Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Ad
Obama has a new ad, unusual for being 2 minutes long and featuring him talking to the camera. I like the way he has recently cast our economic woes as a repudiation of longheld Republican policies, and this ad continues that theme. I'm not as optimistic as some who believe the last few days mark the beginning of the end of the Republican Party, but a substantial victory on this argument would be a nice step in that direction.
We're Being Set Up
There's no way Palin is this bad in debates.
[I]n recent days, Gov. Palin flubbed quasi-mock debates in New York City and Philadelphia, some operatives said. Finger-pointing began, and then intensified after her faltering interview with CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric.
She's worked on little else for a few weeks, and she gets to keep her answers brief, so generic platitudes will fit. I think they are leaking all this stuff about her being a disaster so that people will rally to her again if she just so much as manages to muddle through. Yeah the Couric interview was bad, but she didn't have a foil like she will have in Biden on Thursday. I fully expect him to be the more informed of the 2, but for her to "win the debate" by the stupid terms that we evaluate such things.

Monday, September 29, 2008

They Voted it Down
Interrupting this regularly scheduled MEDIA MONDAY to say: God help us all. The Dow is down 500 more than 750 and I can't believe so many in the House picked doing nothing over doing something.

[Deep Thought Update for those Democrats voting Nay: When you find yourself on the same side as Lou Dobbs and my horrible Congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, think again.

Late Night Deep Thought Update: I would much prefer seeing some stability in the credit market to seeing Bush's approval ratings hit single digits, but I'm not sure I will get my wish there.]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

If You Want to Start Your Week on a Positive Note
Don't read this. As Kevin says, somehow - showing how screwed up we are - it's only page 2 news.
Quote of the Day
The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on the transcript of Governor Palin's nearly unwatchable interview with Katie Couric.
This seems to be a case of incoherence of thought leading to incoherence of syntax. Pronouns wander in search of antecedents like Arctic explorers in a blinding snowstorm.
The whole thing reads like something rendered from the Finnish by Google Translate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Deep Debate, Uh, Thought
Obama will help his debate performance tonight if he can stop himself from saying "uh" so often. He fills his pauses with uhs, like most of us do. But most of us haven't been through nearly 2 years' worth of nationally televised debate prep. It makes him sound unsure, and like a bit of an amateur. Surprised they haven't cleaned that up by now, it's one of the reasons his teleprompter speeches are so much better than the off-the-cuff delivery. But he was doing it even yesterday, so I don't have my hopes up.

[UPDATE: I thought Obama was very strong in delivery - forceful and confident and focused. He missed some opportunities to put McCain on the defensive, but when he did he was direct and clear. I thought McCain was rambly and bitter, maybe won a couple of exchanges but not sure why everyone seems to think it was tied.]
Are They Considering All the Options? [UPDATED]
Something, again, we have to leave to trust: is this basic bailout approach, in which the Treasury Dept. is authorized to purchase and hold on to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of debt packages, the best model for intervention? Have other methods been duly considered and rejected? I read the proposal of James Galbraith in the Washington Post, and of course didn't understand it all but it does leave you thinking, geez I hope the reason they're not doing that is that it has some big flaw, and not because they weren't really trying to think of any options beyond their default bailout reaction.

I have never understood why - being the majority - we have to start from the Paulson model, and the Paulson dollar figure, and amend from there. Why not from scratch? Here's hoping the reason is because it really is the best model, most likely to solve problems, and not because old habits die hard.

[UPDATE: Also, read Steven Pearlstein.]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debate Speculation is Dumb
Of course McCain is going to be there and they will debate. He's not a moron. It's silly for all the news heads to wonder if maybe he won't be there.
Must-See TV
Barbara Boxer says it like it is...from behaving like a baby to the Keating 5:
Country First
I hate when McCain talks about stopping the campaign to put country over partisan politics-- a time to be Americans, he says, not Democrats or Republicans. For some of us, this election has been about saving the country all along. Interesting that McCain has 2 ways of being: in one, he puts the interests of the country ahead of partisan politics, and in the other, he campaigns for President. And never the twain shall meet.

