Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-aaaa!

Sour Milquetoast

McCain's been settin' in the fridge too long, my friends! Jonathan Rauch explained this five years ago:
With only one exception since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, no one has been elected president who took more than 14 years to climb from his first major elective office to election as either president or vice president.

Another exception is Joe Biden, who was elected to the Senate in 1972 and will become VP 36 years later.

Who's out now?
McCain, 26 years
Lieberman, 20 years
Giuliani, elected mayor of NYC in 1994
Huckabee, elected governor in 1996
Fred Thompson, elected to Senate in 1994

Meet the Idiot

Met her already? Oh, well reintroduce yourself to the one who claims her First Amendment rights are being abridged because the press correctly identifies her references to Barack Obama's "associations" as attacks:
If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.

Huh?

This is yet another reason why she is not qualified by any measure to serve in the second-highest office in the country. The First Amendment, as is so ably pointed out by Glenn Greenwald -- a Constitutional scholar -- "does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged."

She is profoundly ignorant, and it's painful to watch even for someone who loathes her, like I do. As a candidate for public office, she is a public figure, and anything she says is subject to scrutiny by the press. If the press doesn't accept what she says at face value and as the truth, what, are they supposed to refrain from asking questions? They are to refrain from criticizing her, or holding what she says today up against something she said earlier because they are in complete opposition to one another? They are to applaud her when she flat-out lies so that she can feel free to continue speaking her mind?

Incidentally, writes Greenwald:
The Constitution also guarantees freedom of association. Thus, by Palin's "reasoning," when newspapers -- or Palin herself -- criticize Obama for his associations, they're threatening his constitutional rights.
Uh, Mrs. Soon-to-be Losing VP Candidate, today, or whenever you get back to Juneau, you can believe anything you want. You can even say whatever your addled brain wants you to say. It's just that significantly fewer people will be listening.

However, Fox News will surely want to hire you as a guest commentator, seeing as you fit right in with their rapidly-shrinking, alternate-reality universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why McCain Has Lost

A reader writes:
Only hateful people hate Sarah Palin.
She has to be devalued to make your guy not run scared. Bill Clinton was impeached. Please...................
I'll take the "please" to mean that the reader wants more examples of hard-core conservatives who have jumped ship for Obama because of Palin.

Francis Fukuyama, from the American Conservative (emphasis added by me):
McCain’s appeal was always that he could think for himself, but as the campaign has progressed, he has seemed simply erratic and hotheaded. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was highly irresponsible; we have suffered under the current president who entered office without much knowledge of the world and was easily captured by the wrong advisers. McCain’s lurching from Reaganite free- marketer to populist tribune makes one wonder whether he has any underlying principles at all.
George Will, a week after she was picked:
So, Sarah Palin. The man who would be the oldest to embark on a first presidential term has chosen as his possible successor a person of negligible experience.... By his selection of Palin, he got the enthusiasm of the base. But what has he got in Palin? In coming days he and we will learn from a stern teacher, experience.
Kathleen Parker of the National Review:

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself. ... [B]ecause she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true. ... McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. ... She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.
David Frum, prominent columnist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush:
I think she has pretty thoroughly — and probably irretrievably — proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States.
Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, before he left the magazine founded by his father, The National Review:
My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”
Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post:
Palin fatally undermines [McCain's] entire [experience] line of attack. This is through no fault of her own. It is simply a function of her rookie status. The vice president’s only constitutional duty of any significance is to become president at a moment’s notice. Palin is not ready. Nor is Obama. But with Palin, the case against Obama evaporates.
I could go on and on, but why bother? The only ones on Palin's side are Sean Hannity, who with Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly comprise the triumvirate of buffoons who will almost certainly ensure that the Republican Party of the immediate future remains a caricature of serious political thought. Those who vote for McCain in this election did so out of fear, out of denial at how bad things have gotten with the economy and the wars, and out of a sense of misplaced loyalty to a party that has turned their politics into a 21st century Christian crusade. Those who believe in conservatism got sold a bill of goods by Bush and his party, and those who "get" conservative politics recognize in Obama a temperament and sense of cool-headed judgment that are the marks of a conservative thinker.

Seen today on TPM

Given her penchant for pricey outfits and her "spreading the wealth around" in Alaska, here is the ...

Best. Description. of. Sarah. Palin. ever:

A Nieman Marxist.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Margaret and Helen

With a big thank you to Andrew Sullivan for giving these fine women exposure on his blog, I am sending this out to all of you so that you can see for yourselves what some of the older set are saying about this election and its contestants.

These two octagenarians have been friends for over 60 years. Their writing style is so direct; you'll enjoy it even if you don't agree with them.
Harold and I voted early and we voted for Obama. Margaret hasn’t voted yet. She is reading these comments and talking to me every night. If I had to guess today what she will do, I would say that on election day she is going to put her big girl panties on and tell the whack job to go to hell. See, Margaret loves animals and the whole shooting wolves from the air thing has her really upset.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Generation We

In eight years, the youngest of this generation will be voting. It is the largest single demographic group in the country, and it will be taking over from the boomers (that means me and most of you who are reading this blog) very soon.

This video nearly brought me to tears. In it I see the faces of my nieces (17, 14, and 3), and my two sons (6 and 3). It hurts me that the fighting our generation has taken on against the previous one and the ones to follow has left them with such a fucked up planet and a screwed up moral code. When their time comes, I'm right there with them.

Harbinger of Things to Come?

Greenwald, ever the right guy to sniff out something amiss, posts today that last month The Army Times reported "that for 'the first time an active [U.S. Army] unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.' The brigade, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, has spent most of the last four years fighting a war in Iraq, and will now be assigned on a permanent basis to engage in numerous domestic functions -- including, as the article put it, 'to help with civil unrest and crowd control.'

It should be noted that the Greenwald article links to a transcript of a radio convo he had with the ACLU's Jonathan Hafetz, who works in that group's national security project. Hafetz contends that this deployment differs from previous deployments in the U.S. in that it is a permanent assignment, whereas most others are done on an ad hoc basis, such as when troops were deployed to assist after Hurricane Katrina.

This deployment is also different from deployments of National Guard troops in that the U.S. Army is prohibited by the Constitution from performing civilian law enforcement functions.

Worst of all, there are very few details (naturally) coming out of the Bush administration about this change, which is why the ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for information and documents related to this decision.

Why would an active Army unit, war-trained and combat-hardened from deployments in Iraq, be deployed stateside for "domestic functions?" Is there something that the U.S. government is preparing for? Is there a threat of civil unrest?

I don't want to sound paranoid, but a loss by Obama in this election, given his standing in the polls at this point, given what is likely going on behind the scenes by the RNC to prevent citizens from voting, might create a little unrest, some demonstrations. A loss by McCain might engender the same kind of reaction, but I would say it's more unlikely given the polling.

An ACORN is Just a Nut

But the RNC is a full-fledged vote-suppression machine. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast authored an investigation into vote suppression in the current issue of Rolling Stone. They post to HuffPost as well. Money quote:

In a technique known as "caging" RNC operatives send millions of first class letters to black voters across the country marked 'do not forward.' Republican operatives armed with lists then invade black precincts on Election Day to challenge those voters whose letters were returned to the RNC because the voter was not home when the mail arrived. That tactic deliberately targeted black students on vacation in August, homeless men and soldiers posted overseas. "Caging" is resurrecting Old Dixie's Jim Crow procedures designed to rid the lists of black voters and create long lines in black precincts.

