No Downpayment? No Problem.
George P. is up bragging about some bill that made it easier for people who can't afford a downpayment to buy a home. This sounds like the sort of thing that would attract strong bipartisan support. It also seems like a pretty bad idea. How many initiatives do we need to encourage bad credit risks to buy homes with borrowed money in an already-overheated property market? How many people's finances will be ruined by even a localized declined in key coastal areas?
The Base: So What?
Andrew Sullivan worries about the real motives of the Republican base. Elsewhere in many posts I've seen and won't dignify with links, conservative bloggers identify lunatic protestors, assert that they are the Democratic base, and that therefore you shouldn't vote for John Kerry. The reality, of course, is that any major party presidential candidate attracts the votes of millions and millions of people. The overwhelming majority of these people have no idea what they're talking about. Public ignorance in the United States is massive -- and exists on both sides. Ideology aside, the base of either party would be an absolute disaster if put in charge of the country -- they wouldn't have the foggiest idea what to do. That's why the government is run by professional politicians, professional political operatives, and professional policy analysts, not by random members of the public. It's like how movies are made by professional filmakers, not by movie fans.
UPDATE: Brad's right, of course, that serious policy analysts don't seem to be much in evidence in the Bush administration, at least on the domestic side (there's something unserious about the security team, but Doug Feith's not a political hack, either, so it's hard to know what to say about this) though I do hear good things about the guy in charge of policy toward the homeless, and whoever came up with the "millenium challenge accounts" knows what he's doing.
Oh. My. God.
Could Liddy Dole have written a speech more calculated to make me despise her? No, she couldn't.
Josh Bearman speaks to my deep psychological problems:
The only way to understand them, I’ve decided, is to love them. So for the sake of coming to terms with this convention and what it means for humankind, I think I have to go on a Republican date. But I haven’t really seen any opportunities. The Republicans for Choice are not in my age bracket. The Log Cabin Republicans don’t do it for me. And then it was slim pickings from the red cups at the Sleeping With the Enemy party.I'd be lying if I told you I had the exact same dream, but I'd also be lying if I told you my dreams have been entirely dissimilar of note. On a related point, I was in one of the fortress-like midtown hotels earlier today and I heard two of those Young Republican frat boy types discussing the pressing issues of the day. "So aren't there supposed to be tons of hot chicks in New York." "Yeah, there are, but I haven't seen any. Fucking bitches." In my other dream where those guys couldn't kick my ass in 30 seconds I punched one, gave a swift kick in the balls to the other, and said "you haven't met them because you haven't left your lame-ass conservative midtown hotel bubble you stupid (kick) motherfucking (kick) assholes (kick)! Get out and live a little!" Back downtown where Young Republicans are rare and hot chicks are many, one just feels horribly, horribly inadequate.
Still, I’m convinced I must press forward. Mostly because of this weird dream I had the other night where I seduced this earnest young southern belle-type Republican delegate who was being harassed by nasty protesters. They were hosing her down, not in the she’s-my-cherry-pie-by-Warrant way but more in the eyes-on-the-prize-Bull-Connor-way, and it was amusing at first but at a certain point became unfair. I intervened. She looked up at me in gratitude. The strangest part was how my voice fell to sotto voce and I drew her in closer while also saying "you know that the President has the worst job approval ratings in history — you know that don't you? Don’t you?" She began to accept this, to believe me as she came closer, to part her lips as she changed her mind about Bush, and that's the last thing I remember before the phone rang.
The Two Epistemologies
I suppose everyone knows this already at some level, but hanging out at a bunch of Republican events the extent to which conservatives and I inhabit different worlds is pretty astounding. In my political philosophy classes the basic procedure was to stipulate a few different possible factual situations and argue about which one would be preferable from a normative point of view. In the real world, you talk with rightwingers and you see that you basically share the same vague normative goals, but disagree about what's happening in the universe. Over and over again 'lo these past few days I've heard some conservative or another, either in conversation or else from a podium somewhere, complain that liberal bias in the media has gotten so bad that they don't even follow the news anymore. They know that George W. Bush is a good guy, so all this bad stuff that's being reported about him just goes to show what a bunch of lying cretins these reporters are.
"No!" I want to scream, "what they're doing is offering factual descriptions of the world and those facts reflect badly on the president!"
But no. How can you trust what those reporters say when they're obviously out to get the president?
What makes you think they're out to get him?
They keep saying mean things about him!
That's reporting! When his initiatives don't work out, that stuff needs to be reported. That's not bias -- that's objective circumstances.
But John Kerry is a flip-flopper!
And Bush prays!
No, fuck you.
Typical liberal, no room for rational argument with those people.
Feith and MEK
What's the Franklin case all about? Not the leak of a single memo on the interagency dispute over Iran. Not really, at least. Rather, the interest seems to be its connection to an interlocking series of shady doings inside the E-Ring. Laura Rozen takes us on a tour of pertinent facts related to MEK, a Saddam-sponsored anti-Iranian terrorist groups that various neoconservative persons have long favored closer ties with (strangely, in this they find themselves in agreement with the government of France).
Back In Effect
Anyone who's tried to call be for the past couple of days has doubtless noted that I didn't pick up the phone and haven't called you back. There've been some power supply issues with the mobile, you see. Today, via Fedex and a mere 24 hours late ("traffic problems" due to the convention) the necessary replacement component arrived and I should be back up and running shortly.
This is a bit behind the curve, but my column on Bush bizarre flip-floppery on the subject of 527s, free speech, and campaign finance is up. A little something on Giuliani should be on the site in the near future along, of course, with my contributions to Tapped.
Michael Ledeen "explains" it all. I don't know how I ever could have doubted him....
Past Is Prologue
It's disappointing, but by no means surprising, to see the GOP following the Democrats' lead and completely ignoring the small matter of what to do about Iraq right now. No effort to defend the president's policies over, say, the past six months or explain how we're supposed to get from where we are now (widely hated in a country we're occupying and yet failing to exercize any semblance of effective control over) to where we're allegedly going (broadly popular in a shining liberal democratic beacon to Arabs everywhere). The policy reality behind the politics is that I don't think either team has any real idea what to do about this mess any more than, say, I do....