The historic House vote
There's a part of me that respects and finds refreshing the rejection of the Wall Street bailout plan. The stunned look on traders' faces on Wall Street -- that what? They're not going to bail us out?
look -- almost made it worth it. I know that's not a good reason to support or oppose such an important, historic, high-stakes measure. I've generally gone back and forth on the plan's merits, tilting toward the Warren Buffett/Andy Kessler view that it could end up making money for taxpayers, not to mention saving the economy from possible ruin. But the sight of jaws dropping on trading floors, as it dawned on them that the anger Americans feel is real and deep, and, well, it was a satisfying moment to behold. Now maybe lawmakers will pass the bill after they've sent that don't-take-our-damn-money-for-granted message to those who, until recently, took our IRA, (401(k), pension, mortgage and taxpayer money for granted. ...
Alan Lupo, RIP
He was a walking city institution and archive.Update
- From Reader No. 1: "Damn it. Not the market, your note on Alan Lupo's passing. Rarely agreed but always read him, often laughed, and always respected him, for what it's worth. My best to his family. Nice remembrance from Dan Kennedy
'Bulwark Against the Kingdom of the Anti-Christ'
New name for Massachusetts? I like it.
... One mistake in the piece (I'm pretty sure): The Pilgrims were aiming for the mouth of the Hudson River, not Virginia, when they crashed into Cape Cod, making them, technically, the first Massholes. ... Also, the Boston accent that they try to capture on TV and in recent movies is indeed a "Boston Irish accent, primarily South Boston" because, well, they're trying to portray Irish Bostonians from South Boston. But other Irish and ethnic groups have Boston accents, though I agree suburbanization, television and other homogenizing forces are slowly killing off regional accents here and elsewhere. ...
'A Vision of Old Boston in All Its Angry Power,' Part II
Picked up a copy of Dennis Lehane's 'The Given Day.'
Eager to see if it lives up to this review
and lands on a certain coveted list.
But it'll have to wait until I finish Robert Novak's 'Prince of Darkness.'
I'm really liking the book. A couple things have jumped out at me: A.) Novak's incredible work ethic B.) How moderately liberal the old Evans & Novak duo used to be (Novak voted for JFK and LBJ in '60 and '64, respectively; Evans was a close friend of RFK, the extent of which Novak didn't learn until decades later). C.) The access reporters had to politicians in the '50s and '60s. (It all broke down over Vietnam and Watergate.) D.) That Rowland Evans and Novak co-wrote a highly regarded biography of LBJ, 'Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power,'
a book Johnson despised. ... On the reading backburner: Dexter Filkins's 'The Forever War'
and the third novel in Simon Scarrow's Roman Legion series.
'Am I crazy, or did we just see ...'
Yes, we saw an actual substance-filled debate
last night. Peter agrees.
After the craziness of the past few weeks, it was encouraging to see two serious-minded candidates discussing issues, directly and clearly. ... McCain looked very strong at the start. After initially coming across as a hesitant bore, Obama came on strong about halfway through. Who knows how the polls will break. ...
Update - 9.28.08 -- From Reader No. 1:
I agree with your appraisal of Friday night including that Obama did much better in the 2nd half, at least on style points - not sure why more commentators didn't see that. Of course, the second half of the debate dealt exclusively with the originally planned topic, and Obama had obviously prepared for that. He didn't seem to have a clue as to what to do on economic policy other than bash Bush and stick to his high-spending guns. At least McCain named programs he would try to cut!
As Carr noted, McCain has a heavy load to carry in the form of Bush and of course media opposition. So he has to do notably better than Obama in these debates and he did pretty good. Playing the happy warrior (Peggy Noonan's phrase) every so often would be good. It would be a good contrast with Obama's grimaces every time McCain dinged him.
The usual good summary by Michael Barone as to what is at stake.
Boston Links updated
I've updated my Boston Links in the right column, under the big red ad. Eliminated some dormant blogs. Added others. Corrected some addresses. Etc. Check 'em out. If I've missed anyone, give me a shout.
'Predictable and preventable'
Here's an excellent piece
that should get great play but probably won't: Massachusetts regulators warned as far back as 1997 that the subprime-mortgage phenomenon was a ticking time bomb. The state memo -- along with similar federal warnings -- proves President Bush was right to say in his speech the other night that the subprime mess stretches back to last decade. But Andy Kessler has also shown
that it was Wall Street that applied booster rockets to the subprime-market in early 2003. A near-inevitable subprime-mortgage meltdown was made far worse by a self-inflicted Wall Street meltdown. ... Bottom line: There's plenty of blame to go around, dear partisan hacks. ... Scot
notes the attempts to demonize 'Barney Crank.' But there's one big problem with that righty argument: Republicans controlled Congress in the late '90s and Barney wasn't Financial Services chairman until 2007. ... Peter Porcupine
thinks McCain's recent zaniness was a form of sanity. ...Update
-- I'm posting this
because I truly hope David Brooks is right about McCain. Right now, McCain is coming across to me as a border-line crackpot. ...Update II
-- From Reader No. 1:
I infer that when you say you hope David Brooks is right that you mean what he wrote in second to last paragraph. I agree with you there. I don't get the "border-line crackpot" though. Do you think that because he is making unconventional and bold decisions? It's early, but so far Palin and the debate have worked out fine, not to mention (going to back to the primary) essentially running against his own Party. How is that crackpot?
