Friday, October 31, 2008

American Tune


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McCain economic advisor: McCain is an idiot

As Andrew Leonard writes, Martin Fieldstein went way off message.

Here is a definitive reason why John McCain is the wrong choice for President, right now, provided by one of McCain's own economic advisors, Martin Feldstein.

Martin Feldstein has impeccable conservative credentials. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Ronald Reagan. He is as opposed to raising taxes as any supply-sider could be. But on Wednesday, he wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post advocating a massive economic stimulus plan. There's no time to wait, he wrote. Whoever wins the election will still be a current senator who can immediately propose legislation.

This line, in particular, jumped out:

The president-elect should focus on developing a mechanism for identifying and funding spending initiatives that can occur quickly and that would otherwise not be done.

Now let's recall McCain's answer to the very first question at the first debate: How would you deal with the financial crisis?

How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs?

His answer was no accident. He's spent his entire career in the Senate lambasting government spending. And just this morning McCain told Larry Kudlow on CNBC that one of the ways he would restore health to the stock market would be to "cut spending."

John S. McCain must not be President of the United States. His own advisor says so.

UPDATED to correct spelling. Ugh.


"Idiot Wind"

Credit where credit...the Post editorial.

It's fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position. To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable -- especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults. To further argue that the Times, which obtained the tape from a source in exchange for a promise not to publicly release it, is trying to hide something is simply ludicrous, as Mr. McCain surely knows.

Which reminds us: We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.



Deep thought: Conservatives fear a wave of liberal activism should Obama win while Progressives fear he's an overly centrist bipartisan.


The NYT/CBS poll

Obama's lead among more than 1,000 likely voters is at 51 to 40, and it's being framed as resting mostly on growing unease with Sarah Palin. That makes for a good headline and will surely increase tensions within the McSarah campaign, but the negatives go deeper than that for McCain.

Oh, goodie. Bullet points:

  • When you add third party candidates, Obama's lead widens.
  • Would raise taxes on people like yourself, 50% thought Obama would and 46% thought McCain would.
  • But when asked who would more likely raise taxes on big business, Obama leads 80 to 22 (I'm making the assumption that respondents think that's a good thing or are neutral).
  • 54% thought Obama's policies would improve the economy, versus only 32% for McCain.
  • 66% thought Obama's policies would lead to more people having healthcare, versus a mere 23% for McCain.
  • 64% thought Obama would bring "real change" to Washington, versus 39% for the Mavericky ones.
Those are pretty impressive numbers. Better still, the poll showed that only 4% remain undecided.


The neo Nazi?

Rashid Khalidi's colleagues at Columbia U are a little bewildered by the character assassination being done on him by the McCain campaign.

Rashid Khalidi had been bracing for the storm for months, friends said.

Since an April news report detailing his relationship with Senator Barack Obama, Mr. Khalidi, a Middle East scholar and passionate defender of Palestinian rights, had waited to see himself caricatured by Republicans as part of a rogues’ gallery of Obama associates, which has come to include the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and William C. Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground.

He was surprised, the friends said, that so little criticism came — until this last frenzied week before the election, when Senator John McCain cited the April article in The Los Angeles Times about a dinner Mr. Obama attended in Mr. Khalidi’s honor in 2003, and questioned Mr. Obama’s commitment to Israel.

In recent days, Republican partisans have accused Mr. Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University since 2003, of everything from anti-Semitism to baby-sitting for Mr. Obama’s children.

For Columbia, the firestorm is the latest episode in a string of messy, public controversies regarding Middle East politics. In 2004, pro-Palestinian professors were accused of intimidating Jewish students. Mr. Khalidi was not one of those teachers, but he was barred the next year from lecturing New York City public school teachers for having used the words “racist” and “apartheid” in discussions of Israel.

“It just seems really ironic to me that Rashid would be singled out as a figure in the trumped-up controversy,” Alan Brinkley, Columbia’s provost and a friend of Mr. Khalidi’s since 1985, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “In a field that is often politicized, he is respected by people on the right as well as the left.”

Ariel Beery, a former Columbia student leader who was involved in a pro-Israel group’s film about the 2004 controversy, said Mr. Khalidi was different from those accused of intimidation.

“In terms of his role as a professor, he was excellent,” Mr. Beery said Thursday in a telephone interview from Israel, where he lives. “He was provoking, he always allowed for different opinions, he had an open zone where people could voice their disagreement.”

Mr. Beery did criticize Mr. Khalidi’s leadership of the Middle East Institute at Columbia, saying it was “highly politicized” and “not promoting a diverse view of the Middle East.”

Mr. Khalidi, who is on sabbatical, declined to comment.

Remarking on this latest smear by McCain, John Judis declares this a dirtier campaign than Bush '88 (aka Willie Horton). You know, the one Lee Atwater would beg forgiveness for on his death bead.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The transition

Froomkin writes that one thing the Bush administration does seem to be approaching one thing with a mix of competence and integrity: the transition.

Demetri Sevastopulo writes in the Financial Times: "While Barack Obama and John McCain have been trading blows over who would be the best commander-in-chief, the White House has been working with both campaigns to ensure that the winner of Tuesday's election will be prepared for the first change in presidential power since the 2001 terror attacks on the US. . . .

"Experts on presidential transitions and participants in the process say the Bush administration effort has been unprecedented in modern American history.

"'I don't recall any other transition as detailed or as conscientious as this,' said one outside transition adviser.

"'Partly it is a damage limitation thing, but partly it is a noble thing. . . . They see it as part of their obligation to facilitate as smooth a transfer as possible.'"


"The President has directed his Cabinet and staff to be forward-leaning in all of their efforts to ensure a smooth and effective transition. It has never been more critical that a transition from one Administration to the next be as seamless as possible. This Administration has gone to great lengths to prepare the Federal government for the transition to a new Administration and to help the major-party candidates prepare for a Presidential transition. For example:

"* Federal agencies and White House offices are preparing briefings for the President-elect's team on significant pending policy issues as well as the structure of those agencies and offices.

"* Career executives within each agency who may assume added responsibilities before the arrival of new political appointees have been identified, briefed, and included in a wide range of preparatory activities. . . .[sic]

But about that damage limitation thing...

Nevertheless, a recent Congressional Research Service report outlines some of the problems that may be ahead: "Interparty transitions in particular might be contentious. Using the various powers available, a sitting President might use the transition period to attempt to secure his legacy or effect policy changes. Some observers have suggested that, if the incumbent has lost the election, he might try to enact policies in the waning months of his presidency that would 'tie his successor's hands.' . . .

"The disposition of government records (including presidential records and vice presidential records) and the practice of 'burrowing in' (which involves the conversion of political appointees to career status in the civil service) are two activities associated largely with the outgoing President's Administration." (I wrote about "burrowing in" for in June.)

The issue of record-keeping is particularly problematic. Warns the CRS report: "Changes of presidential administrations prompt concerns that some government records might be destroyed or removed during the transition. Responsibility for the life cycle management of government records rests with the Archivist of the United States, who is the head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). To address concerns about, and prevent the possible loss of, records, NARA issued a bulletin in each of the past five presidential election years, as well as in 2008, reminding agency heads of the regulations regarding proper records management. As stated in the first line of the 2008 bulletin. . . its purpose 'is to remind heads of Federal agencies that official records must remain in the custody of the agency.' . . .

