2008/11/30

WaPo editorial misinforms

Re: "Road Map in Iraq" Nov 30

This piece appears to be designed to appeal to what political writers call the "low-information voter." First of all, it is true that President-Elect Obama has not "acknowledged its [the "Surges"] success in greatly reducing violence around Iraq." Yes, the "Surge," a temporary increase in the number of US troops in Iraq, was an element in the quieting of Iraq over the last two years, but as several Democratic Presidential candidates pointed out at the time, the increase in troops was only one of the many factors that produced that success. The stand-down of Muqtada al-Sadr and the anti-al Qaeda-in-Iraq "Anbar Awakening" were also very crucial elements without which the "Surge" would have gotten nowhere.

Yes, the "new democratic system" has indeed gained a footing in Iraq, but the editorial goes to great lengths to avoid pointing out that the happy situation owes far less to American leadership than it does to tough bargaining by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The statement "The Bush administration worked patiently and tirelessly to negotiate the new agreement" is flat-out false. President Bush's original idea was to make a "conditions-based" as opposed to a "calendar-based" withdrawal, in other words, for American troops to remain in Iraq essentially forever. Bush gave way under pressure from Iraq's Prime Minister.

It's not at all clear that Iraq stood up to pressure from Iran. It's hard to believe that Iran opposed an American timetable for withdrawal.

Has President Bush won a victory in Iraq or an equivalent thereof? I would argue that no he hasn't, as by my understanding, victory in Bush's eyes meant a permanent American presence and an American monopoly on oil drilling in Iraq. This definition of victory is not just that of the American left wing, but of much of the world, including the great majority of Iraqis. The idea that America invaded Iraq simply to leave behind a better, more democratic system is certainly consistent with Bush's rhetoric, but not at all consistent with his actions.

Can we blame Bush's failure to secure a permanent American presence in Iraq on mere "mismanagement"? That strikes me as even more simplistic and reality-avoiding than the idea that Bush aimed merely for a stable and democratic Iraq. The main problem with pursuing a counter-insurgency strategy as opposed to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's idea of an American "light footprint" was always that a counter-insurgency strategy meant getting a serious number of "boots on the ground" in Iraq.

The only way to have done that was to have had a draft. Yes, Bush has never let the word "draft" escape his lips and has never explicitly advocated that Americans sign up for the Army in large numbers, but neither has anybody else on the Republican/conservative side of the political aisle. The entire subject has simply been a "don't go there" for the American right wing as a whole.
This editorial reminds me of how my brother-in-law described Secretary of State Colin Powell's dramatic UN presentation of February 2003: "Impressive, if you didn't know anything about the subject before watching him. If you were reasonably informed beforehand, not impressive at all."

2008/11/24

Bizarre anti-Obama arguments

I had my letter published in my local newspaper and went to the letters page online to see if there had been any comments concerning it. Nope, but I was struck that there was a commenter who was obviously a conservative and/or a Republican who was very unhappy about Obama's failure to deliver "change."

Posted by bpphilly 11:03 AM, 11/24/2008
Tango: Rahm Emanuel, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, Gregory Craig and soon enough Hillary Clinton. Early on this admin reaks of the Clinton White House, and seems to offer no real "change" other than nameplates on the offices. So what again where you saying? Read a real news outlet? How's this:> Get a clue. But typical of most libs you're too busy attacking and hating the right to even notice how wrong you are.

After a liberal questioned what bpphilly meant by this he responded:

Tango: you really are a dipsh*t...Obama promised Hope and CHANGE. His admin is now full of Washington insiders...exactly what you cite is wrong with Bush's White House.

Except that nobody ever complained that Bush's government was "full of Washington insiders," we complained that Bush and his people were criminals, not that they were merely "insiders." So I responded:

Oh good grief! "Change" means Obama shouldn't have anyone in his cabinet who has any Washington DC experience? Aw dude...lemme explain something to you, I'll type slowly so you can get it, "change" means "different from the Bush Administration"!!!! OK? As long as Obama's people have a "D" after their name and not an "R," they're "change."

to which bpphilly gave a disgusted reply:

You're right...typical "do as I say, not as I do" Dems. Whodda thunk?

