Infidel Links, Post-Election Thoughts

8 Nov

election2012 2A Method to their Mathlessness (Julian Sanchez)

I’ll confess, while not particularly invested in the outcome of the presidential race, I shared the amusement of my Democratic friends watching staunch conservative pundits doing their best impression of the former Iraqi information minister in the weeks before the election. We saw a string of prominent conservatives confidently projecting landslide victories for Mitt Romney, and waving aside all the (as we now know, highly accurate) statistical models projecting a solid Obama win on the grounds that “all the vibrations are right” for Republicans. That said, given the role that partisan pundits play, I can’t really say they were wrong to do so. Indeed, the next time the best available models project a clear Republican win, their Democratic counterparts would probably be wise to do at least a little bit of the same thing, and gin up reasons (however spurious) to think the polls got it wrong this time.

Wrath of the Math: Obama Wins Nerdiest Election Ever (Attackerman)

But not everything can be quantified — particularly, freedom and security. And a wag might say that those issues took a backseat in 2012. Here are two percentages that help quantify both: 600 percent and 9.4 percent. 600 percent is the increase in warrantless surveillance over the last decade — under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Neither Romney nor Obama had anything substantive to say about civil liberties. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

And 9.4 percent is the scheduled annual cut to practically every aspect of the Defense Department for a decade under a legislatively-devised mechanism for slashing the deficit. Obama and Romney both have an opinion on that latter percentage: they hate it, and want the defense cuts averted, even though neither laid out a plan to avoid them. Want more defense figures? Try 350 and $8 billion. That’s the number of ships in Romney’s supersized Navy fleet, up from 285 today; and the projected additional annual cost for the shipbuilding surge, on top of about $19.8 billion today. Romney made expanding sea power a centerpiece of his defense policy, bashing Obama for presiding over the smallest fleet since 1916 — resulting in the instantly memed Obama rejoinder that the military also has fewer horses and bayonets.

There was another invisible, security-related data point: 3,000. That’s a credible, if unconfirmed, estimate of how many people — civilians and terrorists alike — have been killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2004. Obama dramatically intensified and institutionalized the strikes. Romney endorsed them. Again: don’t say you weren’t warned.

So congratulations, still-President Obama. You survived the onslaught of geekdom, wonkery and nerdgasms. Your reward is to keep governing a country with deep unemployment, uncertain economic recovery and continued political acrimony, and keep navigating America through a world that features persistent terrorism and, perhaps soon, a nuclear Iran. KTHXBAI.

After the Election: Now What? (Stephen M. Walt)

Two thoughts keep my sense of satisfaction within bounds. First, Obama is still going to face plenty of opposition, and I see no sign that the GOP is going to be any more cooperative in a second term than it was in his first. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell failed in his stated goal to make Obama a one-term president, but does anyone seriously believe he won’t redouble his efforts to deny Obama any meaningful accomplishments? Which means continued wrangling on the budget, and anything else the GOP can think up.

Second, instead of empowering the president to take bolder steps on foreign policy, I fear that re-election will convince his team that they’ve basically got the right formula: drones, special forces, covert action, secrecy, etc., combined with a very cautious approach to diplomacy. This is certainly preferable to the follies of the Bush administration, but it also means that the U.S. will be engaged in lots of trouble spots but unable to resolve any of them. Two-term administrations also tend to suffer from battle-fatigue, especially if there isn’t a deep bench of new players you can bring to key positions. So my fear today is oddly similar to my forecast back in 2009: The foreign policy agenda at the end of Obama’s second term will look surprisingly like the agenda he faced when he took office. Iraq won’t be a friend, Afghanistan will still be a mess (though we may be out), Iran will still be a challenge, Israel-Palestine will still be a headache, the world economy will still be stumbling, climate change issues will still be kicked down the road, and the United States will still see itself as responsible for addressing all of these problems while our allies around the world continue to either free-ride or to do their best to drag us into their troubles (or both).

Obama and Progressives: What Will Liberals Do With Their Big Election Victory? (Glenn Greenwald)

With last night’s results, one can choose to see things two ways: (1) emboldened by their success and the obvious movement of the electorate in their direction, liberals will resolve that this time things will be different, that their willingness to be Good Partisan Soldiers depends upon their core values not being ignored and stomped on, or (2) inebriated with love and gratitude for Obama for having vanquished the evil Republican villains, they will follow their beloved superhero wherever he goes with even more loyalty than before. One does not need to be Nate Silver to be able to use the available historical data to see which of those two courses is the far more likely one.


For Obama, a Bigger Win Than for Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, or Bush (John Nichols)

The place to begin is with a project he mentioned just before the Democratic National Convention: amending the constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. “Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it),” the president wrote, in response to a question about the Court decision to allow corporations to spend as freely as they choose to influence elections. “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”Carter or Bush

Seeking to amend the constitution to reform our election system is an ambitious endeavor, especially for a president who has just beaten the combined power of Karl Rove and his billionaire boys club.

But it is a necessary endeavor.

And a president who has been comfortably re-elected ought not think small. He should “spend his capital” on projects worthy of the trust Americans have afforded him.