"Of particular concern for the 2008 transition are electronic records."

As for the candidates themselves, I expect you're not surprised to learn that Obama's transition team has...I think the technical phrase is, has it's shit together. McCain, not so much.

Obama's transition planning is by all accounts far more advanced than McCain's.

Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times: "Washington's best-kept secret is that Barack Obama has the largest and most disciplined presidential transition team anyone can recall. Headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff in Bill Clinton's White House, it started work well before the financial meltdown hit in September but has been swamped by its implications ever since. . . .

"'President-elect Obama could be faced with a situation on New Year's Eve where US troops are not permitted to leave their barracks because there is no legal basis for their presence in Iraq,' says Bill Galston, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, who was involved in Mr Clinton's transition effort. 'To game out all these scenarios -- the financial crisis, Iraq, the fiscal stimulus, etc -- will require an unprecedented degree of planning for a transition effort.'"

Charles Babbington writes for the Associated Press: "In a 10th-floor office a few blocks from the White House is a self-described government in waiting, ready to push detailed proposals for the economy, Iraq and scores of other issues if Barack Obama becomes president.

McCain's transition team is more focused on Joe the Plumber.


I'm endorsing Barak H. Obama for President of the United States

Actually, I did that back in February...

I can't recall a primary in which it was more difficult to choose the candidate to support. Both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are enormously appealing and both have proved they are smart campaigners who, in their runs for Senate, can win in the Red as well as the Blue counties of their states.

But it's time to choose and while it's tempting to sit atop the Olympian Heights equivalent of the blogosphere and merely comment on the race and defend Democratic candidates against the stupidity of Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews, I'm not Digby. What I have to say doesn't amount to a hill 'o beans and my readership is so small elite that it doesn't really make any sense for me to sit it out. After all, I'm a member of the Democratic Party, I'm voting in the primary on Tuesday, I might as well as try to type out my reasoning as I try to figure it out myself.

First, though, if you'd like to read intelligent analysis, go here.

You could tell watching the other night's debate that this is an exciting race. The atmosphere at the debate was electric...imagine that. Both candidates were engaging and likable, and the debate was substantive, often despite the ministrations of Wolf Blitzer. Going in to it, I though Clinton would be vulnerable against an avuncular McCain, but watching her, I realized she can beat the old man. And I believe her when she claims that she's ready on day one to start getting things done.

But I like Tom Brady Barack Obama. And I'm not alone. It's unfair, but Hillary Clinton's "unfavorables" are so high, she's got a huge hill to climb. McCain's unfavorables are among hard core Republicans. Hillary's are among those same people. I think Obama's recent line that he unites the Democrats, Hillary unites the Republicans is convincing. And for the undecided, I don't think she inspires them to decide any more-- and probably less -- than John McCain (and, yeah, despite the hail Mary, I think Bush's last BFF is gonna be all but the Republican nominee coming this Wednesday).

Electability is something I don't -- can't -- predict. I evaluate candidates based on whom I want to win, not whom I think will win. But...Hillary Clinton started this thing with enormous advantages -- experienced campaign staffers, name recognition, support of the party establishment, tons of money -- and yet the longer the race has gone on, the more Obama has closed the distance.

And then there's the Clinton thing. I voted for Bill Clinton. Hell, eight years ago I would have voted for a third term. But it could be tough love at times. No, Hillary isn't Bill, but they are soul mates, of that I'm sure. And Bill's behavior on the trail recently gave us frequent reminders of Sister Souljah, flying back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a self-lobotomized man, don't ask don't tell -- moments when even an ardent supporter had to hold his nose and say, well, anything to get a Democrat elected. Obama's gonna do and say things that annoy me -- he's not perfect -- but I don't expect as much cringing.

Judgment matters. There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two on most issues. But on the most important issue of the last decade -- Tonkin Gulf II -- Obama simply exhibited good judgment. Clinton simply did not. If that were the only instance it would be one thing -- I've supported and sympathized with her on this as Bush put Congress in the untenable position of either supporting his messianic insanity or cutting the commander-in-chief off at the knees. But it wasn't the only thing. She's since shown she supports anything that expands Executive authority and her vote for the Lieberman-Kyle amendment was simply egregious, given its context. I've often felt that she's had an eye more on the authority she would have as president than on restraining the current president's.

Furthermore, I'm incredibly impressed with the people Obama has surrounded himself with in terms of foreign policy, particularly Samantha Power.

But most of all, it does feel like it is a time of the over-used word, "change." Obama represents generational change, as Matt Bai will write in tomorrow's NYT Magazine. His youth, his appeal to youth gives the impression that we're witnessing a movement. Hillary Clinton's pragmatism certainly has much to argue for it, given just how broken our country is, but it's going to take more than a technocrat. If she wins on Tuesday, I'll support her whole-heartedly, proud that a smart, confident woman is our nominee. But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the moment and see if this is a wave we can ride right over the floating debris of the culture wars and the Bush and Rove Republican party.

Still surfing that wave. Although I ended the post with a wildly wrong prediction for the Super Bowl, like Ta-Nehisi, I think we got this one. What's convinced me is a 30-minute commercial for Obama that ran last night on every network except Nick at Night, a political masterpiece in which the words "John McCain" were never mentioned. But because I'm more superstitious than T-N, tomorrow morning I'm calling the local Obama office to ask if there's anything I can do to help.


Assuming votes are valid in CO

This is a big change and a potentially huge win for Obama.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And then they played baseball

Without the horrendous Fox Sports pre-game show. Are the stars aligned for the man, or what?

And the Phillies score! Does that help Obama's chances in PA and hurt him in FL? Oh, the humanity.

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Neo-nazi connections

I don't want to impugn McCain's ability to remember stuff, but it is weird the way he goes after Obama for associations with people with whom McCain had the stronger and more recent relationship.


Economic casualty: alternative energy

Spurred on my Bjork...yes, Bjork...Andrew Leonard notes the triple whammy the credit crunch/global recession will lay on the environment.

Call it the environmental triple whammy -- low oil prices reduce demand for alternative energy, the credit crunch cuts off financing for alternative energy, and an economic downturn may encourage less attention to environmental concerns.

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Blackness, or, "Cancel your own goddamned subscription"

I was thinking about W.F. Buckley Sr.'s words the other day as I read Alexander Cockburn's latest Nation column. I was thinking about addressing it, but attacking McSarah and worshiping at the symbolic feet of Obama takes up all my energy. And, besides, Bérubé has done all the heavy lifting.

