Archive for the ‘Election 2008’ Category

Ohio Gozaimasu

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

First, Fox called Ohio for Obama. I stopped short of a cheer for that. One’s instinct may be to figure Fox never reports inaccurately in favor of Democrats, but I treat Fox as wholly unreliable. But now MSNBC is calling Ohio too. Others are yet to come, but I am still going to assume it’s too early to pop the champagne yet.

Update: Now CBS is on board in Ohio. But still, let’s wait and see a bit more.

If Obama wins Ohio, I see this as done.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

What Else?

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

Here are some current numbers:

Georgia: Obama 61%, McCain 39%, 34% of precincts reporting.

Florida: Obama 52%, McCain 48%, 48% of precincts reporting.

North Carolina: Obama 52%, McCain 47%, 32% of precincts reporting.

McCain leads by very slight margins in Indiana and Virginia (Virginia?), but remember, McCain now has to win ALL the battleground states to win it.

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November 5th, 2008 Comments off

There was a minor emergency at school, and I got pulled away from the news just when key results started getting reported. Now I am at school and the emergency tamped down just enough for me to glance at the news and to blog a tiny bit.

BIG news: they have called Pennsylvania for Obama. If that call holds–and it looks like it will–then McCain’s chances of winning just got beaten down to “slim.” At best. And with the numbers coming in from Georgia, it seems like it may not be long before we hear the entire race being called for Obama.

More soon…. (not as if you don’t know all this already–if you don’t, GO WATCH THE NEWS!)

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Early Results

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

Kentucky called early for McCain; no surprise there. Vermont to Obama; again, no surprise. Hopeful numbers from Indiana; if Obama wins there, it’s a very good sign. Virginia is 56% to 44% in favor of McCain, but it’s just 3% reporting, and that can change greatly.

It could be a lot longer day than I expected.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Not There Yet

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

It’s fascinating, really. There should be no question about this election, none at all. Obama ran as good a campaign as one could imagine–a strong, 50-state strategy, a positive, above-board campaign, well-funded, well-organized, as much done right as anyone could hope for, almost no missteps. McCain, on the other hand, ran a bad campaign: he lacked focus in some of his home territory, lied his ass off, called his opponent every name in the book–and unlink many past campaigns, he did so in his own name–and his campaign was not as well-funded, made terrible choices, and was peppered with gaffes and missteps.

There was not just a double-standard at work here, but a decidedly marked double-standard: had Obama performed like McCain had, it would have been a rout, McCain winning by huge margins, nobody questioning the outcome well before election day. In this race, Obama had to do everything right, but McCain could pull all kinds of crap and get away with it clean. Early in the year, McCain blatantly violated campaign finance law, and yet despite founding his reputation on campaign finance reform, the media paid no attention. McCain did the same thing on several issues–violating what he had built up as his core principles–without having to pay any penalty for it. He played the veteran war-hero image up to the hilt, but got away clean with a dismal voting record on veterans’ issues; he played up how he had been tortured, yet never paid the price in public for caving in and supporting Bush’s torture policies; he based his career on campaign finance reform, yet his campaign was run by lobbyists, and this was rarely touched on by the media. McCain flip-flopped on almost every issue imaginable, reversing his position blatantly, sometimes within weeks or months of having stated the opposite, and yet the media never called him out for it–in fact, they jumped on Obama for “shifting” his policies, even when he did no such thing. McCain supported deregulation of the financial industry, and his campaign manager was and even still is a paid lobbyist for Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae–and yet you never seemed to hear about this outside of the liberal blogs, even when McCain made loud accusations that Obama was in those institutions’ pockets because of the most tenuous of connections.

A lot of this is the tire swing effect, but a lot of it is the GOP’s success in working the refs. Too many reporters were unwilling to call out a veteran and former POW for rather blatant dishonesty and even lawbreaking. Too many otherwise-objective reporters created false equivalencies for fear of being called “liberal media,” while the conservative-leaning media–substantial in number–had no problem whatsoever being full-out McCain supporters while calling themselves objective with a smug self-assuredness.