If that isn't bad enough...

In this election, new HAVA mandates permit voting officials to precisely match registration form information with the voter's driver's license and other government records. While it may sound reasonable, in practice, any change, even a dropped hyphen, is cause for eliminating the voter from the rolls. Since 2004, Colorado's Republican Secretaries of State have purged one out of every five voters from the rolls. The current Secretary of State, Mike Coffman, a Republican also running for office, recently purged an additional 37,000 voters and discarded 6,400 new voter registrations -- overwhelmingly Democratic -- based upon an obscure technical mistake that Coffman's office encouraged voters to make in the first place.
This is where complacency must end. Voters who experience or witness attempts to suppress any vote should take note and report it to the autorities immediately.

Let Them Fail

Matthew Yglesias proposes that, rather than provide a federal bailout of GM and Chrysler, which can cost tens of billions of dollars, why not spend the money on the employees of these two companies? I suspect that the cost of administering such a bailout could be prohibitive, but it would depend on the nature of the bailout. If it were simple math, for example (GM has 263,000 full time employees and needs $10 billion, so each employee would get $38,000 cash), to help them relocate, stay in their homes, retrain for new jobs (or go to college), that would be better than giving a lump sum to the corporations that have huge overhead and would likely bleed through the money as fast as AIG did their initial $85 billion.

Letting a firm like GM die its horrible death might end up being a blessing in that case, as the assets would be liquidated and new owners would come in and re-tool. Get some fresh management in there and let's see what rises from the ashes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

For my McCain-voting friends. From Andrew Sullivan.

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black
America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won't touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his
brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for
conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between
George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al
Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.
Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

Intellectual Repudiation of All Things Sarah

Christopher Hitchens does not shy away from the truth:
This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

I love it.

Ted Stevens Guilty on All Charges

Hello, blue Alaska! But the old codger is defiant to the end:

Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel Stevens on a two-thirds vote.

"Put this down: That will never happen -- ever, OK?" Stevens said in the weeks leading up to his trial. "I am not stepping down. I'm going to run through and I'm going to win this election.

Felons can't vote, but they can serve in Congress. If the good Senators can't see the disgusting double-standard there, then they are no better than Stevens. They need to buck up and and send him packing.

Alaskans, the burden is on you now. Make the right choice and elect Mark Begich for Senate.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Portrait of the Fascist as a Young Woman

Y'know, I don't object to Palin's being handled by many Washington insiders once she is discovered and touted as the obvious VP pick for McCain. If one is going to achieve that level of achievement, one needs "sponsorship." However, her naked ambition, coupled with her obvioius lack of intellectual vigor (in other words, she's a lightweight), is so, well, naked. The woman hasn't understood the concept of a rear view mirror, or the internet. There is so much political detritus in her past that no one in his right mind could believe that the McCain campaign did a thorough enough job to vet her before selecting her.

This devastating piece in The New Yorker reveals how her candidacy was championed very early by members of the Beltway punditocracy. They were certainly very enamored of her. "Exceptionally pretty," "a babe," "a real honey," "real star quality" -- these were a few of the things written about her. Interesting that the knowledge of issues didn't really stand out there.

Apparently, the feeling was mutual. At the end of a second lunch meeting between Palin and various members of the elite Republican commentary circle -- Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Victor Davis Hanson, Dick Morris -- she struck an air of what I can only call longing:
[W]hen the moment came for Morris and other guests to depart, Palin was sad to see the Washington insiders go. Hanson recalled, “She said, ‘Hey—does anyone want to stay for dinner? We’re going to eat right now.’ She also invited everyone to come back the next day. ‘If any of you are in the area, all you have to do is knock. Yell upstairs, I’ll be right down.’ ”
All I can say is -- if you're a progressive you'd better not think this is over yet. Vote as soon as you can. Send her a message that the country wants her to be a permanent outsider.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This is What the Right Has Become

From Dan Riehl comes a disgusting suggestion. This guy to be hung up by his short hairs:
I'm not doubting she is ill. But believe me, if you think this guy would leave the campaign trail for an hour if he felt he were running from behind, he wouldn't do it. Not unless he thought it helped him to do so. [...] Man. I hope his numbers don't start to drop. He might have to hold a pillow against her face and maybe later break into tears the way Hillary did. Only I suspect hers were genuine.
Words fail.

Funny Story

A parallel drawn between the elections of 1840 (William Henry Harrison/John Tyler vs. Martin Van Buren) and 2008, from Devilstower at Kos, drawing on a Cracked.com piece.

Money quote (second graph from the Cracked piece):
So we have a wealthy aging war hero who runs as the hard-drinkin' friend of the little folk. And it worked. Harrison won in a blow out. There was just one little problem for team Whig: the "aging" part. Harrison was the oldest president elected pre-Ronald Reagan, and just weeks after settling into the White House, Harrison died. That left "Tyler too" in charge of the place.

"John Tyler (described as a 'poor, miserable, despised imbecile' and given the nickname 'His Accidency') took over the White House. Tyler was one of the most hated presidents of all time and was nearly impeached. Why did we bring that up? No reason at all. Really."

Friends Close, Enemies Closer

Here's an out of the box thought: Once in office, President Obama should appoint Sarah Palin to a special post dedicated to expanding federal assistance for special needs children.


Think she'd have the cojones to take that gig? Think Obama would be that cynical? Probably no either way, but hey, I said it was out of the box.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where are you?

Each morning, as I leave my house for work, I see the Obama sign on my front lawn, and I'm reminded again that I live in an incredible time. And each evening, when I drive the street in front of my house that sits across from Max's elementary school, I see parents, white and black, picking up their kids after a long day at work. And I remember that just last spring, the school was divided along racial lines around a decision to separate from the school district. I remember the whispers among white parents at 8 am as the kids arrived, or the flyers going around that were filled with falsehoods about the opposing side. I remember parents wondering if the school's black principal was going to be impartial. And today, I see how it was a mirror for this election.

I've written nearly 600 blog posts, mostly about this election, since April. It takes some effort and I put my heart and soul into it.

Of late, however, I am regularly hearing back from only one person. He's a great guy and I genuinely enjoy his constantly contrarian point of view, but overall, I'm disappointed.

I very much want your feedback, your comments, your criticisms, your support, and I frequently have asked for it. Sometimes a friend will tell me when I see him that he's seen the blog and likes what he reads, and that's nice. But I am hoping for more. Whether or not you agree with what I'm saying, I want you to forward these posts to people you know (or link to them). I initially started this blog last year to get thoughts out of my head about my family and such, but now it has turned into an earnest attempt on my part to start a dialogue about this election, which has become the most important political event in my lifetime.

My distribution list includes family and friends, other bloggers, and from all sides of the issues. I hope that what I write inspires you to think and observe for yourself and to discuss the issues with others. This is not a time to shy away from politics.

In fact, last month I brought up the election with a potential referral source, who turned out to be a McCain supporter. When she said that her life would change if Obama were elected, I asked why, and she said that Obama would be favoring black people over whites. In a nice way I disagreed, but I could tell after that conversation that I was not going to enjoy her support. But I don't regret bringing it up. There is no time for quiet civility right now.

So I am challenging all of you to send me a reply to this post with your views on this election, or any other topic you wish to discuss. I will post all of them. I will honor anonymity and will only use initials or just "a reader" if you so choose.

But if you don't wish to get my posts any longer, please let me know and I'll remove you from the distribution list.