The Danger of Misreading the Make-up of the Electorate (Daniel Larison)

The 2012 electorate was slightly more liberal (25%) than the 2008 electorate (22%), while conservative numbers barely increased (35% instead of 34%). If we reviewed the exit polling and noted instead that an electorate that is reportedly 65% non-conservative cast most of its votes for the center-left candidate and his party, we would not be baffled or puzzled by the outcome. If all that conservatives had to do was outnumber liberals, a ten-point advantage might be enough to prevail on a regular basis. As it happens, there are still the other two-fifths of the population left over that don’t identify entirely with either. According to the exit polls, Obama won the moderate vote by 15 points.

I dwell on this because misreading the composition of the electorate was the main error that Will and others made in their arguments for what would happen in this election, and this misreading contributes to unnecessary puzzlement about why people voted as they did. Ignoring a large segment of the electorate (in this case, moderates) doesn’t add to one’s understanding of the political landscape, and consistently overstating conservative numbers and the conservative character of the electorate reinforces assumptions that virtually all that conservatives need to do to win elections is show up.

GOP Pays the Price for Authoritarianism–Will They Respond? (emptywheel)

So in addition to being nicer to non-Cuban Latinos and African Americans, to win FL, Mitt presumably would have had to be more attractive to libertarians. While I doubt Mitt Romney was ever going to come out for pot legalization, he also has a bunch of scary authoritarian advisors–the likes of Cofer Black–who might be unappealing to libertarian minded Republicans.

Mind you, I suspect the GOP will respond to such a scenario (if it does come about) in much the same way as the Democrats did after 2000: with a lot of angry recriminations but no thought about being more responsive to the constituency that ditched the party. Not only has the GOP come to love them some big government authoritarianism, but they’re going to have a hard enough time trying to make the party less racist.

Still, Johnson’s success in FL may provide some pressure for both parties to take civil liberties more seriously.

2012-11-7-women-senatorsThree Election Thoughts: The Failed All-In Repeal Strategy, Warren, and Three-Strikes (rortybomb)

A Progressive Surge (The Nation)

It was heartening to hear the president note in his victory speech that our electoral system is in need of repair. But grassroots activists know by now that counting on the president’s sympathy is not the most effective strategy. Desperately needed change on clean money and other fronts—like the immigration reform that Obama promised but failed to deliver in his first term—will come through independent movements, fusing grassroots mobilization and progressive electoral power, which the White House and Congress cannot afford to ignore.

The challenge for progressive movements begins not in January, when the president is sworn in again and the next Congress convenes, but now. Thanks to the debt ceiling deal, the nation faces a “fiscal cliff” at the end of this year that could trigger devastating cuts to social programs while risking a slide back into recession. In the absence of a massive popular mobilization, only those government programs and agencies with richly funded Washington lobbies are likely to emerge unscathed from a panicked lame duck Congress.

Unfortunately, as Robert Borosage wrote bluntly in these pages just weeks ago, “in the fundamental struggle over the ‘dark politics of austerity,’ a re-elected President Obama will likely lead the wrong side.” The president still displays an interest in a “grand bargain” that will end up dealing out the most pain to the people Romney disparaged as the “47 percent”—in reality the majority of Americans who rely on government programs and services to make ends meet. Progressives therefore can’t afford to lose a day in fighting for our own independent agenda. We need to put the jobs crisis first, shifting the frame of national discussion away from deficit fearmongering and toward the investments in education and infrastructure that will truly protect our country’s future.

Wednesday Morning Election Reaction (The Duck of Minerva)

Will the GOP faithful join the reality-based community? There are glimmers of hope today, but this election was nowhere near as devastating as 2008 and we saw what happened after that. At the same time, no amount of haranguing by apostates or head-shaking by liberal intellectuals will help it do so. The GOP has some real quality in its bench, but there’s no evidence that those on it will stray far enough from party orthodoxy to make a difference. The Republicans need to wean themselves from the Koch brothers and other industry heavyweights with a vested interest in promoting environmental delusions and making the tax code as regressive as possible, but I cannot see how this will happen.

In short, I am not optimistic about the state of the party that speaks for nearly half of Americans, and therefore I find it hard to be optimistic for these great United States.

Bill’s Election Night Prescience (Bill O’Reilly)

The GOP Needs Modernization, Not Moderation (Matt K. Lewis)

Make no mistake, the GOP faces serious challenges going forward. This wasn’t “just a loss.”

But that doesn’t mean the party should sell out its core values, either. In many cases, reinvention means drawing a clearer contrast with liberals. The GOP probably needs to reaffirm some values.

For example, it would make no sense for the GOP to abandon its role as the party of life. It would make no sense for the GOP to abandon its role as the party of individual liberty.

But there must be some reevaluation. It’s time to rethink, “who are we?,” ”what do we believe?” — and “why do we believe it?”

As I’ve written before, Republicans must find a way to appeal to cosmopolitan conservatives. A modern political party cannot exist if it concedes the young, the urban, and the educated.

(And, watch Lewis and Bill Scher expand on this point at The DMZ)

Boehner Opens Door to ‘New Revenue’ to Curb Debt (WaPo)

While Boehner suggested that Republicans would still oppose Obama’s plan to take “a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates,” he said the party is open to “increased revenue . . . as the byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all.”

It was not immediately clear whether Boehner meant that Republicans would acquiesce only to fresh revenues generated through economic growth rather than actual tax increases. Republicans have long argued that reforming the tax code would generate revenue by improving the economy, an assertion that budget analysts say is difficult to measure. Democrats have insisted that any deal must include tax code changes that would add to government coffers whether or not they help the economy.


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