If I believe in Obama beyond my fundamental agreement with his policies, it is because I believe he would never have to "suspend his campaign" to focus on what's right for the country. Focusing on what's right for the country is the rationale for his campaign.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Barney Frank
Along with Chris Dodd, Barney Frank is one of the bailout proponents I most respect. He was on Charlie Rose last night and explained things in a very helpful way for an ignoramus like me I thought. It's about 15 minutes.
Bush Speech Deep Thought
Is he still President? Since he's at 19% approval shouldn't he use reverse psychology and come out against the bailout if he wants it to go forward?

[UPDATE: Some primary documents. Here is the text of Bush's address, a slightly better read than it was a listen. It was about as morosely and incoherently delivered as any presidential address I've ever heard. Remember when he used to annoyingly slow down and enunciate each syllable of some words for emphasis? This speech could have used a little bit of that, and I never thought I'd say that.]
McCain Campaign Suspension Deep Thought
Does this mean the fundamentals of the economy are no longer strong? Can we get some clarification on that?
Does the public support government intervention to purchase massive amounts of debt? Via Political Wire, it depends on how you ask the question. The Pew Research Center found the Americans largely supportive, by a 57 - 30% margin. This is what they asked:
As you may know, the government is potentially investing billions to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure. Do you think this is the right thing or the wrong thing for the government to be doing?
An LATimes/Bloomberg poll found 55% opposed to the idea. But of course:
The Times/Bloomberg poll asked respondents whether they believed it was "the government's responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars." A majority said no.
This debate will probably be obnoxious, because those opposed will call it a bailout of failed Wall Street companies, as if it was the same thing as bailing out a failed restaurant. Supporters will insist its necessary for basic economic stability and avoiding another major depression, though they will not be able to prove that is the case. We're basically stuck just deciding who we trust. The pickings are slim.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obviously, we're not economists here. Frankly, I'm not sure even that expertise offers a clear awareness of the scope of the current financial crisis, much less the judgment and insight to know how to fix it. Still, it puts you several steps ahead of me (and most of the bloggy heads now offering strong opinions). It does occur to me that any institution that, by going under, can bring us - apparently - to the brink of economic collapse is an institution that's entirely too big. But that could just be the ignorance talking.

Where I come down right now is wedged between 2 concerns: I don't like the idea of bailing out risky corporate greed for the failure that we should expect from risk and greed. But, at the same time, if that failure is going to cause a systemic collapse of our economy, the likes of which we haven't seen since the 30s, then the greatest harm will come to those who don't deserve it, and can least afford it. If that threat is real, then something must be done - something bold that addresses structural fault lines that hold us in peril.

And, there's the rub. The Bush Administration has proven itself untrustworthy and incompetent in identifying, measuring and addressing national threats. I can show you a foolish war to prove it. After the WMD fiasco, we collectively wondered: how will the world and the country respond the next time they tell us a serious threat requires immediate and dramatic action? And, here we are. We assumed the test would be an international issue, not an economic one, but here were are anyway. And instead of being able to unite around the common cause of national fiscal stability, we're left skeptical, worried of an overreaching power grab by Republicans, or a pandering cave of principles by Democrats.

There is a trust vacuum right now. And let there be no mistake about who put it there. Political gamesmanship and power-hungry government officials are not a new concern. But, the last 8 years have left us unable to believe in the judgment and good faith of our leaders even in a moment of national crisis. At a time like this, we are left with little choice but to hope that experts - dare I say elites - with the nation's well-being clearly in their sights will drive the discussion, and that national leaders will absorb the truth as best they can, and do what has to be done to avert catastrophe and retain our national principles of fairness and justice. And yet, we don't believe in them. I don't, anyway. That, if you ask me, is the legacy of George W. Bush. Corporate greed runs unchecked, the law is crooked and disinterested, and people are on their own.

[UPDATE: At TPM, Josh Marshall puts it a little more succinctly.]

Monday, September 22, 2008

What have you been reading, watching, listening to? Anything good? Or terrible?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shiver me timbers, matey! 'Tis the 19th day of the 9th month and all of ya bilge rats have let the scurvy go right to me land lubber brain. Talk Like a Pirate Day nearly set sail without notice. Aye! The sun still has eyes enough to drop anchor with me mates for pirate talk. Avast! Me best wishes for grog and rich booty aplenty yer next 2 days! Then, back to the decks with you!
I'm Confused
Can someone explain why, exactly, McCain's membership in the Keating 5 is somehow off limits this election cycle? I know, it's no sex-with-an-intern, but still a pretty flagrant violation of the public trust that seems fairly instructive into the man's character.

