Friday, February 15, 2013

Vilsack Not Running, Propaganda Aplenty

Tom Vilsack announced he's not running for the Iowa Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin. This immediately had the intended effect. The NRSC and the DSCC issued dueling statements worthy of any Soviet-era propaganda minister.

From the NRSC:
The [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] tried and failed to prevent Sen. Harkin's hand-chosen candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley, from a clear path to the nomination because they know his brand of liberalism is too far outside the mainstream for most Iowans. Now Democrats are stuck [with] a slick former head of the trial lawyers association and one of the most partisan members of Congress as their candidate, Bruce Braley.
From the DSCC:
In an attempt to distract from their waning influence within their own party, the NRSC has released a false and incomprehensible statement about Congressman Braley that only adds to the committee's embarrassment. Perhaps they should be more concerned about a field of candidates out of touch with mainstream Americans and a potential primary that will push the eventual nominee even further to the right.
Is there any point to this? Is it some kind of useful signaling game? Are there voters who donors or activists who find any of this useful?

No. This is pure nonsense that achieves nothing. Enter the political scientist. I think there's actually an interesting political science question here. Both committees employ people to write this stuff and send it out there. The AP or Reuters or whoever scoops it up and runs with it. Why do these various political actors waste time on this? There's something interesting in the (at least seemingly) wasted resources (time, money, etc.).


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Obama and His Base

I like Ben Smith a lot. He writes a lot of good stuff. This is bad stuff. Really stupid to be honest.

Smith argues Obama is about to "screw his base" because Obamacare is going to raise health care costs for the young (Obama's base) and reduce health care costs for the elderly (they vote for the other guy - ANY other guy). Ezra Klein points out various reasons Smith is just wrong. But the worst part of it is this:
Imminent elements of Obama's grandest policy move, the health-care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies.
What in the world are you talking about Ben??? Obamacare is "calculated to screw his most passionate supporters?" Come on. And he's transferring wealth to "his worst enemies?" Obama is not Nixon. Old, sick people are not his "enemies." The provisions Smith is referring to are a BADLY needed fix the health care system needs. Young people need to pay in when they are healthy and they have been behaving as free riders. It is a collective action problem. Obamacare fixes it.

And guess what else? Young people hope to someday ... ya know ... be old. They get the benefits of Obamacare back then.

This is horserace, slice-and-dice politics at its worst. Awful Ben. Just awful.

Monday, February 11, 2013

ST6 and the Raid on bin Laden's Compound

An absolutely riveting piece by Phil Bronstein of Esquire on the Navy Seal who shot bin Laden and, more importantly, on the life of Navy Seals both in the military and after the military. Tough piece. But this is my favorite snippet from the long piece:
One of the snipers who'd seen the disabled helo approached just before they went into the main building. He said, "Hey, dude, they've got an awesome mock-up of our helo in their yard." I said, "No, dude. They shot one of ours down." He said, "Okay, that makes more sense than the shit I was saying."
I guess keeping their sense of humor even in the most scary and dark moments is the only way to move through it.

Papal Elections Are Complex

This ought to make it harder to reform the presidential selection process. The Electoral College looks democratic and simple in comparison.