Yes, I'm hoping that McCain, deep down, is the man Brooks claims he is in the second to last paragraph, for McCain could very well be our next president. I hope we don't get the impulsive, flip-flopping, do-anything-it-takes candidate that I'm seeing on a daily basis, i.e. his crackpot characteristics. See Mickey
for more humorous take on McCain. ... As for Palin, I don't want to get into Palin yet again. I'll just repeat my position: Good choice for political reasons, bad choice for country. ...
Let McCain be McCain!
Does America really need a president who can out-Sarkozy Sarkozy? Just asking. ... John
thinks there's logic to all the McCain craziness. Mickey
is having a field day with McCain's antics: "Do you get the impression a McCain presidency would be a bit exhausting?" ... Again, my mind returns to Sarkozy. I mean, it's even flirting with comparing McCain to Manny Ramirez. They're both flakes at the top of their professions. A suggested new campaign slogan: Let McCain be McCain! ... From Reader No. 1:
Andy Kessler likes the bailout deal - that counts for something in my book.
I suspect the debate will go on tomorrow, but I kinda like the McCain move. In a subtle and perhaps unintended way it draws an analogy between permanent campaigning and some of the doings on "Dr Frankenstein's Wall Street".
McCains' persona is, in its own weird kind of way, refreshing. But didn't we eventually get tired of Manny? Aren't the French already sick of Sarko? I think I'm with Mickey on this one. ...
From Reader No. 1:
David Brooks is so enraptured with the possibility that "The Establishment Lives!" that he was able to write these sentences with an apparently straight face:
"Over the next few years, the U.S. will have to climb out from under mountainous piles of debt. Many predict a long, gray recession. The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks."
In lieu of safe heads, here's another useful suggestion from Holman Jenkins in today's WSJ that will probably go nowhere.
'The Dukakis comparison is, of course, a cruel one'
Hitch on Obama.
... Despite his put-'em-asleep performance of late, Obama should be able to get some poll bumps in coming days, thanks to Wall Street and John McCain
. Right? ...Update
- 9.24.08 -- Here's the bump.
He's above 50 percent and outside the margin of error. ...
'Big government Republican bacterium,' Part II
Reader No. 1 and Hub Blog discussed the post below
and basically ended up agreeing crony capitalism and crony socialism suck. From our email exchange, starting with Reader No. 1:
Is it possible that both Andy Kessler and Jonah Goldberg are right? It's surely true that collateralized mortgage obligations created by "Wall Street Fat Cats" have turned out to be Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction. But where did all of those mortgage obligations come from and why are so many of them non-performing?
I accept that your interviewees haven't said much about how encouraging homeownership has contributed to the present situation, or regulation in general. But what do they say about:
- Historically low interest rates this decade post 9/11 and mark to market accounting standards?
- Going backaways, deductibility of home mortgage interest?
If the underlying loans were sustainably good... and if the financial community hadn't packaged them the way that they did... we wouldn't be going through all of this pain. Not throwing darts nor defending attackers of politically correct business philosophies, just inquiring
Hub Blog's response:
If you insert the word 'partly' into your opening question, the answer is 'yes' -- they're both partly correct. I'm not saying that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't to blame. They're part of the problem. But they're only two characters in a very big cast of characters in this crisis. No one put a gun to Wall Street's head to develop impossibly complex algorithms that had one indisputable mathematical assumption that turned out to be absurdly wrong: Home prices wouldn't fall. No one put a gun to Wall Street’s head to push and back up these loans. No one forced Wall Street to securitize the loans, sell them, resell them, insure them etc. Government got the ball rolling on this mess. But it was Wall Street that put booster rockets on the ball, sending it into the stratosphere, thinking it would never fall back down. It did -- in a historic crash. My sources do say government was involved. But unlike Jonah, they don't stop there -- or try to tie it all back to government. Wall Street's mistakes were Wall Street's mistakes.
This is the reality some conservatives are trying to deny and/or obscure: Capitalists can blow it too -- and, boy, did they blow it this time. The government is financially involved in other sectors of the economy -- health care, agriculture, defense spending, etc. If Wall Street makes proportionately bad bets on those sectors and suffers proportionately huge losses, are we going to exclusively blame government at that point?
Reader No. 1's response:
I agree with you, just don't want us to overlook that structure generates behavior. Using your mirror-image analogy, conservatives who blame everything on government policy are analogous to the liberals who had nothing bad to say when Wall Street firms were declaring huge profits. Here's a sensible-sounding suggestion that probably isn't going anywhere.
On your last point about bad bets on other sectors, I fear we are headed there with this financial intervention - and into state capitalism, a/k/a socialism. (That should make Democrats happy...)
Please regulate us
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanely volunteer for regulation.
Next up for regulation (voluntarily or not): Hedge funds. ... It should be a no-brainer. But I'm sure some will still find a way to blame the Community Redevelopment Act, etc. ...
'Big Government Republican bacterium'
Random politico and economic thoughts: Maybe Jonah
should read this excellent Doug Bailey piece
about how Wall Street's collateralized mortgage obligations contributed to the housing and financial market woes -- twenty years ago. Hub Blog's eager to see how Jonah can blame the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae, Clinton appointees, Barney Frank, Barack Obama, etc. for the housing and financial collapse -- twenty years ago. ... Over the past year, yours truly has also conducted literally hundreds of interviews with private-sector bankers, analysts, economists, fund managers, mortgage brokers, real estate experts etc., and NOT ONE of them has framed today's problems the way the sit-on-his-derriere Jonah has described it. They tend to see it more like Andy Kessler
, whose piece, all these months later
, still holds up remarkably well, despite some slightly wrong predictions. ... At least there's hope over at National Review: Rich Lowry
, who's lately been urging conservatives to start paying more attention to realities and stop trying to cram facts into argumentative templates. ...