In addition to providing that window into McCain, wouldn't you say the S & L crisis of the 80s bears a fair enough resemblance to the current situation to be supremely relevant?

Over at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen takes a stab at bringing into focus, but I'm really not sure why it's considered a low blow for the Democrats to bring this up directly. He had to apologize for his inappropriate actions, even. It was no small scandal.

Is it just considered too long ago? Or the fact that he may have been the least culpable of the 5? Isn't that kind of a low bar in the presidential character test?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

But What About Europe?
This international gaffe-scandal McCain kicked off last night, by clearly not remembering that Zapatero is the President Prime Minister of Spain, is to me not the hugest deal, but still a surprise for somebody that's running on foreign policy experience. I would bet that even President Bush today knows who his counterpart in Spain is. I think too, some of the problem was in McCain not hearing the interview well - what with a translator talking over the mix. (When, flustered, she asks "But what about Europe?" And he says "What about me, what?" thinking she said "what about your... " he's not being dumb so much as just not hearing clearly what she's saying).

Still, there are some points worth making...

1. If Obama had made this mistake, not knowing who Zapatero is and trying to cover it up with generic bluster, the McCain campaign would have made a big deal about it, and the right-wing talk machine would make an entire day about his being an empty suit and not so smart without his teleprompter.

2. Can we get rid of the mythology that McCain is somehow a global affairs guru, at least? I mean, they are running the GOP ticket under the premise that somehow he will take the inexperienced Governor Palin "under his wing" and teach her about foreign affairs. What's she going to learn, that the Soviet Union is our biggest enemy out to get us and Spain is led by Francisco Franco? I really don't care that he doesn't know who Zapatero is - maybe I should care - but I do mind the perpetuation of this nonsense that he is some paragon of wise experience.

For some reason, this line of critique carries no weight in the media because it refutes the standard McCain narrative, rather than reinforcing it. I wish our politics cared as much about debunking myths when direct evidence comes along as it does about repeating repeating them over and over even supported only by the slimmest allegation.

3. Maybe the most important to me. Whether we want to call this a "senior moment" or poor communication or whatever, he's not a good listener. Beyond not knowing the leader of a NATO ally, his response to not knowing is a bit telling. His instinct was to cover up his lack of knowledge with tough talk, pretending to respond to a question that he was in fact trying to deflect out of ignorance. And his defensive attack posture so enveloped him that he was literally unable to hear the questioner's attempt to move the conversation forward with a clarification.

Haven't we had enough of that kind of leadership? The kind that doesn't know how (refuses) to listen? Bill Clinton was great at listening. Obama seems fair at it. But McCain demonstrates Bush-like abilities in this area, as does Palin, which is to say, none at all.

Would it really have been *that* embarrassing to have just stopped the interview and said..."Zapatero...?" and then after she reminds him, say "oh of course...I'm sorry...you had me focused on Latin America so I drew a blank at his name" or something like that? Seriously - is it that much better to just pretend and then deny, deny, deny? Maybe it is better, politically, but it is surely a character flaw. I have it too sometimes I admit - that defensiveness that comes from a fear of looking ignorant. But then I am not asking to be the leader of the free world.

[UPDATE: Gambler that he is, McCain doubles down. Now, he's willing to pretend that, no, he really has Spain on his watch list, and not sure he wants to meet with its leader, rather than admit to even not hearing the Spanish speaking interviewer correctly? Shall we adapt all of our foreign policy to fit with the coverups of McCain's cognitive lapses?]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mission Accomplished
Consider the Article 19 series of (controversial!) posts complete and, obviously, a success. Really, no need to thank me.
In a sign that John McCain's convention bounce has dissipated, Barack Obama has taken a 48 percent to 43 percent lead over his Republican rival among registered voters in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.
Obama leads McCain 54 percent to 38 percent among all women. He holds a two point edge among white women, a 21 percentage point swing in Obama's direction from one week ago.
Funny. Really funny.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Science of Persuasion: Convince Folks They Need You?
A fascinating, though I guess unsurprising, study via Kevin Drum. Folks on a city bus were asked to participate in a survey and told they would be paid $5, which they could take in either cash or lottery tickets. What they didn't know is that the real study was about which type of payment they would request.
The group made to feel poor was asked to provide its income on a scale that began at "less than $100,000" and went up from there, ensuring that most respondents would be in the lowest income tier. The group made to feel subjectively wealthier was asked to report income on a scale that began with "less than $10,000" and increased in $10,000 increments, leading most respondents to be in a middle tier. The group made to feel poor purchased twice as many lottery tickets (an average of 1.27) than those made to feel relatively wealthier (0.67 tickets, on average).
This is logical for sure. But a little bit scary as to our ability to be so easily and immediately manipulated on an impulse level. What do you notice in lottery advertisements? Are states already selling it by making people feel poor?
For the Record
Here is the chart of Hewlett Packard's stock price from the time current McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina became CEO (July 19, 1999) to the time the Board showed her the door (Feb. 9, 2005). This courtesy of the magic of Yahoo stock charts:

That's a decline of slightly more than 60%. In 5 1/2 years.

Far be it from me to speak up for the qualifications of McCain and Palin, but it annoys me the way many conservatives view government leadership as, apparently, something for mere egotists and entertainers, those who would not be prepared to *do the serious work of the CEO*. Maybe she's right, and they would need more business background to pull off running an actual company. But then again, considering the stock price chart above, maybe she's not the one to ask. No offense.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Why is the campaign talking about "equal pay for equal work", you ask? Isn't that brand of discrimination already covered by law? I thought so too. Well, it turns out, yes and no. It is indeed a violation of the Civil Rights Act to pay a female employee less just for being female, but the trick is finding out you're a victim and then proving it in court. Unfortunately, the laws governing that procedure have not been helpful, especially as interpreted 5-4 by the Roberts Court last year.

In the Ledbetter decision, Justice Alito determined that under federal statute a claim must be made within 180 days of the employer's initial payment decision. Of course, by the time you find out you've been discriminated against, the decision to pay you less is likely to have been made long ago. So, it was left to Congress to fix this problem. Just change the statute, right? In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg indeed laid the responsibility squarely on Capitol Hill:
This is not the first time the Court has ordered a cramped interpretation of Title VII, incompatible with the statute’s broad remedial purpose. Once again, the ball is in Congress’ court. As in 1991, the Legislature may act to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.
In fact, led by Speaker Pelosi, the House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 225-199, which would have done just that: undo the basis for the Court's harmful ruling. But the Senate - requiring 60 votes to overcome a filibuster - fell 4 votes short. Skipping that vote but announcing he was against the bill? John McCain. That is why a commitment to equal pay for equal work is an issue in the campaign. Obama has clearly decided to make it a new focus. He has an ad this week targeting that vote, which you can see below.

By the way, one of the fabulous speeches at the DNC that did not receive TV coverage was made by the plaintiff in that case, Lilly Ledbetter. She closed with this:
We can’t afford more of the same votes that deny women their equal rights. Barack Obama is on our side. He is fighting to fix this terrible ruling, and as president, he has promised to appoint justices who will enforce laws that protect everyday people like me. But this isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s a fairness issue. And fortunately, there are some Republicans—and a lot of Democrats—who are on our side.

My case is over. I will never receive the pay I deserve. But there will be a far richer reward if we secure fair pay. For our children and grandchildren, so that no one will ever again experience the discrimination that I did. Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental American principle. We need leaders in this country who will fight for it. With all of us working together, we can have the change we need and the opportunity we all deserve.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What have you been reading, watching, listening to? Is there any time for culture, what with election obsession?

Article 19 Film Recommendation
Over the weekend I saw the new Coen Brothers film, Burn After Reading. It was fun, clever, a bit shocking a time or 3. John Malkovich is hysterical, and Clooney reprises his funny wide-eyed Coen film persona (a la O Brother, Where Art Thou?). It's not as hilarious as Raising Arizona, or as pathos-driven as Fargo, but it has elements of each. A fun night at the movies with some memorable lines and images. As a send-up of Syriana-style spy complexity it really is well-done, from the opening credits.

2 riveting true-story previews stayed with me even after the film was over: Milk (Sean Penn as Harvey Milk) and Frost-Nixon, an account of the famous post-Watergate interviews.

