Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Lie? You Betcha!

During the first presidential debate, McCan't made a comment about his hero, Ronald Reagan, who supposedly would not meet with Brezhnev, Andropov, or Chernenko, but decided to make himself available once Gorbachev made with the glasnost and perestroika.

I didn't pick this up, but blogger Brad DeLong did. He points to an April 26, 1982 Time article, which noted:
In an interview with Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, Brezhnev rejected President Reagan's proposal, made earlier this month, that the two leaders meet informally in New York this June after the disarmament talks at the United Nations General Assembly...
Pravda? you snort. The official newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party? Now who are you gonna believe: McCain or Pravda? Except that the original request by Reagan was to meet on US soil in June. Brezhnev, who had been ill for weeks, suggested a neutral summit later in the fall to give their leader time to recover. The White House held out hope that the meeting in June would still happen. Therefore, the Soviet account was accurate. Reagan was eager and willing to meet with Brezhnev, maybe even "without preconditions."

This means that McCan't, who at the time this was going on was running for his first Senate term, did not have the facts straight last Friday. He was ignorant. Yglesias believes that such
ignorance is a form of dishonesty. He had to have looked up the facts, or at least had his aides do it, in order to make that point. So he would have known those facts at the debate. If he was just winging it, then what does that say about his interest in telling the truth to voters that he wouldn't bother to be factually accurate in a debate?

The Gambler vs. The Lecturer

Ed Rollins does his thing about last week's debate. (Hat tip: Titus Levi).


McCain proved in his opening answers to moderator Jim Lehrer that he had no clue how the government should respond to the financial crisis. He failed to articulate how he would cut his own programs in response to the crisis.

Other than vetoing $18 billion of his fellow members' pet projects called earmarks (doubtful, since more than half are defense projects) and not allowing another $3 million study of the DNA of grizzly bears (a measure McCain voted for by supporting an appropriation bill including it), he offered little guidance on what a McCain administration would do with an emptier U.S. Treasury.

Obama, on the other hand, proved once again that he can't close the sale. With polls moving all week in his direction, all he had to do was appear presidential and make his case that McCain was going to be "Bush-like" in his approach to governing.

Can't say I would have disagreed with him on my first viewing of the debate. But after watching clips of it again, I have to say that McCain failed utterly to convince anyone with half a brain that he was leading us anywhere but into a series of new quagmires: Iran, Russia, and an economic recession of all recessions. His shoot from the hip "leadership" gave us Sarah Palin, the first presidential decision he's had to make so far, and it was a complete bust. To show how desperate the campaign is, they are now talking about "unleashing" her from her handlers so that she can just "be Sarah." Bill Kristol on Fox News this morning:
McCain picked her because she was a good governor, a good politician, a good communicator. Let her be a politician. Let her communicate. Put her on TV. Put her radio. Let her relax. Let her go into the debate and try to win the debate.

She's not without her charms so long as she's not trying to be a "serious" candidate, and she was able to deliver the attack at the convention and on the trail. Still, it wasn't hard to do that since she was mouthing the words and ideas of others, and she was standing in front of people who largely believe her to be anointed by God. But put her in front of a podium with a strong journalist moderating, and a seasoned veteran like Biden picking away at her arguments (so long as he's not too heavy-handed), and she's going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West in the shower.

Obama, on the other hand, remained calm, delivered strong ideas, deflected the wild punches being thrown by his opponent, and ended up looking far more like a leader than the old man.

So long as conventional wisdom doesn't portray McCain as the voice of sanity in this financial mess, Obama just needs to keep riding the momentum upward, stay on message, attack when appropriate, and work on improving his ability to reach people where they live. Given his effectiveness thus far -- including defeating the most trusted brand in American politics in the last 25 years -- I think he's definitely on the right track.

Bailout Fails -- Who Benefits?

The House voted 225-208 against the proposed White House/Congressional bailout plan. About 60% of House Democrats were in favor, and only a third of Republicans.

What this means now is anyone's guess. Bush's failure here means he may well be the next president to preside over conditions that precipitated an economic depression. The do-nothing option in this crisis is far worse for everyone involved.

But who benefits? Well, home loan applicants, for one. Today, the 10-year bond, which is the bellwether for long term mortgage rates, has so far falled nearly 0.25%. Now a buyer can secure a new mortgage for under 6%, which are the lowest rates in nearly four years. Investors in Treasury bonds will also benefit, as people flee the volatile stock market for the full faith and credit of the United States (which, actually, is something I don't quite understand given the mess we're currently in). Also, depositors can find great CD rates now, as banks are scrambling for money.

In the end, though, no one really benefits, and almost everyone loses without a fix in place. Letting the market handle this is dangerous. Banks don't want to lend away the money that they do have for fear that the collateral may lose value. Consumers don't want to spend money and lose savings and incur more debt. Businesses don't want to invest in new employees, so jobs slow down or stop entirely.

One person who might benefit from this is John McCain. By going to DC and putting a monkey wrench in the process of formulating this fix, he might come out of this looking like a hero for keeping this monkey off the backs of the American people. And watch for his ads to start touting his singular role as the lone "maverick" voice for sanity amidst this financial panic. Just watch.

Still, this could blow up in everyone's faces, including Obama's. He supported the bailout plan, which many voters did not trust.

I think that failing to dedicate enough time to explain this plan to the taxpayers is the main problem. Bush going on TV and painting this doomsday scenario may have worked before invading Iraq, but we're a little smarter now (a little, not a lot). We see through that bullshit.

No, what we need is the equivalent of a town-hall meeting, albeit on a massive scale, in numerous locations, with members of Congress going out into the towns and explaining what this bill looked like, what were the pitfalls, and what were the proposed benefits. Allowing for questions from the voters, the government would look appropriately humble in the face of this huge mess that federal deregulation allowed, and that a Congress in lock-step with Bush created.

But maybe this is the price we all have to pay for signing over our intelligence and trust to people who did not earn it.

Para-who?

You know that you have hit bottom when the President of Paraguay turns down an offer to meet with you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama Can/Should Step it Up Next Time

At least that's what R.J. Eskow thinks:
3. Obama's opening comments on the economy were strong: "How's it going to affect me? How's it going to affect my job ... my house ... my retirement ..." He should stick with that. It's effective. But he can now become even more specific:
  • When your credit card rate jumps up to 28% and you can't understand why, that's because of the policies put in place by Bush and McCain.
  • When you can't pay your mortgage and there's nowhere to turn, that's because of the policies put in place by Bush and McCain.
  • When you can't afford to fill your gas tank or heat your house, that's because of the policies put in place by Bush and McCain.
  • When your health plan covers even less of your costs and won't provide treatment that you or your kids need, that's because of the policies put in place by Bush and McCain.
Obama might never go for the jugular, but his suggestions are going for the jugular, indeed maybe right to the heart. Obama should continue to equate McCain with Bush, to the point where it's almost too much to hear. He should also be pointing out, especially after the Palin flame-outs with Gibson, Couric, and soon to be against Biden, that the only real presidential decision he's had to make is one where he selected a running mate who emphasizes popularity over substance. "This isn't just a popularity contest, John. The American people lost out on a President Al Gore because it's not a popularity contest, and your hero, George W. Bush, got re-elected due to the popular vote -- and look at the mess we're in now."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Do So Torture

Well, there you have it. Rice has confirmed in writing that discussions were held at the White House with other Bush Administration officials, including Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Ashcroft, and Addington. Watch the video from Rachel Maddow, then watch the documentary on HBO, September 29, called Taxi to the Dark Side, which won an Oscar.

