about the importance of paying taxes.

When Obama wins that war, I will praise his efforts to eliminate the cap on FICA.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:44 PM
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Excuse me? How exactly does privatization of Social Security follow from the elimination of the cap on payroll taxes?

Maybe you need to spend a little time with "I'm Just A Bill," stras. How do you think Pres. Obama gets the cap taken off of FICA? He has to win votes on Capitol Hill, and that will involve horse-trading. And the cost for the votes of Blue Dog Dems and Republicans will be something that looks (even a little) like privatization. And since he's already given up the rhetorical high ground on SS, he can't win that battle.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:47 PM
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Stras, you moron, it isn't about the code word "other democrats". It's about the Kerreyesque Republican code words of the types "dishonest" and "self-deceiving". If he spoke of "other Democrats" that way, he and you are dead meat as far as I'm concerned. The only way to defend him is to say that he didn't say that kind of thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:52 PM
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"A candidate for president owes it to the American people to tell us where they stand," Obama said. "... because you're not ready to lead if you can't tell us where you're going."

"She's not alone in avoiding answering this question directly -- she's not alone in ducking the issue," Obama said. "Because conventional thinking in Washington says that Social Security is the third rail of American politics. It says you should hedge, and dodge, and spin, but at all costs, don't answer."

Obama (who I expect to vote for) quoted in an October 27th article.

I haven't in a quick search found anything on Hillary being criticized over SS prior to Tod Bowman (an Iowa government teacher who subsequently declared for Obama) pressing her on it in an Oct. 7th Q&A.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:53 PM
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If Obama had confronted Hillary on Guantanamo or habeus corpus or war with Iran or any of a dozen other issues, I'd support him over Edwards. But he chose to confront her on a bullshit centrist Kerrey issue. End of story. Dead meat.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 3:57 PM
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here's a reason to lift the cap: combined with the rising cost of benefits, it means that it's cheaper for an employer to pay one person $200,000/year to work 70 hour weeks than it is to pay two equally skilled people 100,000/year each to work 35 hour weeks.

(benefits are the bigger problem, I think. But the extra taxes can't help.)

admittedly, Obama's handled this badly. Don't get why the often seem so tone deaf with the netroots.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 4:40 PM
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Economist consensus is that the tax incidence of the payroll tax is almost entirely on the employee in the form of lower wages, so that's an even smaller effect than you're saying it is.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 4:48 PM
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what are you basing that on? I realize that some of it is shifted to the employee but they are presumably paying the employee as little as they can & still get someone good enough to begin with it, so why is it ALL going to be shifted to the employee?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 4:53 PM
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I was just basing it on vague memories, but DeLong's reply to an e-mail from some old version of his site supports me.

Also, I said almost entirely and that the effect will be smaller, not non-existent.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 5:05 PM
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to 303: ezra is, indeed, cute in real life. you want to give him a big, wonky hug!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-12-07 11:52 PM
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I just saw this now, although it was posted before. MY thinks Obama's dissembling, and is perfectly liberal, just good at appealing to the myriads of people who hate liberals while they would welcome and support liberalism. Since I'm very aware of this feeling, this makes sense to me. O's generic GenX liberal-hating serves him in good stead in making this appeal, and it's clearly working.

Every moment a Sister Soljuh moment indeed.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 8:15 AM
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