The third has to do with why a left-of-Obama person might be left of Obama. If you’re left-of-Obama because you believe that the next U.S. President should close all U.S. military bases around the world, cut off all aid to Israel, and nationalize the means of production, you’re probably out of luck. (Aside: this is why it’s so important that people like Cockburn are passing over or minimizing Obama’s opposition to war in Iraq, and claiming instead that “Abroad, Obama stands for imperial renaissance.” [Yes, that’s a real quote.] Remember, back in 2004 people like Cockburn argued that (a) Iraq was the most important issue on the table, (b) Democrats had nominated someone who voted for the war, and therefore (c) Democrats offered no credible alternative to Republicans on the most important issue of the day. Now they argue that even Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war and commitment to a timetable for withdrawal is not enough to demonstrate that Democrats offer a credible alternative to Republicans. The point, of course, is that Democrats will never, ever nominate someone good enough for a certain kind of leftist, because a certain kind of leftist is dedicated above all to differentiating him (or her!)self from Democrats. Democrats who voted for the war, Democrats who voted against it—not a dime’s worth of difference between ‘em.) But if you’re left-of-Obama because you support universal health care and oppose warrantless wiretapping, you might just have some chance of persuading the democratic wing of the Democratic Party that you’re part of a sizeable constituency to which Democratic elected officials need to answer.

Is that too little to ask? Isn’t it more radical and revolutionary to say be reasonable, demand the impossible? Well, sure. But it all depends on whether you’re left of Obama because you want to see significant structural and political change in the Democratic Party, or whether you’re left of Obama because you want to see the Democratic Party crushed so that the People’s Anarcho-Syndicalist Non-Party can take its rightful place in American political life—a place it has been denied only because of the existence of those powerful corporate Democrats and their allies in the corporate media, who have prevented hundreds of millions of people from recognizing their true interests.

Vote, ok?

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Information graphics

Has anyone else noticed the Yahoo electoral college bar chart? The projected numbers show Obama getting 355 electoral college votes to McCain's 156. And yet, the bar chart itself clearly implies that McCain has nearly two-thirds as many votes as Obama. Not sure I get that.


Stacking the courts

Of course wingnuts published by the respected opinion pages of are certain that an Obama presidency would result in a Constitutional right to welfare and forced abortion of gay marriages. The fact of the matter is -- as the Times brings us a reminder today -- that in addition to the wide swath of destruction left by the Bush administration, a possible Obama administration will likely be bulloxed by federal circuit courts. Bush has appointed one-third of all federal judges, for a total of 62% of federal judges appointed by Republican presidents.

WASHINGTON — After a group of doctors challenged a South Dakota law forcing them to inform women that abortions “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being” — using exactly that language — President Bush’s appointees to the federal appeals courts took control.

A federal trial judge, stating that whether a fetus is human life is a matter of debate, had blocked the state from enforcing the 2005 law as a likely violation of doctors’ First Amendment rights. And an appeals court panel had upheld the injunction.

But this past June, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 7 to 4 to overrule those decisions and allow the statute to take immediate effect. The majority argued that it is objectively true that human life begins at conception, and that the state can force doctors to say so.

Mr. Bush had appointed six of the seven judges in the conservative majority. His administration has transformed the nation’s federal appeals courts, advancing a conservative legal revolution that began nearly three decades ago under President Ronald Reagan.

On Oct. 6, Mr. Bush pointed with pride to his record at a conference sponsored by the Cincinnati chapter of the Federalist Society, the elite network for the conservative legal movement. He noted that he had appointed more than a third of the federal judiciary expected to be serving when he leaves office, a lifetime-tenured force that will influence society for decades and that represents one of his most enduring accomplishments. While a two-term president typically leaves his stamp on the appeals courts — Bill Clinton appointed 65 judges, Mr. Bush 61 — Mr. Bush’s judges were among the youngest ever nominated and are poised to have an unusually strong impact.
We can only hope that their incoherent views of the Constitution will lead to plenty of dissension within their ranks.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little People

Listening to NPR's coverage of Palin's stump speech today, with all her talk of "Joe the barber, and Nancy the nurse, and Cindy the citizen, and [she was in Hershey, PA] soandso the chocolate maker...," I realized that this is who she thinks is her constituency.


"In his eyes"

The president, in his lounge act, sings homage to his friend, John.

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Paradise regained

Stanley Fish takes the measure of the 2008 presidential campaign and sees a literary model: Milton's Paradise Regained.

Weeks later, the pattern continues, but in an even more intense form. The McCain campaign huffs and puffs and jumps from charge to charge: Obama consorts with terrorists; he’s a socialist; he’s a communist; he is un-American; he’s not one of us; he’s a celebrity; he’s going to take your money and give it to people who never did a day’s work; he’s going to sell out Israel; he’ll cozy up to foreign dictators; he’s measuring the drapes.

In response, Obama explains his tax policy for the umpteenth time, points out that capitalists like Warren Buffet support him, details his relationship with Bill Ayers, lists those he consults with, observes that Senator McCain, by his own boast, voted with President George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, and calls for change.

What he (or his campaign) doesn’t do is bring up the Keating Five, or make veiled references to McCain’s treatment of his first wife, or make fun of Sarah Palin (she doesn’t need any help), or disparage his opponent’s experience, or hint at the disabilities of age. He just stands there looking languid (George Will called him the Fred Astaire of politics), always smiling and never raising his voice.

Meanwhile, McCain’s surrogates get red in the face on TV when they try to explain away the latest jaw-dropping thing Sarah Palin has said, or proclaim that anything can happen in seven days, or respond to ever more discouraging poll numbers by saying (how’s this for a weak cliché) that the only poll that counts is the poll on election day. (I know things are bad when my wife, a staunch Democrat, feels sorry for them.)

What’s going on here? I find an answer in a most unlikely place, John Milton’s “Paradise Regained,” a four-book poem in which a very busy and agitated Satan dances around a preternaturally still Jesus until, driven half-crazy by the response he’s not getting, the arch-rebel (i.e., maverick) loses it, crying in exasperation, “What dost thou in this world?”

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that McCain is the devil or that Obama is the Messiah (although some of his supporters think of him that way), just that the rhetorical strategies the two literary figures employ match up with the strategies employed by the two candidates. What Satan wants to do is draw Jesus out, provoke him to an unwisely exasperated response, get him to claim too much for his own powers. What Jesus does is reply with an equanimity conveyed by the adjectives and adverbs that preface his words: “unaltered,” “temperately,” “patiently,” “calmly,” “unmoved,” “sagely,” “in brief.”

In response, Satan gets ever more desperate; he conjures up rain and wind storms (in the midst of which Jesus sits “unappalled in calm”); he tempts him with the riches of poetry and philosophy (which Jesus is careful neither to reject nor deify); and finally, having run out of schemes and scares and “swollen with rage,” he resorts to physical violence (McCain has not gone so far, although some of his supporters clearly want to), picking Jesus up bodily and depositing him on the spire of the temple in the hope that he will either fall to his death or turn into Superman and undermine the entire point of his 40-day trial in the wilderness. He doesn’t do either. He does nothing, and Satan, “smitten with amazement” — even this hasn’t worked — “fell.”