But Obama never ran an "anti-insider" campaign! He ran an "anti-George W. Bush" campaign. The most effective attack line of the campaign was that John McCain was planning to run "a third Bush term" The line, an entirely accurate one in my humble opinion, came from a February campaign event where a reporter asked McCain whether he “would be in effect carrying out a third Bush term.” McCain replied with warm compliments towards the President, which indicated that he'd do just that. The North Carolina Democratic Party offered the following in October:

John McCain offers nothing more than a third Bush term. On Iraq, he says that he wants to stay in Iraq for the next 100 years. On tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, he has flip-flopped and now sides with President Bush. He's the candidate of Washington lobbyists and represents the status quo.
When it comes to the economy, health care, and creating a responsible, effective exit strategy for Iraq, McCain proposes no new ideas. 

Note that these are all highly specific references to G.W. Bush/Republican Party policies. In no sense is this a general attack on "Washington" or "Babylon on the Potomac" or "pointy-headed bureaucrats" or any other Republican term of disapproval. It's impossible to read these Democratic Party attacks as meaning that former Clinton Administration people would not be welcome in an Obama Administration.

Our press corps is, of course, never satisfied. Back in 1993, the then-Political Director Rahm Emanuel and the now-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was and is considered unsatisfactory. First because in 1993 he was "inexperienced" and now in 2008 because he's a "Washington insider." There's simply no possible way to ever satisfy some people.

In a recent National Review column, the editor there says:

And that's change you can believe in from the Democrats? Establishing the Obama administration as the voice [of the] pro-abortion [rights] Left?

Well, first of all, Obama has always been pro-abortion rights (or pro-choice) and second, yes. For a Democratic administration to favor choice IS a change from the current administration. No one ever said Obama would be different from other Democrats. Obama never claimed that he'd strike out on a course that would distinguish him not only from the current Republican administration, but from all Democrats as well.

Strangely, many people who consider themselves to be liberals have a similar complaint, that pragmatism should outweigh ideology. This is a rather strange complaint as no one can determine a person's competence unless one has some idea as to what they're trying to accomplish. Corpwatch does a report called "Casualties of Katrina" that examines the struggle that the citizens of New Orleans have had in reconstructing their lives after the disastrous 2005 hurricane. Corpwatch presents no evidence that their struggles have been made more difficult deliberately, but it does present a picture of a highly uneven recovery that's not easily explained. For instance: "...there has been a boom in the casinos of Biloxi, Mississippi, yet the local shrimping community has failed to recover."

Let's presume that these problems are due to simple factors like incompetence. We can then say that the people in charge of the reconstruction are unsuited for their jobs. But if the inconsistent nature of the recovery is deliberate, then the people in charge are splendidly competent and are doing precisely what they're supposed to be doing. It's simply impossible to determine someone's "competence" in a vacuum of purposes and intentions.

To complain that Obama's appointees are "ideological" is a rather bizarre complaint. Of course they're ideological. The thing that makes them new and good and praiseworthy is that they're ideological Democrats and not ideological Republicans.

2008/11/19

Review of NR piece on Missile Defense

The Weekly Standard did a piece urging President-Elect Obama not to cancel the Missile Defense project, a project that has cost the US, since the Bush Administration took office, about $60 billion.

Question: How well does the program work at shooting down missiles? "...missile defense assets have scored successes on 35 of 43 hit-to-kill intercepts, or 81.39 percent of the time." Sounds impressive, no? Well, no actually. Back during 2002, the Center for Defense Information recommended a series of steps to ensure that Missile Defense was being constructed to specifications so that it would operate in an effective manner.

In 2004, the Missile Defense Agency clamped down on any ability by scientists to ensure that the MDA designs worked as they were supposed to work. Keep in mind that the Bush Administration is working on an approach that's considerably more complicated than what it inherited from the Clinton Administration.

Is it possible that the MDA pursued its work effectively despite the lack of outside scientific oversight? Not if the Iraq War is anything to go by. It was reported in 2006 that in Iraq, not just millions, but billions of dollars were "burned" through "waste, fraud and war profiteering."

