Friday, February 27, 2009

Brad DeLong contrasts the articles on Accountability Now by Same Stein and Jim Rutenberg in a post entitled "Trying to Reduce the Power of K Street."

What is Accountability Now ? Ask Stein

Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests... it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters

Rutenberg concludes

"The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth,"

Brad Speculates "I think this is because Rutenberg likes incumbents because he has lunch with them."

I comment.

Yes that makes sense. There is a web based movement featuring two liberal bloggers and so we can assume that an unbiased story won't come from the dead tree establishment MSM where they practically are lobbyists and crooked congressmen but from an unbiased neutral liberal web journal.

Brad, you are inviting parody. The most obvious interpretation of the difference between the slants of Stein's and Rutenberg's articles is that Stein is friendly with Hampshire, Greenwald, move on and that guy Hauser who I don't read every day.

Let's see if I can criticize DeLong as you criticize Rutenberg.

" Brad DeLong's post on accountability Now's plan to support primary challengers against, among others, Democratic congressmen who are to the right of their consitituents is entitled "Trying to reduce the power of K Street." You may not know this but all US conservatives and centrists are on K-street which is very long and has paved over most of Utah.

There is no need to argue that the only reason anyone has views to the right of Hampshire is that he or she is bought off by K-Street. Ipsit quos loqueter or whatever (DeLong likes to toss in a bit of Latin but he has an unfair advantage cause he actually knows what it means).

For example, Brad himself is clearly to the right of Hampshire and even tolerates the evil Larry Summers and, gasp, once said that his choice for President was a banker -- Robert Rubin. This is explained by the fact that the evil banker Robert Rubin once bought him a coffee with extra cream and sugar at the Treasury caffeteria."

-Robert Rutenberg

Back to being me. There are reasons other than corruption which cause people to vote in ways displeasing to Hampshire and Greenwald. Also, they do not condemn the motives of the people they plan to challenge. Knowing they can't tell, they just say they will go by the numbers. Sincere conservatives representing liberal districts can't be distinguished from the tools of K-street. St Peter may or may not have to decide if the targets of accountability now were sincere, but sensible people don't try to read minds.

Now I personally have an objection to Rutenberg who wrote "But it also illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal previous positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left." identifying "liberal" and "on the left." The liberal positions in question are liberal in the sense that Locke, Mill, DeLong, Hayek and Greenwald are liberals.

It appears that only the left thinks that the President is not above the law, that alleged crimes should be investigated if there is overwhelming evidence that the law was broken, that the state secrets privilege (which is not mentioned in the constitution) can be used to refuse to hand over subpoenaed evidence but not to force judges to dismiss cases, that the US can't grab people anywhere in the world (except the USA? I should wait to find out, but it looks like people arrested in the USA have habeas corpus rights again) based on executive fiat and hold them forever without trial and, of course, that the people must nationalize the means of production and grind the rich into hamburger (the last follows logically).

I consider myself a leftist, but I would never dream of claiming that the concept of the rule of law is our exclusive patremony parentemony.

Now are these the issues Rutenberg had in mind ? Well he referred to an organizatino of which Glenn Greewald and Jane Hampshire are leaders so he should have had them in mind.

I'd guess that the problem with Rutenberg isn't just that he is an insider and eats lunch with insiders (like Brad I guess that is part of the problem) but that he has decided that it would be improper for him to have any views on the merits of positions taken on the issues and, therefore, seems to have decided that it would be improper for him to keep the issues debate in his mind when he writes about politics as team sport and/or celebrity culture.

Atrios also claims that the Stein article is much more accurate. He doesn't speculate as to the role of lunches with incumbent congressmen.

Oh this is embarassing. I went over to Glenn Greenwald's blog looking for his criticisms of Obama from the far left where Hayek meets Orwell and read

UPDATE II: On an unrelated note, The New York Times today has an article on the launch of Accountability Now. As is always true with articles of this sort, one cannot control how the message is conveyed. There are many terms employed by the article ("liberal" and "left" and "progressive" and "centrist") that aren't accurate in terms of describing the central goal of the organization, but, for purposes of an article like that, the basic theme is correct enough.