Shameful. And McCan't wants this to continue.

Debate #1 Reaction

You can travel all over the net to find what all the bloggers have to say about what the pundits say, and all the poll data is right there too. Here's my take, as a non-pundit, neo-blogger:

McCan't blew it.

A little sports analogy here: in this first debate, coming on the heels of his major melodramatic meltdown over the financial crisis, where he claimed to have "suspended" his campaign but still had ads running in key states, McCan't needed to hit a home run over the center field fence. At best he had a strong double down the right field line. At worst, he had a sliding double, and had his spikes up in Obama's face. After such a disastrous week, however, it might have been enough for him to appear calm and collected, but he largely failed there.

On the economic crisis, McCan't was disconnected from reality. He spoke mostly about government spending (granted, Lehrer's questioning sort of led him there) and no time talking about how he would create a better environment to protect ordinary Americans from the abuses of Wall Street and large corporations. I read one blogger say that, according to the transcript, McCan't never uttered the words "middle class," while Obama, looking into the camera to connect with the voters, said it three times. One good point for McCan't was his acknowledgment that Republicans had entered the last presidential term determined to change government, but that government had changed them instead. He at least admitted to presiding over the largest expansion of government spending in history.

On foreign policy, again McCan't was disconnected. He had nothing concrete to offer to voters who are tired of the Iraq War and want to see the troops withdrawn. All he could talk about was "winning" and how we are "winning." Obama landed a crushing blow -- his best of the night -- when he said directly to McCan't, "You think the war started in 2007 -- the war started in 2003." McCan't is running away from his record on voting to authorize the war, and his prediction that it would be over quickly and easily, on WMDs, and on how we would be greeted as liberators upon entering Baghdad. Major score for Obama by repeating "You were wrong" three times. I was annoyed by McCan't repeating the idea that Obama "did not understand" or was "naive" or "dangerous," when clearly Obama had a more coherent, focused, and long-term approach to foreign policy than he did. McCan't's eagerness to resolve conflicts militarily was front and center, and I think that is a big reason why Obama had such big gains in the follow up polls last night.

On style, I'd have to call it a draw. Obama was his customary cool-headed self, but in this debate I thought he could have done a better job hitting McCan't on how connected he is to Bush and how disconnected he is from voters and their needs. He was engaged, personable, and seemed way more at ease with himself, smiling frequently. In particular, I thought he made huge gains when he chuckled upon hearing himself compared to Bush on "stubborness." McCan't looked completely uncomfortable, his eyes darting all over the place, scowling, squinting, blinking, and never once in 90 minutes looking at Obama. No objective person could look at that and interpret that either disdain or fear, neither of which was a positive for McCan't. In fact, I was hoping that Obama would have addressed this thoroughly childish behavior at the end of the debate. Something like, "You know, John -- in nearly 90 minutes we've been debating and you haven't looked at me once in the eye. I think that pretending that I'm not here is about as effective as pretending that you're, say, different from George Bush." McCan't's voice appeared pinched, and his smiling and excessive blinking whenever he was attacked looked to me like he was struggling to mask his temper, which is of course legendary among those who know (particularly his own wife). However, when he would bring up a touching anecdote about a veteran's family, or Reagan, his face would soften, his eyes widen, and his voice patterns even out. He had more of those moments to connect than Obama, which is the primary reason for the draw in my view.

Obama, for his part, didn't need a home run. He's already got a comfortable lead in most of the national polls, and some of those are outside the margin of error, which to me gives him a clear lead. He needed to make contact with the ball and hit it where McCan't couldn't easily field it, and he did that enough times to increase his lead or at worst hold on to the lead he had. No major poll puts him at a disadvantage yet. He did the right thing the day before the debate to lower expectations about his performance. He had solid ideas, made forceful arguments, took the debate right to McCan't (one awkward moment was when he let Lehrer lead him to address his comments to McCan't; it made him look weak to me), and was otherwise in command. McCan't has an advantage with his depth of experience and knowledge of foreign policy, but he was rooted in what Obama called "20th century thinking" for a 21st century world. I really liked Obama's comment about McCan't's out-of-touch stance with Pakistan: "Well, [Musharraf] is a dictator, but he's our dictator." That's exactly the kind of old-school politics that currently has us seen by the world as unreliable, dangerous, and belligerent.

Next week is the VP debate. Totally absent from the room last night was Sarah Palin, who was sequestered at a "rib-fest" and debate-watching party in Pennsylvania. Biden, for his part, was in the spin room and on every channel after the debate, offering his take and his support for Obama. This morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Pat Buchanan made a good point that, had Palin been there, Biden would have been the loneliest person in the spin room, as reporters have been dying to get at Palin for weeks. I'm not sure what the debate format will be next week, but if it approximates the format for last night, I'm genuinely frightened for Palin. I will have sit there with a towel to chew on as I try to endure her talking point salads on every topic thrown at her. An interesting comment by Joe Scarborough this morning -- that it wasn't Palin's fault that she is so unprepared, it's McCan't's fault for picking her too soon.

As Peter Gabriel sang in "San Jacinto": We will walk on the land/We will breathe of the air/We will drink from the stream/We will live -- hold the line/Hold the line.

Hold the line.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Winning First... Country? Whatever.

John Judis at TNR says it all.
[NY Times columnist] David [Brooks] thinks that beneath the surface of McCain the craven campaigner, that the man who nominated an ill-prepared Sarah Palin as his possible successor and has lent his energies to blocking a financial bailout, there still sits a "real McCain" who could govern fairly and effectively as president. I doubt it. I really doubt it. Whether because of age or overreaching ambition, McCain has become the kind of man he earlier railed against. He has become the Bush of 2000 against whom he campaigned or the Senate and House Republicans whom he despised. His defeat is now imperative.

Clueless

BarbinMD at Kos has a partial transcript of the Couric interview with Palin where Palin is implying that Henry Kissinger is naive for favoring meeting with Iran with "no pre-conditions being met." To be fair, it was Katie Couric who brought up that Kissinger, not Palin. But still, it shows just how clueless she is.

Notice that in a 65 word response, Palin uttered the words "preconditions being met" twice, as if she has these ready phrases at hand, like someone pushed a button in her pre-programmed brain which triggered her response.

In fact, George Orwell himself had a lot to say about Politics and the English Language -- in 1946.
You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you, even think your thoughts for you to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

A little humor

Slate predicts the next 10 Hail Mary stunts the McCain will pull.

My personal fave: Sells Alaska to Russia for $700 billion.

Now, this is getting somewhere...

Atlantic columnist Murray Waas writes that sources have told him that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is now saying that President Bush personally directed him to the hospital room of John Ashcroft to get his buy-in on the warrantless surveillance program, and that he also directed Gonzalez to fabricate notes.

You remember the infamous trip, right? Then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez and Chief of Staff Andrew Card went to the hospital bedside of a very ill Attorney General John Ashcroft, to get Ashcroft's buy in on the very-illegal Domestic Surveillance Program. The visit was made public first by James Comey, the acting AG at the time, when he testified before Congress, and was corroborated by FBI Director Robert Mueller. Waas writes that Bush called Ashcroft ahead of time to let him know that Gonzalez and Card were coming.

