Monday, November 29, 2010

Good Morning

Quote of the Day:
“Rivera will show absolutely anyone, including rivals, exactly how he throws the cutter. When I asked him why he was so unguarded, Rivera said, 'It’s a blessing from the Lord: when he gives you something, it’s yours.' It took me a moment to realize that he wasn’t saying that he had an obligation to share the blessing, but rather that no one without the blessing was going to throw his cutter. God had doled out his favors parsimoniously.”
~ James Traub, "Mariano Rivera, King of the Closers"

Song of the Day:
Kings of Leon, “Closer”

Happy Birthday:
Louisa May Alcott
Peter Bergman
Madeline L’Engle
C.S. Lewis
Mariano Rivera

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Screening and Common Sense

Shouldn't we be pleased, rather than outraged, that some government officials are able to skip the TSA security procedures?

John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, whatever you think of them, are pretty obviously not likely to be plotting terrorist attacks on our nation's airlines. Isn't this kind of risk-assessment-based screening what we need more, not less, of?

Now, if only TSA could extend this logic to 3-year-olds and grandmothers . . . .

Happy Thanksgiving

Reason.tv gives thanks for property rights.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Olbermania

Here's an amusing ThinkProgress post on MSNBC's suspension of Keith Olbermann; it contains so many updates and walkbacks as to be nearly incomprehensible ("Oh, hold on -- Comcast doesn't actually own NBC yet. Our bad.")

I don't understand the theory that the knives were out for Olbermann at MSNBC. Isn't his show their highest-rated offering?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Reagan, Palin, and Noonan

Sarah Palin refers to Ronald Reagan as "an actor," and Peggy Noonan responds . . . pointedly:
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I'll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.

The point is not "He was a great man and you are a nincompoop," though that is true. The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics.
Meow!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"A strident and self-justifying base-flatterer"

Ross Douthat on Sarah Palin:
Cultural authenticity may be her bread and butter, but politically she’s established a consistent identity as a strident and self-justifying base-flatterer who rarely strays from her go-for-the-jugular talking points. There’s a narrow slice of the electorate that loves that kind of thing, and a broader population that doesn’t — and given the choice between saying the thing that broadens her appeal and the thing that plays best with the narrower group that already loves her, Palin always, always seems choose the latter. Conservative writers have been giving her advice on how to break out of this box for more than two years now (this week it was Kevin Williamson, imagining how she might boost her credibility as a presidential candidate), and I think at a certain point we all just need to stop playing make-believe and acknowledge that she isn’t interested.
I don't know if it's really much a choice on her part. From the little I've seen of her, it looks to me more like she's scared to death of departing from her talking points, lest she look even less intelligent than she already does.

I had not seen her in months until election night on Fox. She was in full talking-point, you-betcha mode. On the plus side, her hair and makeup looked fabulous.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

After Tuesday

Amid the giddy predictions of a GOP tidal wave, Ross Douthat and Megan McArdle both offer some pre-election perspective on the post-election policy landscape. McArdle:
So I worry that if Republicans get in, we'll end up with a huge budget problem. And I also worry that if Democrats retain control, we'll end up with a huge budget problem. I see no evidence at this point that I should worry more about one than the other. We have a huge deficit problem. And I'm pretty sure that whatever batch of politicians we elect next Tuesday is going to make it worse, rather than better.
And it's not just the politicians who are to blame. Pundits on both sides love to talk about the wisdom of the "ordinary voters" (Michael Barone does it here), but I see no indication that the electorate, as a whole, has stopped demanding more government than it's willing to pay for. Many of the same voters who are mad as hell about the deficit this year will squawk indignantly the minute the budget cutters so much as look at Social Security, or even ask that nice teacher down the street to kick in 1% of her salary for her own health insurance.

The politicians may be hiding their heads in the sand on entitlements, but that's because the voters like it that way. The electorate is like a 23-year-old who sometimes feels really, really bad about her maxed-out credit cards but isn't remotely ready to face up to the kinds of lifestyle changes she'd have to make to get out of the hole; instead, she tells herself it'll work out somehow, and buys another pair of shoes on Zappos. Because after all, she urgently needs some gray peep-toes to match her new handbag.

There's a lot of this-time-it'll-be-different bluster out there on the right, but I'm not really buying it. Swing voters are mad at Obama because the economy is still a mess, and they sense that he's spent a bunch of money we don't have, and they feel a little uneasy about that. But the economy will improve, and Democrats will shriek in outrage about cuts to school lunch programs, and a few Republicans will act like clowns, and the deficit will seem far less urgent in a year. Swing voters — who seem to enjoy being angry — will find something else to be angry about. And then we'll all be too busy talking about 2012 to think about actual policy.

I say this as someone who will likely be fairly pleased, on a partisan level, with the results of tomorrow's elections. I hope the GOP does take the House. I'm ambivalent about the Senate, because Obama will have an easier road to reelection if he can spend the next two years running against the eeeeeevil Republican Congress, and he can't do that as easily if his party still controls one chamber.

So yes, I'll cheer if Nancy Pelosi loses her gavel, but I see no reason to expect that the next two years will be any different from the last decade in terms of fiscal sanity. For true progress on the budget, we'll need a lot more Paul Ryans, not just in Congress but in the electorate.