And so forth and so on. You get the idea. Obama ended up about 10% ahead in the closing polls before election day. By all standards, there should be no doubt right now. But there is–a fairly good amount of it. I find myself nervous, uncomfortable. I know Obama is probably going to win, but I maintain this fearful, nagging doubt. There has been too strong an impact from the results of 2000 and 2004, there is too much doubt about those voting machines and the right-wing’s dirty tricks. McCain is gloating, pronouncing that he’s going to win it, and though you know it’s probably just an attempt to encourage his supporters to vote, one cannot escape the feeling that he knows something that we don’t.

All fears, all worries based upon past experience and not the actual vote from today. But there they are. This should be a landslide, there should be no question.

The fact that there is such question, that there is such doubt, not just from me but in so many people, demonstrates, I think, that there is something badly wrong with our system, that there could be any doubt that so superior a candidate as Obama could lose, or that so inept and damaged a candidate as McCain could win–especially after the last eight years, especially after this economic disaster we’re facing, especially after McCain is tied so closely to both.

Something is very wrong with the way things are.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Don’t Forget to, You Know, VOTE

November 4th, 2008 Comments off

It’s not over quite yet. The Gallup, SurveyUSA, Rasmussen, Zogby, and network polls don’t actually decide who’s president. Obama has won zip so far, and complacency anywhere could lose this thing.

If you haven’t already… then tomorrow… bright & early…


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The Case for Barack Obama, Part II

November 3rd, 2008 Comments off

Let’s continue looking at the issues. In Obama’s book, he outlines three big investments that will make America more competitive; I wrote on this back in January when I made my initial “Why Obama?” post:

I believe that Obama also has an intelligent and correct focus on what is important. I myself have always believed that the three best investments that we as a nation could make are in education, infrastructure, and science. In his book, in the chapter titled “Opportunity,” Obama lays out his big three investments: Education, Science, and Energy. He lays out the case for each, and I find myself reading his words as if I were reading my own. And while he placed energy in third place ahead of infrastructure, I find myself having to agree that it is a more pressing matter, and am not discouraged because he highlights the importance of infrastructure elsewhere.

The section I refer to in his book begins on page 159 (paperback edition). Let’s take a look at each issue:

Education: First, getting children off to a solid start: Obama plans to focus on pre-school education initiatives, making sure that kids are either prepared or that whatever problems exist are flagged and acted on right out of the gate. He would increase Head Start programs and work to provide affordable child care–a critical factor with so many families having both parents forced to work full-time jobs.

Second, financial aid for students: creating $4000 scholarships that will help cover critical costs for most students–especially from low-income families–in exchange for community service, a deal that will create a positive feedback effect, getting more kids through college at the same time that you are helping the community, a large part of that going to creating an environment which further encourages education and increased personal success. This is about as close as you can come to legislating morality–not by forcing people to follow your code, but by giving them a chance to earn a college education while experiencing first-hand the value of public service.

And finally, paying attention to teachers. As Bill Maher said, we call them heroes, but we pay them like chumps. Obama would focus on recruiting, preparing, retaining, and rewarding a talented population of educators. If anything, Obama goes nowhere near far enough, but his attention to this subject is a huge plus for me, even though it will not affect me personally (I am quite a bit outside the sphere his policies will influence). The reason I am encouraged is that it pays attention to something that needs addressing: if you want good education, you have to be willing to pay teachers a fair salary. Of course, hold them accountable–but the conservative emphasis has been on accountability, in a fashion that rewards cheating and short-changing students.

On McCain’s site, he also mentions Head Start–but instead of promising to quadruple the program as Obama has, McCain mostly emphasizes existing programs and policies, with attention paid to better-performaing Head Start centers. He promises a certain amount of funding, but it is unclear how this compares with existing levels–and McCain lays a caveat even on that, which depends upon “availability of funding,” claiming more money will be spent “if more funds become available.” In other words, there is no solid promise of increased funds at all. McCain does something similar with teacher development and rewards: he talks about doing these things, but when you read the fine print, you discover that he only talks in terms of using existing funds–in other words, he will not add a single extra cent into such programs. Instead, we’ll simply be left with rearrangement of what funds are already there, but teachers will have to face a whole new set of performance requirements–and if they are anything like what conservatives have pressed on education in past years, they will likely make things worse, not better. When you get to college education, it’s just more of the same: simplify, fix, improve–but never add another cent to education.