You can watch the Milk trailer at this link. Below is the Frost/Nixon trailer:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cronyism and Vendetta: Palin Crosses the Personal with the Public
If you have reasonable friends otherwise compelled by Sarah Palin, nothing you could do this weekend might help more than pointing them to today's NYTimes profile of the Alaska Governor's management style, a Bush-Cheney blend of defensive incompetence, harassment of professionals, and brazen cronyism. There is too much to quote all the frightening bits here, but here's a taste (my emph):
[W]hen there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
Throughout her political career, [Palin] has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
There's much more, including more context for her inquiry into banning books at the public library, and her various attempts - sometimes successful, sometimes not - to have government officials fired for standing up to her methods.

Sarah Palin is the worst kind of office bully: the kind that has little grasp of, or interest in, the actual policies that should govern her official actions. She has Bush's penchant for surrounding herself with ill-equipped but loyal boobs that might not look too smart next to her, and Cheney's (Nixon's?) belief in the ultimate, blameless, transcendent power of the executive, who should not be questioned or inhibited in any way. Fabulous.

Who are these people that disapprove of Bush/Cheney but support McCain/Palin?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Gentle Reminder of the Stakes
With this in mind--Current Supreme Court Justice Age---
John Paul Stevens (88)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (75)
Antonin Scalia (72)
Anthony Kennedy (72)
Steven Breyer (70)
David Souter (68)
Clarence Thomas (60)
Samuel Alito (58)
John Roberts (53)
Consider the Republican candidates' answer to this question: Do you think Roe v. Wade should be overturned?

From John McCain's campaign website:
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand...
From Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson:
GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?

PALIN: I think it should and I think that states should be able to decide that issue... I am pro-life.
4 Justices - Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas - sit poised to overturn a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions. The 5 who would not are among the 6 oldest members of the court. Roe would simply not survive a McCain-Palin administration in its current state.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now, if we can just get Obama to say this himself - and continually - and not wait until a Friday afternoon. From an Obama spokesperson:
Today on "The View," John McCain defended his campaign's latest ad campaign, which has been debunked repeatedly as both false and sleazy. In running the sleaziest campaign since South Carolina in 2000 and standing by completely debunked lies on national television, it's clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election.
Serious Question
It gets at the heart of my frustration all week: really, what is the reason for this?
Gotta Hand It To Republicans
They know how to get away with being boldly racist. Either someone on Obama's side has to learn how to produce ads like this, or we're going to lose. The only thing sadder than the fact that McCain is running this kind of campaign is that it's working. His entire campaign strategy is becoming clear, and it's the oldest smear in the history of race relations: accusing a black man of not showing the proper respect to a white woman. See for yourself.
Obama has 2 new ads out. One tries to be hard-hitting, but I think it misses the mark. The other is a feel-good. I'm not even sure there's anything he can do at this point. McCain-Palin gets all the attention these days, and even when they make horrifying mistakes, are shown to be liars, or to have a horrendous record, the public doesn't seem to care. What they do care about escapes me, but it surely has nothing to do with the policies of the country and its leaders.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Victims Have to Pay For...What?
Governor Palin had a distinguished career as Mayor of Wasilla: she was the first to hire a lobbyist to beg Washington for taxpayer earmarks, and the first to leave Wasilla in massive debt despite her earmark success, thanks to a budget-busting sports complex that soaked up her tax increase, left the city's infrastructure neglected, and still isn't close to being paid for. But, my favorite distinction is this new revelation: she's the only mayor in the state to have required sexually assaulted women to pay for their own rape kits.

One VP nominee, Biden, wrote the watershed Violence Against Women act of 1994. The other has a different kind of message on that subject. It's this: if you've been raped, you are on your own.

This is not standard practice in Alaska. In fact, Wasilla on her watch was the only town in the state with this repugnant policy. The state legislature *had to step in and intervene on behalf of victimized women in Wasilla* because then-Mayor Palin refused to authorize this basic investigative expense. They passed a state law just to respond to this cruelty under her leadership.

Not only does she believe the law should require you to have the child if you become pregnant as a result of that rape, she obviously didn't think the city should be bothered to pay for trivial things like rape kits. If the taxpayer covered things like that, after all, how would they pay for Palin to stay in her own home?
The E-Bay Myth
That E-Bay story Sarah Palin tells - how she got rid of the Governer's luxury jet by putting it up for auction online - is pretty cute isn't it? Shows she's spunky, right? Doesn't want to waste the people's money cause she's just regular old small town people huh? Just a regular old mom getting rid of stuff the way moms do, right?

