Sometimes I feel like our party cares more about winning the argument than they care about winning elections. And if you don’t win elections, you can’t govern. And if you can’t govern, you can’t change the direction of a state, like we’ve done in New Jersey.

— Chris Christie, 11-5-2013

This week’s featured articles: “Nobody’s a Moderate in the Republican Civil War” and “Bullies, Victims, and Masculinity“.

This week everybody was talking about election results

After decades of rule by Republican/Independents like Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Guiliani, New York elected a Democratic mayor by a landslide. Bill de Blasio didn’t just wear the Democratic label, he put forward a genuinely progressive agenda.

In New Jersey, conservative (not moderate) Chris Christie was the landslide winner.

Here’s what stands out for me about the Virginia governor’s race: not that the Democrat won or that the final vote was closer than expected, but that the Democrat won a low-turnout election.

Conventional wisdom says that high turnout favors Democrats, low turnout Republicans. (That’s why Republicans work so hard to suppress the vote.) And it plays out in Virginia: When Obama took Virginia in 2008 and 2012, he did it by pulling in people who don’t usually vote. About 3.7 million Virginians voted each time, compared to 3.1 million when Bush beat Kerry by 270,000 votes in 2004. In 2010, when there was no top-of-the-ticket election and Republican House candidates outpolled Democrats by 275,000 votes, only 2.2 million voted.

Again Tuesday, about 2.2 million Virginians voted. They elected Democrats governor and lieutenant governor, and the attorney general race is still too close to call.

If I were a Republican, that would worry me.

and Typhoon Haiyan

As many as 10,000 may be dead in the Philippines in “one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded”. Haiyan proceeded on to make landfall in Vietnam. I know there’s some famous quote about the number of deaths a disaster needs to make headlines being inversely proportional to its distance, but my Google skills failed me. (If you know, write a comment.)

Here’s Haiyan as seen from space:

and Iran

Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program ended without a deal. It’s not clear how seriously to take claims of “significant progress”.

and the NFL, race, and masculinity

The Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying story jumped off the sports pages and became a discussion about race and masculinity. I discuss it in more detail in “Bullies, Victims, and Masculinity“.

and you also might be interested in …

CBS has pulled  the 60 Minutes segment on Benghazi off its web site, saying:

60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound.

We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.

It apologized on the air last night.

Apparently, their key witness had previously told the FBI a completely different story. Apologizing is fine, but that’s not going to correct all the misinformation that CBS’ report put into people’s heads.

Jonathan Chait notes that the limit of the Senate’s power to “advise and consent” on presidential nominees is limited by custom, not settled law. And then he raises an important question:

We may assume that another Supreme Court vacancy would result in the confirmation of a mainstream judge in the president’s broad ideological mold. But if one of the five Republican-appointed justices were to fall ill or suddenly retire, would Republicans really allow Obama to replace him with another Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor? We believe that the Senate would yield because that’s simply the way things have always been done. But in the Obama era, the way things have always been done has not turned out to be a reliable guide.

The Rand Paul plagiarism scandal keeps growing. It started with Rachel Maddow spotting unattributed paragraphs from Wikipedia in Paul’s speeches. Then BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski noticed pieces of an article from The Week showing up in Paul’s Washington Times column. And then he found that a chunk of Paul’s latest book was cribbed from a Forbes article. Politico found “borrowed language” in Paul’s Howard University speech and his 2013 response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Tuesday, The Washington Times ended Paul’s weekly column, saying: “We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material”.

It’s kind of a weird scandal, because (in all the examples I’ve seen) quoting the source material properly would not have detracted from the point Paul was making. The issue seems to be more about sloppiness and low intellectual standards than about honesty.

There’s also character component now, because of the way Paul initially tried to bluster his way through rather than just own up to the mistakes.

if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that, because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.

That sounds big and tough until you realize that he’s fantasizing about dueling a girl, Rachel Maddow. (I don’t think they ever did that in Kentucky. Or anywhere.) By the time CNN called him to account, he was slightly more contrite: He blamed his staff, and then whined about “the standard I’m being held to”.

They’re now going back and reading every book from cover to cover and looking for places where we footnoted correctly and don’t have quotation marks in the right places or we didn’t indent correctly.

This all backs up my initial impression of Paul, which is that the champion-of-libertarian-philosophy mantle he inherited from his Dad doesn’t really fit. (How well it fit Ron Paul is a different discussion.) He appears to be an empty suit who doesn’t write, vet, or even understand very well the words he says or signs his name to.

That’s why he looked so silly when Rachel interviewed him in 2010: Rachel knows her stuff, and Rand only knows his talking points. Or why he seemed surprised that black students at Howard University know basic facts about American history (like that Lincoln was a Republican). (Jon Stewart described the Howard talk here, and then discussed it with Larry Wilmore.) His talking points say blacks are all Democrats because they don’t know that kind of stuff. How was he to know Howard students really do?

Young adults aren’t buying cars or houses at the usual rate. Are they just over-extended from student debt and poor job prospects? Or are they developing a different relationship with ownership?

and let’s end with something awesome

like the moon.

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  • Philippe Saner  On November 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I’m a young adult and I don’t see much reason to buy either a house or a car. I may change my mind if and when I have kids, but until then…

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