Waas's retelling of the incident just has to be read again to be fully appreciated:
Gonzales told Ashcroft he had met earlier that day with congressional leaders who, he claimed, supported the continuation of the program without Department of Justice approval, and were determined to find a legislative remedy that would address the legal concerns of Comey and others. Several of the legislative leaders who had been at that meeting with Gonzales and Vice President Cheney say that Gonzales’s account of what transpired was simply not true.

Sullivan posits that Bush was intimately involved in all of the same things as Cheney, including the war crimes.

"Not a crazy idea"

Sullivan packs the one-two punch of conservative women commentators who are for intents and purposes done with Sarah Palin.

First Kathleen Parker of The National Review:
Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.
Then Kathryn Jean Lopez, also of TNR:
I’m not where my friend Kathleen Parker is — wanting her to step aside to spend more time with her family and Alaska — but that’s not a crazy suggestion.

As the great general Maximus said after his second confrontation with the diabolical Commodus in Gladiator: "The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end."

Tonight, the debate should be interesting. I'm hoping Obama stays away from criticizing McCain too much on his trip to DC. Just to say that, while his intentions may have been good, it was absurd to say he was suspending his campaign when he clearly didn't, and that his presence in Washington might actually have made things worse rather than better.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Real Man of Honor

While John McCan't likes to advertise that, as a "maverick" and former POW, it makes him more honorable than Barack Obama, a real man of honor went nearly unnoticed in the news.

In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a military prosecutor involved in war crimes trials, Darrel Vandeveld, "filed a declaration with a military court [there] Wednesday, laying out his concerns" about a case against an Afghan detainee, citing his office's failure to turn over exculpatory material to the defense.

The Lt. Colonel wrote: "My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain 'procedure' for affording defense counsel discovery."

Now that's what I call honor. Doing what's right regardless of one's background.

It turns out that two others have confessed to having roles the crime but the prosecution did not interview those others. Another prosecutor is going to seek dismissal of the case based on lack of evidence.

But here's the real kicker in the story: The defendant is now 24 years old, and has been in custody in Guantanamo for seven years. Jesus, the guy's a kid.

(hat tip: Swampland)

Well, Now You Know...

... that the suspension of John McCan't's campaign yesterday was a stunt of epic proportions (epic in the sense of panic, of course). Now comes word that even Sarah Palin may be suspending her "campaign." Politico has some analysis.

McCain’s announcement puts Palin in a tricky spot. If Palin continues campaigning, even at a less-than-full schedule, she will be in the mostly unaccustomed position of doing so without McCain by her side and would likely face more criticism if she continued evading the press on the campaign trail. But if she suspends her campaign, Democrats are sure to pounce on the move as more evidence that the suspension is political.
The McCan't campaign is also trying to postpone the first debate to Oct. 2, which is the date of the VP debate, and reschedule the VP debate for another time. Another ploy to keep Palin away from the press and the non-believing public, as well as out of the gaping maw of Joe Biden, who if you hadn't noticed is burning up the trail like a political Tasmanian Devil (and making a couple of silly gaffes along the way).

If you're not convinced that McCan't is watching the wheels fall off the Straight Talk Express; if the plummeting poll numbers aren't confirming for you that, for all intents and purposes, Americans do not like what they're seeing in John McCain; if the recent poll in Alaska, which shows voters there preferring the experience of Joe Biden over that of their own governor in an international crisis, doesn't make your red eyes blue; then you are, of course, asleep. The cure for that, my friends, is to WAKE UP!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Wants Debate to Continue as Scheduled

McCan't may be panicking, but Obama is keeping his cool head.

Time provides a breakdown of the news events of days past during presidential debates.
Examples:


  • On the day of the second debate in 1960, a bomb went off in Times Square for the third time in 11 days, injuring 33 people, and a US embargo of Cuba was announced.
  • Five days before the third debate in 2000, the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists.
  • Two days before the first debate in 2004, North Korea announced it had turned plutonium from 8,000 spent fuel rods into nuclear weapons.

These three events, while different from a potentially devastating economic meltdown, clearly show that serious events have not stopped the process of selecting a president in the past.

Further, it should be noted that six states have already begun voting, and another 16 are scheduled to start next week, including battleground states like Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The McCan't strategy of delay now becomes clearer. If the first debate is cancelled voters will have to make their decisions without substantive discussion of the issues. (I'm not saying that the debates resemble anything more than a dog-and-pony show, but they are at least marginally less propagandistic than what has been put out there so far by both candidates.) McCan't could conceivably do better with early voters.

UPDATE: blogger Eric Rauchway has some more information on historical context for presidential debates.

  • In 1864, Abraham Lincoln presided over a country at war with itself and a party split to its roots over the question of how to plan for the nation’s reconstruction—to such an extent that on this day, Lincoln reluctantly accepted the resignation of Montgomery Blair, his Postmaster General and a valued advisor, owing to disputes over plans for Reconstruction.
  • In 1932, with the nation mired in the Great Depression, you could read Will Rogers in the New York Times saying “This is a year that will bring out lots of votes, for the voter has nothing to do but vote; his 1932 employment consists entirely of voting.” Managing the economic crisis was assuredly a full time job. Yet Herbert Hoover prepared to give a large speech in Iowa and Franklin Roosevelt had just given what became a famous address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
  • In 1944, the US prepared one of the most ambitious postwar occupations in history for Germany, while American forces in the Pacific prepared an assault on the Philippines on the way to Japan. Yet President Roosevelt had just officially launched his campaign for a fourth term, while Thomas Dewey took his turn speaking in San Francisco, challenging Roosevelt’s supremacy.
Excuse me, Senator? Would you like a cookie and glass of chocolate milk?

Letterman vs. McCan't

Sullivan posted this earlier, but it comes from Matt Drudge so who the f*ck knows if it's true?
EXCLUSIVE: LETTERMAN MOCKS MCCAIN CANCELLATION
Wed Sep 24 2008 17:41:58 ET

David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then, in the middle of the taping, Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."

"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"

"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
McCan't is experiencing acute hysteria now. Not the cool-headed approach I expect from a president. At least he wasn't reading My Pet Goat upside down at the time!

Campbell Brown, cont.

A reader writes:


In their town hall type meetings, McCain and Palin answer many unscripted questions questions from the audience but they do not often expose themselves to media gotcha questions designed only to embarrass them. No "Have you quit beating your spouse or children?" questions. Obama avoids unscripted questions like Hilliary did and Biden does not need them to embarrass himself.
Why, then, if they've answered unscripted questions from town hall participants, has the campaign not released video of the fabulous answers she surely must have given? Wouldn't it put to rest once and for all that she's a substantial, ready-on-day-one VP? I think not.

Oh, maybe there is no video? Uh, yeah right.

Reputable journalists (those that don't work for Fox News) don't engage in "gotcha" questions. Asking a candidate to respond to a statement he or she made on some issue that directly contradicts already-known facts related to the issue, is something that journalists can and must do. I believe that in those town-hall meetings, the questions are from the choir, designed for the candidate to preach right back to that choir. In other words, cotton ball questions.

McCain and Palin are so afraid to deal with real questions, McCain is using the financial crisis as cover to suspend his campaign and duck out on the debate Friday night. Not to diminish the importance of this issue, but a president must be able to multitask instead of dropping everything. This isn't 9/11 where thousands of people have just been killed. This is a money matter and needs to be handled rationally. In typical fashion, McCain is being alarmist, hot-headed and overly populist.