Don't agree with Deroy's assessment
of President Bush's foreign policy. But I loved his description of Bush's budget and economic policies: 'Big Government Republican bacterium'. ... More random-note updates to come. ...
'A Vision of Old Boston in All Its Angry Power'
I know what book has just shot up on the Hub Blog Must Read List: Dennis Lehane's new 'The Given Day.'
The NYT gives it a sparkling review, saying Lehane has now jumped from excellent crime-genre writer to a 'majestic, fiery epic' novelist with 'shades of Doctorow and Dreiser.' Maybe that's overstating it. But I can't wait to read the novel and determine whether Lehane's ultimate literary dream will come true: Inclusion of one of his books on my 'Boston Reading List.'
Sarah lets her hair down
The nation's Palin fever has broken: Polls are back to their approximate pre-conventions levels.
... Speaking of Sarah, I saw her last night on Hannity & Colmes.
Putting aside Sean's puff questions and open partisan sympathies, I was impressed with Palin, particularly her bashing of Wall Street. She talked of 'abuses' and 'corruption' and 'violation of public trust' and 'cronyism' etc. She also managed the near impossible: Instigating a role-reversal Hub Blog family squabble -- with yours truly saying she was largely right about Wall Street and a Hub Blog relative (and diehard Dem) saying she overstated the Wall Street criticism. The back-and-forth was briefly more fierce than the brutal slugfest between Hub Blog and Reader No. 1 of late! Bottom line: I felt a little better about her, though I still think her selection wasn't good for the nation (and she still tilts in the Jane Swift and downright moron direction in my book). ... BTW: Sarah let her hair down. Literally. Looks good. Save the 'sexist' attacks. Everyone noticed and will be talking about it today. ... George Will
also notices that the Palin fever has broken, albeit a fever of a different sort for conservatives:
The tech bubble was followed by the housing bubble, which has been topped by the Palin bubble. Bubbles will always be with us, because irrational exuberance always will be. Its symptom is the assumption that old limits have yielded to undreamed-of possibilities: The Dow will always rise, as will housing prices, and rapture about a running mate can be decisive in a presidential election.
He makes a good point that McCain needs to run for
divided government. ... Email of the day from Armchair Gen. Brighton Center re the Wall Street woes: "I hear Washington Mutual is being bought by International House of Pancakes." ... Disclosure to traders about to jump out a window: It's a joke.
'He restored confidence and purpose'
Who could that be during these divisive times? David Petraeus.
... David Ignatious also gives credit, and rightly so, to President Bush for pushing and sticking with the surge and Petraeus, even if recent gains there unravel after Petraeus' departure. The president deserves blame for starting the war, mismanaging the occupation, refusing to acknowledge an insurgency when it was staring him in the face, and, perhaps worst of all, waiting to can Rumsfeld and change course until after a political election and when it was almost too late. But he stuck to it. Give credit where credit is due. ...
'Kooks,' Part II
Now we know who's backing and funding the anti-anti-income tax movement: public unions.
No big surprise. But here's the laugher: Only one individual donation. It's turning into a truly us-versus-them showdown. ... If I had to put money down, I'd wager the referendum will be defeated. The unions and most of the Hack-Progressive Alliance won't be caught off guard this time. They're going to the mat on this one. But we can always hope.
Nationalizing an industry
Don't like big government? Then regulate early, lightly and intelligently. Otherwise, you get nationalization
. Simple. ... Needless to say: The answer is not socialism at the outset. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, long the political playgrounds for government types who created and backed them, contributed to the current crisis. But the answer also isn't laissez-faire utopianism. Wall Street's reckless behavior shows the fallacy of that course. Generally, what's needed are capital-reserve regulations now required of mainstream banks, i.e. government requiring capitalists to act like responsible capitalists. ...Update
Fannie and Freddie collapsed, Lehman Brothahs collapsed, Goldman Sachs, AIG …
Everybody is friggin collapsing except the god forsaken formah Devil Rays.
'Your now-frequent invocations of ...' Part II
also understands the deep chords Sarah Palin strikes but still isn't impressed with her résumé. ... He also makes a good point about the irony of conservative attacks on experience and wisdom:
Conservatism was once a frankly elitist movement. Conservatives stood against radical egalitarianism and the destruction of rigorous standards. They stood up for classical education, hard-earned knowledge, experience and prudence. Wisdom was acquired through immersion in the best that has been thought and said.
They also once stood against class warfare. But now they wallow in class resentments as much as liberals. ... Brooks via BMG
-- Reader No. 1 responds to my response below:
The point is not that symbolizing/espousing a view makes someone virtuous - nor whether the test can prove whether or not someone is "a moron" - rather the point is about open-mindedness of which the Warner piece is an extraordinary example and the Haidt a fascinating effort to explain.
RE 'belief' on the MSM please see plenty of data on the MSM. Not current but no less valid.
Hey, I wasn't the one who brought up the issue of frequency undercutting critiques. ...
: The psychological tendencies of believers don't necessarily validate or invalidate a belief system or cause. See stimulating discussion immediately below. ...