Unfortunately, the extremely high likelihood is that the MDA's impressively high hit-to-kill ratio given above is a complete fraud.

The Weekly Standard piece devotes a considerable number of paragraphs to how much consensus there is over Missile Defense, over how many nations agree to deploy it. The "elephant in the room" in this case is the enormous amount of money that's available to the defense contractors of any nation that gets cut in on the action. If these private businesses are able to get in on a scheme that awards them an enormous amount of money without any effective oversight from the US, that's a pretty good motivation for them to push their government to cooperate. It was pointed out in December 2002 that: "There has, in fact, been little to no assurance that this initial missile defense will be effective," but that "...opposition in Congress remains weak." The reason given is that "large special interest contractors" were driving the process.

Also, the NR piece brings up very scary specters of rogue third-world nations developing nuclear weapons. Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry says:

Given that we are concerned about the missile threat, we must also examine other ways of dealing with it. Throughout the Cold War we faced a much greater nuclear missile threat without a national missile defense. During that period our national security depended upon the effectiveness of our deterrence forces, which are still overwhelmingly powerful. We need to examine the extent to which we are willing to continue to make our national security dependent on deterrence. Is deterrence somehow ineffective against the Third World nations looming as future threats? If so, why, and what can be done to make it more effective?

Proponents of Missile Defense declared back in 1983 that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), the foundational building block for the doctrine of deterrence, was dead. I wasn't convinced of that back in 1983 and I'm not convinced now. Deterrence was built upon the fact, not that the Russians Communists were either Russians or Communists, but that they were human. With the exception of modern-day suicide bombers operating in Iraq and Japanese Kamikaze pilots back in the Pacific during World War II and a few others, people (aw heck, let's just say organisms) generally seek to survive. A nation fires a missile, that missile tends to be pretty easy to track back to where it came from. A single person or small group such as the 9-11 hijackers may be willing to commit suicide, but that tells us very little about how whole nations behave.

Is diplomacy dead? Have the past eight years proven that one cannot make bearable deals with "evildoers"? I actually think the past eight years have proven that President George W. Bush is incompetent at diplomacy, not that diplomacy itself is somehow lacking in effectiveness. Case in point is peace between Palestine and Israel. Bush said back in January 2008 that "...both sides are getting down to the business of negotiating." In early November 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was assuring the world that "Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Has Not Failed," even though "The talks have made little tangible progress."

I was convinced back in the 1980s that Missile Defense was a classic boondoggle, designed far more to take money away from taxpayers and to award it to private contractors, than it was to anything else. The NR piece gives me no reason to change that opinion.

2008/11/17

WaPo frets over allegations of liberal bias

The problem with Deborah Howell's latest attempt to reassure conservatives concerning that ol' boogeyman "Liberal Bias" is that she doesn't appear to understand what journalism is all about. Is the problem she identifies, that conservatives are under-represented in the newsroom, a general across-the-board problem in the news media? Hardly. The Sunday talk shows for November 16th, shortly after a Democratic landslide sweep of the Presidency, the House & the Senate were devoted to..."how does the GOP recover; how does it map out a new future?"

Uh, pardon me, but who gives a rat's $#@?!?!? Why are the troubles of the Republican Party even remotely interesting to a national audience that just rejected the GOP wholesale? Why can't the Sunday talk shows cover, y'know, the upcoming Obama Administration, their personnel choices, their policy preferences, etc.?

Looking at Howell's report on the alleged "bias" shown by the WaPo, she cites a front-page piece on

"Troopergate" -- the allegation that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fired her state's public safety commissioner because he wouldn't dismiss her ex- brother-in-law from his state trooper's job.

But unlike Whitewater, a story that the traditional media covered obsessively throughout most of the Clinton Presidency, "Troopergate" is actually a legitimate story concerning Governor Palin's abuse of power, a story that was extremely relevant considering that she was applying for a job that would have placed her a 72-year-old's heartbeat away from the US Presidency. It's difficult to understand why anyone would object to this story as an example of mere "bias" without looking at the story itself, how accurate the story was and how relevant it was to the national conversation as a whole. Howell's column makes no attempt to evaluate any of this. Howell simply cites the story as an example of the paper's "Liberal Bias."