Except for it's not true. She didn't sell the plane on Ebay. And putting it up for sale on EBay - which didn't work - wasn't even her idea. That's just how the Governor's Office there always tries to get rid of stuff. It's not Sarah's Operating Procedure; it's Standard Operating Procedure.

She doesn't value the people's money. In fact she stays at lavish hotels on the taxpayer's dime when she's away from home, and charges the taxpayer a per diem night rate even *when she stays at home*. She thinks she is God's gift to Alaska, and that Alaska is God's gift to her.
White Women, Let's Talk About the Public Library
Obama's recent slip in the polls is being attributed to white women, compelled by McCain's selection of Sarah Palin and convinced she is harmless, maybe even mavericky. I don't know any white women, of course, but if you do, ask them why they hate the public library, and why they think it's ok to use elected office to pursue extremist religious views and bully public servants. Or just send them this:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but haven't we had an asshole for a Vice President already and hasn't it kind of sucked? This is what kind of Mayor she was, and what kind of leader she will be. She intimidates, and she pushes her church's concerns onto the public.

Wonder what kind of Supreme Court justices she would pick as President, after the Massive McCain Stroke (or whatever...)? Listen carefully to what Alaska Reverend Howard Bess says in the report above: Palin is not just accepted by the far religious right. *She's one of them*. Please think again, white women.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Recap
Obama accused McCain and Palin of being liars. But what they care about is that he used a pig metaphor to make his point. Being called a lying Republican is no longer an insult? Just a given?
On Offense
If McCain is going to push this "pig" crap and the "sex for kindergartners" charge, I think Obama should unleash an ad making clear Palin (and the McCain campaign that wrote her speech) admitedly borrowed material from an anti-semite and right-wing extremist who advocated the assassination of FDR.
What Do You Say
to a person like this? Sometimes I think people forget exactly what Presidents do.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Now I'm Worried
Once Republicans go this far overboard into self-parody, we usually lose soon after.
Not a Bad Trade
If it comes through. Palin may have won Ohio for McCain but lost Florida?
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed and worked for George W. Bush in 2004, is endorsing Obama today, NY1 first reported.

I asked Koch just now what prompted the move.

"The designation of Palin to be vice president," he said. "She's scary."
Maybe we'll find out just how valuable the Jewish vote is in Florida. If Obama wins only the Kerry states + Florida and Iowa (where he has a solid lead), he could afford to lose either Michigan or Wisconsin and still be President.

[UPDATE: While I'm thinking about it, and playing with an electoral map, could Obama win if he lost Florida *and* the rust belt states -Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania? Actually, yes. But he would have to sweep hoped-for states out west - Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana - and then take 2 out of three of Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, where polls have been close. (Could lose Montana if he wins VA and NC.) Problem is, I don't think NC or IN will come through, which means he probably really *must* win at least one of OH, MI, PA, FL]

Monday, September 08, 2008

What have you been listening to, reading, watching?

Thanks to Jenifer's rec in an earlier Media Monday, I saw the film "Tell No One" over the weekend and it was fabulous, a thriller-mystery that unfolds slowly almost all the way to the end, and one step ahead of us, not one step behind. If you haven't seen the trailer, here it is. Warning - tiny bit of nudity early on:
Anyone read the best-selling book it's taken from?
Not Again...
In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives – overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.
Here's another. Supposedly, Obama is mobilizing an unprecedented voter protection team of lawyers. Let's not wait until Election Day to give them something to do. How about we stop some of these problems on the front end? Get to work.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Night Thought
George Bush has been horrendous and embarrassing as a President. Lots of Americans shake their heads, blame him for his incompetence, and relish the thought of a new leader. But many of those who have rightly concluded as much are doing it for the wrong reasons, thinking it is merely W's character and lack of intellect that have left us in this hole. They refuse to deal with the reality that *George Bush's policies* are what have put the country on the brink of disaster, economically and in foreign policy. So, many folks accept McCain as a positive successor *because of his supposed character as a good guy with a compelling running mate.*

But if there was ever a time that *issues*, *policies*, and *plans* are required to evaluate a race, it is now. There is simply no excuse for being against the direction of the country under Bush but for McCain to lead us into the future. It is non-sensical. If there are any fools in your life who have such an untenable pair of thoughts in their heads, make them tell you which of Bush's policies McCain would undo. In any significant sense, there are none.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

You Tell 'em, Joe
Nicely done. More like this, please.