'Your now-frequent invocations of ...'
over the past 36 hours prevented me from promptly posting these comments from Reader No. 1, who isn't happy about my emerging views of Sarah Palin:
Memo to Hub Blog: Your now-frequent invocations of Jane Swift and the "moron" phrase undercut your critique of Palin - she is neither. Three links for a rainy Sunday:
1. Judith Warner's account of a Palin rally and why the VP candidate strikes a major chord. Aside from the somewhat condescending "inchoate" at the conclusion, this is an insightful and sympathetic analysis we will all look back upon. Kudos!
2. More analysis on how Democrats and Republicans look differently at morality, c/o Ms. Warner, c/o Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia. Read the whole thing, but note the key paragraph:
"In several large internet surveys, my collaborators Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and I have found that people who call themselves strongly liberal endorse statements related to the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations, and they largely reject statements related to ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. People who call themselves strongly conservative, in contrast, endorse statements related to all five foundations more or less equally. (You can test yourself at www.YourMorals.org.) We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans. The resulting music may sound beautiful to other Democrats, but it sounds thin and incomplete to many of the swing voters that left the party in the 1980s, and whom the Democrats must recapture if they want to produce a lasting political realignment."
3. Jeff Jacoby watched the O'Reilly/Obama interviews and noticed something important about voters and their own interests - I sent you this critical interview excerpt several days ago, incidentally.
Hub Blog's response: I do understand why Sarah Palin strikes a major chord among conservatives and many others -- and I certainly also understand why liberalism is so unappealing, both intellectually and psychologically, to many. (I guess that's one of the reasons why I keep taking these online Who Are You quizzes and coming up as a moderate conservative -- as I did once again after taking the above-mentioned YourMorals.org
test; I actually outscored conservatives in one of three conservative categories). But here's my problem: Just because someone symbolizes and espouses a certain belief or cause that strikes a deep chord among people, it doesn't automatically make that person virtuous and competent, nor, for that matter, validate or invalidate a belief system or cause. No party or cause has a lack of imbeciles and charlatans on their side. Now back to Sarah: No party psychological-tendency test can gauge whether she's a moron or not a moron. History will have to be the judge -- and that's what scares me about Sarah "I live near Russia" Palin. ...
As for Reader No. 1's suggestion that frequent invocations of a belief undercut a critique, I'll try to remember that next time Reader No. 1 and other conservatives rant about the evil MSM. ... As for Jeff's column, I agree with him a lot on his critique of Obama's economic philosophy, which has always struck me as merely warmed-over liberalism from the '70s. But I just wish Jeff and other conservatives had sounded the same alarm as the current occupant of the White House served up his own O'Bushonomics and vast expansion of neighborly government. ...Update
-- Via John Farrell
, John Cleese explains the biological reasons for belief systems and identifies the gene that "makes you want to punch people in the head when they take the scientific process and subject it to their pathological literal-mindedness." ...
Callaghan and Marty are going at it again over at Soxaholix
, this time over the Pats and Jets, as well as Sox and Yanks. ... As for the Pats, I'm actually more interested in this season's outcome than I was before Brady's injury. I knew roughly what to expect with Brady. But without him, it's a long-term unknown -- even after yesterday's satisfying win. It's fun. ...
'And the White House will be adorned by a downright moron' IV
The comparison to Jane Swift
and the definition of downright moron
come into clearer focus this morning
. ... Replacing patronage politics with cronyism is not my idea of reform. ... As far as hacks go, though, Palin still doesn't hold a candle to our home-grown hacks
. Her hacks try to build useless bridges. Our hacks make bridges useless by stealing them. Important difference. But give Sarah time. ...
'Over the strenuous objections of ...'
Interesting journalistic development: The NYT starts out
attributing to others criticism that McCain's recent ads are inaccurate. Then within a few paragraphs, the article drops the attributions and just states McCain has 'falsely claimed' such-and-such and 'repeatedly, and incorrectly' asserted such-and-such, etc. etc. Is that wrong? I'm from the journalistic school that says you don't need an expert to confirm that a blue sky is a blue sky. So if McCain's assertions are 'false' and 'incorrect,' then the NYT is right to call McCain on it -- and, as far as I can tell, they're indeed blatantly false and incorrect claims. More non-attributed assertions of facts, please. Take out the attributions in ledes while at it, please. ...
Notice the article also mentions how the current McCain attack strategy was made 'over the strenuous objections' of some longtime McCain advisers. But here's another fact: The attack strategy is working. Michael Barone
has written, in my opinion, one of the best pieces yet on why McCain's attacks are so successful, citing one of Hub Blog's favorite subjects
, the military philosophy of the late John Boyd
, who urged constant swarming attacks to confuse and get 'inside the minds' of opponents. As Barone quotes Boyd biographer Robert Coram, 'The key to victory is operating at a faster tempo than the enemy.' Do you see Obama and Democrats doing this? Do you really think whining about 'false' claims and 'incorrect' assertions is going to effectively counter such relentless attacks? ... Barone notes at the end that Boyd would have been a good political consultant. True. But it's too bad Republicans, especially the Bush administration, didn't apply Boyd's military theories to military theaters when it counted. ...