The question is, should the WaPo be applying some sort of quota system, so many conservative writers to so many liberal writers or should they simply try to report the facts and try to report on important, relevant stories as they come up? The subsite "County Fair" at Media Matters says:

To [Howell's column], our response is simple: Who's stopping conservatives from being hired in newsrooms? Honestly. If Newsbusters can document how scores of qualified College Republican grads were passed over by local newspapers to poorly paying jobs to cover local zoning commission jobs simply because the applicants were conservative, we'd love to hear about it.

The "problem" in getting conservatives to apply for newsroom jobs is identical to the "problem" in getting them to apply for college professorships. Both of these are poorly-paid jobs that take a lot of work. Yes, ideological motivations are important to both jobs. If one has a liberal worldview, that view will come out in the lectures that one gives or in the articles that one writes. Of course, as America's media as a whole is largely controlled by just six companies, it's not clear why the owners of these six companies can't exert effective ideological control by simply making a few phone calls to their people in the field.

I would suggest that the focus of the Sunday talk shows on the future of the Republican Party is the problem and that the focus of the Washington Post on writing liberal articles is a sign of health. The talk shows appear to be concerned with what the owners of the six media-owning companies want, whereas the WaPo writers are concerned with what actually matters to their readership.

2008/11/14

Moral responsbility for innocent Guantanamo prisoners

Dick Morris and Alan Colmes on Guantanamo and what to do with innocet prisoners there:

ALAN COLMES: ...you know, the whole idea that what this president has done -- enemy combatants, that he can declare anybody an enemy combatant -- people not having rights to an attorney --
MORRIS: Let's --
COLMES: -- locking people away without an opportunity for redress.
MORRIS: Well, let me --
COLMES: That's radical.
MORRIS: ...Enemy combatants. As we point out in Fleeced, there have been 225 people released from Guantánamo, and 50 of them -- 50 of them -- have taken the battlefield and fought against American soldiers. And we know, because we've killed them or wounded them, and we have their proof -- the DNA -- that we had them under lock and key.
And now Obama's going to close Gitmo, and all of those people are gonna be back in the field, fighting against us.

First off, I very highly doubt that 50 former prisoners have gone back to the battlefield to fight against Americans and please note that closing Gitmo does not automatically equal letting prisoners go. Prisoners who can be proven guilty will obviously be kept in custody, but let's say Morris is right. What to do about people who are unjustly incarcerated? 1) The US can keep them indefinitely, but that's morally indefensible. 2) The US can execute them, but that's even more grotesquely immoral. 3) The US can remove their motivation to go back to the battlefield and fight Americans.

Carrying out option number 3 would mean punishing those who are responsible for allowing the moral abomination of Guantanamo to exist in the first place. By excusing and sweeping Guantanamo and other, assorted atrocities under the rug, the US demonstrates that the lives of Muslims and our own moral culpability are of no concern to us. By punishing the perpetrators, the US demonstrates that Guantanamo really does represent an abhorrent and condemned chapter in our history.

The relevant campaign statement from our President-Elect is:

If you were a Muslim overseas listening to Rudy Giuliani say "they are coming here to try to kill you," which is the tenor of many of the speeches that are delivered by Republicans, you would get an impression that they are not interested in talking and resolving issues peacefully. Now, what we need to do [to reach Muslims] is we need to close Guantanamo. We need to restore habeas corpus. We need to send a strong signal that we are going to talk directly to not just our friends but also to our enemies.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007 
 

Note that President-Elect Obama suggests going well beyond mere statements. He suggests taking concrete actions to assure Muslims that yes, Americans really do regret ever opening up Guantanamo.

Camille Paglia and the new face of the Republican Party

Camille Paglia produces an amazingly incoherent essay, with "facts" she appears to have pulled straight out of her butt:

But John McCain ...was... a candidate of personal honor ...