His campaign? Meltdown city.

Fence Sitting

A recent AP/Yahoo! News poll found that 18 percent of voters can go either way in this election, and are unsatisfied with both candidates at this point.

As I see it, those sitting on the fence at this point are not paying attention to issues or facts. They too confused by political rhetoric and ignoring hard evidence.

Barack Obama makes sense for the following reasons:
1) He cares more about this planet's survival -- his commitment to developing alternative and renewable energy is eclipsed only by McCan't's commitment to "drill, baby, drill."
2) He wants to get us out of Iraq sooner rather than later -- he proposes a 16 month timetable to withdraw all major troops by the end of 2010, redeploying many of them to Afghanistan, which is the real central front of the war. McCan't has no timetable. Obama has been right repeatedly about the war and how disastrous it has been to our country's image around the world.
3) He is young, full of passion for the new, embraces change, and represents in a great sense the changing face of this country -- McCan't is old, fears change, and represents the desperate, corrupt, fading establishment that can't let go of power.
4) He wants the government to ensure that every American has health care coverage, and is willing to make deals with all parties to see that it happens -- McCan't is old-school; he wants to tax your health-care benefits, taking money out of your pocket all year long, to force competitiveness among health insurers (uh, yeah right).
5) He will see to it that the middle class pays less taxes -- right now the wealthiest still pay the largest percentage of the country's tax revenues (as it should be), but corporations and the very wealthy have taken advantage of a lax tax code to allow them to skirt the rules and pay less than what they should. He also wants to sunset the Bush tax cuts, while McCan't wants to make them permanent, even with a $10 billion monthly war bill and a $700 bailout plan on the table.
6) He wants to use diplomacy first -- he insists that military action be reserved as a last resort. McCan't, well, can't do that, because he doesn't know how to think beyond guns and tanks and bombs.
7) He has had one presidential decision to make so far -- the selection of his running mate -- and he has picked a seasoned and highly-respected veteran who is well-regarded around the world and who has a keen understanding of both economic and foreign policy challenges and opportunities. McCan't's one decision so far has been to select a press-timid, yet unscrupulous, political Medusa with Armageddonist visions, who in 43 years never left the United States (but who can see Russia from her kitchen window), who has a nanometer-thin grasp of the issues facing this country today (at least what she'd been able to glean from Faux News) and who in an unprecedented display of contempt for this country's need to know, refuses to be interviewed by the press.

If those 18% are still on the fence at this point, perhaps the debates will help move them one way or the other. If not, vote for Barr or McKinney, or Nader, or one of the other fringe candidates. Between the committeds and the leaners, Obama's pretty close to wrapping this thing up, both from an electoral view and popular vote.

Poll Dancing

Karen Tumulty over at Time's blog, Swampland, spotlights a Pew Research Center study that attempts to address the effect that young people, who don't often have land lines but use cell phones only, are having on the poll results (emphasis theirs).


[A] virtually identical pattern is seen across all three surveys: In each case, including cell phone interviews resulted in slightly more support for Obama and slightly less for McCain, a consistent difference of two-to-three points in the margin.
Two to three points? They actually called this "statistically insignificant." Maybe for the polls, with margins of error of two to five percent. In a presidential election, that's a solid win.

Good news: an ABC/Washington Post poll shows Obama with a 9% lead over McCan't. This represents a five-point jump for Obama, and a six-point fall for McCan't, since the Republican National Convention three weeks ago. Add those cell phone geeks into the mix, and Obama's lead could be as much as 12%. Can you say "landslide?"

Other data in the poll: favorable numbers for Palin in the past two weeks among independents has dropped 12% to 48%, while among independent women the fall is dramatically worse -- down 22% to 43% favorable.

Maybe those numbers will jump a bit once (IF?) McCan't allows her to talk to the press. Or, sadly, if Biden eats his other shoe.

Are You F***in' Kidding Me?

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for posting this first:
"This Administration deserves to be trusted because it has kept us safe from terrorist attack since 9/11, has fought and won two wars, has presided over eight years of economic growth, has appointed two stellar justices to the Supreme Court, and has even learned how to do Louisiana’s job of protecting that state from hurricanes. The day will come, and not before long, when Americans will wish that George Bush was still president," - Steven Calabresi, professor of law at the Northwestern University Law School.

OK, all together now... uh, yeah right.

Campbell Brown!

She pulls an Olbermann by ranting about the McCan't campaign's refusal to allow reporters to have access to Palin. Nugget:
[Y]ou claim she is ready to be one heart beat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters... Let her have a real news conference with real questions.

Finally someone from the mainstream press -- a woman, no less -- has the testicular fortitude to go on air and call out the McCan't campaign for their manipulation of the press regarding Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCan't Campaign Manager Got Freddie Dough till August

The NY Times, which yesterday was accused by the McCan't campaign of being "150% in the tank" with Obama, reports today that McCan't campaign manager Rick Davis, a paid Washington lobbyist, didn't quit his day job when he took the gig with McCan't. It seems that a firm he owned received a $15,000 monthly payment every month from Freddie Mac, recently placed in to conservatorship by the federal government, from the end of 2005 until August 2008. Prior to that, another Davis firm received double that amount per month.

And, of course, there is another McCan't lie exposed. The McCan't campaign -- just this past Sunday night -- released a statement that Davis had had no involvement with Freddie Mac "for the last several years."

Excuse me! I'd like to address my next comments to the McCan't supporters who read this blog.

It is not at all proper for the campaign manager of a presidential candidate to be receiving an income from ANYONE other than the campaign itself. Receiving more than half a million dollars is indisputable evidence of a massive conflict of interest, strongly suggesting that a major corporation had improper access to a presidential candidate. The payments call into question every statement McCan't has made about getting tough with lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats.

Watchdog group Campaign Money Watch has called for McCan't to fire Davis "immediately" if McCan't knew about this relationship.

The Times article also calls McCan't out for his attacks on Obama for having ties to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The campaign has said that Obama's relationships with the two companies far exceeded whatever relationship Davis had with them, and that McCan't was a leading advocate to reform the companies. Not so, says the Times. Is...is that... yet another lie?

Next time McCan't wants to take on the Times, he'd better not bring a knife to that gun fight.

Can We Risk This?

Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford Law School professor, political activist and specialist in political corruption. In this 12-minute video, which you can view below, Lessig paints an absolutely undeniable portrait of Sarah Palin as "the least experienced" Vice Presidential candidate ever, unless you also count Chester Allan Arthur (even less than her) and Spiro T. Agnew (similar to her). Of all the rest of the VPs in American history, and there have been 46 of them, they were men with vastly more experience than she has.

To be fair, let's also compare her to the only other woman ever on a major party ticket, Geraldine Ferraro. Ms. Ferraro graduated from Fordham University Law School in 1960 (one of two women out of 179 total graduates) and became a lawyer in 1961. She worked part time with her husband's real estate firm while raising their three children, and then was appointed Queens County Assistant District Attorney in 1974 by her brother. She was elected to Congress in 1978 and served six years. During those six years, she was a protege of House Speaker Tip O'Neil. She was Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus, and served on multiple committees. She chaired the Democratic National Convention in 1984, the year she was picked by former Vice President Walter Mondale to be his running mate.