Big Shoes to fill
I'm throwing off my Hub Blog hat and putting on my Herald hat this morning to announce, in case you haven't heard it, that the Herald has suffered another big departure. This is the last day at the Herald for Scott Van Voorhis, an eight-year veteran of the paper's business section and one of the Herald's more unheralded superstar reporters. He's leaving to freelance full-time. Scott's literally written thousands of stories for the Herald, consistently breaking major stories on his commercial real estate, sports business and gambling beats. We wanted to send him off with a classic Herald 'perv' story, but all he got was a Hooters scoop today.
Still not bad. He'll be missed a lot -- especially by yours truly, who witnessed up close his incredible work ethic over the years at both the Herald and Boston Business Journal. His depature is a huge loss, but the Herald will bounce back as usual. Well, sort of. ...
'Two Russian long-range bombers ...'
Hub Blog interrupts Lipstick on a Pig Mania for a more important matter: Two Russian long-range bombers
capable of carrying nuclear bombs have landed in Venezuela. ... Now back to lipstick on pigs. ... Seems the Huffington Post
is having its own "Hmmmm. So this is how empires crumble from within"
moment. ... Note: I initially thought Obama's lipstick remark was somewhat stupid. But the fanatical right is totally over the top in its response. It's manufactured indignation. It's so manufactured that I'm beginning to wonder if we're witnessing the final exposure of the far right's game of playing on resentments. It's simply too heavy-handed -- and I suspect the average American voter knows it and, ironically, will resent it. Something to ponder. ... BTW: Afghanistan is a mess.
... But, quick, back to lipstick-gate and kindergarten sex education! ...Update
-- Or as one reader puts it: "Backlash time?" ...
sinks to a new low, comparing Sarah to Eliza Doolittle.
I love it! They even both wear their hair up.
... But Tom
has a good point that Obama's problem isn't so much McCain-Palin than it is Obama's lost change mojo. ... Mickey
recently noted that the Obama campaign's attempt to link McCain to Bush isn't working. I've seen the commercials. They're lame. They also don't have a deep, dark voice narrating the pieces, opting instead for a whiny narrator who sounds like he works for Greenpeace. ... Obama needs to hammer away at Republican rule over the past eight years. Voters will get the connection. Then launch separate attacks on McCain, chipping away, fair or unfair, at his 'maverick' claims. There's a load of lobbyists on his staff. Let the public know about it. There's also the Keating Five, his very hawkish war views, etc. etc. Of course Obama also has to find his lost change mojo. ... Reader No. 1 on the emerging Hub Blog view of the Palin pick ("Good campaign move, bad for country" -- see post below):
I agree with the first half of your view on the Palin pick, but please explain why it is bad for the country? Those are strong words.
Hub Blog's email response:
Re second half of my Palin view: For the same reasons conservatives were worried about Obama's experience during a time of war, I'm worried about Palin's experience in a time of war. She's a crap shoot. And that's not good for the country.
Naturally, most Republicans are no longer worried about experience, while Democrats are now obsessed about it. ...
P.S. -- I'm fully aware the photo above isn't of the highest quality. There are plenty of photos of Audrey Hepburn
with her hair up. But try finding a photo of Audrey Hepburn with her hair up as Eliza. It ain't easy, damn it. ... Anyone who can find a better jpg link, send it along. ...
P.S.P.S. -- I've taken down the Audrey Hepburn photo. (Sigh.) It wasn't getting picked up by some browsers or whatever. Not worth the problem. ... But her Eliza photo can be found here
P.S.P.S.P.S. -- And of course there's Obama's tone-deaf
'lipstick on a pig' line, in addition to his lost change mojo. ... Note to Democrats: Get Palin off the front page by ignoring her. ...
'Gains among white women'
McCain is picking up the Hillary vote.
... The emerging Hub Blog view of the Palin pick: Good political move, bad for country. ...
'We're Gonna Fricken' Lose This Thing'
But not for the reasons cited by Adam. ...
'Autumn of his career'
After reading this
before yesterday's Pats game, I had the sense we were witnessing the slow end of the Brady era, similar to the end of the Bird era. After all, Brady's now 31, banged up, and, believe it or not, has led the Pats through almost an entire decade. But yesterday's injury
still came as a shock. I expected a series of nagging injuries would mark his last two or three seasons. Not this. Out for an entire year? ...Update
-- It's official: 'Tom Brady out for season.'
... Almost can't believe it. ... A few friends questioned whether Brady, before his injury, was as close to the career end as I suggested above. We don't know, of course. But I have a hunch Brady, to his credit, is smart enough to know there's life after football and doesn't want to leave with a broken body. He'll be 33 when his current contract runs out. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he called it quits after the 2010-2011 season, if not sooner. ...
The Neo-Prohibitionists, Part II
thinks I was a little too easy on the Boston Public Health Commission. ...
To vet or not to vet
debate the issue. Howie says the 'real reason' the media is going after Palin is because she's so good looking. Now I admit my dirty old mind works similar to the famous/infamous National Lampoon skit about Nadia Comaneci -- the one in which sportscasters describe Nadia on the balance beam -- whenever I see Sarah. (By the way, have you seen recent photos
of Nadia?) But the real reason why I've been critical of Sarah is far more sinister: I've been obeying orders. As a card-carrying member
of the MSM, I now admit that I follow commands issued by BMG
. The fact that I often make fun of lefties and say their policies suck is meaningless. It's a ruse. It's a cover for my real mission of faking to the right, then going left when it really counts. Margery and Jon Keller
could confirm this. They get the same marching orders. But they won't confirm it. They still hold out hope of getting promoted to full 100-percent national elite MSM status one day. Not me. Now I know that the promised trust-fund, Hamptons invites, honorary degree from the JFK School of Government and Volvo were all liberal lies. So I'm blowing the whistle on the vast media conspiracy that forced me to criticize Sarah Palin, the poor woman, a true martyred victim of an establishment cabal that secretly rules this country. It's now my firm hope that one day the Republicans can take over the presidency, Congress, Supreme Court and
the media so they can really screw things up to spite the liberal weenies in academia. ...
