Archive for February, 2009

Comedy in 140-Character Bursts
February 24, 2009

This semester I’m going to be a part-time social media intern for Cracked, mostly in charge of regularly updating their Twitter feed. I start updating tomorrow, so feel free to follow and let me know how much better the last guy was.

And for good measure, here’s my personal Twitter.


Govern From the Base
February 24, 2009

Two interesting polls in the last couple of days: one shows that the American people wish Obama was less bipartisan and the Republicans more so. A lot of people have made the obvious point that this is further evidence that Obama should get more aggressive, particularly on economic policy.

But get this: it’s not just that Obama will be able to hold onto support from moderates if he pushes the Republicans a little harder. It’s also that Obama’s attempts to reach across the aisle doing nothing to help his popularity with Republicans.

Which means that in the court of public opinion, this is basically a no-lose situation. Push harder, and he’ll make the base and the center happy, while only pissing off people who are going to dislike him no matter what. And on the policy side, the benefits are pretty obvious.

Of course, I fully expect the Republicans to ignore that first poll. They seem to have doubled down on opposition for its own sake.

My Two Liebermans
February 24, 2009

You know, I give Senator Lieberman shit for being, on foreign policy at least, something of an ideological extremist. That being said, this is pretty low, even for him.

Associating with prominent neoconservatives is one thing. Associating with unabashed neo-fascists is quite another.

New Campus Progress Column
February 23, 2009

Special Take Back NYU! is Annoying Edition

This might be the first column I’ve written for Campus Progress in which I remembered to include the “campus” part. So get it while it’s hot.

It Takes a Nation of Cowards to Hold Us Back
February 22, 2009

Maureen Dowd, unintentionally proving Eric Holder’s point:

Yet Obama is oozing empathy compared with his attorney general, who last week called us “a nation of cowards” about race.

Eric Holder, who showed precious little bravery in standing up to Clinton on a pardon for the scoundrel Marc Rich, is wrong. We have just inaugurated a black president who installed a black attorney general.

This is a non-sequitor wrapped in a non-sequitor. Compare this baffling dismissal to Charles Blow’s earlier meditation on Holder’s remarks, and you have to ask yourself, yet again: Why the hell does Maureen Dowd get column space in any reputable paper, much less the venerable Gray Lady?

TBNYU’s Next Event: A Giant Pity Party
February 22, 2009

Take Back NYU! might not be much in the activism department, but its members have always shown a remarkable penchant for hyperbole and self-aggrandizement. Unsurprisingly, that defines their response to NYU’s resolution to the mess they started.

Many students are electing to live off-campus rather than taking the NYU housing option, said CAS senior Drew Phillips, a member of Take Back NYU, the coalition that launched the occupation of Kimmel.

“The way this was handled was completely atrocious,” Phillips said. “NYU showed its giant teeth and is a monster.”

Protester Maria Lewis lived in Carlyle Court residence hall before the occupation. She is now living with her friend.

“I think the iron fist came out of the velvet glove,” Lewis said of the university’s actions.

Cry me a goddamn river. What did they expect to happen? It seems to me that NYU administrators have been very restrained in their reaction to this whole thing, because they recognize that being overly harsh will just lend credibility to the credibility-starved TBNYU. But given what happened, the group seems to be getting off really easy.

February 21, 2009

Via Paul Krugman, we get this:

Only 25% to 30% of ex-Bush officials seeking full-time jobs have succeeded, estimated Eric Vautour, a Washington recruiter at Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. That “is much, much worse” than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left the White House, he said.

To which all I can say is:

Public Opinion and Self-Preservation
February 21, 2009

Contra Jamelle, I think Daniel’s got the right idea here.

It’s not that Republicans aren’t taking public opinion into account, or that the Democrats necessarily are, it’s that politicians don’t solely act on the public opinion of the moment, they can’t afford to because the public is an extremely fickle creature and passing policy takes far longer than Americans are sometimes willing to wait for which, I think, is as it should be because the public is also incredibly stupid (read: electing two term President George W. Bush).

Which leads me back to a really sharp post that Yglesias wrote a month back:

What matters for political sense is a few big, crude factors. And the Bush administration, whatever you say about them, seems to me to have basically understood this. There was a lot of sentiment in December 2000 and January 2001 that the weird nature of Bush’s accession to the presidency meant that he not only would but had to basically ditch his governing agenda in favor of a more centrist posture. The Bushies correctly ascertained that whether or not he succeeded in getting bipartisan glamor shots three and a half years earlier was going to have nothing to do with his re-election prospects. They saw that a President has certain powers to shape policy, that the vast majority of policy decisions have no impact whatsoever on voter behavior, and that the best thing you can do is just press ahead with what you think is best.

What the voters think they want matters a hell of a lot less than you think, and behavior that looks like principled stands is going to be rewarded more than adjusting your opinion based on whatever the polls show that week. Unfortunately for America and the world, George W. Bush’s advisers understood this and his opponents didn’t.

Accountability in Action
February 21, 2009

Daniel Larison has a correction on Charles Krauthammer’s latest column.

The causes for the end of U.S. access to Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan were many, and most of them were related to internal Kyrgyz politics and U.S. actions in connection with the base, as the former Kyrgyz ambassador to the U.S. under the old Akayev regime makes clear here. The wise thing would be to spend less time whining about Russia’s so-called “brazen provocations” and to spend more trying to understand how Washington lost the goodwill of the Kyrgyz government. One way to start would be to acknowledge that the Kyrgyz government is not merely a puppet, but it will drift into the orbit of whichever major power it finds most aligned with its interests.

The funny part is that the correct information was previously published in the Post, and yet Krauthammer’s editor still didn’t bother to check it.

But now that Larison has pointed out the need for a correction, I’m sure that the Post will get right on that.

The Only Winners in the Occupation
February 20, 2009

I know I keep saying this, but can we have a big round of applause for the whole NYU Local team? If I were the editor or publisher of a new media journalistic enterprise, I would be actively recruiting Charlie, Cody, Lily, Jess, Nicole, Dean, Surekha and everyone else involved in covering that story right now.

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