So there you have it: lawyer, prosecutor, Congresswoman, party leader. Palin has had leadership experience too, but Ferraro had six full years on the national stage before becoming a VP candidate. Unlike Palin, her voting record and her accomplishments were also in full view of the press (which ultimately became her undoing as she was vilified for the questionable deeds of her husband).

But, as Lessig points out, so what? So what that Palin has the least amount of experience of any VP ever. Well, so what, until you realize that of the 46 VPs we've had in history, 20% of them went on to become president. With McCain being the oldest potential president in history and having been stricken with malignant melanoma three times, the odds of Palin becoming the least experienced President ever is at least 20%, if not more (actuarial tables aside). So then the question no longer becomes "so what?" but "can we risk this?" After eight long years of failure, of antipathy towards Congress, of indifference to our allies, of sabre-rattling toward our enemies, of disdain for the rule of law, of unwarranted secrecy, of disdain for science, of dismissal of any view that doesn't comport with "gut instinct" -- after eight interminably long years of increasing fascism, theocracy, and now socialism -- can we risk her becoming President?

NO WE CAN'T. AFTER EIGHT YEARS, WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!

The Plot Thickens

Kagro X over at Kos has this revealing piece that shows just how deep the Troopergate story continues to go. Turns out that not only did Palin try to get her estranged brother-in-law fired, she also tried to manipulate the guy's worker's comp claim. AND, she got her husband involved in the investigating!

According to a column by The Achorage Daily News' Dan Fagan, a very conservative Republican:

We know the governor's office was very interested in Wooten. Dianne Kiesel, a state employee with the Department of Administration, tells me former Palin chief of staff Mike Tibbles instructed her to walk Wooten's personnel file over to the governor's office. And there is the governor's aide, Frank Bailey, caught on tape admitting he has information that came from Wooten's workers' comp file. The very file that includes pictures, taken by none other than Todd Palin, of Wooten riding a snowmachine trying to prove the trooper was not injured.

If McCan't knew all of this -- how could he not have known since she was, according to him, fully vetted? -- what does it say about his judgment to put such a spiteful guttersnipe on his ticket? If he didn't know any of this -- and of course, how could he not have known? -- what does it say about how much thought he gave to the selection of his running mate?

Because she's the complete package: the intellectual depth of a Quayle, and the ethical integrity of both a Ferraro and an Agnew!

No wonder McCan't wants this investigation shut down!

White Privilege

Another hat tip to Titus for this rant by Tim Wise.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege (Updated)

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible,all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college),and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement,whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan,makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God"in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being atypical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36-minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W.Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people,you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an "average guy," while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you "uppity" and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.), and that's OK, and you're still cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point.


White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you dangerously naive and immature.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.


White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

"Post Turtle"


A little levity today, thanks to Titus:

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher who's hand was caught in the gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Palin and her vice presidential bid.

The old rancher said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a 'Post Turtle.' "
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a "post turtle" was.
The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top - that's a 'post turtle.' The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, and she doesn't know what to do while she's up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with."

Why Obama Leads by 16% in California

I can hear my Republican friends now: "They're just a bunch of fairy-loving, Spanish-speaking liberals out there. Might as well give it back to Mexico."

Well, I'm talking demographics now. The LA Times is reporting that whites in California are even less of a minority now than they were in 2000, while Latinos and Asians have increased in population. And minorities -- particularly Latinos who are angry with Republicans over the immigration issue -- are heavily voting for Obama.

Some nice nuggets from the story:

On Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, along a boulevard of shops touting Spanish-language signs and Latin American religious icons, immigrants study English and U.S. civics.

Take Luis Perez, 54, a Mexico native who recently retired as a travel agent. He has spent the last 19 of his 20 years in the United States getting by with little English as a legal resident. But as his vision is fading, he's hoping to apply for naturalization this year.

To prepare, Perez spends much of his time poring over a handout of 96 citizenship test questions that he keeps in his backpack. In an impromptu quiz, Perez nailed the answers.

...

At a Ritmo Latino record store, Victor Sandoval, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1998 to join his mother, tends to customers beckoned by the shop's $5.99 audio CD packet on learning English.

I suspect I'll get a response soon about how many of those immigrants are probably illegally registering to vote and are corrupting the true numbers. Bring it on.

Can't Cut Bank Exec Pay

Those who want to modify the Paulson/Bernanke plan want to force bank executives to take a pay cut if they want the bailout. The White House wants to preserve incentives to bank execs because:

You have to remember, these are not all weak or troubled firms that own
mortgage-backed securities. A lot of them are very successful banks and
investment houses that have done very well, have been responsible, are holding
performing assets that have value. They were not necessarily irresponsible
players, and so you have to be careful about how you deal with them.
Kos points out:

In their own words, this isn't about bailing out troubled firms. It's about
gifting "very successful banks and investment houses that have done very well."

UPDATE:

It looks like the Blogger software is not saving my drafts, so the rest of this blog post did not get published.

Long story short, too many individuals are to blame for this mess, from bankers to brokers, from investment bankers to bond rating companies, from real estate speculators to naive homebuyers. Singling out bank execs for a pay cut is unfair.

Better yet, immediately repeal the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy. This would hit all of the beneficiaries of the real estate boom period and provide immediate relief to the budget deficit.

Heart Attack Grill

Any "restaurant" that sells "Quadruple Bypass" burgers and a side of "Flatliner" fries with a Jolt Cola needs to be up on my blog.



As I like to say, "You can run, but you can't hide." Once eaten, that beast will reappear looking far worse than in that picture.

Hat tip: Dave Adams

Sarah Palin -- World Leader?

Sorry for the inadvertent early posts before...

Well, at least the campaign can now say she met a world leader... for a whole 29 seconds.

Like I said earlier, the press ought to boycott Palin until she relents and holds a proper news conference, which is standard for any candidate for mayor, let alone vice president. It's been nearly four weeks since her candidacy was announced, and all she's given at this point is a lame interview with ABC (which only highlighted how unprepared she is for the job) and a celebrity suck-off by partisan hack Sean Hannity.

Telling about this current photo-op, however, is that the McCan't campaign attempted to bar print reporters from the Karzai meeting, but relented after CNN, which was assigned to pool coverage duty, threatened to pull its cameras unless their producer was admitted. Further, the campaign apparently demanded, and apparently received, assurances that the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2 will have a limited Q&A period with the candidates and no free-wheeling exchanges between Biden and Palin. I hope Biden breaks that rule and calls her out a little. She'd either clam up and let the moderator do her scolding for her, or take the bait and spar with Biden. Either way, she loses.

"Watch Out Boy, She'll Chew You Up"

You all remember that Hall & Oates hit from the '80s, Maneater, right? Kind of describes Sarah Palin, don't you think? I wouldn't if I were you/I know what she can do/She's deadly man, she could really rip your world apart/Mind over matter/The beauty is there but a beast is in her heart.

Today comes David Talbot's Salon feature about the Governor of Alaska, called "Mean Girl." Stripped away of her titanium-frame glasses and up-swept hairdo, she's a ruthless political predator. (By the way, fantastic photo accompanying the story: a backlit profile -- all shadow.) Behind her lay a trail of former political friends whom she eventually defeated and/or betrayed as she pursued her political path.

