May 03, 2008

How is it exactly that in the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, America still has colonies?

May 02, 2008

Kevin Drum, on the "power" of the blogosphere:
If the respective left and right blogospheres had any real say in things, would we be looking at a McCain vs. Obama contest in November? Or McCain vs. Hillary? We would not. It would be Giuliani vs. Edwards, or maybe Romney vs. Dodd. The blogosphere is good at raising modest sums of money, and it likewise plays a modest role at the congressional level, but its influence on the national stage appears to be pretty close to nil. That was true in 2004, when Kerry won the Democratic nomination, and it appears to still be true four years later.
I think that's about right. Obama didn't really excite any of the Kool Kidz on the left until Super Tuesday; Edwards was the candidate who made the most conscientious effort to woo bloggers during the run-up to Iowa. And I'm not aware of any popular conservative blogger who backed McCain; even now, most of them are more anti-Obama than enthusiastic backers of the presumptive Republican nominee.

However, there is more to the netroots than just the blogs at the top of the Technorati 100. Even if bloggers like Kos were slow to warm to Obama, other bloggers were much more enthusiastic; even if their daily hits were a fraction of Daily Kos or Atrios, their combined totals were more impressive. Obama has been the most effective in raising funds over the internet, in large part because he pursued a "long tail" strategy concerning the blogosphere.

May 01, 2008

Today is the Fifth Anniversary of the "end" of major hostilities in Iraq.
One of the beneficiaries of the President's stimulus plan: credit card companies. The IRS announced today that those $600 checks being mailed out this month will be considered property of the estate in all bankruptcies filed after the rebate was signed into law by President Bush.

April 30, 2008

A point well-taken, over at Volokh:
Friendship is not necessarily based on someone's political views, no matter how goofy or even hateful, especially if the person is not sticking their views in your face all of the time. It is also appropriate not to be friends with someone whose political views you abhore, especially if they are flamboyant about it. But whether someone holds mainstream political views is not the basis on which acquaintances are built. If you have a sincere affection for someone built up over many years, you tend to forgive their occasional lunacies. Especially if it is a person who you came to respect, admire, and befriend many years before, perhaps when that person was not nuts. To me, I don't necessarily see it as a flaw in Obama that he hasn't made a big show of denouncing Wright or Ayers until he was forced to. I do think that he probably is fed up with Wright from the standpoint that he has tried to treat Wright with the respect that he sees owed to a longstanding pastor who is now making a public embarrassment of himself. He has tried to be patient with Wright in hopes that Wright would sober up, but instead Wright just keeps pouring it on, at which point Obama says "enough." So it seems reasonable to me that Obama has been largely sincere through this whole process, first in trying to give Wright an opportunity to clean up his act but then to say "enough" when Wright refused to do so.

As I said, Obama seems like quite a decent guy. I'm not going to vote for him because of his policy views but he still seems like a decent guy. He has a lot of tolerance for nutty political views, but anyone who hangs around academia or any political movement will certainly have friend and acquaintances who have nutty political views. If you are a basically decent and compassionate person you try to look for the best in people and work with everyone, not throw aside friends just because you don't agree with their political views. Moreover, if you have a friend who has idiotic political views you don't run around adding to his embarrassment making a public spectacle out of denouncing those views, but instead I would think that you would hope that the guy would wisen up.
Amen to that. The writer, Prof. Zywicki, makes clear he isn't going to be casting a ballot for Sen. Obama, but does a nice job putting the whole issue into context. Read the whole thing.

April 29, 2008

Obama's Mulligan: Damn if he isn't the most gifted political figure of my lifetime. There's been a little criticism, mainly coming from white conservatives who weren't going to vote for a black man for the Presidency anyway, but the reaction this afternoon couldn't have plotted any better. He gets the best of both worlds: he gets to make the unselfish, non-political speech on race in Philly last month, refusing to knife his friend, and when his friend, in turn, shows his gratitude by throwing him under the bus (John Cole has a better analogy, here), he gets to play the aggrieved victim, spelling out exactly where he and Rev. Wright differ. From now on, all the You-Tube videos of Wright damning America or acting the buffoon won't define this issue; today's denunciation will.

A "Sista Souljah" moment that's better than the original, since this took courage. Anyone who doesn't hold McCain to the same standard with Hagee is a racist.
When Mariah Carey passed the King last month on the Billboard list of most number one songs, I was intrigued, since I hadn't heard of any of her hits. This writer in Slate tries to come up with some reasons as to why she's as culturally significant as Elvis or the Beatles, but when the top reasons include her vocal influence on "American Idol" contestants (another show I've never watched) and her mid-90's rivalry with Whitney Houston (which the writer facetiously compares with Biggie v. 2Pac), it's a losing argument. To use a sports analogy, she is to pop music what Larry Holmes, the 1980's N.Y. Islanders, the Bulls of the 90's were to their sports: bland, uninteresting champions that dominated when the competition was weak and the sport was dull.

April 28, 2008

Since the good Rev. Wright seems content on not letting his fifteen minutes expire, Barack Obama has been given a pretty sweet opportunity to go public with his position that, no, he doesn't believe AIDS was cooked up in some lab to kill blacks, and that the semi-crazy egotist who we've seen babbling for the last couple of days is not the same person who brought him to God, no more than the Pope who drowsed his way during the pedophilia scandals of the final years of his pontificate was the same John Paul II who brought the Soviet Union to its knees.

Obama's thoughtfulness, his ability to explain nuance, is the prime reason he is the presumptive nominee, and why he continues to lead McCain in most polls. To be given a chance to first give a speech putting Wright in the context of American race relations, and then a few weeks later to distance himself from some of the loonier conspiratorial ravings of the black pulpit, is better than your routine mulligan; it's a chance to dominate the agenda through the end of the primaries.

April 27, 2008

Newsweek has a new poll out showing both Obama and Clinton maintaining a three-point lead over McCain; a month and a half ago, before the controversies involving Rev. Wright and assorted members of the Weathermen, and before Senator Clinton began her "kitchen sink" strategy, Obama had a one-point lead over the presumptive Republican nominee. Other polls, including Rasmussen and Gallup, show essentially the same thing: there has been no change in the polls, and even a slight gain for Obama, over the last eight weeks. As long as McCain continues to shill for the Bush Administration's disastrous policies in the Middle East and the economy, the Democrats could nominate Michael Vick and win in November.
Finally, an explanation of the Isiah Thomas Era in New York that makes sense....