Toward the end, the poem describes the mighty contest in a metaphor that captures its odd and negative dynamic. Jesus is “a solid rock” continually assaulted by “surging waves”; and even though the repeated assaults result only in the waves being “all to shivers dashed,” they keep on coming until they exhaust themselves “in froth or bubbles.” The power Jesus generates is the power of not moving from the still center of his being and refusing to step into an arena of action defined by his opponent. So it is with Obama, who barely exerts himself and absorbs attack after attack, each of which, rather than wounding him, leaves him stronger. It’s rope-a-dope on a grand scale.
Even if Barack Obama is elected seven days from now, it remains to be seen if his administration will, in fact, be anything like paradise. Pretty unlikely, in fact.

And I don't know if you can create a model of Obama's campaign. He is, after all, a super-intelligent, charismatic, extremely talented politician with an engaging life narrative. He most certainly also benefited from facing two opponents who assumed they'd earned the job. But it has been fascinating to watch his calm, relentless discipline over the past 21 months. He's not only rebuffed, but actually seemed to absorb the energy thrown at him, first by Sen. Clinton and then by McCain, his sneering running mate, and the collection of proxies who emerge from the klown kar each day to attack him as...well...everything foreign and evil and scary and 60s.

Meanwhile, he's continued to drive home his message of improved access to health care, tax cuts for 95% of Americans, and a planned withdrawal from Iraq and the $10 billion we spend there monthly.

He's been criticized for style over substance and his lofty rhetoric. And while that certainly got him his early attention and surely inspired many of his early supporters, that hasn't gotten him where he's at today. He chose to speak to America as if voters (and the not yet registered) are adults. And maybe it's the times or maybe he's just better at it than most, but it's looking right now like the majority of voters have come to appreciate that.

It's also been cool to watch his organization build, over the same 21 months, a monstrous ground game. Now that is something we can model in the future. Paradise regained, indeed.

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Rejection of their core principles

Ambinder cautions -- too late -- the McSarah campaign from basing their attacks on Obama on his socialist agenda.

Conservatives find it absurd that Americans are about to elect the most liberal president of the modern era and aren't terribly upset by it; but in capitalizing on this particular argument of Obama's, the Republicans are rearguing whether some form of economic redistributions from white people to black people was necessary -- even though Obama never really made the point. Obama has been talking about the larger GOP governing philosophy for a while now, but until recently, the race hasn't seemed like as much of a referendum on Republicanism; it's been more of a referendum on the Bush years.

What changed?

The GOP went all in on an ideological war.

The early '30s ended a couple of generations of GOP political dominance that followed the Civil War. They wouldn't regain dominance until the prosperity of the late 60s. This could be a similar moment.

Conservative Republicans have never understood that the New Deal was in large part an effort on the Roosevelt administration's part to keep Americans from embracing socialism. So I wonder, if voters reject McSarah's attacks on Obama for wanting to "redistribute wealth," are the voters simply smart enough to say, "Well, yes, that's what income taxes are?" Or are they saying, "Hell, yes, let's really redistrbitute some wealth here?"

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The state of public intellectualism in Europe?

Is man a predator of man? Does the fear of this predator slumber within us? An anxiety, formerly concealed by a poorly applied varnish of civilization, about a state of nature that is re-emerging? Consider the princes of finance, once so polite, so complicit, so civilized, who have been facing each other at the edge of the abyss, waiting to see who will be the next to fall; consider that dance of wolves, the ferocious ballet of battered predators sniffing at each other, detecting the scent of death on their neighbors, coveting their remains; consider the tango of white-hot hate that has been discreetly called the "drying up of interbank credit."

Um, shut up.


Is this a joke?

Wow. Good for Joe. His look at the end of the interview is priceless.

And who does this anchor-thing work for?

Ah, I see.



Monday, October 27, 2008

The three Ashleys

Bush in '04 and McCain and Obama in '08. All had their Ashleys.


"He'll defend the hunter's way of life"

Junior Johnson endorses Barack Obama in radio ads running in North Carolina.

For an elitist who doesn't appeal to "real" America, that Obama fellow sure knows the people there.

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The Hulk

I just read it in the Tubes...guilty on all counts.


"I kid you not!"

"It's like they take pride in being ignorant."

-- Barack Obama

They keep proving his point.

Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.
I have it on good authority that the Genome-Technology community hasn't been this excited since the discovery of something they call Zellvergnügen®.

Governor Sarah Palin has never made this community more excited than with her recent pejorative comments about fruit fly research, which, she says, has "little or nothing to do with the public good." (See it on YouTube here.)

Over at Think Progress, bloggers note that this kind of research has in fact led to advances in our understanding of autism. Meantime, Mike the Mad Biologist dug into the particular project Palin criticized, finding that it was for studying a type of fruit fly that was threatening olive groves needed to feed people.

Michael White at Adaptive Complexity takes the opportunity to write a post extolling the virtues of model org research. "One of the things budding geneticists, biochemists and cell biologists learn very quickly when they enter grad school is that studying humans is usually not the best way to successfully tackle the most interesting research questions," he writes.

There's been a lot of speculation about the composition of an Obama administration, but very little of what McCain's might look like. With this, we get a glimpse of who may be tapped for the FDA.

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See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die



If you're reading this Web Log (aka, "blog"), then you probably don't need to be told this. Nevertheless...


And if you're in a state with early voting, do it as soon as you can.



Via Ta-Nehisi.


Blue Monday, Miles Davis edition

"Dominion," or, a wolf in sheep's clothing

In an otherwise interesting piece on the Humane Society's strategy behind California's Prop 2, we run across this paragraph:

Fearing isn’t appearing in any TV ads, and she doesn’t eat pork chops; she’s a vegan. But she says that, for her, one of the most significant of the long list of Proposition 2 endorsers — which includes the Center for Food Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, United Farm Workers, the California Veterinary Medical Association, Jane Goodall, Robert Redford, Wolfgang Puck, among hundreds of others — is Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, who also wrote Sarah Palin’s convention speech. Scully is the author of the book “Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy.” For Fearing, Scully helped her put inchoate thoughts about being an animal activist into words. Scully doesn’t argue for animal rights but for humans to show mercy. “One doesn’t have to pull them from their place and demand perfect equality to care for them,” he writes of animals in one of Fearing’s favorite passages in his book, “to refrain wherever possible from harming them, as only man the rational and moral creature can do.”
Yeah, my emphasis. Did Scully, a Christianist, know he was writing a speech for someone who advocates aerial hunting of wolves?

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Um, it's actually worse than you think

Unfortunately, the Globe's website doesn't show the charts/graphs themselves, with are truly frightening. Nevertheless, here are some indexes you might consider in addition to the Dow.

My favorite? The Baltic Dry Index.

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Terrorist fist bumps

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nostalgia for "sensible conservatism"

Forget about it.

Even Brooksie, in today's column, referred to a "Reagan of the imagination."


Coordinated ugliness

Historians will look back on this election and conclude that was the most racially divisive in a generation. Not so much about Obama's negritude, though there's plenty of that, but rather the pervasive anti-Muslim sentiment that would have made us all blush on 9-12-01. "Obsession" is an apt name.

A New York-based organization has sent copies of a movie about Islamist extremism to more than 28 million houses and religious institutions in presidential election battleground states over the past several weeks.