'Treated me like a close friend'
writes about his brain cancer and the friends he's made since his diagnosis, like the Kennedys, and the friends he didn't know were always there. An unusually sentimental piece from the Prince of Darkness -- with a few sharp elbows thrown in for good measure. ...
Hub Blog returns from his virtual Denver and St. Paul assignments to finally blog on a Boston issue, i.e. the Boston Public Health Commission's neo-prohibitionist crackdown
on smokers -- and, please notice, they've shed the protect-the-nonsmokers mantra and are now openly talking about harassing and gouging smokers to get them to quit. ... Listen, I support some of the proposed measures -- the bans on certain tobacco wrappers, campus sales of cigarettes, and smoking on outdoor restaurant patios. They seem reasonable to me. But the commission is just harassing people when it moves to ban smoking on loading docks, etc. They're also letting people be further gouged by future near-monopolistic 7-11s and liquor stores if 'drugstores' are banned from selling cigarettes. (Does Mayor Menino hate CVS for some odd reason? Why is he always trying to ban certain services and products they can provide? Health-care clinics, cigarettes, etc. Something to ponder.). ... Anyway, it's obvious commissioners and cowed PC types (and most definitely the mayor) don't have the courage to say it, but Hub Blog bravely shall: They're trying, via regulatory stages, to implement a Prohibition. We all know how the first Prohibition worked out. But, gosh darn it, an unelected regulatory board -- now declaring itself a 'policy-making' body, shoving aside the hapless city council -- is going for Prohibition II, while not outright and honestly saying that's their goal. ...
One last thing: I'm a smoker. I want to quit. I'm know it's going to kill me. Believe me, I know. But until I quit, I don't want to be needlessly harassed. I don't want to catch pneumonia splashing my way in the rain to the the next legally sanctioned smoking spot that has nothing to do with protecting the health of nonsmokers. I don't want to be financially gouged because of anti-competitive actions approved by government. I can barely make ends meet as it is now. ... P.S. -- I'd be shocked if the non-elected board actually tones down it's new proposed law (oops, I mean 'regulaton'). I certainly don't expect Mayor Menino to intervene. He's ultimately behind this -- and, Lord knows, he doesn't budge once criticized. He does budge when he can blame someone else. Who can we find to blame so the mayor can have the face-saving room to do the right thing? Hmmm. Something else to ponder. ... P.S. II - I will apologize to the mayor if he intervenes without blaming someone else for the more extreme commission proposals. But I doubt I'll be apologizing. ...
OK, Boston-focused posts to come. But Reader No. 1 insists on one more convention-related smack down:
Another reason why at least some Republican delegates seemed "subdued" during McCain's speech is that deep down, they already agreed with McCain's diagnosis that they valued "power over our principles." It is possible to regret the mismanagement of the past few years while championing Governor Palin (and being angry about the ridiculous establishment condescension she has received).
Deep down, you might agree with this year's Republican delegates more than you think.
Actually, the last line might be rewritten to be more accurate: “Deep down, most of this year's Republican delegates who never openly said boo about their regrets might agree with McCain, Hub Blog and other critics more than they care to think or applaud." ... For, of course, it's 'possible' some Republicans are only now conceding their 'regrets' because they have no other option. Despite the modern argumentative mindset
of conservatives, they realize now they have to literally run against themselves in order to win. So it's 'possible' that the 'regrets' are merely part of a tactical phase to get back into the swing of things, conceding arguments while not really conceding arguments
, so they can resume their all-important fight against their mirror-image lefty counterparts.
P.S. -- Reader No. 1 recommends this Michael Barone piece
about how McCain can learn from Nicolas Sarkozy. McCain already seems to be following the Sarkozy blueprint. Not that Sarkozy has done so well after getting into office, though nabbing an Italian supermodel was quite a feat. The family-values plain folk wouldn't appreciate such a move by McCain. Just a wild guess. ... Bottom line (again): We're looking at a very close November election. ...
'Power over our principles'
OK, one last convention-related post. Here's the full text
of McCain speaking the truth to his fellow Republicans, prime time before a national audience:
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
We’re going to change that. We’re going to recover the people’s trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.
I'm still upset with his choice of a vice presidential candidate. But it took guts to say this. He's won back some of my respect.
'Bought McCain the space to be himself'
Not surprisingly, the delivery was only OK. But McCain's words and message
about his fellow Republicans were on target:
We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us.
Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd: change is coming.
Etc., etc. The amazing thing is that McCain is and has to run against his own party
to win -- against the same clowns who think abortion, gun rights, hockey moms, class resentments, the liberal media etc. are the key issues facing the nation. They're not. McCain just told Republicans who and what are the problem: Republicans. Last night McCain did a better job framing the 2008 election than the Democrats -- and, incredibly, he may well win because of it, despite the phony conservatives who sat on their asses over the past eight years as government grew, pork-barrel spending deliberately encouraged as a means of maintaining power, cronyism and corruption tolerated, inept war management defended. No wonder some delegates were "subdued" last night as McCain spoke. They'd much prefer Sarah as president and engage in self-pity about the big bad MSM. Pathetic. ... Enough with national politics. Back to Boston issues tomorrow. Promise. ...Update
thinks McCain screwed up delivery of the anti-GOP passages, which he called "potentially the most effective part of the speech." But if McCain was mad that the passages fell flat, what did he expect? He was basically telling his fellow Republicans they blew it -- and most of them don't want to hear that. They've grown accustomed to being in denial. ...
