Patterico's Pontifications


More on Fighting Fire with Fire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:04 pm

Last night I talked about Rick Santorum’s declaration that he plans to “fight fire with fire,” and quoted my daughter’s observation that fighting fire with fire just creates more fire.

I was thinking of “fighting fire with fire” in the colloquial sense of “fighting the other guy’s sleazy tactics by using the same sleazy tactics yourself.” I generally disagree with this approach. I’d rather point out the other guy’s scuzzball tactics, rather than sinking to his level. I do think that fighting this sort of “fire” with more “fire” just leads to a huge conflagration.

However, several commenters pointed out that firefighters often literally do fight fire with fire. Here is one description of possible techniques:

When faced with a massive, woodland-consuming storm of flames and ash, your first instinct might not be to apply more fire to the dire situation. But think about it for a second: A fire needs oxygen and fuel, such as leaves and vegetation, to continue raging. Rob the fire of either source of nourishment and you squelch the chemical reaction that produces it.

When faced with an oil-well fire, firefighters have been known to remove the oxygen from the equation by detonating a little dynamite. The blast eats up all the local oxygen, leaving nothing to keep the fire going. When an entire forest is ablaze, however, a different tactic is in order. Firefighters remove the fuel — and what better way to quickly remove combustible underbrush than to carefully set it on fire?

I think this theory has an analogue in politics. Namely, if you see that the other side is going to be able to burn your candidate down by attacking his weak spots, you might want to set some backfires — vetting your candidate, in other words — thus depriving the other side of the huge amount of fuel that can cause an out of control wildfire.

The thing to remember is: any time you fight fire with fire, you’re, well, playing with fire. And if you play with fire, you might get burned. I’ll stop the stupid analogies now, but the point is: vetting is important — but it also needs to be done carefully. Because if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the . . . ah, hell. You know what I mean.

So vet away, folks. But be careful out there. And be careful not to burn each other, or to burn bridges, OK?

Otherwise I’ll have to drag out more stupid fire analogies. And nobody wants that.

Lawsuit Day Approaching for Shuster and Olbermann? Sure Looks That Way!!!

Filed under: General,Nadia Naffe — Patterico @ 6:27 pm

After James O’Keefe demanded that David Shuster retract his defamatory characterization of James O’Keefe as a “convicted felon,” Shuster has taken to Twitter — but has he retracted? Mmmm . . . not so much. As a matter of fact, I think you could call this “doubling down”:

Hey @JamesokeefeIII apologize to @nadianaffe. And @AndrewBreitbart why wont u condemn his alleged sex assault plan?

I hear a distant rumbling sound . . . and it sounds like momentum for a libel suit building.


Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart has published several tweets corroborating my belief that a libel suit is likely forthcoming. For example:

What are Vegas odds that @DavidShuster & @KeithOlbermann get sued for libel this week?

I sure wouldn’t bet against it, I’ll tell you that.

By the way, I just took a look at the Current page that Shuster links yet again today. It says:

D.C. correspondent David Shuster calls right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart a hypocrite for his silence on the subject of the rape allegation facing his conservative activist protégé James O’Keefe . . .

I listened to Shuster’s description of the allegations made by Naffe, and I’m not hearing a “rape allegation.” Frankly, I’m not hearing an “alleged sex assault plan” either. What I’m hearing — and this is just if the allegations are true, which I do not assume — are allegations that O’Keefe and Naffe argued; that he refused to drive her to a station from a barn on his parents’ property after the argument; suggestions that Naffe experienced symptoms of incapacitation (which could be consistent with being drugged, or could be consistent with any number of any causes as well, including drinking too much); and that O’Keefe harassed Naffe after the fact (among other things). Listen for yourself:

Is that a “rape allegation”? A “sex assault plan”? I’m not hearing it in that description.

Are Shuster and Current trying to add counts to the defamation suit?

It sure seems that way.


Stay tuned. I have a feeling this story is not going away.

UPDATE: I have new, exclusive, source material regarding the specifics of Naffe’s allegations — and how they were misrepresented by Shuster. This is worth a new post, which will probably go up in the morning. Stay tuned.

It’s Now or Never?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:27 am

[Posted by Karl]

Jonathan Chait plays the hits in a lengthy diatribe for New York magazine:

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s inspirational message and cutting-edge organization, but above all his sweeping win reflected simple demography.

Outside Chait’s world of fantasy and delusion, the 2008 results reflected a nationwide swing as the country plunged into a deep recession.  This was equally true in the case study of Colorado.

The people responsible for the Emerging Democratic Majority theory, being marginally less deluded that Chait, have already been considering their fallback positions for 2012:

Teixeira, writing with John Halpin, argues in “The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election,” that in order to be re-elected, President Obama must keep his losses among white college graduates to the 4-point margin of 2008 (47-51). Why? Otherwise he will not be able to survive a repetition of 2010, when white working-class voters supported Republican House candidates by a record-setting margin of 63-33.

Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43).

Not many pollsters regularly break down their data this way, but Quinnipiac does.  Their latest national poll shows Obama in striking distance with these demographics, but the fact that Obama is now considered a known quantity must worry more savvy party insiders about the incumbent’s ceiling.

Chait rambles for four pages of straight-line projection, assuming that the GOP is fighting “history.”  It as though the USSR had not disappeared, the PRC had not retreated from communism to fascism, and the social democracies of Europe were not slowly collapsing under the weight of their transnational progressive ambitions.  There is not a word of how the Emerging Democratic Majority holds up when we run out of money.  For someone who can spot magical thinking in other liberals, Chait is bad at spotting it in himself.


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