The 60-minute documentary-style production, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," includes images of terrorist attacks from around the world, historic footage of Nazi rallies and modern-day scenes of Muslim children reciting poetry that celebrates suicide bombings. The costs of producing and distributing the film, through mass mailings and newspaper inserts -- an effort that one Muslim advocacy group estimates at $50 million -- were paid by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group that says it is seeking "to educate Americans about issues of national security to influence voters."

Members of several Muslim groups have condemned the film, saying that it is inflammatory and that it could incite violence against them.

"It's a mind-boggling massive campaign. When you send material like this almost exclusively to presidential swing states that sends a message that you are trying to influence the election," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It's inappropriate as a nonprofit for the Clarion Fund to do."

Of course, the McCain campaign "has not coordinated with Clarion," but finds nothing in the film with which to disagree.

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Thank God, indeed

Words fail...

STAMFORD - U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman Friday continued to stand by Republican John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate.

But when asked by The Advocate if Palin is ready to be president from day one, Lieberman said "thank God she's not going to have to be president from day one. McCain's going to be alive and well."


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pipeline to nowhere

Is there one thing Palin's done in Alaska that isn't tainted by corruption, cronyism, and a disregard for ethical perceptions?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin's signature accomplishment — a contract to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48 — emerged from a flawed bidding process that narrowed the field to a company with ties to her administration, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Beginning at the Republican National Convention in August, the McCain-Palin ticket has touted the pipeline as an example of how it would help America achieve energy independence.

"We're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever, to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets," Palin said during the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

Despite Palin's boast of a smart and fair bidding process, the AP found that her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited the winner, TransCanada Corp.

And contrary to the ballyhoo, there's no guarantee the pipeline will ever be built; at a minimum, any project is years away, as TransCanada must first overcome major financial and regulatory hurdles.

But she's the foremost expert on energy in America today.


Spiritual warfare

And Palin wants to "go more rogue" about Jeremiah Wright?

Ms. Palin’s faith has come under scrutiny after two videos taken in her former church surfaced on YouTube and became immediate sensations. The first showed a visiting preacher from Kenya praying fervently over Ms. Palin in a gravelly voice and asking God to favor her campaign for governor and protect her from “every form of witchcraft.”

The second showed Ms. Palin at an event in June praising the African preacher’s prayer as “awesome” and “very, very powerful.” She is also seen nodding as her former pastor from Wasilla prays over her and declares that Alaska is “one of the refuge states in the Last Days,” a piece of prophecy popular in some prayer networks that predicts that as the “end times” approach, people will flock to Alaska for its abundant open space and natural resources.

Ms. Palin declined an interview, and the McCain campaign did not respond to specific questions about her faith. Thus, it is difficult to say with certainty what she believes.

What is known, however, is that Ms. Palin has had long associations with religious leaders who practice a particularly assertive and urgent brand of Pentecostalism known as “spiritual warfare.”

Its adherents believe that demonic forces can colonize specific geographic areas and individuals, and that “spiritual warriors” must “battle” them to assert God’s control, using prayer and evangelism. The movement’s fixation on demons, its aggressiveness and its leaders’ claims to exalted spiritual authority have troubled even some Pentecostal Christians.


Bank merger welfare?

So the big bank bailout that was supposed to inject capital into the lending system...not so much.

Given the way, that is, that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had decided to use the first installment of the $700 billion bailout money to recapitalize banks instead of buying up their toxic securities, which he had then sold to Congress and the American people as the best and fastest way to get the banks to start making loans again, and help prevent this recession from getting much, much worse.

In point of fact, the dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the money to make new loans. But this executive was the first insider who’s been indiscreet enough to say it within earshot of a journalist.

(He didn’t mean to, of course, but I obtained the call-in number and listened to a recording.)

“Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,” he began. “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”

Read that answer as many times as you want — you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive (who I’m not naming because he didn’t know I would be listening in) explained that “loan dollars are down significantly.” He added, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.” In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.

Nocera goes on to conclude that one of the reasons the markets are still in free fall is that investors no longer trust Treasury. Wonder why? Keep reading.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Starched whites

The madness of John McCain

Or more precisely...

...his senior foreign policy adviser...

...his brother... of his campaign workers.

Can't we put these people out of their misery?


Joe the effing Plumber

I still think "Joe the Plumber" was a GOP ratfuck in the grand tradition of Nixonian ratfucking. But that said, what's gotten lost in McCain's "gotcha" moment during the debate was Obama's answer to GOP Joe.

Shame to say, I hadn’t heard Obama’s reply to this guy in full, because I was already so tired of Joe the Plumber thirty minutes into the third debate that I just couldn’t bring myself to watch this clip. But Holy. Mother. Of. Moloch. This is the comprehensive, honest, and respectful answer that Mr. Plumber then turned around and characterized as a “tap dance”? Yeah, sure, everybody jumped all over the “Sammy Davis Jr.” part. But it’s also worth noting the “I didn’t understand a single word he was saying to me” part, because that’s what really matters to most Republicans.
Obama's answer is so detailed and long that the YouTube filmmaker had to make cuts in it.

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Health care follies

I'm pretty sure that under McCain's health care plan, John McCain would not be able to find coverage.

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And you know that notion just crossed my mind

Dedicated to Allan Greenspan

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Palin says something halfway intelligent


Ad Nags and the rest of the crack Racing Form handicappers NYT political team lay out McCain's chances.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obama read Pollan

I happened to read the Pollan article a couple of weeks ago, while scarfing down a cheeseburger with fries. I felt bad as I chewed.

Now I feel worse. There's no way that I could synthesize the article and summarize it so adroitly in the midst of a presidential campaign.

I don't know what kind of a president Obama may make. I do know he won't be a stupid one.

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Greenspan's world view in flames

Now THAT'S voter registration fraud we can believe in, my friends

One arrest for voter registration fraud this election season and the guy works for McCain.

John McCain. Tearing the fabric of our democracy in so many ways!

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Muslim socialist

I think the best part of the closing days of this campaign is how Republican Party leaders at the state level are emerging from beneath their respective rocks to show us just how teh crazy and stupid they are.

It really is a rotting party, and, hard as it is to believe, the softest wood is at the state level.

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Adult supervision

I often take exception to Joe Klein's political analysis and his Beltway wiseman tendency to complain when Democrats "hew too close to the party line" -- you expect him to start railing against the teachers' union at any moment. But during the campaign his reporting on his former hero, McCain, has been very good (so good, it got him kicked of the Straight Talk Tow Truck), and this commentary on why Obama is winning has some insight, especially his reporting on the candidate's meeting with Gen. Petraeus last spring.


Today's Dog Racing Results

James Suroweiki has a blog. Yesterday, he watched the Dow drop another trillion points or so and listened as analysts explained it as drops in earnings and recession fears and thought, nu ha?

The point isn’t that the market is at one level and it should be at another. (I think the market is undervalued, which is why, unfortunately, I’ve been fully invested in it for a while now, but I’m not making an argument about valuation.) The point is that when literally every day the market swings wildly from one level to another—so much so that a seven per cent drop in the Nikkei is barely worth a mention any more—it seems likely that something other than pure information aggregation is driving it.

