The Meanest Thing Ever Written About a Movie
April 5th, 2012

“It’s huge, oversized, Bay-esque extravagenza but without the heart and charm of Bay.”

Oh no.

Before you click the link, guess which upcoming movie is being appraised. Got it?



Dept. of Electability
March 29th, 2012

Here’s Romney connecting with Wisconsin voters:

Talking by conference call with thousands of Wisconsin voters Wednesday, Mitt Romney told them he had a humorous connection to their state.

But it didn’t take long for “funny anecdote” to become “campaign fodder.”

Romney’s story involved the time more than 50 years ago that his father, George, an American Motors executive, shut down a factory in Michigan and moved the work to Wisconsin.

“Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan, and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign,” explained Romney, who described a subsequent campaign parade in which the school band marching with his father knew how to play Wisconsin’s fight song, but not Michigan’s.

“Every time they would start playing ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” said Romney, laughing.

Ahh. Closing factories; talking up your dynastic roots; laughing about your father freaking out over political optics so as not to upset the dim-witted voters. Good times.

But don’t worry: Romney is a hedge for down-ticket Republicans.


Tech Fights
March 26th, 2012

The Google vs. Facebook joust is interesting, but flying under the radar is a another contest that’s probably more consequential, since the companies it entails have real-world value: Walmart vs. Amazon.

I first realized how serious Walmart was about online commerce a few years ago when I notice that Walmart’s website not only carried a vast array of products in an easily navigable space and offered free shipping for in-store pickup–they also had a real-time inventory system showing you how many of any given item were in stock at stores near your. Walmart had clearly responded to Amazon the way Blockbuster should have responded to Netflix.

The extent to which Walmart has continued to engage is interesting. I suspect they’ll continue to push grocery sections into their stores, because perishable food is the ultimate hedge against online commerce. (In the same way sports are a hedge against the on-demand content model.) But my selfish concern is that in order to compete with Walmart, Amazon will have to become more like Walmart. You already see some of that with Amazon now offering Amazon store-branded, low-price products.

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My Pledge
March 19th, 2012

I’ll get on the Romney bandwagon tomorrow if he gives an answer like this. Pure genius.


“Some who are very conservative may not yet be in my camp, but they will be when I become the nominee”
March 15th, 2012

And maybe they will be!

But it does kind of remind me of “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”


Better Than Ezra
March 14th, 2012

I don’t follow Ezra Klein all that closely but Galley Friend X does. Here’s his latest missive:

The latest step in Klein’s progression:

Step OneEconomists thought that we needed a bigger stimulus; it’s Republicans’ fault that Obama could deliver it.
Step Two:  Economists scoff at the notion that Presidents create jobs, so let’s not go blaming Obama for not creating jobs.

Step Three:  Presidents have never been able to convince partisan opponents to do anything, so there’s nothing special about Obama failing to convince Republicans to support his proposals.  The best you can do is “mobilizing those predisposed to support him and driving legislation through Congress on a party-line vote.”

All of this is the groundwork for (1) disclaiming President Obama’s ability to improve gas prices and the economy (so long as neither improves) during the pre-election summer, (2) justifying the Obama Campaign’s replication of Bush’s 2004 mobilize-the-base reelection strategy, and (3) absolving Obama in the event of an election day loss.
On that last step: If Obama loses, Klein will just write, “Romney didn’t defeat Obama.  Angela Merkel defeated Obama.”  (Oh, wait, he already wrote that.)
On the bright side (for Klein): if Obama loses, then Klein will have all the material he needs for a big book on the structural failure of American governance.

Fury of Rage
March 13th, 2012

I know a lot of people have soured on Jen Rubin, but still think she’s a great fit for the Post and when she’s writing about the legal stuff that’s in her wheelhouse, she’s awesome. That said, this post of hers is a little confusing.

So far as I can tell, she’s saying that (1) A brokered convention is an impossibility which cannot happen; and (2) People pursuing a brokered convention are playing a dangerous game and if they succeed the party will be torn asunder. Obviously, if (1), then not (2).