In short, Obama plans to actually add to existing education programs, starting new initiatives, funding and expanding programs, giving new and real incentives to teachers and students in ways that will truly improve education–whereas McCain will simply rearrange existing funds and then claim he’s fixed everything.

Science and Technology: Number One on Obama’s web page is a statement of support for Network Neutrality–something which McCain’s web site dismisses as a buzzword, a clear signal that he opposes it. Right there, Obama has my respect; Network Neutrality, far from being a buzzword, is all about the rights of the user and protection from corporate entities abusing the Internet for unearned profits. Obama also gets my attention with his statement of support for modernizing America’s Internet infrastructure–something the Bush administration utterly failed to do. I have 100 Mbps fiber-optic service direct to my apartment; if you live in the U.S., can you say that you have the same? For $40 a month? An aggressive government policy (“e-Japan”) got Japan’s infrastructure modernized but quick; Obama looks to be the best candidate to do this for America, a very wise move if the U.S. wants to stay on top of this rich market it created.

Other issues high on his list include diversity in media ownership–another vital issue–and recognition of the right to privacy, something that conservatives like McCain detest, as they see such a right as helping the pro-choice movement. But the right to privacy is an essential issue for the 21st century, and it is telling that Obama recognizes this. McCain’s policies, favoring DRM and parasites like the RIAA, point away from privacy and toward corporate ownership of what you paid for.

Beyond this, Obama has sheafs of policy initiatives that would use technology to forward American competitiveness in business, similar to how Al Gore did this when he kept the Internet alive in the 80’s; that would educate children in Math and Science (think 1960’s) to meet the technological challenges coming; to retrain adults to adapt to new technologies; and to apply technology to address the nations’ problems.

Some of McCain’s technology policies are similar to Obama’s–they both support R&D tax credits, for example. Both support training the workforce; one can guess how much emphasis each would actually place on it. But McCain’s focus on technology is far more oriented towards business lobbyists’ goals rather than those important to most Americans. He uses the advancement of technology, for example, as an excuse to lower corporate taxes and scale back all capital gains taxes, not just the taxes for those who truly need a break.

Beyond that, McCain lists as top priorities open trade (cheap imports while American manufacturing jobs get shipped overseas), intellectual property (those RIAA and other media lobbyists are very generous), and “keeping the Internet free from government regulation” (giving away ownership of the Internet to the telecoms so they can charge people for not being slowed down and force them to use only software the telecoms sell them). In short, McCain’s technology package was mostly drafted by business lobbyists.

There’s really no comparison: Obama would modernize and revitalize our technology industry for the benefit of all Americans; McCain would just be a shill for the corporations.

Energy: Both candidates claim to strive for Energy Independence; the differences come in how they plan to achieve that goal.

Obama’s plan emphasizes clean energy technologies, creating a new energy infrastructure upon which millions of new jobs would be based–essentially a Clean Energy boom similar to the Internet boom of the 90’s. Obama would encourage use of hybrid cars and creating renewable energy resources in large numbers within the next four to seventeen years. These are the policy drives that Obama lists as most important.

The top initiative listed on McCains site: drill, baby, drill! Just months ago, he recognized the fact that drilling would take about a decade to produce new oil supplies of any note, and even then they would not be significant enough to truly reduce prices. That was before he climbed onto the oil company bandwagon, and now drilling (not in the untapped areas already possessed by oil corporations, but in the other places, mostly environmentally sensitive, that the oil companies want to access using their own artificially high prices as an excuse) is “the” answer.

A lot of other policy initiatives between the two candidates are similar, but the key here is which initiatives each emphasizes: Obama with the development of new and clean energy sources, McCain for more drilling and exploitation of oil, coal, and nuclear.

The theme of the last two issues I’ve gone over here makes clear a fundamental and important divide between the two candidates, demonstrating Obama’s attention to forwarding the nation’s interest first, and McCain’s attention to serving the corporations whose lobbyists make up the bulk of his campaign.