Just remember: "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves."

Mysterious Choices

You've probably seen the video on the internet or on TV. The McCain campaign volunteer in Woodbridge, Virginia who chased away an anti-Muslim McCain supporter at a rally. The guy's name is Daniel Zubairi, a Muslim, who is a Republican and actually ran for Congress in 2006.

Here's a DailyKos piece that relates what happened afterward. Turns out that CNN wanted to interview Zubairi, and he said he was "good to go," but at the last minute, while the CNN interviewer was live on the air, the McCain campaign pulled the plug on the interview. A second try resulted in another rebuff.

The interviewer, Rick Sanchez, related to Huffington Post's Sam Stein that he was "mystified" by McCain's actions. One would think that McCain would want to show that there are people who work for him who actually have principles and don't tolerate bigotry at its rallies and events. Go figure, right?

Well, I have an hypothesis: McCain doesn't want Zubairi to speak for the McCain campaign because he's a Muslim. Having a Muslim represent the GOP is just a bad idea when they've been hammering away at how awful Muslims are and accusing Obama of being a closet Muslim (or at worst, allowing their supporters to believe it and spread it around the internet and on TV). They have got their "base" (in Arabic, al Qaeda, by the way) fired up, and for them to know that there is a Muslim (actually Muslims, as the video shows ordinary citizens who claim to be Muslim Republicans shouting down the bigots) among them, telling them that hating Muslims is not OK. It's off message. The message is that Obama is a Muslim, and we can't trust Muslims, so we can't trust Obama.

I predict we'll see Zubairi wearing blue before long.

Best. Video. Ever.

From Funny or Die. Gotta love YouTube. (hat tip: Cesca).

"Why The Republicans Must Lose"

Sullivan spots Randy Balko's piece.

To think that McCain would do anything differently, would try to turn around the massive government that Bush built, would undo the massive "socialistic nationalization" of the financial industry, is just insane.

Money quote:
If they do lose, the GOP would be wise to regroup and rebuild from scratch, scrap the current leadership, and, most importantly, purge the party of the "national greatness," neoconservative influence. Big-government conservatism has bloated the federal government, bogged us down in what will ultimately be a trillion-dollar war, and set us down the road to European-style socialism. It's hard to think of how Obama could be worse. He'll just be bad in different ways.
I don't think Obama would be any more effective than Bush at reining in spending, or even dramatically raise revenue. He'll simply be a better, more effective world leader than the tired old man.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Deal With the Arabs, Post-Bush

Yglesias calls our attention to the idea posited by writer Shadi Hamid, who is director of research at The Project on Middle East Democracy, and a contributor to the National Security Network's foreign affairs blog, Democracy Arsenal.

Hamid believes that there is nothing in U.S. history that suggests a President Obama (or McCain) will be any better than Bush at engaging with our Arab oil suppliers, many of them despots and dictators. Hamid suggests that we promote the development of democracies in the region by conditioning foreign aid, but Yglesias thinks this would not work. Matt believes that it would be more effective simply to distance ourselves from these "autocratic regimes." Money quote:

The next president should decline to invite Saudi princes to his vacation house. Instead of selling these regimes advanced weaponry and then offsetting that with special extra goodies for Israel, we could just not sell the advanced weaponry and eschew the extra goodies for Israel. And the president can say that while he won’t dictate internal policy to Arab governments, America’s view is that democracy is good, and we would be happy to deal with democratically elected governments no matter who won which elections.
I'm not sure I agree with either Hamid or Yglesias. It's true that our motives are probably viewed suspiciously by the Arab world -- and well they should, since in their view our foray into Iraq was more about controlling the supply (and price) of oil than anything else. But distancing ourselves from both sides until democracy takes root could be viewed as weak leadership, or a holier-than-thou tough love approach that would more than likely create resentment in both Israel and Arab countries. Further, I think that 10 years ago this may have been the way to go, before the sleeping giants of China and India fully woke up. Today, the U.S. is about as close to a borrower of IMF money as she's ever been, and we just don't have the clout.

I think Obama already has the right solution in focusing on a green energy economy. The major oil companies like Chevron and BP are already heavily invested in alternative energy production. Entrepreneurial types like Boone Pickens want to tap into natural gas for our cars and expand the use of wind energy for home energy. We've already reduced our driving and gas consumption so much that even the big SUVs are going hybrid (e.g., Cadillac's Escalade).

Stay on that path, and the resulting hit to their wallets will hit them hard. At the same time, engage India and China to start doing the same with regard to consumption, and pretty soon the emirs, sheiks, and dictators will soon see how beloved they are.

Atheist Advertising


I'm a believer, but I support wholeheartedly a subversive ad campaign like this. It's just perfect for those heathens in Europe, but can you imagine anything like this in the US? First, there would be very few people willing to drive one of these moving middle fingers -- either because of their own beliefs or because they don't want to be shot at, spit on, or blown up. Second, we don't really believe in free speech. We are much too afraid of that kind of freedom and would likely level a disproportionately violent and/or hateful response.


Still you gotta love the ad slogan. Ironically, the second part would make a good slogan for a religious ad as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Karma of Slavery

Elvis Dingledein (not his real name) waxes philosophical about his antebellum roots and how it's influenced his choice for president. Money quote:
That an American politician could so easily forfeit his sacred and hard-won honor to the altar of race-baiting and fear-mongering in pursuit of office defames the memory of those seven Negro men and women in my own ignominious personal history, and sullies the House that for them and generations of their kin would always be White. If Barack Obama represents the Better Angels of our national character, then John McCain and Sarah Palin are those shoddier souls that would have our house divided, forever unable to stand.
It's astounding that someone with skin the color of Senator Obama was, 145 years ago, viewed as personal property that could be willed to one's heirs as such. Was, only 44 years ago, a second class human being subjected to discrimination and denied basic human rights.

Trivial Matter #1

The RNC has spent nearly $150,000 on clothing and accessorizing Sarah Palin and her family since she was selected veep by McCain.

Not that I begrudge the expense -- it's public money given to them for campaigning, and I'm sure she wouldn't be a hockey mom in jeans and a polo shirt with a little self-applied lip liner and mascara -- but it does seem excessive. Not as excessive, of course, as Cindy McCain's $325,000 ensemble at the Republican National Convention. That was just vulgar.

Just for some perspective, however. More vulgar was the $400,000 cost of a spa retreat at a California resort for AIG agents and executives, taken after they received an $85 billion loan from the Federal Reserve Bank. AIG representatives tried to explain it away, saying it was planned long before they got the loan, it was hosted by a subsidiary, and was provided for independent agents. Whatever. Bad idea. Should have been cancelled.

More Freaks

Sullivan's getting plugged in today. His piece links to this site. Money quote:

[W]hen Obama visited his tribe in '06 and as late as Jan. '08 he went to every elder's home which has a "shrine" inside to worship the genie and asked for their blessing.... Obama and [Kenyan politician Raila] Odinga [who claimed to be a cousin of Obama but has been debunked] were both "destined" before they were born to be president/leader of their nation. They say "he is the chosen one". She said Obama's [paternal] grandmother sacrificed a black and a white chicken to the "goddess of the river" so both whites and blacks will vote for Obama. All Islam loves and worships Obama. The world is mesmerized by him. Oprah's 200 million followers are out to elect Obama. Also, Dick Morris of Fox News was sent to Kenya to help Odinga run his campaign! I find that unbelievable.