'And the White House will be adorned by a downright moron,' III
has a smart post about Palin's effective speech and skills as a candidate. Democrats underestimate her at their peril. But there's a huge difference between a good attack-dog candidate and competent president during wartime. As Joan
Palin can give the speech of her life at the Republican National Convention. It won't beef up her resume and it's amusing to watch top-tier Republicans like Rudy Giuliani insist otherwise.
BTW -- Besides recently thinking of H.L. Mencken, I should note I've also been thinking about Rome, as in, "Hmmmm. So this is how empires crumble from within." ... It's not just Palin, though she really does come across as the heart's desire of the plain folk. It's the entire country. The country seems whacked out these days. It's almost depressing. I should find a way to enjoy it more. ...Update
-- Reader No. 1 reacts to the post immediately below:
'C' sounds frustrated. I am fascinated by the delicious Hive-like echo chamber of voices shouting about who really wrote the speech. Of course, there has been great admiration for the Candidate as Memoirist...
My favorite (of many) lines from last night: "This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. "
Do you really think any of this year's candidates for President and VP are "downright morons?" Our household thought last night was a remarkable demonstration of poise and toughness. What did you think?
This was my response:
I thought the speech was fine. ... But the jury's still out on whether she's a downright moron like Jane Swift. Sorry we disagree. But I'm not jumping on this bandwagon. None of us know how she'll do as a vice president -- or president. Not you. Not me. No one. Experience doesn't count for everything (see George Will column). I just would have preferred having a chance to better assess her qualifications via a longer track record. It's one of the reasons I'm hesitant about Obama, BTW, not to mention hesitant about his tired liberal track record. I'm very disappointed in McCain. ...
'And the White House will be adorned by a downright moron,' II
An old Hub Blog friend, C, not to be confused with the Globe's G
, writes in:
Since most of my friends are conservatives (or at least vote that way for wealth protection), I have decided to pay closer attention to the heroes of the Right. I particularly enjoyed watching Sarah Palin (the new darling of the “Hypocrite-i-can” party) read the attack speech that was written for her last night by Bush’s speech writer.
Speaking of last night, there were some classic moments at the RNC:
1. Cindy McCain waving around the Downs Syndrome baby we are not supposed to talk about (seated next to the model American family).
2. Mitt Romney’s speech about how the liberals have been in control of Washington since Reagan. Somehow he overlooked the Supreme Court, the last eight years of the Bush presidency, and the last 6 of 8 years of the Republican congress.
3. Rudy Gulianni bashing the same elite press corp that elevated him from a philandering unpopular Mayor to the former front runner for the Presidency.
4. The former minister Mike Huckabee’s outrageous claim that Palin got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president (Biden had about 80,000 votes and Wasilla has a population of about 9,000).
It reminded me of the Karl Rove days. I heard nothing about what they will do in office but just what you should be afraid of. I guess it is better not to hear promises they have no intention of fulfilling (just like Bush claiming to be a non-partisan and against “nation building”). I am betting on McCain in Vegas today. McCain will get the Independents due to the fear of the inexperienced, raise your taxes, liberal bogeyman and Palin has locked up the stupid vote once again.
I'd say it's a smart bet. Can get good odds while the Palin storm still rages. ...
'And the White House will be adorned by a downright moron'
Considering the circus-like atmosphere of the Republican convention, I couldn't help but think of H.L. Mencken
. Here's Mencken on the nature of national elections:
... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. Peggy Noonan
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
alluded to the same thing by noting what a "fabulous freak of a campaign" we've had this year. Michael Savage
, who I rarely agree with, was hilariously fuming last night about the "hacks" and "garbage" both parties were serving up, calling both Democrats and Republicans "political cross-dressers" over the Palin-pregnancy flap. Good stuff. ... Speaking of Peggy Noonan, she appears to have expressed her true feelings
about Palin when she thought the mike was off. I'll accept her explanation that her "it's over" remark wasn't a reference to the Palin pick's impact on the McCain campaign. But this Noonan line about Palin is rather straight-forward: "The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives." ... She confirms my contention, expressed below, that many Republicans, deep down, know they're trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse on the Palin pick. ... Modern Republican Hack Playbook Rule No. 2: Blame the media for Republican blunders.
What's Rule No. 1? Defend Republican blunders at all costs. ... Speaking of Noonan again, Reader No. 1 writes in about my post immediately below:
... I think your choices of the Will and Noonan columns were superb. Here's my take on the real breakthrough insights in Noonan's article (BF emphasis added):
"And when you forget you're a Bubblehead you get in trouble, you misjudge things. For one thing, you assume evangelical Christians will be appalled and left agitated by the circumstances of Mrs. Palin's daughter. But modern American evangelicals are among the last people who'd judge her harshly. It is the left that is about to go crazy with Puritan judgments; it is the right that is about to show what mellow looks like. Religious conservatives know something's wrong with us, that man's a mess. They are not left dazed by the latest applications of this fact. "This just in – there's a lot of sinning going on out there" is not a headline they'd understand to be news."