Again, a very clear choice for American voters.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Last-Minute Lies

November 3rd, 2008 Comments off

We know that McCain and Palin have been prone to spread bald-faced lies over the past few months, even in the face of outstanding evidence proving their statements to be lies. But now, as we enter the home stretch, we are encountering a new–and at the same time, a very traditional–kind of political lie: lies aimed to enrage key voters, lies which are demonstrably false–but ones which the liars hope will stick because there isn’t enough time for the truth to be as widely spread as the lies:

”Barack Obama explained his plan to the San Francisco Chronicle this year,” [Sarah Palin] told a rally in Ohio Sunday. ”He said that sure, if the industry wants to build coal-fired power plants, then they can go ahead and try, he says, but they can do it only in a way that will bankrupt the coal industry.”

She added, ”And you’ve got to listen to the tape.”

”Why is the audiotape just now surfacing?” Palin asked the crowd, according to a report from CBS News. Someone in the crowd shouted, ”Liberal media!’

Several right-wing web sites are jumping on the “hidden interview” bandwagon, as are a few small but legit news sources which are obviously just being lazy in passing on prepackaged news. Of course, there is no “hidden” audiotape; Obama held an interview with the Chronicle in January, and it has been online since. Far from being hidden, it was widely advertised. The audio (mp3) is here, and the video is here (I am currently unable to get the video to play, but the audio comes across perfectly). They have been up consistently over the past ten months, out there for anyone to listen to or watch.

Obama goes into the coal issue just a little more than halfway through, describing his policies. Summed up, he says that a “no coal” policy is an illusion, as we use a lot of coal and China is building more and more coal plants; the emphasis should be on figuring out ways to use coal cleanly, using a cap-and-trade system which would penalize pollution as a means of spurring clean-coal technologies as well as alternative forms of energy.

Palin has two charges here: that Obama wants to bankrupt the industry, and that the interview was hidden. On the first charge, Obama said that it was an “illusion” that we could get rid of coal, and mentioned “bankruptcy” only in the context of building new coal plants without trying to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Either Palin is saying that clean coal is impossible, or she’s just lying.

Second, Palin charged that there was a liberal-media conspiracy to hide the interview; also false, as the whole interview, as stated above, has been plainly available in both audio and video forms since the interview was held in January. Here, she’s plainly just lying.

No coincidence that Palin is spreading these lies in Pennsylvania–coal country, which McCain and Palin have to win if they want any chance of being elected–just a day before the election.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

The Case for Barack Obama, Part I

November 2nd, 2008 Comments off

Okay, you’ve heard me make point after point about How John McCain is a completely inadequate and inappropriate choice for president, but you haven’t heard a great deal about why Obama would be a good choice. The fact is, it’s simply easier to point out McCain’s shortcomings–there are just so damned many of them–and hearing about Obama’s policy points is a lot less exciting. Nevertheless, thats what people should hear–and frankly, what you should have heard by now.

The fact is, getting word out about his policy is just about all Obama has been doing for the length of the campaign–talking about his tax policy here, his health insurance plans there, his foreign policy goals elsewhere, and so on. Not to mention that his policies are right there on his website, and have been all along. There’s no mystery here; despite McCain & Palin insinuating that Obama is some shadowy unknown, his political philosophy and policy goals have been out there for a long time–a few years, in fact, as much of it was outlined in his second book, The Audacity of Hope.

So if you don’t know where he stands on the policies, then it’s hardly his fault. Still, like I said, this stuff can be a lot less exciting, and so a lot of people probably haven’t gotten around to it, even at this late date. Despite knowing the policies, I’ve procrastinated in putting this post together–it’s been on the slate for some time now.

So what are Obama’s policies, and how do they compare favorably with McCain’s? Let’s begin with three big ones, Taxes, Iraq, and Foreign Policy:

Taxes: Obama will cut taxes most for the poor, starting at a 5% drop for the neediest Americans; this will taper off to a 2% cut for someone making $66,000, 1.5% for someone making $227,000, and will go to zero at about $250,000. He then starts raising taxes, the hikes becoming most notable for people making over half a million dollars a year, but the biggest increases–almost 8%–for people with incomes over $3 million a year. McCain, on the other hand, gives the poorest people a paltry 0.2% tax cut–virtually nothing–and then grows the tax cuts for people making more money, with people having incomes in the millions getting the biggest breaks. McCain calls Obama’s policy “socialism” on the premise that Obama is redistributing the wealth–except that McCain’s plan does exactly the same thing, just in the other direction.