Uh, really? I thought his campaign was the absolute pits and about as "honorable" as a road race from the 1979 movie "Mad Max."

In the closing weeks of the election, however, I became increasingly disturbed by the mainstream media's avoidance of forthright dealing with several controversies that had been dogging Obama -- even as every flimsy rumor about Sarah Palin was being trumpeted as if it were engraved in stone on Mount Sinai. For example, I had thought for many months that the flap over Obama's birth certificate was a tempest in a teapot. But simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction. Thanks to their own blathering, fanatical overkill, of course, the right-wing challenges to the birth certificate never gained traction.

Obama's birth certificate was produced and a scan of it was featured on Daily Kos. There simply are no serious outstanding questions to be asked about it. Every possible objection has been voiced and answered. That's why "right-wing challenges...never gained traction." Paglia then extends her charge to cover the Ayers controversy.

As Media Matters points out:

The lack of media attention to the [G. Gordon] Liddy-McCain relationship is one of the clearest double standards in recent political history. McCain and the news media have devoted an extraordinary amount of attention to Barack Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, yet until last night, McCain hadn't been asked a single question* about his ties to Liddy, a convicted felon who has instructed his listeners on how best to shoot law-enforcement agents. [emphasis added]

How Paglia can claim that the traditional media "avoided" the Ayers question is a mystery to me.

How dare [Alaska Governor Sarah] Palin not embrace abortion as the ultimate civilized ideal of modern culture?

Who in the heck does?!?!? Abortion is an unfortunate necessity because unintended events happen and because abortion/carrying the child to term and giving birth to it is a yes/no, up/down choice. As the decision has to be made promptly, one specific person has to have the clear, unequivocal authority to make the final decision. There are those who would give that decision to someone other than the mother-to-be. Pro-choicers don't agree with those people. It's not a matter of a wonderful versus a horrible decision, it's a matter of who gets to make the call.

How tacky that she speaks in a vivacious regional accent indistinguishable from that of Western Canada!

Who in the heck ever complained about that? This sounds like those complaints that "liberals didn't like (the younger) George Bush because he spoke with a Texas accent." Excuse me, but Molly Ivins came from the same region and we loved her. Jim Hightower is also from Texas and he's reasonably popular as well. In no case did I ever see any examples of any liberals uttering any sort of quote that even vaguely attacked Bush for being from Texas. I'm not saying that no liberals have ever attacked either Bush or Palin for their regional accents, but I'd need to see some attributed quotes before I'm prepared to take anyone's word for it that any such prejudice has ever existed.

Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover.

Again, this just causes me to go "Whu-u-u-uh?!?!?" Remember that Republicans have been equally rough on Palin, partly because her failure to answer simple questions embarrasses them and because they're (quite rightly) terrified that she'll be seen as representing the Republican Party.

Paglia claims that Palin is a naturally smart person. Sure, I'll agree with that, but the problem is not that she isn't smart. What she revealed in September was not that she wasn't smart enough to understand what the "Bush Doctrine" was, but that she just never cared enough about foreign policy issues to keep current on the disputes that were then taking place. Anyone even minimally paying attention (It was pointed out that both her running mate McCain and his opposite number Obama were able to answer the "Bush Doctrine" question immediately & correctly) should have been able to name a doctrine that's a foundation of Bush's foreign policy. By claiming that John Edwards was equally unprepared to be a Vice-Presidential running mate, Paglia shows that she's completely ignoring the question of how much Palin actually knows and cares about policy details.

Is Palin a "popular phenomenon"? Well, with the hard-core right wing she is, and that's why we on the left love the idea that Palin represents and is seen as the face of the Republican Party! Believe me, our support for her is entirely malicious.

2008/11/09

WaPo Ombudsman & campaign coverage

Deborah Howell, the Ombudsman for the Washington Post, feels really, really awful about the paper's election coverage. Why does she feel awful about it? She feels that the WaPo tilted its coverage to favor Barack Obama and to make John McCain look bad. She backs up her assertion essentially by bean-counting:

The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.