Actually, I've argued in recent years that the hard-core left and right are just mirror images of each other. Looks like they've switched mirrors on this issue. But they're still mirror images. ...
'The Case Against the Case Against Palin,' Part III
Bert makes a good point:
As a liberal, I can’t help but worry that -- no matter how inexperienced she is, no matter how poorly the vetting and overall decision making process seems to have been handled by McCain -— it won’t matter one whit on election day.
Swift might be a good comparison in terms of the individual, but in terms of overall electoral impact, I think a better comparison might be Quayle.
Did I miss the part where the reasons for Huckabee being dismissed were thoroughly discussed and accepted? If so, sorry for napping at the wrong time.
I agree. Everyone is comparing Palin to Quayle. But Bush I won with Quayle. The Palin storm will probably pass. But the Palin pick is still discomforting. It's a huge gamble. ... I think it was Reader No. 1 who said a long, long time ago that the election, no matter what, was going to be close again, along the same old fault lines. Sure looks like it. ...Update
-- George Will
, writing what might be described as a Case Against the Case Against the Case Against Palin, also isn't impressed with the Palin selection. ...
Update II -- Peggy Noonan
is more of a tentative Case Against the Case Against Palin type:
Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not -- and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.
One note re 'conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not': Are you kidding me? Conservatives are the biggest saps when it comes to falling for phony conservatives who mouth what they want to hear. Look at the long list of fools who lined up behind George II, Mitt, Huck, etc. etc. etc.
'The Case Against the Case Against Palin,' Part II
Reader No. 1 points out a Robert Novak column
touting Palin as brilliant pick. Meanwhile, the NYT notes the Christian right is beyond happy
. Then there are the happy hockey moms
(not to be confused with suburban soccer moms) and those whose opinions are mostly based on the degree of their media paranoia
. Add it all up: The right is happy. ... Or so they say. I can't shake the feeling that many Republicans know, deep down, they're trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse on this one. ... Personally, I'm now less inclined to vote for McCain, so I assume there are other moderate-conservatives and moderates feeling the same way. As a Massachusetts resident, I can't help but think of Jane Swift when I see Sarah Palin. Please spare me the you're-a-sexist criticism. It's not a matter of Woman + Lots of Kids = Jane Swift. It's more a matter of Pander Gender Pick + Inexperience = Jane Swift. I don't want Sarah Palin anywhere near the White House when a quickly aging 72-year-old takes office. I haven't ruled out that Palin could be a huge surprise. But I don't want to take that chance. I don't respect John McCain for putting the country in this position. ... BTW: Welcome back to Bob Novak. ...
'The Case Against the Case Against Palin'
A warning to Dems
-- and people like yours truly. Based on what I've seen so far, McCain's VP choice was truly awful and reckless. But there's still something inside me that says this apparent nobody could surprise. ...
McCain's the problem, not the pregnancy, Part II
: "Aides to Mr. McCain said they had a team on the ground in Alaska now to look more thoroughly into Ms. Palin’s background." ... The vetting process was virtually nonexistent. ...
McCain's the problem, not the pregnancy
Can someone explain how this
is an overall political plus to the McCain-Palin ticket? I can see a lot of negatives (fair and unfair -- dysfunctional family, ideological and family-values ironies, fresh questions about McCain's judgment and decision-making process, and, let's face it that a lot of people are thinking it, the ugly white-trash suggestions the pregnancy evokes, even though we know there's no class differences between out-of-wedlock pregnancies, whether they occur in Gloucester or Beverly, etc). The only pluses I can see are: A.) Some, especially evangelicals, will applaud Palin and her daughter for sticking by their anti-abortion stance and B.) If there's a political backlash among women if Palin and her daughter are viciously criticized (Obama is handling this smart so far). But those are only marginal pluses. ... It's not that I mind/care that Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant. It's more about John McCain. He knew about this before selecting Palin and still took the risk of selecting her over vastly more qualified female Republicans -- all of which reinforces my long-held view that McCain is a loose cannon, despite all his other admirable qualities. ... One other point: This pretty much cancels out future GOP minions' criticism of Obama's half-brother in Africa. Do you really see Republican hacks picking on that issue now? ...
Nice post here
about all the other reasons why the Palin pick is bad. The early fake-pregnancy rumors were truly ugly. ... Agree with a reader over at Andrew Sullivan's
site (can't get the permalink right now) who says the only way Palin can work out now is if she really proves critics wrong, very quickly and very forcefully, in coming weeks. But right now, the Palin selection looks like a truly awful and reckless decision that reflects poorly on McCain. ...
Hardly a 'surprise nobody'
Reader Andre agree with another reader that Harry Truman was well known when selected by FDR in '44:
Harry Truman was hardly a "surprise nobody" when FDR chose him for VP -- certainly not in the sense that Sarah Palin is. It is true that he was not well known to the general public, but he had served for 10 years as US Senator from a fairly large state, and had earned respect in Washington, most notably for his handling of complex and controversial hearings about war contracts ("Truman Committee"). The closest equivalent among Republican women today might be Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who would not have been much of a surprise choice for McCain.
Jane Swift, of course, was not considered a viable gubernatorial candidate by the GOP, even though (1) she was the incumbent, and (2) she had much more experience in government than Sarah Palin.
I now officially concede the issue. ...