I liked the Stein article too and I consider Greenwald to be the Orwell of our times.
I just donated $25 to Accountability Now here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Jet Set

Newt Gingrich just can't get over his obsession with airplanes. About 23 hours ago, he complained that Nancy Pelosi is flying in a government jet.

Speaker Pelosi standing up to applaud the private jet line while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense verges on bizarre

Yes I know it hurts Newt but you aren't speaker anymore.

This is the man who, according to Tom DeLay in his book "No Retreat No Surrender", "told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One."

Yep the man cares about planes. Also he has seen the border of bizarre from the other side.

It's really sad. I propose we give Newt a ride in the Speaker's jet to help him get over his obsession.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama Krugman Sullivan & Yglesias

Andrew Sullivan contrasts political strategy and political tactics.

Should Obama become a partisan attack-dog in response? Check out the Gallup poll here. If Krugman, Yglesias and Brown are right, these polls are very wrong. Obama is winning the stimulus fight - because he seems more connected to the actual crisis people are confronting than his rivals in both parties, and more reasonable in finding a way forward.

One feels exactly as one did in the primaries as his occasional drifts against Clinton led to a chorus of attacks from the base that he was being too much of a wimp, too defensive, too polite. My gut is to advise him to let rip. But Obama's brain is often shrewder than many guts. From a long-term strategic perspective, even the critics are already entrenching the central meme that Obama has tried to bring as many people on board as possible.

Yglesias notes that in addition to political strategy and political tactics there is policy, that policies have consequences and those consequences matter even to the hypothetical person who only care about winning elections.

the argument that the administration has erred by not being more hardcore about the stimulus isn’t an argument about short-term politics. It’s an argument about the irrelevance of short-term politics. The administration will be judged in 2012 on the basis of its results. Unpopular 2009 actions that produce a strong recovery will be rewarded. Popular 2009 actions that prove insufficient to drive a strong recovery will be punished. “But the voters liked this approach 40 months ago” isn’t going to convince anyone.

Ouch, that's got to leave a mark.

Yglesias' case against Sullivan is strengthened by a brief glance back at Sullivan's argument "One feels exactly as one did in the primaries as his occasional drifts against Clinton led to a chorus of attacks from the base that he was being too much of a wimp, too defensive, too polite. My gut is to advise him to let rip. But Obama's brain is often shrewder than many guts."

Odd analogy no ? To Sullivan a proposed draft bill appropriating hundreds of billions is like being polite during a campaign. Evidently he hasn't noticed that it's not just talk now, that after the TV cameras are turned off, actual money is actually going to be spent, while during the campaign, policy proposals were just words. They were promises which might be kept or broken, but which wouldn't have any effect on policy unless something else was added (you know like legislature and executive orders and stuff) *after* the next election.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

D'awa, secular nationalists and the Iraqi Awakening Alliance do well in provincial elections.

For the past few years I haven't dared read Juan Cole's Blog.

I assumed that the news from Iraq would horrify me.

Rumors that the provincial elections went rather well caused me to read his latest post.

Oh my oh my looks promising.

According to Juan Cole, many Iraqi's seem to have rejected federalism, sectarianism and dare I hope chosen peace.

D'awa is the party of Prime minister al Malaki and is, naturally, if favor of a strong central government. Iraqi Sunni Arabs are too, which is odd for a minority, but there is little petroleum where they live so central money flows to them.

A very dramatic result was the apparent good performance of the Iraqi Awakening Alliance, the political expression of Sunni Arab Iraqi's who agreed to stop fighting the central government in exchange for US money. Sounds like a vote for peace.

Also Arab nationalists won in Mosul whcih tends to settle the argument about whether it should become part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Cole makes no mention of Moqtada al Sadr (or Ahmed Chalabi for that matter) in which cases I consider no news excellent news.

Very promising.

But Kirkuk.