Rick Perry at Mach 4

So you're thinking about voting for Rick Perry in the Republican primary in your state, but you feel like he hasn't given you that cheek-flapping feeling you get when you're plunging to earth at 500 miles an hour, experiencing g-forces that could rip the eyeballs out of your head? Well, your wait is over:

Why Is Elliot Abrams Still Around?

The Atlantic's James Fallows, among the most reasonable and thoughtful people in Washington, responds to a crude article by Elliot Abrams that appeared on his magazine's website by writing a characteristically reasonable and thoughtful post explaining why Abrams' approach to criticizing the Obama administration is enormously unhelpful.

Iowa's Tea Party King

My article in the Prospect's October issue is up at the homepage. It's a long feature, but here's a quick version: After the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, social conservatives at the local and national levels joined forces to attack the court. They used a once-obscure procedure of judicial selection to kick three judges off the bench, though the ruling on marriage still stands as law.

The Race is Close in South Carolina

Since entering the Republican presidential primary in August, Rick Perry has led the pack in South Carolina -- according to Public Policy Polling’s most recent survey of the state, Perry led the entire field by at least twenty points.

Shortly after that poll was released, I spent some time in South Carolina, and found that -- among the rank-and-fle at least -- opinions weren’t as cut and dry. Admiration for Perry was widespread, but there was plenty of ambivalence about his ability to lead when compared to more established candidates like Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann.

It's the Demand Side, Stupid

Republicans' response to Obama's deficit-reduction plan -- which calls on millionaires and large corporations to pay higher taxes -- predictably consisted of two terms: "job creators" and "class warfare." Who are these job creators, anyway? They want you to think it's small businesses, but Obama's proposal to raise taxes on millionaires wouldn't affect 98 percent of small businesses. In reality, it would affect millionaires who, despite their wealth, haven't been creating jobs for some time.

Looking for Someone to Blame? Try the GOP

While liberals cheered President Obama’s speech on deficit reduction, New York Times columnist David Brooks was disappointed. “This wasn’t a speech to get something done,” Brooks writes, "This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it. The result is that we will get neither short-term stimulus nor long-term debt reduction anytime soon, and I’m a sap for thinking it was possible."

Certain About Uncertainty

John Judis has an enormously depressing article over at The New Republic about the economy, titled, aptly, "Doom! Our Economic Nightmare is Just Beginning," which includes this vivid anecdote:

When I was in New Hampshire this summer, I accompanied Republican Congressman Charlie Bass on a visit to a small factory that produces industrial-strength air-conditioning filters. Bass asked the factory owner what he would do first if he were Obama. The owner replied immediately: "Cut spending." Later, as I was touring the plant, I learned that schools, government buildings, and the military bought their filters there.

Talkin' Socialized Medicine

Rick Perry is apparently amping up his attacks on the health reform Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts, explaining that "the model for socialized medicine has been tried before … whether it was in western Europe or in Massachusetts." This is, of course, complete nonsense, as Trudy Lieberman of the Columbia Journalism Review tries to explain. It isn't like we haven't heard this before, but since Perry and Romney are running for president, maybe reporters could demand some clarification from the Texas governor.

Obama Needs an 'A' for Effort

President Obama's jobs plan is touted as a plan to put Americans to work and get the economy back on track. But beyond the White House briefing room, Obama's plan is campaign outreach program targeting the key demographics that elected him -- women, minorities and 18 to 29-year-olds -- and was, arguably, written with them in mind.

Obama’s endgame is not just the passage of this jobs bill, despite his new catchphrase. It is near impossible that his plan will pass in a robust form anyway. As an election strategy, however, he needs an 'A' for effort.

The Smarty-Pants Problem

Chris Mooney -- Prospect alum, science journalist, known smart person -- is unsettled when liberals say conservatives are dumb:

Over the weekend, Maureen Dowd penned the column that somebody—some liberal—was bound to pen eventually. Basically, it was about, uh, why conservatives have embraced being "stupid," or at least anti-intellectual.

Obama Takes a Stand Against Compromise

With $580 billion in cuts to mandatory spending, $1.1 trillion in savings from the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $1.5 trillion in tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, President Obama’s recommendations to the Super Committee – unveiled this morning in a speech at the White House – are the most liberal deficit-reduction proposals in a debate dominated by demands for deep spending cuts.

A Better Tax Idea

Over the weekend, President Obama proposed a new tax to make sure people earning over a million dollars a year don't get away without paying taxes, something that sounds a lot like what the Alternative Minimum Tax was supposed to do. He's calling it the "Buffett Rule" in honor of Warren Buffett, who often tells people that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. That's clever, because every time the term is used, journalists will have to repeat the explanation of where the name comes from, thereby repeating the White House's message.

Jews Weirdly Interested in Political Opinions of Jews

Andrew Gelman raises a point about why we bother discussing "the Jewish vote," as though this 2 percent of Americans, mostly congregated in non-battleground states like New York and California, actually matters:

This sort of concern is not restricted to Jews, of course. Different minority groups exercise political power in different ways. I just thought it was worth pointing out that this isn't a pure public opinion issue but rather something with more indirect pathways.

But I get annoyed when pundits talk about the Jewish vote as if it's about votes.

Crank Up the Scandal Machine

One of the most remarkable accomplishments of the Obama administration is that it has been in office nearly three years without a significant scandal, or really any scandal at all. This is pretty much unprecedented in recent decades. It's particularly notable that the Recovery Act, with a few hundred billion dollars spread around the country to all kinds of projects, came off without any charges of graft or waste.