It’s the Turnout, Stupid

Tonight on The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell made the case that the reason that Obama won the election was that he was an outstanding candidate. Karen Finney and David Corn backed him up. I like all of these pundits, but they are wrong. Obama was certainly a very good candidate. But it’s the turnout, stupid.

The reason that Obama won is that far more Democrats came out to vote than Republicans. Obama won because the policies of the Democratic Party appeal to the poor and middle class. It’s simple demographics. The question is, how do we get these people to come out and vote in 2014?

All we have to remember is this: if there’s high turnout, we win. We don’t need great candidates, except in as far as they goose turnout.

Picturing Reed Richardson

Reed F. RichardsonI think of myself as kind of public nuance rather than a stalker. And no one really seems to care. For example, Brad DeLong continues to ignore my helpful suggestion on cleaning up his very ugly blog. And Corey Robin (who is more than willing to correspond with me about history and politics) is silent on the important issue of font color contrast and it relevance to computer accessibility.

The case of Reed Richardson is an interesting one. He has been exceptionally good natured about my pestering. (What do you expect? Just look at his picture!) As best as I can tell, he was once an intern working with Eric Alterman at The Nation. Alterman is the writer of smart and learned liberal books that start with the letter “W” (which is “M” depending upon how you look at it). Thus far, he’s used four:

His last book was The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. I was sad that he didn’t call it Where We’ve Come From: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. Then he would have had a matched set!

I’ve been reading Eric Alterman for years. And like it is with anyone you read a lot, I’ve gotten kind of used to what his take is on any given subject. That doesn’t mean he isn’t interesting to read, but I don’t look forward to his articles every week the way I used to. But luckily, Alterman has a special weapon: his former intern Reed F. Richardson.

Reed Richardson - Artist's RenderingEach week (but not last week, to my great disappointment), Eric Alterman ends his blog post with, “And now here’s Reed.” Normally, they work together so that they discuss different aspects of the same issue. This adds a great deal to the coverage—especially given that Richardson has a distinct take on these things. Plus, he isn’t quite so gloomy as Alterman.

Anyway, over the last few months I’ve bugged both of these guys. Most recently, I requested that they put in an anchor link to Richardson’s articles, because I find myself more often linking to them than to Alterman’s articles. Eventually, the link was set up, even though it is often broken due to The Nation’s clumsy advertising code. But the one thing I never got, was a picture of Richardson that I could use in articles. So I created an image of a yellow smiley face with the caption, “Reed F. Richardson: Artist’s Rendering.” In fact, the number one result on Google is this exact image.

Last week, Richardson finally set up a Twitter account. Of course, there was no image. It was the usual twitter egg image. So I tweeted:

I figured that subtlety wasn’t working, so I’d just request the image. And he obliged. But I have to say, it is a grainy, low resolution image. But I guess it is better than the smiley face. Barely. (Admit it though: he does have a big smile. That artist’s rendering wasn’t bad. Although he isn’t quite so yellow.)

Thomas Ricks Blasts Fox News

Thomas RicksThis is amazing. I can’t say that I blame them, but Fox News quickly got rid of Thomas Ricks after he blasted the network over its Benghazi coverage. Jon Scott interviewed Ricks. He is what Fox News claims is a “straight news reporters.” I’ve always felt that these were the most dangerous people on the network because they deceive the audience in much more subtle ways—in particular, by skewing what they choose to cover. This is clear in the topic of this segment: who else is covering the supposed Benghazi scandal? And now that there is little to report since John McCain has realized that he’s only embarrassing himself, Fox is covering the fact that there isn’t anything to cover.

Ricks was on for less than one minute. In that time, he does manage to provide answers to two questions, but it is all about the same thing: why are McCain and the others cooling off on what Fox News has trumped up to be a bigger scandal than Watergate? Ricks replies:

I think that Benghazi generally was hyped by this network especially and now that the campaign is over, I think [John McCain] is backing off a little. They’re not going to stop Susan Rice from being Secretary of State.

Scott asks how Ricks can call the deaths of four government personnel “hype.” Rick responds with the question, “How many security contractors died in Iraq, do you know?” Scott responds that he does not know, which was kind of nice when you consider how O’Reilly or Hannity would have responded. Ricks continues:

No, nobody does, because nobody cared. We know that several hundred died, but there was never an official count done, of security contractors dead in Iraq. So when I see this focus on what was essentially a small fire fight, I think number one, I’ve covered a lot of fire fights, it’s impossible to figure out what happens in them sometimes. And second, I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.

I’ve always felt that Thomas Ricks was a fairly conservative guy. I still think so. But he certainly isn’t a Republican Party hack. As a result, such a criticism of Fox News has a lot more weight. But Ricks wasn’t on screen for long enough for anyone to notice other than the host and some executive producer who was probably screening in Scott’s ear, “Get him off!”

Anyway, watch it. It is a thing to behold.

More Attacks on Obamacare

Liberty UniversityThe fucktards at Liberty University are trying another attack on the ACA (Obamacare). Actually, this is an old case, but it is now going forward. The college has two problems with the healthcare reform law: employer mandate and birth control coverage. This is a scattershot approach to destroying legislation that they don’t like. But let’s look at this a little more closely.

Liberty University is the pretend college founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. It was originally called “Lynchburg Baptist College” and slowly migrated to its current name. And that name is telling. Modern American Christianity has little to do with Christ and lots to do with conservative politics. Consider, for example, Patrick Henry College—you know, “Give me liberty or give me death”? These groups are big on the sort of liberty they think people wanted in the late 18th century: the liberty to force everyone to do as they say.

Kill the Pill

The attack on the birth control mandate in the ACA doesn’t make any sense. No employer will be paying for this. But it is the part of the law that is likely to get the most interests from Scalia and Alito. I have long said that if the right ever managed to outlaw abortion, they would next work on banning birth control. This is obvious now. As the conversion about abortion moves to whether rape victims ought to be allowed one, those on the leading edges of “liberty” are already calling for birth control bans.

The official line from Baptists is that they think birth control is fine as long as it prevents conception. Thus, they’re against using hormonal birth control: the pill. The problem here is that the pill works in two ways: it stops the egg from becoming fertilized and if it does get fertilized, it makes it harder for the egg to get implanted in the womb. There is no killing of fertilized eggs here. Basically, the pill works the way that condoms do. Having a problem with one but not the other shows a shocking lack of understanding of how the pill works.

Employer Mandate

The attack on the employer mandate shows the “good” Christians at Liberty University to be the hypocrites they are. It is one thing for Christian groups to claim that the government shouldn’t be in the “giving a shit about people” business because that’s their own gig. But a Christian college claiming that they don’t want to provide healthcare for their own employees?

I’m sure that the people at Liberty College would argue that they have no problem providing healthcare. They would say that they already do provide healthcare for most of their employees. It is just that the government shouldn’t dictate their behavior. But if that is the case, why the fuss? Does Liberty University really plan to keep their options open in the event of bad economic times? Do they really admit that God would do that to them? And even if He did, wouldn’t he expect them to do the right thing and continue to provide healthcare and close the budget gap some other way, like lowering the university president’s salary?

All of the complaints I’ve heard from conservative business owners sound very immature to me. “You’re not the boss of me!” And, “You can’t tell me what to do!” Coming from the likes of Papa John’s, this is about par for the course. But coming from supposed Christians? It’s just awful.