The occultists are "weaving lazy 8's around McCain's mind to make him look confused and like an idiot". Bree K. said we need to break these curses off of him that are being sent from Kenya.

Fear and desperation. It will probably get worse from here, people. Stay focused on the issues, call people out on these lies wherever you encounter them.

What Is a Jesus Freak?

Here she is.



Sullivan calls her a Christianist, and I would too, but when you listen to her certainty, coupled with her absolute intolerance of anything other than "the Christianity I know from the Bible," one can't help but hear the word "freak" creep up in your mind.

When she's asked how she'll deal with her husband who is on the fence, she says, "I'll pray for him. He knows the right answer." I can't think of a more perfect example of conditional love.

I fear for America when I realize that there are millions of people just like her: haters. She hates anyone but believers like her.

Refreshing Honesty

A man who fought for everything in his life retires from the rat race for the easy life, but posts a farewell letter (.pdf) with some very honest parting shots. Fantastic read.

Hat tip: Sullivan.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can I Be On The List?

From Sullivan:
Joe Klein joins Maureen Dowd among those barred from the McCain and Palin planes. There were empty seats on Palin's plane last week and Klein was still not allowed on. The Clintons let him on after "Primary Colors." McCain and Palin, like their mentor in resentment, Nixon, have an enemies list, and enforce it. Like Nixon's list, future generations will brag of being on it.

Palin's Legacy

Not quite all her fault, but here are the latest poll figures for the two Congressional races in her state:

Alaska 10/14-16
Senate: Begich (D) 48, Stevens 46
AK-AL: Berkowitz (D) 50, Young (R) 44

I don't know if Stevens will gamble and push for a verdict in his trial ahead of Nov. 4, but that would be a "mavericky" thing to do.

Alaska may turn blue (or at least purple)!

Republican Tolerance

Fantastic video here showing McCain supporters confronting and chasing away a couple of people conflating Obama with Islam and socialism and passing out bumper stickers. A member of the campaign enters the picture as people are confronting the main offender and says that the campaign doesn't support his position.

Even a couple of Muslim Republican voters get involved and add some much-needed sanity.

Good thing to see after a couple of weeks of "He's an Arab," "Terrorist," and "Off With His Head."

Carville and Begala Shoot and Score

On HuffPost:
They will need to answer fundamental questions: What does it mean to be a Republican? Do Republicans support laissez-faire or nationalized banking? Do Republicans support a balanced budget or half-trillion-dollar deficits? Do Republicans want a "humble foreign policy" like George W. Bush, or preventive war against countries that pose no threat, like, umm, George W. Bush? Are Republicans the party of limited government or a vast Medicare prescription drug benefit? Are they wary of Big Brother or eager to expand warrantless wiretaps? Do they support Christian values or torture? Are they the party that believes that cutting-edge technology can shoot a missile out of the sky or the party that believes humans and dinosaurs walked the earth simultaneously?

This schizophrenia has been coming for a long time. To find my Republican parents, who are thoughtful people with legitimate concerns over taxation, in bed with theocratic nutjobs who want to replace the Constitution with the New Testament, exemplifies the strange bedfellows idea. Not that the Democratic Party isn't without its share of weird combinations. The extreme leftist welfare-state guys like Kucinich and centrists like Clinton and Obama, Peaceniks like Kucinich (again) and hardscrabble warriors like Jim Webb, or cap-and-trade advocates like Obama and hard-core environmentalists like, well, Kucinich. In fact, it does seem like Kucinich is in a world of his own, doesn't it? No matter: Democrats, unlike Republicans, do not eat their own. When times were tough for Dems prior to 2006, you generally did not find them requiring lock-step conformity with the Democratic message (mostly because there wasn't one central message that all Dems could embrace). Now that it's clear that the McCain/Palin campaign has revealed the deep and almost irreversible rift in the GOP, the only logical next step is self-immolation and rebuilding, perhaps as two parties. The Christianists can and should "secede" from the Republicans and start a new party -- a militant party of big faith-based, war-based, and intolerance-based government spending that does not see a problem with torture so long as it is in support of God's will for God's people.

It's first presidential nominee? Not the soon-to-be-washed-up secessionist Sarah Palin. Not the Nutri-System poster child, Mike Huckabee. No, this one will have to come from outside of government, from deep within the religious community, currently on the radar of only a few well-connected individuals. Like a Curt Schilling.

SNL/Palin

Didn't watch it since I was camping, and didn't TiVo it either. I saw a clip of it this morning on the Today show. Saw Amy Poehler rapping on the Weekend Update segment, with the governor and soon-to-be defeated VP candidate bobbing her head along with the music and then doing a "raise the roof" move.

But here's the killer for me that showed me how much the producer and writers at SNL loathe Palin and McCain. Amy was rapping "All the mavericks in the room, put your hands up!" while Palin was raising the roof, but everyone knows that McCain (who was there in spirit if not in the room) can't even raise his hands up to comb his own hair. Sort of a tacky moment, don't you think? But there's Palin, blithely going along with the bit, and I bet completely oblivious to the idea that McCain is getting roasted.

A good HuffPost piece by Alec Baldwin (who also appeared on SNL with Palin) here.

Divided Government?

One of the dads on my weekend camping trip with Max, a friend I've known a couple of years, made some interesting comments about why he is voting for McCain. He is Jewish, works as a financial manager, was born in the US but was raised in Israel, and served in the Israeli military before moving back to the States.

I found myself alone in my support for Obama among these men, which was disconcerting to say the least. Or perhaps some didn't speak because they didn't want to get involved, but it was pretty clear that most of them were Republicans.

As we sat around the campfire eating pistachio nuts and drinking a special vodka drink one of the other dads concocted, my friend said that he was voting for McCain because, while he like Obama and had nothing against him, he argued that having a Democratic president and Democratic congress would be a disaster. He said government always worked better when the two branches of government were of different parties. He also said that he would vote for any Republican (I couldn't believe he said Hitler!) if it meant avoiding solid Democratic control of government.

I argued that Bush had solid Republican majorities for six of the last eight years, and he got more done on his agenda than he has in the past two when the Dems took over congress, but this didn't seem to get through to him. I had no other answer for him because 1) I was a little drunk, and 2) I couldn't really remember the stuff I'd read before that suggested otherwise.

Then I got an email this morning from Dr. Titus Levi, which pointed to two articles in the SF Chronicle, one of which was an "economics sweepstakes quiz" and one an article by Arthur Blaustein, a faculty member at UC Berkeley and a Carter appointee to an advisory panel on economic opportunity. Both of these articles jogged my memory of past pieces I'd read about how much better the US economy fares under Democratic presidents. Then I connected to some Wikipedia stuff on congress to see which party was in power since WWII. Here's what I found, using the two Chronicle articles as a foundation:
  1. The highest growth in GDP was during the Truman administration (Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress for six of his eight years)
  2. The highest growth in jobs was during the Clinton administration (Mostly Republican Congress, but he is the exception among Dem presidents because he worked solidly as a centrist)
  3. The biggest increase in after-tax disposable income happened under the Johnson administration (Democratic majorities in both houses for all of his term)
  4. Industrial production grew the most under the Kennedy administration (Democratic majorities full term)
  5. Hourly wages grew the most during the Johnson administration
  6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment) happened under the Truman administration
  7. The lowest inflation rates occurred during the Truman administration
  8. The largest reduction in the budget deficit occurred during the Clinton administration.