That’s the first bit of confusion. Then there’s the weirdness of the shift in tone about Romney. The argument in favor of his candidacy has gone from (1) He’s such a dominant force that we have to get behind him because he’s the only guy who can win;  to (2) He’s so weak that we have to shut this thing down fast, so that he doesn’t bleed anymore and still has a shot at winning in November. QED

But the real show-stopper is this passage:

Certainly, there is certainly an ilk in the party that would rather howl in the wilderness than win with a center-right candidate who would have to govern — that is, make some necessary compromises.

I think what’s she’s saying translates loosely as, “Of course we should not expect him to repeal Obamacare.” But then, I may be misreading her. It is hard to tell.


The Plan
March 6th, 2012

A sample of why you should be subscribing to the Transom:

Meanwhile, the battle station becomes fully operational.  “Powered by its neighborhood teams, the Obama campaign has spoken to some 650,000 voters in Ohio—by telephone, knocking on doors, or with volunteer meetings—the senior official said… “It’s not apples-to-apples,” said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Mitt Romney, when asked about Obama’s 9-to-1 edge in field offices in Ohio. “Our effort in the state is not comparable to the president’s at this point, given that he has the entire DNC and OFA”—Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America—”infrastructure behind him. Gov. Romney will inherit the party organization when he is the nominee.” Is that… is that the plan? I think we could use a better one.


Pots. Kettles.
February 24th, 2012

“This sounds like another case of Rick Santorum abandoning his principles for his own political advantage.”

Breathtaking, isn’t it?


Pravda: Mesa Edition
February 23rd, 2012

Even when Romney wins, there’s something about him . . .

Update: Jon Huntsman edges closer to becoming the Spartacus of Boston. In a remote corner of the dungeons, a Minnesota governor’s eyes are fired wide with hope.


Quibbling with Ann Coulter (Again)
February 22nd, 2012

I’m not trolling here–I was honestly kind of taken aback by this passage in Ann Coulter’s latest column, because I wasn’t aware that this reading of the Iowa caucuses existed:

Purely to hurt Romney, the Iowa Republican Party fiddled with the vote tally to take Romney’s victory away from him and give it to Rick Santorum — even though the “official count” was missing eight precincts.

Is that something people think out there–that Romney was the rightful winner and that the Iowa GOP stole the caucuses from him? I ask because, considering the 8-vote margin, I saw surprisingly little conspiracy-theorizing about Iowa. And in the very few instances of it that I did see, the alt-reading was that it was Santorum who got jobbed on caucus night.

So is Coulter’s alt-reading something that’s out there?

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The Importance of Field Trips
February 19th, 2012

From the American Prospect: “However, the media couldn’t predict how bad a candidate Romney would be.”


Look, there are plenty of perfectly good reasons to have supposed–and even to suppose today–that Romney had/has a fair chance to win the nomination. (I’ve always thought his odds were somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-in-5.) But anyone who has ever spent 30 minutes watching Romney interact with voters on the stump will have noticed how bad he is at retail politics. It is, literally, the second thing you notice about him in such settings.

The first is the hair, obvs.

He may be great in a board room and awesome with donors and really good with advisors and other professionals. On paper, he’s amazing. And that’s why the people who have tended to see him as inevitable have tended to be analysts who don’t do much reporting from the field. What has struck me since 2008 is that Republicans like to bag on John Kerry, with good reason. But on the stump Kerry was an infinitely more gifted campaigner. This isn’t to say that I’d prefer Kerry to Romney for anything–president, dog-catcher, neighbor. Only to suggest that if you believe that native political skill is an important predictor of electoral success (which I do), then it is difficult to watch Romney up close and believe in his inevitability (which I have not).

One other note, per Ben Domenech at Ricochet: If Romney loses the nomination and if the eventual GOP nominee loses to Obama, there will indeed be recriminations from the three Republican die-hards who were not on the Romney payroll. But I don’t think they’ll carry much weight for the following reason: The primary case made by most, though not all, of Romney’s media supporters was utilitarian. They argued not that Romney was uniquely qualified for the presidency and that his election would advance unique, important agendas of policy and ideology. No, instead they argued that Romney’s electability was his chief credential. Well, if Romney can’t beat Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, then it will mean that this primary rationale–“electability”–was a mirage.

That’s the problem with arguing on such practical grounds: If it turns out the candidate can’t deliver, then his supporters have no one else to blame.