Problem: Obama and McCain did not run similar campaigns! Comparing the two campaigns is an apples & oranges exercise. The demagoguery of McCain's Vice-Presidential running mate, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, was so extreme that the death threats made to Obama reached levels to where the Secret Service had to make the Obamas aware of them.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks.

Is it really fair or appropriate to do a bean-count to see how "biased" or "tilted" the WaPo's election coverage was without taking into account that the rhetoric coming from just one side was so demagogic, that it sounded so much like it was coming from a lynch mob, that the Secret Service was alarmed at the number of death threats that Palin's rhetoric was provoking?

And I'm sorry, but I really have to stick up for Palin here:

Irate John McCain aides, who blame Mrs Palin for losing the election, claim Mrs Palin took it upon herself to question Mr Obama's patriotism, before the line of attack had been cleared by Mr McCain.

Sorry, wrong answer!!! A presidential candidate is responsible for his campaign. Period! No ifs, ands or buts about it! That's why candidates say "I'm [so-and-so] and I approve this message" at the end of all of their campaign commercials. Palin has zero responsibility for her words, whether she decided to say them on her own or not. The campaign gives her the script that she speaks from, either on paper or via a teleprompter. Her job is to read the words given to her. She refuses to do the job, she gets fired (The campaign may be hopelessly incompetent, but they're still legally responsible). Absolutely no one is ever, under any circumstances, going to allow a partner in his or her campaign to just run off by herself and do her own thing. Ain't gonna happen.

McCain himself had to "dial it back" when a woman told him at a "Town Hall Meeting" that she was worried because she was convinced that Obama was an Arab. McCain snatched the microphone away from her and said that Obama was "a decent man" (And no, saying that Obama's "a decent man" doesn't really constitute an objection to the claim that he's an Arab). The inflammatory accusations were pulled back a bit.

Another problem with Howell's evaluation as to how well the WaPo did is how the paper did on "horse-race" stories versus "issues" stories:

The count was lopsided, with 1,295 horse-race stories and 594 issues stories.
----
There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues.

My feeling on "horse-race" stories is that well, any idiot can read a poll and there are at least half-a-dozen polling firms out there that do reasonably reliable work. Interpreting a poll to see what will happen next? That's far more a matter of art than science. Anyone who tells fortunes using palm reading, tarot cards or tea leaves is perfectly capable of (and probably has just as good a record at) making reasonably reliable guesses based on polling data.

What would I prefer the WaPo spend its time & resources on? That's easy. According to Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, the paper is in the business of providing what they "were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web." Now, let's see, what can a large, well-funded, well-connected institution provide that, say, a blogger can't? Or what can it provide more easily than a lone blogger can? How about "broad stories on energy or science policy, [or] ... religion issues"?

In other words, the WaPo would serve the public interest much better by chucking at least three-quarters of the "horse-race" stories and concentrating more on "broad stories" on issues. I'm interested in seeing the WaPo concentrate on doing what it's good at. Let the bloggers and small papers do the "horse-race" stuff. The WaPo should concentrate on "issues" stories where they take a serious look at the issue, at each candidate's plan for dealing with the issue and for how well their plan is likely to work. Based on looking at a few Palin talks, I'd guess the McCain campaign wouldn't come off looking very good.

2008/11/05

Election reactions

Ah, the sweet smell of success! Victory has been attained, but it's not a military-type victory, attained with the blood of our enemies, the wailing of foreign widows and the crying of the children of other lands. No, the election of Barack Obama by 63 million to 56 million was obtained peacefully, with persuasion, with good arguments, and yes, with an economic situation that was the direct result of Republican rule over this land since 1981 (CEPR counts Clinton as a "Republican-lite" for the purposes of this study). Certainly, the Mideast, with the exception of Israel & the Kurdish NorthEastern part of Iraq, has been hungry for change and so welcomes the American regime-shuffling.

And yes, I know it's mean, but I really had to guffaw at the National Review Online guy who bitterly complained that:

Just watched Wonder Boy's speech. Hmph. "Callused hands?" When did he ever have callused hands?