Other things relative to the economy:

  • During the 20th century the Dow rose 7.3% during Republican administrations, but 10.3% under Democratic ones. That's a 41% better performance.
  • Real middle class wage growth during Democratic administrations is double what is has been under Republican ones.
  • Since WWII, the national debt increased 3.7% per year under Dems, but 10.1% per year under Republicans.
  • Since WWII, the avg. unemployment rate was 4.8% under Dems, but 6.3% under Republicans.
  • The Bush tax cuts in 2001 provided the wealthiest 1% of Americans with 43% of the benefit. At the same time, the budget went from a $326 billion surplus to a $500 billion deficit.
  • During the Bush years, government spending grew far faster than at any other time in history. McCain says he wants to implement an across the board spending freeze, but most economists will say that will have a negative effect on job creation and tax revenue, adding to the deficit and further crippling the economy.
At a time when we need to create jobs and prevent economic collapse, worrying about government spending is the wrong idea. Letting the market work this out is a fallacy; the market is crippled and unable to function properly on its own because the flow of money is also crippled. It has taken massive government intervention all over the world to stimulate cash flow so that banks and stock markets are willing to lend, invest, and keep the flow going.

Now I'm not saying that these facts prove without a doubt that unified government works best. Clinton got lots of stuff done (mostly in his first four years before the Lewinsky scandal) with a Republican congress. Eisenhower saw some pretty impressive numbers during his term and had a mostly Dem congress, but he was clearly on the side of shrinking defense (and he learned that while in office). Nixon didn't do so bad either in extricating us from Vietnam and he had a Democratic congress (his price control measure in 1971 got us off the gold standard and stemmed inflation -- it also probably helped him get re-elected in 1972).

But the numbers above show that his statements would likely mean worse performance for the economy. And it's pretty clear that poor economies are tied to political unrest and violent conflict all over the world.

If you want a stronger economy, vote for Obama.

Weekend Off

I took a much-needed break from blogging this past weekend to have some bonding time with the family. Max and I did an overnight camping trip with his YMCA Indian Guides buddies. Last year we had a huge wind problem which became a brush fire and prompted our early evacuation, but this time it was much calmer. Max had a blast playing soccer and football with his new friends Will, Seth, Trey, Brendon, Jonah and Gabriel. He had a bit of a breakthrough with competitive sports as well. We organized a quick soccer match -- boys against the dads -- and Max initially had a cow about wanting to be on my team and not wanting to play a game. For some reason, participating in team sports makes him nervous. Maybe it's all the action, or maybe it's because he's a perfectionist like me and doesn't want to make a mistake. But this time, it kind of clicked for him that it was OK and he stuck it out. On top of that, the kids were a good team -- they listened us dads when we encouraged them to pass and work together. Trey and Seth were a year older and had team experience (as did Jonah), so Max got some good ball time. He even "scored" a couple of goals (one with me as goalie). All this turned him into an animal and he ended up being the gutsiest, most aggressive one out there, going for the ball, trying for steals. His self-confidence soared, especially after one of the dads -- a pretty skilled player and an active soccer coach -- told him how good he was and that he should be playing on a team. He slept like a rock that night and told me later he had the best time and couldn't wait for another Indian Guides meeting with his new buddies. I was pretty damn proud.

Came home late Sunday morning to Eli having stomach issues and needing some extra attention. Lisa and I took care of him and he was feeling good enough to head to my in-laws' place for Opa's birthday party (happy 66th Allan!). We were all pretty exhausted by Sunday night.

I have a good post to send out in a bit about a convo I had with some of the Indian Guides dads about the election. Risky to talk about politics in such a social-centered environment, but I got something good out of it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Out of Touch

This sign hangs in a McCain office in Pompano Beach, FL.



Yes. That's Senator Obama atop a stack of other notable faces, including Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. People who flat out murdered their political opponents.

As if that isn't bad enough, the inscription at the top right reads:
How did all these men do it? Each and every one called upon youth movements!

This is why McCain will lose. He and his followers will spout platitudes about how great young people are, but in their conference rooms, they are cursing them for actually finding a voice for the first time in a generation.

Plus, if they hate communism and socialism so much, I would like to see every one of the people who work in this McCain office to do two things: First, go home and throw away everything they own that was manufactured in China or Vietnam. I bet that would leave some very empty homes. Second, call up Steve "Rove's Stool" Schmidt and Rick "Freddie's Tool" Davis and tell them how adamantly opposed they all are and were to the socialist nationalization of the financial system by our Republican government. Go ahead, do it! Tell "The Maverick" and his people that The Maverick was wrong to have voted the same way as Senator Obama on the financial rescue plan. Tell him that he was wrong to vote with President Bush. Tell him that after Obama wins, you're all moving to a country with no communist or socialist elements in its government. My guess is that we'll be seeing a lot of Philip Nolans on Nov. 5.

To those readers who are voting McCain (or already voted that way), remember afterward that you have a country, a country that will go on striving to be the best she can be, with or without your help. If Obama wins, you can either complain and spread vicious slander (you know who I'm talking to), or you can stop, listen, and try to understand. On 9/12/2001, we were all in such a place, even after a hotly-contested and dubiously-concluded election in November 2000. We all wanted to work together to protect and defend our country and our Constitution. Instead, we were either complicit in the run-up to an immoral and unnecessary war (along with the stripping away of Constitutionally-mandated freedoms and the brutal torture of military detainees), or we were too apathetic about these threats to our National Security to do anything meaningful (guilty here). Thank God we now have a chance to change direction, however slight it might be. At last we have an intellectually curious, honest, honorable, unflappable, and emotionally steady man who will very likely be our 44th president. Our eight-year nightmare will end, and we will spend some portion of the next several years cleaning up the mess that we all created or enabled.

And the out-of-touch, mean, arrogant Senator from Arizona will take his tongue-jutting, erratic old self back to the Senate until he quietly retires. And the painfully-unqualified, integrity-deficient, spiritually-delusional Governor of Alaska will take her winking parody of herself back to Juneau to finish her first and only term before she retires to watch Russia from her front porch.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Early Predictions

I predicted Obama would dominate the debates:
I think of that climactic scene at the end of Searching for Bobby Fischer, where young Josh Waitzkin offers his hand to his opponent in a draw. When the opponent refuses, Josh says, "You've lost. You just don't see it yet." In a way, Obama has seen the board, and the game, all the way to its end. When he returns from his trip, when he blasts out of Denver with the nomination, a solid VP choice, and his fundraising engine firing on all cylinders, he will engage in a few friendly, supremely staged debates with his opponent, and summarily wipe the floor with him. It won't even be a contest come September. Unfortunately, McCain's the fall guy this time like Dole was in 1996. He just doesn't see it yet.

Meeting Iran Without Preconditions

I wrote this on June 20:
Having Obama meet with Ahmedinejad accomplishes one major U.S. pressing strategic interest: to show the rest of the world that there is a new leader of the free world who is actually going to be a serious participant in promoting peace, not a hegemon asserting domination through military means over all others. That being said, however, Obama wouldn't be stupid enough to pull military options off the table in talking to Iran, and Iran knows that. Obama will let Ahmedinejad prance about, as though his sitting at the table with the Americans means he's now a serious player, because everyone else knows how ridiculous that idea truly is. When the doors close and the reporters wait outside, Obama will calmly lay out for Ahmedinejad ways for him to accomplish his goals without a fight with the U.S. The Supreme Leaders in Iran are not Sunni death-cultists like al Qaeda; they aren't yearning for martyrdom (however, they are fine with giving money to those who do). Ultimately, I believe they want to be big players on the stage in the Middle East and they want to be on an equal footing with Israel, whom they perceive to be a threat (and rightly so).Still their nuclear ambitions are clearly unacceptable, and I believe they can be persuaded to abandon them if they see that the US will deal with them at a high level. Under Obama's leadership, the world will make the conditions possible for this to happen.
I'm pretty happy with how that reads!