In particular, what I increasingly wonder about is whether volatility feeds on itself, both in an institutional sense—as quantitative, automatic trading strategies incorporate massive volatility into their algorithms—and in a psychological sense. It’s not just that these massive swings make it harder to keep your eye on the long run. It’s also that going back to a market in which a typical stock moves half a per cent or less a day may be hard for traders who have gotten used to a market in which fortunes can be literally made or lost in the space of a couple of hours.

"Driving that train, high on cocaine..."


Disturbing poll numbers

Did something I rarely do: watch cable news. And what I saw was "The Situation Room" last night in which Teen Wolf was discussing with his panel the strong poll numbers Obama was showing, not only amongst all likely voters, but 50+ voters as well. Wolf and his gang kept referring to the trends as "disturbing."



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Norm Coleman Sarah Palin connection

Al Qaeda votes

It comes as no surprise, but it appears that al Qaeda is reveling in our economic misfortunes and hoping for the "son of Bush," John McCain to win on November 4.

Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market's downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America's economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.

And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend.

"Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election," said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the "failing march of his predecessor," President Bush.

Remember folks, this ain't over 'til it's over.

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D.F. Hippies and Vietnam Vets

This stuff just continues to piss me off.

In response to my earlier post on the troubled relationship between Dems and the military, a smart Democrat with some involvement in these issues e-mails:

I should say, though, this doesn't happen often but I actually disagree with you on the substance of the post, at least in part. I don't think the fundamental problem between Dems and the military is over policy, but rather at a much more emotional level. I think a lot of military people are under the impression that Democrats in general think they're a bunch of baby-killing Rambo assholes. I'm not a big fan of viewing everything in politics through the prism of Vietnam, but I think that legacy of how vets were treated by the left is very much still there. It's something that our generation just never had, but go back not too long ago and it was a tremendously powerful narrative.

It would be terrific if Ezra's "smart Democrat" could point to a few examples of how "vets were treated by the left" during the Vietnam era. I believe history shows -- as Ezra's first commenter points out -- that the left treated vets with a great deal of respect and, indeed, vets were leaders (and moral ballast) of the anti-war movement in the late 60s/early 70s. It was members of the VFW that spit on anti-war vets during those gleeful days.

It was Nixon who feared and plotted against a young, returning soldier named John Kerry, and it was the right who in 2004 ridiculed Kerry's service and genuine heroism during the war.

I realize the narrative is long-standing and powerful (and formed by the "Rambo" movies, in fact), but it doesn't help for "smart Democrats" to echo, rather than fight against it. Not very "smart" at all.


Change we can belive in

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Onion campaign continues

I swear, I thought I'd clicked through to a satirical web site, but, no, it's the Associated Press.

McCain says he was tested during 1963 Cuban crisis


Barack's grandma

Our thoughts are with her.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is also thinking about her and about what a great upbringing Obama obviously received.

Likewise, I was looking at this picture of Obama's grandparents and thinking how much he looks like his grandfather. And suddenly, for whatever reason, I was struck by the fact that they had made the decision to love their daughter, no matter what, and love their grandson, no matter what. I'd bet money that they never even thought of themselves as courageous, that they didn't give much thought to the broader struggles in the the world at the time. They were just doing what right, honorable people do. But the fact is that, in the 60s, you could be disowned for falling in love with a black woman or black man. There is a reason why we have a long history of publicly biracial black people, but not so much of publicly biracial white people.

Read the whole thing, but the photo's worth a million blog posts.


Novak huffs

Novak seems to think says that Powell's endorsement of Obama is of less import because Powell "never was much of a Republican," forgetting, of course, Powell's key role in convincing a lot of people to support Bush's war of choice.

I'm not sure what Novak would say about this guy's endorsement of Barack Hussein Obama.

But I digress.

Novak is under the impression that not only are we not in a post-partisian election cycle, but that party designations are of primary importance, not the arguments each side makes.


The long goodbye

I could not agree more with Andrew Lahde.



I really don't know what to say.

A dead bear was found dumped this morning on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs, university police said.

Maintenance workers reported about 7:45 a.m. finding a 75-pound bear cub dumped at the roundabout near the Catamount statute at the entrance to campus, said Tom Johnson, chief of university police.
“It looked like it had been shot in the head as best we can tell. A couple of Obama campaign signs had been stapled together and stuck over its head,” Johnson said.

Interesting that in comments, one "Bob Owens" seems to defend the "legality" of the act. It's bear hunting season, after all. Can it be Treason in Defense of Slavery, Bob Owens?

Motherfuckers, in any case.

Via Atrios.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Michelle Bachman

She reminds me of someone. It's on the tip of my tongue. Oh yeah.

You know what to do.

UPDATE: She's not only hearts McCarthyism, she's a loon, too!

And who can forget this great moment in State of the Union history?

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Vote fraud

Dahlia Lithwick looks at ACORN and sees vote fraud -- by Republicans.

Each time they spread the word that Democrats (especially poor and minority Democrats) are poised to steal an election, John McCain and his overheated friends deliberately undermine voter confidence. That is the point. It encourages citizens to accede to ever-harsher voter-verification laws—even if they are not needed. It musters support for voter purges that are increasingly draconian. Insist often enough that the other side is cheating, and you may even encourage partisans to take matters into their own hands, leading to the worst forms of polling-place vigilantism—from a cross burning in Louisiana on the eve of a 2006 mayoral election to the hiring of intimidating partisan "poll watchers" to volunteer at inner-city polling places. When McCain goes after ACORN, he's really just asking you to join him in believing that the system is broken. And if you choose to overheat along with McCain, the Supreme Court promises to sign off on any measure that might calm you down later. John McCain might want to be a little more careful about accusing Obama, ACORN, or anyone else, of "destroying the fabric of democracy." In so doing, he's either deliberately or unconsciously encouraging his own supporters to grab a handful of the stuff and start ripping.

UPDATE: Well, some of that fabric was repaired today.


"Over the top"

Powell expands on his MTP comments:

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The Rays win the pennant! The Rays win the pennant!

I must say, in what has otherwise been a really dull postseason, the ALCS was very, very good baseball.

I must also say, that giving it to TBS to broadcast "cheapens the product," to quote Mike Francessa.


The Powell endorsement

Endorsements aren't generally a big deal, but the Colin Powell endorsement was important not simply because of the endorsement, but the carefully thought through logic that was behind it.

This has been a remarkable election for any number of reasons. Perhaps most remarkable of all is the crucible of events. I can't think of another election season in which the candidates were forced to respond to real world crises to such a degree.

Obama passed the test. McCain did not.

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A Man of Constant Sorrow

Where the elite meet.

Barack Obama came to Lebanon High for a town-hall meeting with voters on the Tuesday after Labor Day, marking the first time any presidential candidate stepped foot in the area since Jimmy Carter came to nearby Castlewood in 1976. The campaign made tickets available to its local offices a few days before the event, and a lot of the roughly 2,400 attendees waited in line to get them. As a result, most of the voters in the school gymnasium seemed to be committed Obama backers already.

