My thoughts on Obama’s transition process, in convenient numbered form:
1. I’m not much for criticizing Obama’s appointments. For the most part, I’m content to let him pick whomever he wants and judge his administration on the policies it implements. The exceptions to this are especially egregious nominations or nominations of people who are clearly incompetent. We’ve had one of those so far and he’s now withdrawn. So I’m relatively happy.
2. Clinton as Secretary of State isn’t a great choice. To some extent their differences in the primaries were more heat than light, but their respective foreign policy views actually seemed to be somewhat different. Not by a lot, but enough that in the context of an election that didn’t see debates about overarching foreign policy principles they’re significant. So, enough to vote on the basis of them, but not enough that I think Obama supporters should be actively hostile to a Clinton nomination.
[O]ne could forgive Geithner right now if his head swelled just a little bit. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up five hundred points on Friday as word of his appointment leaked. The Dow jumped close to another four hundred points yesterday after Obama officially introduced him. One has to wonder if, sometime this week, when Geithner’s wife asks him to do the dishes, he will be tempted to respond, “Have you caused the Dow to jump by more than ten percent? I didn’t think so!”
4. I have no use for weekly addresses on YouTube.
Here’s James Dobson responding to the Kathleen Parker column I mentioned the other day:
Whatever she once was, Ms. Parker is certainly not a conservative anymore, having apparently realized it’s a lot easier to be popular among your journalistic peers when your keyboard tilts to the left. She writes that “armband religion” — those of us who “wear our faith on our sleeve,” I suppose, or is it meant to compare socially conservative Christians to Nazis? — is “killing the Republican Party.” Lest readers miss the point, she literally spells it out. The GOP’s big problem? G-O-D.
That’s right, Dobson is seriously entertaining the idea that Parker was calling Christians Nazis by using the expression of wearing something on their sleeves.
Quite the intellectual giant Dobson is.
I’ve been pretty amenable to bailouts of late. I supported TARP (and I guess I still do) and haven’t really been too annoyed about auto bailouts or today’s CitiGroup bailout. Mostly, I’ve just wanted to stick my fingers in my ears, because I have no idea how this is supposed to end. I mean, we can’t literally bail out everyone, right? Are we just bailing companies out until our economy starts getting better? Given today’s Citi bailout, there are no reasons left to trust Paulson’s competence. If this government can’t even execute handouts in a comprehensible fashion, what the hell is the point? Nor do they seem to be able to get anything of value for us taxpayers (well, besides keeping these companies from failing). At least with socialism taxpayers get some kind of return.
I don’t really have much interest in figuring out why the Republican Party seems to have gone to hell, but the debates are kind of interesting. Especially the one about religious conservatives. Spurred by a Kathleen Parker column, here’s Daniel Larison saying the religious right isn’t the problem and here’s Kevin Drum making a case that it’s at least a significant factor.
For my part, both seem right. Speaking for myself, one of those young people who came of political age during the Bush administration, the fact that Bush’s presidency has been such a disaster really does seem like the catalyst for my views. My parents are conservative, it’s hard to claim I was indoctrinated in college given that I was a CS major and took almost no relevant humanities classes, and I had no particularly political friends. If 9/11 and the Iraq war hadn’t occurred, it’s not a stretch to say I’d be pretty apolitical.
On the other hand, I’m not religious. To the extent that I thought about it, I’ve always held liberal-ish social views. So even were I inclined to GOP positions on the economy and foreign policy, the GOP still looks to me like the party of conservative Christians who really don’t like, well, people like me.
So I think Republicans are getting hit from two sides. Their recent performance is disastrous and just for good measure they’ve alienated a lot of young people to whom they could appeal for another chance. The former they can fix by finding candidates to competently advance their basic agenda (a hawkish foreign policy and a smaller government, business-focused domestic policy are always going to be capable of winning elections). Easier said than done. The latter they can fix by dumping the crazy people. But dumping those people will alienate the religious right and if they haven’t restored their brand otherwise (and maybe even if they have), the cure will be worse than the disease.
So it looks to me like they have to solve the first problem and improve their standing a bit regarding the second. Moderate enough on social issues to make people like me less hostile (obviously I’m probably too far gone for them to placate me completely and not entirely lose the religious right) and people in charge who aren’t corrupt fuck-ups. It’s not really an existential problem, but it’s still a difficult path to walk without screwing it all up.
Encouraging people to concoct plausible rationales for oppression since the beginning of our species.
While the new Bond movie is pretty good, the same can’t be said for the theme song. It’s not like I was a huge fan of the one in Casino Royale, but White’s song makes Cornell’s look like the pinnacle of rock music.
Then again, my feelings toward most of what I’ve heard by Jack White (meaning The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), can be fairly described as pure hatred, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I wonder, if I could patent posts of the form “Barack Obama is doing X, that’s not Y,” where X is a policy or action by Obama that conservatives dislike/misinterpret and Y is some variant of a Barack Obama campaign slogan involving change or hope, and charge royalties, how much money would I make in the next four years? I think I’d own the planet. It’d at least be enough to hire Michael Goldfarb to rant about how everyone who doesn’t like me is stupid and plays D&D.
Another idea: a subscription-based web service that conservatives can send a given policy or action and get a post with a snide remark about it not being change back. I’d free up a lot of conservative energy with that. They’d have even more time to devote themselves to figuring out who in the Republican Party doesn’t like Sarah Palin and complaining about them. That’s a goal we can all support.
I don’t have much to add to the arguments about what this election means. I’m not quite sure what it means. Yes, voters rejected the character smears. That’s a plus. Did they endorse a progressive policy vision? Obama didn’t campaign as a unabashed liberal, but he didn’t shy away from the content of his policy proposals, which are fairly liberal. On the other hand, he definitely did tack right on a few issues. I don’t want to indulge on the sort of “every election result proves America is a center-right nation” media narrative, but it’s not clear to me how far Democrats can go before people think they’ve overreached.
That said, bring on the overreach. For fuck’s sake, I’m tired of criticizing right-wing crap. I want us to err on the other side of things for a change. I want to be having a debate about whether Pelosi’s plan to legalize drugs and give everyone a monthly cocaine stipend is a good idea. It won’t happen, but I can dream, right?
On the navel-gazing side of things, blogging’s going to be a bit different isn’t it? Lefty blogs will flip to a defensive position and conservatives will no longer be tethered to the assclown who’s been running things for the last eight years. I won’t say liberal bloggers will go as loopy as the conservative blogosphere, but it’s going to be different.
Moving to even more self-centered navel-gazing, I started paying attention to politics while Bush was in office and haven’t been anything other than opposed to the leadership of the country for the past eight years (the last two are a bit more complicated, but you get the point). I’m better at deconstructing arguments than making a positive case for something. Again, it’ll be interesting.
I’m still just happy we elected someone who isn’t an idiot. Whatever else Obama does, he’ll at least be minimally competent, regardless of whether he’s right or not. It’s “I disagree with that” vs. “Oh Jesus he’s killed 200,000 people for no apparent reason.” Not even rumors about RFK, Jr. being head of the EPA have brought down my happiness.
(Seriously though, no. Letting an anti-vaccination guy in charge of an agency that deals with scientific research is like putting Pat Robertson in charge of the NAS. He’s just going to hurt someone.)
Still, it’s not a moment I’m going to forget. It didn’t even seem real when they called it last night. How NBC called it didn’t help; the come back from commercial and there’s a graphic on the screen declaring Obama to be president-elect. No voice over, nothing. Everyone else in the room thought it was some kind of glitch, until they went back to their coverage and we realized the polls on the west coast just closed.
The adults are back in charge. Finally.