I Predicted This

Some months ago -- and I'm too tired to go back and research the more than 500 postings of mine since April of this year -- I wrote that by the end of this election, the GOP would become the party of the Christianists, the theocrats, the wing-nuts (I didn't use that word, actually, but it's coming to mind now).

Rosa Brooks over at the Los Angeles Times notes the same today (emphasis mine).
Once, the GOP proudly claimed to be the "party of ideas." They weren't generally good ideas, it's true -- but they were ideas eloquently defended by men and women who believed it was their duty to study history, philosophy, science, economics and international relations and to do the intellectual heavy lifting needed to try to persuade smart people with different views to come around to their way of thinking. That was the GOP nurtured by conservative intellectuals such as William Buckley. Buckley was many things liberals didn't admire, but he wasn't ignorant, savage or stupid by choice.

More on Joe the Plumber

So, this one's rich. From HuffPost:

You see, Joe Wurzelbacher is apparently related to Robert Wurzelbacher. Who is the son-in-law of (are you ready...?) Charles Keating!

Yes, that Charles Keating. The Charles Keating of the Keating 5 Scandal. For which John McCain was reprimanded by the United States Senate, for his involvement in attempting to illegally influence government regulators. The Charles Keating who John McCain has been trying to avoid have mentioned. So, he basically mentioned it 24 times.

Six degrees of Charles Keating!

Joe the Tax Cheat

Samuel J. ("Joe the Plumber") Wurzelbacher of Toledo, OH, who was the guest of honor (in absentia) at last night's debate, was on Good Morning America today complaining that he shouldn't be penalized for being successful by having his taxes increased. OK, I guess, but he's a little misguided. Taxes are NOT penalties. They're partly how we get to fight wars -- defensive or otherwise -- subsidize the oil industry, subsidize big agra, buy all that oil from the Middle East, and pay all that interest on our $10+ trillion national debt. Oh, wait... maybe that is a penalty. Oh, well, he has a point, since no one like to pay taxes.

But does Joe even pay his taxes? ABC News reports that Joe owes nearly $1,200 in state taxes according to a tax lien filed in public records. Oops.

LUCAS COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
J. BERNIE QUILTER, CLERK
700 ADAMS STREET TOLEDO, OHIO

MONETARY AMOUNT: $1,182.98

DEPT OF TAXATION STATE OF OHIO

Defendant 1:
WURZELBACHER SAMUEL J
30 DERBYSHIRE RD
TOLEDO, OH 43615
The county's deputy clerk states that he might not know about the lien. But he sure knows he didn't pay his taxes. So, if this is the same Samuel J. Wurzelbacher identified as Joe the Plumber, then gee, I don't think he'd make a good poster child for McCain's tax plan.

14:58, 14:59, 15:00 -- time's up, Joe!

The Many Faces of JMac

HuffPost's Marty Kaplan profiles the faces of a campaign in its last throes.

"At least he didn't wink."

The Obama War Room Hums

Already out this morning is a new Obama ad that turns McCain's big moment back on him (again).



Perfect tone. I love that clip of McCain bragging that he voted with Bush 90% of the time, especially when he keeps saying he's gone against his party. In other words, the maverick is on Bush's side.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Over. And Out.

John McCain is finished. While he and Sarah Palin will put on the brave face and put up as good a fight as they can muster for the next three weeks, they will fall short. My guess is far shorter than the press will admit.

To use a football analogy: Barack Obama has first and ten with less than two minutes to go in the game. McCain has no time outs left. Obama can take three straight knees and the clock will run out.

Also we found out tonight that the Republican National Committee has pulled up stakes in Wisconsin (Obama 54-37 Quinnipiac) and Maine. McCain's starting to look like Giuliani did focusing all his attention on winning Florida. How'd that work, Rudy?

Here are the instant poll results on the final debate:

CNN
Obama 58%
McCain 31%

On who was more likeable, Obama won 70%-22%. Likeability wins elections, you know.

CBS
Obama 53%
McCain 22%
Draw 24% (McCain lost to the draw!)

Fox News
At a Miami-based staged focus group, nearly all the participants felt Obama won. Said Frank Luntz, who hosted the group, "None had made a decision to support Sen. Obama before the debate, but more than half supported him after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama."

I actually thought at first -- like I usually do -- that McCain came out stronger, more forcefully, and took the issues right to Senator Obama. Obama sounded a bit tentative, but at least he wasn't losing points, and he was doing an effective job of saying what he needed to say. McCain then had his sound byte of the evening, proclaiming that he wasn't President Bush. Obama's retort -- saying that he was sorry for confusing the two, but on the issues important to most Americans, McCain's exactly like Bush -- turned the tide for me. For the rest of the evening, McCain looked and sounded at turns angry, exasperated, and incredulous. A few times he looked like he'd explode out of his seat. I imagined how things would go for a President McCain if he were seated at a conference table with an adversarial world leader: "If you think I'm talking tough now, my friend, wait till the goddamn bombs rain down on your pointy little head."

Then, for me, the moment when Obama won the presidency. In response to McCain's challenge that Obama come clean on the "fine" business owners would pay under Obama's healthcare plan, Obama looked straight into the camera and said, "Here's your fine: Zero," making a zero with his thumb and forefinger. McCain: "Zero?" Obama: "Zero." Then, according to JumpyPants at Cesca's website, came eleven seconds of McCain with a "blinking, dumbstruck, carp in the headlights look" on his face. Money quote from that story:

McCain has wanted to be president for one overwhelming reason: to be better than his old man and his grandpa -- and by better, of course, I mean more powerful. The only way for a failed, jet-crashing pilot like him to do that, someone who slummed his way to power sideways, through politics, through marrying a rich heiress to fund his campaign, the only way for him to be more powerful is to be Commander in Chief. That's a bigger, bossier, nuclear-codesier holding gig than either of those bastards. And he's never going to have the job. And in those ELEVEN SECONDS, he saw that.

Instead, the job is going to go to That One.

The only day that I will be prouder to be an American than I am right now will be on Nov. 4, 2008 when I get to vote for Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Bush's Legacy

Scott Horton at Harper's nails it: Torture.

[Condoleezza] Rice wrote that she had concerns about whether the program was lawful and that she asked for Attorney General Ashcroft’s advice on this point. The report notes that the Criminal Division at [the Dept. of] Justice was asked to look into the question. This element of the report is significant for two reasons. First, it appears that a major part of this exercise was to involve the Criminal Division to get an “estoppel effect.” Policy makers could say they relied on the statements of the Criminal Division in undertaking the use of torture, and therefore the Criminal Division could not prosecute them. Second, the head of the Criminal Division at this time was Michael Chertoff and his senior deputy, who succeeded him, was Alice Fisher. Chertoff, appearing in connection with his appointment as Homeland Security secretary, brushed off accounts linking him to the introduction of the torture techniques. His testimony has been challenged repeatedly, and the new report is likely to fuel arguments that he misled Congress. Fisher likewise seems to be drawn ever-closer to the torture issue. Chertoff and Fisher appeared to have headed off a criminal investigation that the FBI launched into the introduction of torture practices at Guantánamo. And the current report appears to link them to the decision to introduce torture, suggesting that the criminal investigation may have come back to a focus on their own conduct. Clearly, in the Bush years the term “Criminal Division” took on a whole new meaning.
I agree. If it came down to one thing, torture would be it. No other issue has altered the basic makeup of the United States than Bush's explicit decision to move to the "dark side."