The program opened with the validators. This is a critical part of Obama’s small-town strategy — getting respected surrogates to stand up and say that Obama is a guy you can trust. The first person on stage was Ralph Stanley, the 81-year-old legendary bluegrass musician, who was born in nearby Stratton and makes his home in Dickenson County. He unfolded a piece of paper and read, in a shaky voice: “I want to endorse Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Thank you very much!” The gymnasium exploded. (When the candidate met Stanley backstage, Obama told him that he had some of Stanley’s banjo music on his iPod. Stanley nodded appreciatively, but a few minutes later he turned to a friend and asked, “What’s an iPod?”)

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Without exceptions

It's important to remember that if the McCain ticket prevails, we'll be a "heartbeat away" from having a president whose core principle -- about the only issue she probably really cares about -- is the antithesis of what the vast majority of Americans believe.

So at the risk of occasioning yet another “heartbeat away” reference, it seems important to keep pointing out that the Republicans appear to have placed a genuine true believer on the presidential ticket. Palin has gone wobbly in a couple of recent interviews, placing extra emphasis on “personally,” as in, “personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in” — that’s from the Katie Couric interviews, as Couric pressed Palin on whether abortion should be illegal for a pregnant 15-year-old who was raped by her father. Palin won’t yield, though. That is what she believes. Abortion opposition at its most coherent is apparently central to Palin’s belief system, in fact: if a fetus is genuinely a child from the instant of conception, then the law can’t permit killing it for any reason except the extraordinary circumstance of an emergency to save a woman’s life (and in some right-to-life circles there’s argument about that, too, or whether equal measures should be taken to save woman and unborn alike).

In the trenches this distinguishes Palin not only from McCain and George W. Bush but also from a long list of other politicians, many Republican and some Democratic, whose records make them look anti-abortion while their hearts don’t seem to be in it. If that makes Palin “extreme,” according to the view from the trenches, fine — about time a pro-life candidate stood up and made it clear that keeping any abortions legal blows up the central right-to-life premise. If you take the Bush/McCain position — abortion should be illegal but with exceptions for rape and incest pregnancies — then you’re saying the fetus is not a child if the woman was forced into sex, but is a child if she participated voluntarily. That doesn’t actually make any sense, which is why for 35 years now this country’s most dedicated abortion opponents have been essentially holding their noses as they accept as allies the rape-and-incest-exception people, the restrict-but-don’t-prohibit people, the overturn-Roe-and-let-the-states-decide people. In the midst of all that moral compromise, Palin appears to have backbone. “She just is sincere,” says Colleen Parro, the Republican National Coalition for Life co-founder, whose idea it was to make Palin this year’s guest of honor. “She isn’t someone who just wants to regulate it or restrict it or fool around with it.”

Of course, "she's the direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda."

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The shadow campaign

It's not really all that surprising -- or reputation killing -- that the McPalin campaign is using offensive robocalls. He used them in 2000 to scare Michigan voters that Bush was anti-Catholic.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Rachel schools Frum on "equivalence"

I think it was Duncan Black who said, "All the good ones are gay."

I almost never catch her show, but what little I see impresses the hell outta me.

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Rokasta minua

The Stevens trial

It looked like the Keystone Kops routine that the prosecution seemed to be conducting has been matched by the defense.

Mrs. Stevens ran her hands through her hair and struggled for answers ("I don't know what you're talking about") but came up mostly empty. And just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse for the Stevens family, Sen. Larry Craig walked into the courtroom after lunch and planted his wide stance in the audience to lend his support to his friend and colleague.


The Red Sox being the Red Sox

Whoa. You simply can't assume they're done until the last out (or Boone HR).


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Even the Babe couldn't do this

To paraphrase Ruth's comments about earning a higher salary than Hoover, Obama, too, has had a better year.


The Calif. GOP strikes again

The California Republican Party must be utterly destroyed.

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Joe the effing plumber, pt 2

He's not a licensed plumber?

And there's another question about him, though it sounds way too good to be true.


Interesting times

When this election year began, the overriding issue was the war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton began her campaign hobbled by her vote authorizing the use of force. John McCain and Barack Obama began the general election campaign presenting two very different plans for conducting the war. Now, not only has the economy and the global financial crisis pushed Iraq off the front page and from the candidates' podiums, the war is essentially over.

Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes for the Associated Press: "American troops could face trial before Iraqi courts for major crimes committed off base and when not on missions, under a draft security pact hammered out in months of tortuous negotiations, Iraqi officials familiar with the accord said Wednesday.

"The draft also calls for U.S. troops to leave Iraqi cities by the end of June and withdraw from the country entirely by Dec. 31, 2011, unless the Baghdad government asks some of them to stay for training or security support, the officials said.

"It would also give the Iraqis a greater role in U.S. military operations and full control of the Green Zone, the 3 1/2-square mile area of central Baghdad that includes the U.S. Embassy and major Iraqi government offices.

"One senior Iraqi official said Baghdad may demand even more concessions before the draft is submitted to parliament for a final decision. The two sides are working against a deadline of year's end when the U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S.-led mission expires."


Joe the effing plumber

Is it too late for me to learn the plumbing trade? Does a plumbing contractor in Ohio really anticipate to make over a quarter of a million dollars a year?

So will Americans who are in business for themselves have to pay more taxes if Mr. Obama is elected, as Mr. McCain asserted?

According to figures compiled by the Small Business Administration, there are fewer than six million small businesses that actually have payrolls. The rest are so-called nonemployer firms that report income from hobbies or freelance work done by their registered owners, earning as little as $1,000 a year.

Of these, according to a calculation by the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center, fewer than 700,000 taxpayers would have to pay higher taxes under Mr. Obama’s plan. But even some of these are not small-business owners in the traditional sense; they include lawyers, accountants and investors in real estate, all of them with incomes that put them in the top tax brackets.

So are there “millions more like Joe the Plumber,” as Mr. McCain contended? Probably not. Mr. Obama may well have been correct when he stated that “98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000.”


Please, no more debates

Did McCain really say that we have to "change the culture of America?"

To paraphrase Gov Palin: "In what respect, Johnny?"

At some point I thought, when McCain supporters hear Obama speak, they think, "Kill him!" When Obama supporters hear McCain speak, they think, "Kill me!"


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Fox

A long time ago I realized live blogging live events is kinda stupid, cause people are busy watching the



but I will just say that it is wonderfully sweet that the Fox network won't be covering the debate tonight and they may find themselves with the potential ratings bonanza of a Tampa/Philly World Serious.

Oh, and those National Rental Car/Joe Buck commercials may be the worst things I've seen in many, many years.

Say goodnight, Gracie.

Goodnight, Gracie.

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Too black


Hell hath no fury...

I mentioned just last week catching a National Review interview with Christopher Buckley in which the conservative author/satirist (if such a characterization is possible) did not quite rise to endorse Obama, but came mighty close.

Well, a few days later he done gone ahead and did just that, though not in the pages of NR, the publication his father founded and for which the son has been writing for several years.

The response from NR readers was swift and predictable, almost as swift as the acceptance of NR's editor to Buckley's offer to resign.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.