Ri-i-i-ight! Like, anybody at the NRO knows about "callused hands" from anything but storybooks and the occasional field servant that they dealt with in their youth. He then blames "the swooning complicity of the media," but it's quite clear that the traditional media was firmly on the side of McCain throughout the election campaign.

Media Matters also compared coverage of Obama's association with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers to coverage of McCain's association with G. Gordon Liddy, whom Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman has described as McCain's "own Bill Ayers."
----
Moreover, while these same media outlets mentioned Obama's ties to Ayers 311 times in 2008 through Election Day, they produced only five reports mentioning McCain's connections to Liddy, whom McCain has praised and repeatedly associated with in public and in campaign settings.

And our NRO guy then has asks a question:

Sour? You bet I'm sour. Where was conservatism in this election?

Hmm, okay. but we have to ask, what exactly does he mean by "conservatism"?

Where was restraint in government? Where was national sovereignty? Where was liberty? Where was self-support?

I heartily agree that government has been completely unrestrained under Bush. What with warrantless wiretapping, detaining prisoners without evidence of wrongdoing in defiance of habeas corpus (or the Geneva Conventions, as applicable), voter suppression through the widespread use of "vote caging," (that is, "sending 'Do Not Forward' letters to minority voters that, if returned, could be used to challenge them as nonresidents"), vote purging (famously seen in Florida before the 2000 election) and the firing of US Attorneys who weren't sufficiently pursuing bogus "voter fraud" allegations (as opposed to "vote fraud," which is when vote suppression is done by the government).

Problem: Where was the NRO during all of this lack of "restraint in government"? Seems to me that conservatives of all stripes and varieties spent the early part of this century praising Dear Leader Bush and bashing the liberals who tried to object. Or did the bulldozing of Dixie Chicks' CDs strike people as an action where the right wing showed respect for political dissent? And remember:

The "K Street Project"—the most successful shakedown operation since the first Gilded Age—was the brainchild of Representative Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist...

I don't remember any conservative objections to that, either. Granted, the "K Street Project" was shut down shortly before the Democrats took over Congress, but let's not confuse a preemptive, defensive reaction to an action based on principle.

Quite frankly, Obama's choice of Rahm Emmanuel for Chief of Staff fills me with joy, as no, he's not as liberal as I'd prefer (He backed NAFTA and wants to privatize the border), but he "doesn't do 'bipartisan'," which I find completely cool at this point.

A piece on PhillyIMC makes an interesting charge, that as the left of 1993 didn't put up much of a fight to control Bill Clinton's "Third Way," "Republican-lite" tendencies, that the left of 2009 will be equally useless at guiding and directing an Obama Administration. I dunno. Seems to me that the left of today is much more together, more energetic, more connected than it was in 1993. President Reagan garnered genuine support from the American people and the elder Bush, who inherited a lot of that good feeling, was less of an overt criminal than the younger Bush is. When the press corps of 1993 launched its all-out assault on Clinton with idiotic crap like "Whitewater," the press being crazy and out of control was a new thing and progressives weren't sure how to handle such a thing. Nowadays, we're fully aware of it and know how to deal with it. That's not to say the netroots are as powerful as the traditional media is, but I think they're far more able to take on the combination of the right-wing noise machine and the traditional press then they were before.

Finally, I agree that there's a danger that Obama will become the new Dear Leader who can do no wrong and who will be defended from our side of the aisle whether he deserves it or not, but I think this blogger makes some very good points:

But I genuinely expect that those who have made the restoration of our Constitutional framework and preservation of core liberties a top priority over the last eight years will continue to pursue those goals with equal vigor, regardless of the change of party control. And few things are more important in that effort than having a Supreme Court majority that at least minimally safeguards those principles. It's hard to overstate the importance of last night's election outcome in ensuring a reasonably favorable Court majority and, even more so, in averting what would have been a real disaster for our basic rights and system of government had John McCain been able to replace those three Justices with GOP-approved nominees. By itself, maintaining the Court more or less as is won't reverse any of the Constitutional erosions of the last eight years, but it is an absolute prerequisite to doing so.

I think all the work we put into making sure that McCain did not succeed Bush was well worth it.