However, if McCain is elected (more and more unlikely) and his ignoramus of a vice president manages to survive to the inauguration, his other legacy will be the conversion of the entire population of this country into contestants on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Moms Think About During Sex

From momlogic.com.

SEX ACT STATUS: Nearing orgasm

Can the kid hear us?

I hope she's not going to wake up crying for milk...wait, do we have enough
milk for tomorrow?

Sh*t, I forget to pick some up on the way home. I keep forgetting things--and I HAVE to go to Target tomorrow. She's grown out of most of her pants. Maybe it's time for her to move to the 18-24 months. I can't figure out what fits her and what doesn't--I've got to weed though her clothes and sort out the ones she's grown out of. You can't really trust the sizes. Technically, you'd think I could just get rid of the 12-18 months entirely--but sizes run differently in different brands...

Whoops, better make a few noises so he thinks I'm into this.

If it Looks Like Dog Sh*t

courtesy flickr:


That's Venice, CA for ya! At least it's fair and balanced.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Should Obama Lead?

Blogger gsatell over at Kos has an astute treatise on what to do after the Republican "revolution" dies its miserable and long-overdue death on Nov. 4. He has three suggestions for Obama to be an effective leader post-Bush: Modernity, Multiculturalism, and Schumpeterism.

I can imagine how my friend Dave Adams would view Modernity. As a devout conservative Christian, Dave holds fast to traditional values, which, as gsatell writes, "have their charms but don't adapt very well." He is a sensible chap for the most part and I think he'd agree that "we can't solve today's problems with yesterday's ideas and we can't be competitive without a well-educated workforce." Still, this would probably launch him into a rant about the unconstitutionality of federally-funded public education and how, short of complete abolition of the US Dept. of Education, school vouchers are the only cure to bring balance to that system.

As for Multiculturalism, Dave talks a good game but everything is filtered through a very cloudy lens indeed. The Evangelical Christian movement, at least in the Bible Belt, is dominated by Caucasians. Texas and California both have highly diverse populations, but inclusion under the Evangelical tent requires capitulation to a highly dogmatized version of Christianity, one many would say is sorely in need of adjustment after producing failed radicals like Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay, Ted Haggard, John Hagee, George W. Bush (in a superficial way only) and Sarah Palin. I would posit what Billy Graham popularized in his life bears little resemblance to what many non-Evangelicals see today. Dave will probably argue that Palin is Pentecostal and not Evangelical. Uh, that nuance would be lost on most of us. Embracing the new face of America -- perfectly embodied by the son of a white mother and an immigrant, Muslim (yes I went there), African father -- is not only necessary, but plain common sense in the 21st century. We whites are no longer a majority in this country. The sooner we embrace this change and get over ourselves, the more easily this nation can grow and succeed.

Now, I'd never heard of Joseph Schumpeter until today, but I did a little reading. I'll let my friend Titus Levi, the economist, weigh in on this, but the idea that innovation and entrepreneurship provide enough forward momentum for capitalism to prevent it from collapsing in on itself due to competing self-interests is an interesting one. I think Obama embodies this spirit in his economic, infrastructure and health care plans, which are as forward-looking as they can be while they try to grapple with the realities of the now. Dave, ever the libertarian in this regard, would simply argue that nothing will work until the tax code is dismantled in favor of the Fair Tax Plan.

This is sort of intellectualizing the inevitable Obama win, but, as David Brooks writes about the Republican/conservative movement:
What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.
Thinking BAD! Six packs GOOD!

What Wasn't Said

On a Fox News segment today, McCain flack Tucker Bounds took issue with comments made by Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday and in today's column which basically suggested that McCain's campaign is a complete mess and that everyone ought to be fired and the campaign rebooted. Video of Bounds here (second video on page).

Predictably, Bounds criticized Kristol for simply "saying what comes to the top of [his] mind" and for saying something that "wasn't very intelligent." But the clip ended with this:
We're going to carry through to Election Day, and I look forward to talking to Bill after Election Day when we can talk about, uh, you know, some of the more foolish things that made print.
This is not the super-confident McCain flack I have seen on numerous shows in previous weeks. Perhaps getting served by Campbell Brown and others about his outrageous remarks has tempered his hubris. But what I think the McCain campaign should be expected to say is "I look forward to talking to Bill after Election Day as we prepare our transition team ahead of inauguration, when we can talk about, etc."

They know they're in trouble. But they've got him right where they want him!

"It's Only a Flesh Wound"

McCain: "We've got him just where we want him." "We're six points down."

For those who don't remember the scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," here it is:

The Ultimate Affirmation of His Identity

Piggybacking on Kos's exhortations to break the backs of the Republicans this year:

On the day of his inauguration on January 20, 2009, I want to hear the winner of this election loudly and clearly proclaim, "I, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, do solemnly swear..."

"Leave Everything On the Road"

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas is on a crusade. He has started "Orange to Blue," a campaign under ActBlue, which aims to put more Democrats in Congress. "O2B has so far raised nearly $1.1 million for various candidates (including $160,000 for Barack Obama and $108,000 for Al Franken). ActBlue has raised nearly $72 million from 144,000 donors since January 1, 2008.

Moulitsas has been writing some scathing pieces of late, which can be read here, here, and here. The most recent one is accompanied by a photo of former Georgia Senator and Democratic turncoat Zell Miller, delivering a withering speech at the 2004 Republican Convention that added serious fuel to the Bush campaign fire at a crucual time. The photo is hilarious, unretouched, and it makes Miller look like Dracula in a suit. Undead pallor. Fanged. And long fingernails.

Kos has a point here. Democrats shouldn't simply want to add a few seats to the Senate; they should want a filibuster-proof majority. They shouldn't want a couple more seats to an already comfortable House majority; they should want a crushing 101-seat majority (they're only 31 seats away from that goal). The Democrats should deliver a final blow to the Republican party that keeps them in minority status for a generation. Obama should defeat McCain and Palin so soundly, so convincingly, that McCain immediately retires from the Senate and Palin is irretrievably damaged such that she can never again set foot on the national stage. The Christianist wingnuts should be humiliated to the point where they return to their mega-churches and bake sales to think hard on what they want the word Christian to mean for their children and grandchildren. The right-wing corporate media should go back and read all of their columns and stories from 9/12/2001 to today to see just how enmeshed with the White House Communications Office they became during the Bush43 years. Fox News should become like the Hollywood Squares of cable news -- full of has-beens, telling awful jokes written by the former assistants of third-tier writers.

It's what Moulitsas means by "Leave Everything on the Road."

Tainted District?

The Democratic Congressman who replaced disgraced representative Mark Foley, Tim Mahoney, agreed to pay a former mistress -- who was also a staff member -- $121,000 after she threatened to sue him, ABCNews.com reports.