Friday, September 05, 2008

That McCain Video
In a comment below, I point to a hilarious development regarding that bizarre video screen behind McCain at the Convention last night. That weird mansion-looking thing turns out to have been Walter Reed Middle School. Apparently, no joke, somebody was instructed to get a picture of Walter Reed - you know, the *army hospital* - but they ended up with the school by accident(at least it wasn't a picture of Willis Reed, right?) and nobody noticed or cared or was paying attention to begin with.

Well it gets better. That introductory video that they showed before he came out on stage? Was anyone else wondering how they wound up with more black people in the campaign video than they did in the convention hall? That question has been answered as well... turns out those were - seriously - stock photos of black people. Wow. Just wow.

Beyond the cynicism involved in using African-Americans as props to begin with... this lazy, slipshod, half-assed, seat-of-their-pants, corner-cutting campaign - the one that's trying to convince us Sarah Palin was a thoughtful, deeply considered, thoroughly informed decision - wants to run the country?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Early Review
With time still left on the clock, let me be the first to suggest...

Not just a bad delivery, as we would expect. But a meandering, hard to follow bunch of mush?
Last night was probably the most wretching, repulsive, offensive, nasty bits of political speechifying I have ever seen. Depressing in its gleefully sarcastic ridicule, I will never forget just how.... evil the tactics of both Giuliani and Palin turned out to be. It wasn't just the fear-mongering, which we have come to expect from Rudy, it was the belittling disdain for Obama and everyone who supports him. It was Bushian high school peer pressure tactics on steroids, trying to paint anyone still making up their mind that choosing Obama would be not just the wrong choice but a laughable choice.

This is one of the primary reasons I could never be a Republican (the other being their awful policies): their politics is a repugnant, cynical bullying. Even when Dems are hitting hard, it's related to policy or relevant character questions. Last night was mostly just cruel sneer. Their campaign strategy is clear: shore up and energize the base (check), and initiate a renewed culture war, this time between Obama and small-town America. It's nothing to do with issues. It's teenage identity politics.

I'm afraid it's going to work, if only because it always seems to.

I can't link to her speech, or to Rudy's. If you missed them I just can't describe how dismissive and insulting they were. Maybe I usually skip the RNC, but like I said, I've never seen anything quite like it. It was not, in the least, civil. If you did see it, though, and want to know the Obama response, they've released a detailed rundown snapping back at, for starters, Palin's lies and deceptions.

One thing they left out is that not only did Palin ignore the economy (and foreign policy) in her speech, she also declined to even outline Senator McCain's plan for implementing the 25th Amendment, much less offer any details. The people are waiting, Senator! I assume we will hear his presidential succession plan this evening in his acceptance speech.

[UPDATE: I agree completely with Andrew Sullivan - who is becoming increasingly must-read, this election season anyway - here as to the low point of the night, during Giuliani's screed.]

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kabuki Theater
It's difficult to keep up with all of the Palin scandals. This is not a blog that I post dozens of times a day, but would have to if I wanted to try and keep you up to date with all of the legitimate questions surrounding what is shaping up to be an entirely duplicitous act as campaigner, a woefully unethical record as both small-town Mayor and small-state Governor, and some real hair-raising positions she has associated with that alone should give any voter pause.

I could just make a list for your perusal and maybe will later on tonight. But for now, as her prime-time speech approaches tonight, I will leave it at this: she will leave a mark tonight - no doubt a grand and impressive one - through a bizarre set of theatrics that will gain more respect than they deserve. She will not have written her speech tonight. This presentation will test exactly one thing: her ability to deliver prepared remarks that bolster McCain's candidacy. It was not even written *for* her much less by her.
Not anticipating that McCain would choose a woman as his running mate, the speech that was prepared in advance was "very masculine," according to campaign manager Rick Davis, and "we had to start from scratch."

Fundamentally it will bear absolutely no relevance to the pressing questions that still demand answers: what does she believe in? What are her qualifications and plans? How does she explain her record?

In looking forward to the gushing of news personalities that have underestimated her political skills, it's worth remembering that the bit of theater we will witness tonight is designed to keep the American people from finding out what the potential Vice President is all about, not to illuminate us. Apart from the occasional biographical detail and reference to being a "hockey mom", there will be nothing of her in there.