But she has had no problem cozying up with the "old boys network" she so proudly claims to have taken on, especially when they suit her needs. She maintained a close friendship with Wasilla mayor John Stein, gratefully accepting his mentorship as she ran for City Council. Then, she decided to run against him, and their friendship evaporated. She injected religion and moral values into a low-key job where religion had nothing to do with the town's needs. She circulated word that she'd become Wasilla's first Christian mayor, suggesting that Stein, who was Protestant (just not Evangelical), was Jewish. Other whispers suggested that Stein and his wife, who did not take his name, were not legally married. Palin and her husband had been family friends with the Steins and she knew the truth, but that didn't matter. The Steins were actually forced to produce their marriage certificate. Damage done. First victim of many.

In fact, Palin has used every member of the "network" to her advantage until they no longer suited her needs, then trashed them like a used tissue. The big lie here, however, is that while she has "taken on" the network, she was never successful at dismantling them or reducing their influence in the state.

Says Anchorage radio talk show host Andrew Halcro, who ran against Palin in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary:
When Palin takes credit for knocking off the old-boy network in Alaska, it drives me crazy. Sarah certainly availed herself of that network whenever it was expedient. ... The idea that Sarah shook up the state's old-boy network is one big fantasy, it's complete bullshit. She got all this public acclaim for throwing people who backed her under the bus -- but she only did it after they became expendable, when she no longer needed them. The good old boys in Alaska are still the good old boys -- they're alive and kicking. [State GOP Chairman] Randy [Ruedrich] is still running the Republican Party -- he wasn't happy about being turned into a national poster boy for corruption, but he went along with the program. Ted Stevens is still running for reelection. And [scandal-tainted Alaska Rep.] Don Young is, too. So where's the new era of change that Palin supposedly brought to Alaska?
Stevens won his primary for reelection. But if circumstances worsen for him, Palin will publicly distance herself from him, and he'll go down in flames just like the others who got in her way.

If you want to see how Governor Palin is viewed by a great many Alaskans, view this video.

Bush Helps McCan't Save Face

Yglesias has the scoop:
Bush successfully pressured Maliki to push the withdrawal date back specifically in order to aid John McCain’s presidential campaign. Matt Duss wonders “What did McCain know about this, and when did he know it?” Good questions.

I'd sure like to know about this. How 'bout it, press? Got balls?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple Question, cont.

A reader writes:
I would say John Kerry, the richest person in Congress. The houses, cars, and
corporate jet you would add for McCain are not his according to the pre-nuptial
agreement. To be fair, the wealth of John Kerry probably is not his either.

Don't deflect. Kerry's not a candidate, and McCain called Obama an elitist.

And don't split hairs that they're not his assets because they are his wife's. He may not own them, but he certainly enjoys the lifestyle they provide. That makes him supremely elitist. And if he was so in touch with reality, he wouldn't have hesitated when asked how many houses he owns.

But if by calling Obama an "elitist" he meant Obama was fantastically educated, honorably idealistic, devoted to his wife and children, and disdainful of the Republican brand of gutter-level politics, he was right on the money.

Mental Health Break

One of my favorite bands in my teens and 20s was British Progressive Rockers Gentle Giant. A video of a TV performance can be seen here (note: the music is awesome, but the camera spends waaay too much time on the ugliest drummer on earth, John Weathers).

In January 1974 they released The Power and The Glory, an album of wickedly political songs from the viewpoints of a monarch and his subjects. When I read today's news stories about the mortgage bailout mess, I start thinking about Bush, who in my mind probably orchestrated this bailout with a spittle-laced tirade against Paulson. With neck and forehead veins bulging and face turning crimson, Bush says, "Let McCain deal with fixing the goddamn problem -- but he'll probably fuck that up like he's done everything else I've given him so far! Better yet, let that other guy win, so at least we can blame it on the goddamn liberals! But, I don't care what the fuck you have to do, Hank, I am NOT gonna let history turn me into the guy who let another depression happen! I ain't no goddamn Hoover!"

I can imagine him giving a goodbye speech on Jan. 19, arguing till his dying breath that he's not to blame and that things would have been just fine had everyone just listened to him. So I started thinking about the album's lyrics, which can be found here. Some nuggets:

Unity, strength, and all must be as one confidence in you
Hope will reflect in me
I think everyone not as my nation for you are my people
And there must be no change.
It can change, it can stay the same
I can say, I can make my claim.

...

So, sincere his thoughts so full, always empty
Good, or maybe things are bad, so sincere,
and every word is so sincere.

...

I will steer the helm of all the nation as the captain
Take my rewards for all the good I'm doing now,
And no words that I'm the knave will alter my philosophy
For if any are heard, the games started again
I'll never lose.

...

You must believe, that there's been no betrayal
All that I've done, I've really done for you.
Things must stay, there must be no change,
Anyway, time to rearrange.

Hail to power, and to glory's way.

More Lying

The latest McCain dig-in position is "blame the media." I have highlighted the lies in boldface type to symbolize the bald-faced lies being told.

From HuffPost:
Today, the Arizona Republican's presidential campaign went to war with the Grey Lady. Asked to respond to an article that brought to light the fact that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis had earned nearly $2 million in lobbying fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (based, almost primarily, on his access to McCain) at the same time that he was attacking Barack Obama for his own ties to those very institutions, aides to McCain went off.

"We are first amendment absolutists on this campaign and the press and everyone who wishes to cover this race from a blogosphere and media perspective is constitutionally protected to write whatever they want," said Steve Schmidt, the campaign's chief strategist. "But whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization.
It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Gov. Palin and excuses Sen. Obama. There is no public vetting... there is no level of outrage directed at his deceitful ads... This is an organization that is completely and totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate.... Everything that is read in the New York Times should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective. It is an organization that has made a decision to cast aside its journalistic integrity and advocate for the defeat of one candidate and the election of another."
Lie #1: if they are "first amendment absolutists," they why have they not permitted the press to have unfettered access to Sarah Palin in the 24 days since announcing her nomination? When will she give a press conference? Why, also, have they restricted access to McCan't to the point where it the term "Straight Talk Express" is a joke? In fairness, McCain did back the Media Shield Law.

Lie #2: Uh, the New York Times endorsed McCain for the Republican nomination, proving that it does have the vision and the integrity to be balanced and fair. (Unfortunately, they were also wrong when the editorial board wrote: "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe." His Palin pick erased that credibility pretty damn quick.) By the way, was there an endorsement for a Democratic candidate on Fox News or in the Wall Street Journal?

Lie #3: Newspapers and media outlets across the country endorse candidates for public office all the time. When they endorse Obama (and they haven't yet), the Times would be continuing a long-held tradition. What the Times has done, however, is solidly advance the notion that McCain has been abandoning truth in favor of winning the election.

Simple Question


I would add about those houses, cars, and corporate jet: none of which he acquired with his own earnings.

Does Education Really Matter, cont.

A reader writes:

Since I have less than 2 years college credit and most of that is from military classes, correspondence courses, and experience in electronics maintenance and supervision, I tend to believe that learning outside of college in the real world is also very valuable. I also have a Commercial Pilot's License with Instrument Rating.
Well, good for you! You've done a lot with your limited education. Would I say that you're an exceptional person because you've managed to do all that without advanced education? Probably not.

I believe that both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have had extensive "real world" learning. McCain, the guy who got legacied into Annapolis, may have had his share of hard knocks, but really all he managed to do was parlay his story into a somewhat distinguished senate career. Palin? Sorry -- I wonder if she's even read as many books as the fabled list of those she allegedly wanted to ban from the Wasilla public library.