There is actually audio of Mahoney firing his mistress, including the money quote here:
The only person that matters is guess who? Me. You understand that. That is how life really is. That is how it works.
The district's next congressman will be Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who will reportedly move to the district to "be with my kind of people." (uh, joke there)

Makes Sense to Me

Given the fact that Gov. Sarah Palin was for years a member of the Alaska Independence Party, a political organization that advocated Alaska's secession from the United States, wouldn't it be obvious that she would have absolutely no respect for the United States Constitution? Well, according to the Washington Times:
An Associated Press review of the Republican vice presidential candidate's record as mayor and governor reveals her use of elected office to promote religious causes, sometimes at taxpayer expense and in ways that blur the line between church and state.
Does anyone really believe that this wingnut from the frozen tundra would honestly swear to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution of the United States? If you do, then I have some desert property in Arizona I call sell you real cheap.

Death Wish 2008

Hat tip Pandagon:


Poor guy -- no helmet and riding through a working class neighborhood (clue: EZ Pawn sign upper right).

This is natural selection at work.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Props to McCain

He saw things getting out of hand. As a follow up to my last post, here's the video of him addressing a rally and trying to tame the inflammatory remarks coming from his ridiculously stupid followers (at least those at this rally):



"He is a decent person, and a person ... you do not have to be scared."

Well, good for him. Let's see if the tone changes.

McCain Becomes a Vertebrate -- Finally

At a rally in Lakeville, MN today, McCain started to acknowledge that the "pitchfork wavers" at his and Palin's rallies lately have been over the top ferocious with their anti-Obama words. Spurred on by candidates who are silent in response to this rage, it has grown to the point where viral videos threaten to upend the push McCain is making in these last few weeks.

Here's an example:

An audience member teed up a great big softball that could totally hit a dark side home run, asking, "We want you to fight at your next debate... we want to see s REAL fight at the debate, we want a STRONG leader for the next four years." That is Minnesota nice for "RevWrightACORNAyers," etc.

But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the "energy" people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, "I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: "I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are."

...

Crazy base-world gets to bring up Ayers and whatever else, really, and he gets to say, "Be respectful." But I think he means it.

UPDATE: Indeed, he just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist..." "No, no ma'am," he interrupted. "He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."

I relish the opportunity to have McCain acknowledge this at next week's debate. He'll come across as gentlemanly, and maybe even a little sincere... and he'll totally alienate his rabid base.

Game over.

An example of real balance

Time's Michael Scherer delivers. As the mainstream press has reported the numerous and outrageous lies and distortions perpetrated by the McCan't campaign on the country, they have absurdly scraped for examples of whatever petty malfeasance occurs on the other side so that they can say, "See? We're being balanced!" Never mind that Palin's incontrovertible lies about her record as governor and McCan't's letting his base call Obama a terrorist and a traitor. They have to stick in something like Obama getting a ticket for spitting on some sidewalk somewhere when he was 11 years old (made up of course, but to McCan't, speaks volumes about Obama's character) as an attempt to be balanced. Scherer's money quote:
The shame of this cycle is that we don't know what Obama would have done if he ever faced a similar big choice between his public image and his own self-interest. The playing field has always been uneven, and Obama always had a clear advantage. We have some hints, however, that Obama is not as pure a reformer as he claims to be. He abandoned his pledge to support public financing when he realized he could raise more money on his own. He dodged McCain's proposal for regular town halls, which would have likely elevated the political debate, because they did not serve his interests. But these are small things compared with the transformation that McCain has undergone.
See? He came out and actually said that there's no balance here to achieve. Kudos to Scherer.

Troopergate Reported May Be Delayed

TPM reports that the investigator who conducted the inquiry into Sarah Palin's dismissal of the state's safety commissioner may encounter resistance from Republican lawmakers in Alaska ahead of the release. A 14-person committee (10 of them Republicans) will get to review the findings prior to deciding whether to make the report public.

According to the TPM story, six of the 10 legislators filed a suit (dismissed Thursday) to halt the investigation. One of those six charged that the investigation was politically motivated and tried to get the Democratic head of the probe removed.

You can bet that McCain operatives have gotten their claws on this Alaskan old boys network. Remember that Alaska is, as Palin has charged, a network of old cronies and a cesspool of favoritism and corruption. I'll bet there is lots of dirty laundry just waiting to be aired.

I predict that this report will be suppressed until after the election (or worse, filed away until released under a Freedom of Information Act request, thoroughly redacted) on the grounds that the investigation might unfairly influence the outcome of the election. Then McCain will go on media blackout about it, saying only that his own internal investigation into the matter clears Palin of any wrongdoing.

"Didn't Come Up in the Flow"

McCain answers Charlie Gibson as to why he didn't bring the Ayers charge to Obama's face. Since when does a politician lack the ability to steer a conversation to a topic he wants to talk about? He had the last word at the last debate. Surely he could have found 20-30 seconds to bring up "associations" or "who is the real Barack Obama" as a signal to his supporters that he's taking the fight directly to Obama and the rest of America.

Obama's comment to Gibson to other day that he was "surprised" McCain didn't bring this stuff up at the debate was, of course, phony surprise. It was designed to goad McCain into making a stupid mistake and bringing up these already-vetted and dismissed accusations in the context of a debate about the economic crisis and the wars. McCain is not that stupid, and he knows that he needs to keep his troops satiated with red meat because they're getting flogged with the daily polls showing their guy is continuing to fall behind.

The Democrats' best response to all this pointless shit is to continue to bring up how out of touch McCain is on the things that really matter to Americans. That he lacks the vision, the leadership ability, the judgment, and the temperament to be POTUS.

Twenty-five days. Patience and steel.

Who's Elite? Part III

Seriously, WTF? $273,000 on household staff?

I thought it might be a mistake, but it turns out to be true. It's on his taxes (pdf). Go to page 9.


Hate to See This

Grist for the McCain mill -- an organization of community organizers is accused of filing false voter registration forms. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is under investigation for fraud in Nevada for filing false registrations, and now has similar problems in Indiana.

Worse yet, CNN reports that the Obama campaign paid an ACORN subsidiary $800,000 to register voters for the primaries. The Obama campaign has said that it has not worked with the group during the general election.

If Obama wins in either Nevada or Indiana, or anywhere ACORN was working to register voters -- which could be anywhere -- the McCain lawyers would be well within their rights to question any close election results.

This will be an issue on Nov. 5 when Obama wins.

Shades of Jim Crow

The guy who is the subject of this CNN video says he's trying to inject some humor into this debate. Uh, Yeah Right.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Palin Has Fired Up "The Base"

Elvis Dingeldein:
[H]ere’s my Friendly Reminder for the true Independents and moderate Republicans and racist Democrats that haven’t yet made up their minds because, Doggone It™, Sarah Palin looks so darned-tootin' cute in her knee-high boots and higher skirts, with her starburst-ricocheting winkage aimed directly at Joe Six- Pack’s desperately underused genitals, and my reminder is this: “Al-Qaeda” is Arabic for “The Base.” Remember that the next time you see Sarah Palin working The Base. Remember that the next time you hear an American citizen shout “Kill him” or “Traitor” at a political rally-cum-seething mob. Al-Qaeda is Arabic for “The Base.” Anger and resentment, tinged with overt racism and powered by a long-simmering tribal conflict – Us versus Them, Black versus White, Christian versus Muslim – needs only a plain-talking but charismatic leader to become something dangerous, something radical, something Terrible. And it is from a Base of sympathetic ideologues that such a terror often leaps, whether in a handful of aircraft-turned-missiles, or the assassin’s simple bullet.
Let's not forget the parallels. Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism regardless of how one prays.