I'm not sure I'd buy into the Ronald's "real" credentials, though I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have flown back to DC from the Western WH to sign the Schiavo bill. That said, I'm sympathetic to the NR's readers. It's always distressing to see one of your leading lights join the other side. I've certainly thought plenty of bad thoughts about Christopher Hitchens and his ilk over the last several years.

But what I don't get is this. John McCain has been more or less despised by the leaders of the GOP for years. His campaign was on the rocks last year because GOP donors didn't care much for him. Huckabee was a far more popular figure for the social conservatives while Romney was the fave of the corporate interests. McCain basically stumbled into the nomination because those two groups split the ticket, as it were, and by the sheer incompetence of Romney and the lack of campaign infrastructure for Huckabee. Of Giuliani and Thompson, what can be said?

So this rage that is exploding cannot be about the candidate himself. Not even the Right's six week love affair with the adorable dominatrix that is his running mate quite explains it.

So is it just about the loss of power that inspires their hatred? Or is it something deeper -- that all of their ideas the propaganda they've been spewing for the past sixteen years is not only been wrong, but rejected by a large portion of the American public? And that's just the people who can write. These people? Well, I think I get that.

I'm genuinely interested, because as the guy with all the accents in his name likes to say, we do not mock them because we hate them (though we recognize that they sure hate us, you betcha), but rather feel a genuine concern for their state of mind. They're going to hurt themselves.

Or, maybe, they're acting out of fear we're taking names. The Thugocracy is nigh.


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Sadly, yes!

Let the good times roll.

If you thought tales of Vince Foster’s murder and of smuggling cocaine through the Arkansas governor’s mansion were fun, then hold onto your seats. The next four years are going to be something to behold.

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Joe Klein is right.

It has been striking to me this year that the public seems far more serious about this election--far less tolerant of diversions--than some of my colleagues in the media. In this particular case, with Palin's support evaporating in the polls as people get to know her better, the public (with the exception of the Republican base) has proven that it is taking this election more seriously than the Republican candidate.

And that gives me some hope.


Lovable l'il guy

I believe Josh Marshall would call this riding on the tire swing.

In recent days, McCain has attempted to move away from his campaign's controversial negative tone, and instead present his genuine optimistic persona and inspire Americans with leadership and good humor during these uncertain times. While still in the midst of this mid-course correction, it may be risky for McCain to strike Obama forcefully in such a high profile forum.

To make matters even worse for McCain, this final session is focused on domestic policy, an area in which he is considered vulnerable. And for all the public interest and media focus on the debates, it is unlikely the last go-round could have a truly game-changing effect.

McCain's best bet is to ignore all the advice he is getting about what he needs to accomplish and how he should comport himself: don't try to be all things to all strategists. Instead, he should say what he truly believes about his own proposals, about Obama's qualifications, and about the challenges the country faces, without an over-crafted strategy. His debate performances have improved, and he is always his most likeable, and most formidable when he uses his head and speaks from the heart. To paraphrase the wise old song, dignity is just another word for nothing left to lose. McCain might lose the election, but he doesn't have to lose his reputation in the process.

Hacktastic Halperin.


Palin as president

"So what if he was?"

Derek Jeter or Sarah Palin MVP? Vote NOW!

Thank you. My thoughts exactly. Sorry everyone.


Yes, he's still there

George W. Bush continues to rule us.

In the authorization bill, Mr. Bush challenged four sections. One forbid the money from being used “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq”; another required negotiations for an agreement by which Iraq would share some of the costs of the American military operations there.

The sections “purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations,” including as commander in chief, Mr. Bush wrote.

In the other bill, he raised concerns about two sections that strengthen legal protections against political interference with the internal watchdog officials at each executive agency.

One section gives the inspectors general a right to counsels who report directly to them. But Mr. Bush wrote in his signing statement that such lawyers would be bound to follow the legal interpretations of the politically appointed counsels at each agency.

The other section requires the White House to tell Congress what each inspector general said about the administration’s budget proposal for their offices. Such a requirement, Mr. Bush wrote, would infringe on “the president’s constitutional authority” to decide what to recommend to Congress.


Mr. Bush has used the signing statements to assert a right to bypass more than 1,100 sections of laws. By comparison, all previous presidents combined challenged about 600 sections of bills.

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Bloomberg terminals

An economics analyst, on NPR the other afternoon, noted that unless you have a Bloomberg Terminal -- basically computers that give you financial data, such as the now infamous "TED spread," you can't get most anywhere else -- you're in the dark about the planet's real financial situation.

Mayor Bloomberg, in case you haven't heard, feels he is personally just as indispensable to the City of New York.

Michael Weiner feels differently, and good for him.

So now Mr. Weiner is transforming his candidacy into a full-throated populist crusade against the billionaire Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal for a third term, hurling his thin frame in front a political locomotive roaring down the tracks.

In the process, Mr. Weiner said he had found his voice — and purpose — in the 2009 election for mayor: defending New York City’s ordinary, working people against the self-interested, back-room deals of its most powerful.

He has quickly become the most prominent and relentless of the mayor’s grass-roots opponents, who accuse Mr. Bloomberg and his wealthy friends in the business world of trying to circumvent the will of New York’s voters, who backed term limits twice, in 1993 and 1996.

I'm no fan of term limits. But when a politician supports them right up until the moment his term is up, and then changes his mind then I call him a hypocrite. And when he does it because he claims only he can lead the city through the current crisis -- as Giuliani tried to do in September 2001 -- then he needs to be ridden out of town on a rail.

The most amazing thing about this, and where Weiner could really gain traction, is how Bloomberg's wealthy brethren, such as Ronald Lauder (heir to the Estee Lauder fortune) -- a loud advocate of term limits -- have lined up behind their fellow Brahmin.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mickey Mouse

The campaign to deligitimize an Obama victory continues apace.

“Obama has a responsibility to rein in ACORN,” Palin said during an interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Palin said the group is responsible for the “unconscionable situation we are facing now with voter fraud” and attacked the Obama campaign for not addressing the problem after the McCain campaign sent a letter to the Democratic camp urging action against voter fraud in September.

Shortly before Palin went on the air, the Obama campaign e-mailed around its response, dated Sept. 23, characterizing the McCain campaign’s concern as “a starkly political maneuver to deflect attention from the reality of the suppression strategies pursued by national, state and Republican Party committees.”

First of all, voter registration fraud is not the same thing as voter fraud. Secondly, a temp worker adding a few names to registration lists is shoddy, but ACORN has flagged suspicious names before handing the lists over to registrars. Thirdly, because the name "Mickey Mouse" shows up on the list, does not mean that a cartoon character will show up at the polls.

Finally, it is the Republicans who should be investigated for suppressing the votes of minorities, the poor, and ex-cons. That's the crime.

But the Republicans know this race is almost over and it is vital that they do all they can to cast suspicions on the popular vote totals. If they aren't successful in intimidating voters at the polls and getting votes overturned, then they'll at least have the cold comfort of knowing the rubes who follow them will not believe Barack Obama is the President of the United States.

In the meantime, why hasn't Barack Hussein Obama denounced Pacman Jones?

UPDATE: Edited for coherence.

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