But here's the kicker -- having a president who was at the bottom of his class, or a vice president who took six years and five colleges to graduate, is simply unacceptable! Having a hockey mom who has the intellectual capacity of a pitbull with lipstick as next in line scares the living shit out of me.

As Americans we want the best and the brightest to occupy those offices -- not just the guys who are just like us ordinary guys. I don't want the guy who delivers my mail, or even the woman pediatrician who helps keep my kids healthy, to negotiate with world leaders on behalf of more than 350 million Americans. Sure, those people make for inspiring stories, but when it comes to leading us and inspiring people all over the world, I want the person whose whole life has been one amazing accomplishment after another, who has overcome incredible adversity to achieve fantastic heights of success, whose intellect is dizzying, whose very life story inspires me to be better. What I don't want is someone whose worldview stopped expanding until the moment she was thrust onto the national stage with nothing more than snazzy glasses, a pretty face, and a gaggle of good-looking kids.

After eight years of frat boy leadership and "dark lord" shadow leadership, it's time for genuine intellectual superstars to have the job. It's time for Americans to champion people who possess the leadership skills, the self-confidence, but above all the breadth and depth of knowledge, to do the job. Neither of the candidates on the Republican side can demonstrate that level of knowledge; both the candidates on the Democratic side can.

At the Feet of the Master

A little while back I conjured up an imaginary conversation between John McCan't and some of his advisors regarding the selection of Sarah Palin. I dashed it off in about an hour late one night after hearing that the Arizona senator's first pick for VP was Joe Lieberman.

Yesterday, Maureen Dowd's commentary showcased an imaginary conversation between Barack Obama and fictional former President Jed Barlet of The West Wing, written by none other than Aaron Sorkin himself.

Key for me was the idea of taking back the words 'elite' and 'patriot' from McCan't and wearing them like badges of honor instead of fending them off like the enemy's sword.

Does Education Matter?

FROM MOTHER JONES

Let's look at the educational background of the candidates and see what they bring to the job:

Obama:
Occidental College - Two years.
Columbia University - B.A. political science with a specialization in international relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in history and B.A. in political science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

vs.

McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 out of 899 (meaning that, like George Bush, McCain was at the bottom of his class)

Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in journalism

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reax to Why Will the Blacks Vote for Obama?

On this site and on DailyKos, I posted this piece to get reader reaction. As most of you know, I find the sentiments expressed by the reader to be repugnant. I, however, want to air out views that make people uncomfortable, as burying them under the rug would be counter-productive to the open type of society that I value, one that is embodied by Obama/Biden and feared by McCain/Palin.

A reader here writes:
What can one say? The wacky reasoning here indicates deep self-hatred more than anything else. I've encountered it often over the years. People who discount others in this idiotic fashion, do the same to themselves. ... One little anecdote. During my years as a high school teacher, the parents most likely to complain that the material I taught was too hard, were nearly always not-so-successful white people. Equally struggling black parents usually saw their flailing kids the same way as Asian parents: not putting in enough effort. The white parents urged me to go easier. The black parents to be tougher -- like a a good coach.
To me, the original piece shows how people have the tendency to see only what they want to see, usually that which reinforces their worldview, and nothing else. It is the way modern political campaigns are run. Obama uses a hackneyed phrase about lipstick on a pig, and those who already view him as the enemy assume he's calling Palin a pig because they're sure that's how the enemy views her. The piece is a pseudo-intellectual exercise that treats racial stereotypes (ie, blacks are lazy people who just want the government to take care of them) as absolute truth. Well, slavery ended in 1863, and American blacks have had at least six generations or more to unlearn the "normalcy" of their role in a master/slave relationship. I would imagine that there were some freed slaves who, upon experiencing freedom in America for the first time, especially freedom thwarted at every turn by white society, had a yearning of some sort for a return to their former lives because at least it was predictable. Sadly, the reader sees black people who are content to live off the government dime, while they complain that the government doesn't care enough about them. Perhaps this is what helped him make the sick connection that he made.

Incidentally, on DailyKos, I posted the piece as well, adding a little preface about the reader, but I did not specifically mention that I thought what he wrote was racist and disgusting. I got more than 100 responses, most of them from people who thought the views were mine, or who thought that I was just as racist for posting the views on the site. Some of the responses were violently ugly, and I decided it was best to delete the post entirely. Today, I will post an apology to that community for poorly communicating how I felt about those views while I also remark at how it felt to be virtually stoned for putting up the post in the first place. I take full responsibility for bringing it on myself, but it's true that the mob is a dangerous thing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Signing off

It's my birthday today. Lisa's taking me to dinner and a movie. I'll check in with you all over the weekend.

Comedy break: "The Front Fell Off"

I got this video in my inbox today. It looked pretty real, but actually it's a comedy sketch by John Clarke and Brian Dawe, an Australian comedy duo.

Hilarious...

Novel Idea

If Sarah Palin or John McCan't won't make themselves available to the press for interviews, then the press ought to stop covering them until they do.

From Titus

Dr. Levi drives home a good point.

Something that no one seems to have pointed out about her “executive experience” keeps bugging me: the focus has been on her tenure as the mayor of a city of some 6,000 persons. But what about Alaska? How hard could it be? Sure, it has more land than Texas, but it also has fewer people than any of LA County's Five Districts. And the thing that just jumps out at me is what’s been overlooked so far: the state is awash in oil money. Thus, there are no really hard decisions to make. And believe you me, the next administration will have to make hard decisions. Her experience as an executive is almost diametrically opposed to being able to do so; in fact, her tenure as governor has probably set up a body of experience that leaves her especially ill-equipped to deal with hard choices.

I said it on day one: she's a lightweight.
[N]o amount of political gamesmanship or weak attempts at egalitarianism will erase their failures since 2000 or their desire to continue those failures moving forward.

Michael Kinsley, must read

At some point the war on Palin will need to end -- and I would like a clear timetable for that -- but for now, we've got the enemy on the run, and she's in her last throes. When all is said and done and the Obama team marches into Washington and the White House, we'll all be greeted like liberators.

Michael Kinsley has a column in Time that you must read. It presents the sharpest contrast yet between Governor Palin and candidate Palin.
Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC. It has four different taxes on oil, which produce more than 89% of the state's unrestricted revenue. On average, three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil is taken by the state government before that oil is permitted to leave the state.

McCain Fascist? Reaction

Some comments have rolled in to me about my post the other day.