If the campaign wanted to answer the questions surrounding her, they would let her do an interview or a news conference. Tonight isn't about answering any questions; it's about suppressing them.

In closing I would like to add that, despite my calling attention to it yesterday, John McCain still has yet to announce his plan for implementing the 25th Amendment should he become President. Why are you hiding Senator?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What is John McCain's Plan?
Sad news came last week of the advance of dementia in former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Her daughter revealed that the decline in Ms. Thatcher's mental state first became clear when she was 75 years old. That, of course is the age John McCain would be during the 3rd year of his presidency if elected in November.

I declare it is time for his stonewalling to stop. Senator McCain has been running for President for 17 months and has yet to answer questions about his plan for implementing Sections 3 and 4 of the 25th Amendment regarding the replacement of the President due to disability. The American people have a right to know! What is your plan, Senator? We don't want to have another Alexander Haig moment.

How and when will you cede the presidency? Who will you entrust with the decision-making process for determining when this passing of the torch should take place? Will the advice of the Vice President alone convince you? Your wife? Will the cabinet vote on your competence to open every meeting? Will it take a 2/3 majority or just a simple plurality of them to convince you to step aside, or will you make them take more deliberate steps to remove you involuntarily? What, exactly is your plan? The American people do have a right to hear your plans for the country, correct?

Have you ever been evaluated using the Abbreviated Mental Test Score, the Mini-Mental State Examination, or the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument? If so, why have you hidden this fact? If not, why not? Will you commit to submitting to such examinations regularly (once a month?) during your presidency, and making the results public to re-assure the American people?

How long will you make us wait without announcing a comprehensive 25th Amendment plan?
Palin - Book Banner?
As Wasilla Mayor, she apparently thought it was her job to rid the public library of any book offensive to her personal faith, threatening to fire the librarian for resisting...

I've got the quote in an update over at the other place.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Obama After Gustav
I got a text message from Obama today inviting me to donate to the Red Cross. There was a simple process for giving $5---text GIVE to 24357. I gave it a try and it's real easy - takes about 30 seconds. Send the message, then you will get a confirmation reply and have to respond to that with YES, and then $5 for the Red Cross will be added to your phone bill. I thought it was a beautifully easy way for the campaign to show leadership in a non-intrusive way that rallies the support of millions for a good cause. Give it a try.

This storm has brought out the best in Obama in other ways as well. You should read Jay Newton-Small's account (she blogs for Time Magazine) of Barack's speech tonight in Wisconsin. Here's how she introduced quotes from the Senator's address:
As a journalist who has covered Obama for 19 months now, I have heard him deliver more speeches than I can count. I know when he’s tired he goes long – like 90 minutes long – rambling through oft-repeated points and stories. I’ve seen him address crowds of 80,000 and rooms of less than 100. And after a while you become immune to his prose and tune in only to new wrinkles.

Obama spent today giving curtailed speeches in respect to Hurricane Gustav. But tonight, in front of a Milwaukee audience of 14,000, invoking both the Bible and Thoreau, he was as good as I’ve ever heard him. He spoke for just over 14 minutes but he left the audience roaring.
Go and read what he said, if you read nothing else. And forward it to others. Sadly, with coverage of teenage pregnancy all day, it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. After Thursday, I don't need much reminder why I have been excited about his candidacy, but this would do it, if I did.
Foreign Policy Experience
There is no shortage of quality video relating to Governor Palin's curious selection. You could watch McCain's incessant ass-staring and wedding-ring fiddling during her speech on the campaign trail, or there's Palin suggesting in a CNBC interview that she needs to find out what the VP really does, and her goal in the job would be to put Alaska first(!). I commend them both to you, but thought I'd post tonight's Campbell Brown interview (via TPM) with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds on CNN. Listen to him squirm as she searches for any real evidence of foreign policy experience on Palin's part. Luckily, she doesn't let him off the hook.
Labor Day Deep Thought
I fervently agree with Obama that the family issue is off limits and irrelevant. But, from the annals of IOKIYAR (It's ok if you are Republican), I have to wonder what the response would be if we just learned Obama had a teenage daughter who was pregnant.

I suspect we'd be hearing lots about role models and he'd lose the election over it.