From VM :
Advertising has long known that you don't sell products through reason, you skip right past that part of the brain into the reptile mind, the mind of fight or flight, the mind of appetite, of lust, of fear, of hate, of follow-the-leader, of identify-the-us and identify-the-other. The military has known this since after [WWII] when a general surveyed the troops as to who killed, who fired at the enemy, who fired but didn't aim at the enemy, and who wouldn't even fire at the enemy and found that the majority of people would not fire directly at another person, albeit that they were "the enemy" even when they and their comrades were imperiled by that choice. They changed [the "killing machine" training] fundamentally to what it is now, and that is a bypassing of the rational part of the mind "the 'upper' brain" to get to the reptile brain of conditioned response. Now they begin screaming "kill" at the recruits. ... They turn the recruits, the younger and more malleable the better, into killing machines. They undermine the aversion to killing another of the species. ... [T]he minds running the campaigns, the deep strategies, of the ruling class know these things. They aren't trying to talk people into things, they're transmitting memes through a whole show of which the words are only a part. The words are the bullet points for people to repeat. But it's the underlying message, the "meme," that allows people to repeat the bullet points, no matter how absurd they are, as if they are true or mean something. This is how the word liberal became synonymous with
"scumbag"... Until we figure out another way to fight for what we feel is right - justice, a better way of life, egalitarianism, freedom - yes, freedom., our inalienable rights - then we will lose it all. Because the fascists are way ahead in the mind control department.
From JM:

The ostensible social division is between conservative and liberal but the ulterior division is between hard and soft fascists. McCain and Palin don't want to be identified as Nazis so they present themselves as maverick, can do, pipeline imperialists. But Palin's vetting casts her Nazism into high relief. Obama's comment about bitter religious gun toting rurals threw down the gauntlet and the Nazis took the bait claiming victimization by the laptop liberals, thereby risking over exposure. The question is will America prefer Palin's Hitler-ism to Obama's Mussolini-ism? Does mainstream America want to ... ban books, make rape victims pay for rape kits, and wage holy war? That's the question Obama needs to ask.

Sarah Quaylin

Jonathan Chait at The New Republic has a great piece comparing Sarah Palin to Dan Quayle. The final, money quote:
To the right, the mere fact that the press questions her fitness proves that she is one of them. As the original rationales for Palin melt away, this bond has become unshakable. Her lack of qualifications turns out to be her greatest qualification.

Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, WSJ wingnut columnist John Fund summed up Chait's sentiment as Bill and his other two guests (Janeane Garofalo and Salman Rushdie) bashed Sarah Palin relentlessly. With a shit-eating grin, he just said, "Keep it up. Keep it up."

Scary thought. This is precisely why Obama and Biden are avoiding criticizing Palin as much as possible.

Speaking of Biden, did anyone catch last night's interview with Katie Couric?

Katie: Your vice presidential rival, Governor Palin, said "To the rest of America, that's not patriotism. Raising taxes is about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse."

Biden: How many small businessmen are making one million, four hundred thousand--average in the top 1 percent. Give me a break. I remind my friend, John McCain, what he said -- when Bush called for war and tax cuts -- he said, it was immoral, immoral, to take a nation to war and not have anybody pay for it. I am so sick and tired of this phoniness. The truth of the matter is that we are in trouble. And the people who do not need a new tax cut should be willing, as patriotic Americans, to understand the way to get this economy back up on their feet is to give middle class taxpayers a break. We take the tax cut they're getting and we give it to the middle class.

Well, Andrew Sullivan would hate the redistribution tack, but Biden says what no one else at that level is willing or brave enough to say.

Preacher on YouTube

The man in the video is Pastor Jamal Bryant of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. He didn't seem to be preaching the Gospel, but handing out some political analysis, correct though it may be.

He'd better watch out that the IRS doesn't show up at his door the way they did at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA because their pastor gave this impassioned sermon.

As it is, there are quite a few Google entries showing that Pastor Bryant is all too human.

Why Will the Blacks Vote for Obama?

A reader writes (emphasis mine):

Have you considered why polls predict that 90% of Blacks will vote for Obama? It cannot be racist because Blacks vote in almost the same ratio for Liberal whites running against Conservative whites. Can it be that there is a seldom recognized and never discussed cultural tradition that Blacks need a Master to provide for and direct them? Other people with similar but less extreme backgrounds of working for others and not owning land vote in almost the same ratio for Liberals over Conservatives. Liberals constantly make promises that government will be the benivolent Master they need. The lie is that plantation, farm, or business Masters are bad but Government is the good Master that will provide for the poor. This secret rationale is promoted by the Democratic Party so the so-called oppressed will vote for Liberals and give them power and the ability to skim some of the gravy. The good master is really the individual that studies and works to provide for him or her self and the family.

Where does the gravy come from? Remember, government does not produce anything. Government is a set of tools carried by workers and businesses that
produce all products and wealth in the country. Government can be a weapon to defend the nation against enemies both foreign and domestic. It can make treaties with foreign countries to achieve peace and control trade. It can print money and regulate the monetary system of the country. It can regulate navigation and commerce across state lines. It can make laws to promote public safety and collect taxes. It can determine that laws comply with the Constitution and mediate disputes between states. But, if there are too many tools or the tools are too large, workers and business can not continue to carry them. The tools can become a ball and chain or a millstone tied around the neck that will drag down and eventually drown producers in debt and regulation.

That is the purpose of the 10th Amendment; to disperse responsibility and cost to the States and people.


I'm not asking you...I'm begging you...please offer your views on these observations.

A Familiar Story

I didn't use the headline to diminish the importance of this story, brought to my attention by David Weiner. Black voters could be disenfranchised in record numbers in this election.

Andrew Hacker, a professor of political science at Queens College and a best-selling author, has an article in the New York Review of Books about this topic. He speaks to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now about the article.

On the subject of racism, he says:

I’ve lectured, oh, at a hundred colleges, at least. And I’ve discovered that if I, in, say, speaking, use the word “racism” or “racist,” those two six-letter words, the whites in the audience freeze. They don’t want to hear that word. “It’s not me. I respect Colin Powell. I love Oprah Winfrey. I admire Tiger Woods. I’ve got black friends.” You know, all that sort of thing. So, I’ve discovered—maybe it’s a strategic matter—never to use the word “racist,” because I can’t get across what I want to.
Here's the kicker for me, about asking white voters how they will vote (or voted):
[I]f you ask people, whether it’s in a poll or interviewing men or women in the street, they’ll say, “Oh, if I’m opposed to Obama, race has nothing to do with it.” You know, they may talk about his policies, they may talk about his lack of experience, or even, if they want to, they’ll say, “He looks to me like an intellectual snob,” which, by the way, is a nice white term. How often do you hear that blacks are called intellectuals? Anyway, so they’ll use non-racial reasons.
I used the headline "Familiar Story" because for many of us who either are informed or try to stay informed, racism like this is nothing new. Not to justify it, but this country -- even before it was a country -- is an institution of white racism. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, and Affirmative Action, has only had 44 years to undo generations of individual attitudes. We all know we can legislate away certain behaviors, but we can't legislate away thought (yet). Having the thoughts in an environment where one's behavior cannot match the thoughts without repercussions causes dissonance that has to be resolved in some way. And one way to do that is to say you'll vote for the black guy, then flip the lever for the white guy once the voting booth curtain is drawn. Another way is to pay the black person less than the white person for the same job, or to deny rental housing to the black family in a white neighborhood, or for the white man to put his arm tightly around his white wife/girlfriend while strolling down the street in front of one or more black men.

On the reverse, blacks in America have the law on their side, but there is the dissonance of how they see the law subtly or even blatantly ignored. I see that resolving itself in black racism: the resentment against whites, what I'll call Jeremiah Wright syndrome. The indisputable anger at the white establishment for encoding a law but looking the other way when the law is skirted, bent, or broken. Often justified, but sometimes reflexive and irrational.

Hopefully, the much-praised Obama "ground game" has found a way to make a dent in these areas. In central Florida, for example, NPR last week reported that Obama precincts were registering tens of thousands of new voters.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's my birthday...

So I'm checking out for the night. Back to the grind on Saturday.

Comed

Received this in my inbox today. It is a sketch from comedy duo of John Clarke and Brian Dawe.

Hilarious.