You may have heard McCain or Palin claiming that Obama is going to raise taxes on everyone making more than $102,000; that’s a knowing lie distorting Obama’s plan to raise the payroll tax ceiling so that rich people no longer get away with paying a miniscule amount relative to their total income. Currently, the payroll tax only applies to the first $102,000 of anyone’s income, so middle-class families get socked, but wealthy people end up paying a far lower percentage of their total income. McCain’s lie presumes that Obama will tax everyone making more than $102,000, but Obama has made it crystal clear that he would create a “donut hole” where income between $102,000 and $250,000 would not be subject to payroll taxes, but everything above that would be.

Bottom line: if you make less than $250,000 a year, Obama won’t raise your taxes, and if you make less, he’ll cut them. If you make less than $112,000 a year, Obama will cut your taxes more than McCain will–that includes “Joe the Plumber.”

Additionally, McCain’s tax plan, which mostly benefits the wealthy, will also cost a lot more–it will cost a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) more than Obama’s tax cuts over the next ten years.

Other tax policies: Obama plans a windfall profits tax on oil companies which he’d give back to regular taxpayers, a move criticized by many as meaningless as the oil companies will simply raise prices to compensate. Obama would eliminate taxes on seniors making under $50,000, and would simplify tax filing for everyone. He would end tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas. Finally, Obama would eliminate all capital gains taxes on startups and small businesses.

McCain’s big plans include cutting taxes mostly for the wealthy, lowering corporate tax rates (from 35% to 25%), enacting a “gas tax holiday” (which is criticized as being just as ineffective as Obama’s windfall profits tax), and would at least partially privatize Social Security, though he vehemently denies the last, insisting on calling it “establishing personal accounts”–which is simply another way to say “privatization.” On his site, there are a lot of other ‘proposals,’ but mainly they talk about “keeping taxes low” for individuals and small businesses (not actually lowering them), not providing health care costs for businesses, and saving everyone money by magically solving the energy crisis and balancing the budget. Like most of McCain’s plans, he says he will pay for all of this by cutting earmarks and wasteful spending–though he has not detailed where the money could be cut, except for a few small examples. It is generally recognized that there is nowhere near enough waste to pay for even a fraction of McCain’s plans, and although McCain shows the willingness to eliminate what waste there is, he has provided no evidence that he would be any more effective than any other president in eliminating such waste, which is usually protected by the entrenched and established powers-that-be in the government. In other words, all talk, no plans–just make McCain president and all of Washington will kneel before him and relinquish all it power and treasures to him.

In essence, McCain plans to maintain the conservative course: lower taxes even more for corporations and the wealthy, give a pittance at best for the working classes, and generally stop any programs that would benefit the poor or middle class at the expense of corporations and/or the rich–stuff like comprehensive health care.

Iraq: Obama calls for withdrawing US troops on a timeline that would have most of our people out of Iraq by the middle of 2010–a plan that both Bush and McCain initially attacked, but now Bush has adopted it and McCain called the basic concept reasonable. Obama’s plan would pull out troops based upon conditions on the ground, allowing for changes if the situation merits. At the same time, there would be an emphasis on diplomacy, training Iraqi troops to handle security more independently, arranging international efforts to prevent humanitarian crises, and emphasize Iraqi responsibility for stabilizing matters–something there was no incentive for so long as the U.S. promised to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely. While the plan is not the wholesale, immediate bugout that many liberals have called for, Obama explains that the car has been driven into a ditch and you can’t just abandon it and run–you have to get the car out of the ditch, and that’ll take more time, lives, cost, and effort than many would prefer. But it has to be done.

McCain, on the other hand, wants to stay in Iraq until there is a “stable, prosperous, and democratic state in Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists.” Since these terms are subjective at best, there is no telling when McCain would get us out of Iraq, or how much more money and lives will be poured into that effort over the next X number of years. McCain lists as priorities (1) political reconciliation and stable government, (2) creating a “vibrant, growing” Iraqi economy, and (3) pressuring Syria and Iran to lay off (because that has worked so well up to now). McCain does not specify on his web page, but he foresees an indefinite American presence in Iraq over the next several decades, perhaps even over a century and more, in the same manner that the US maintains bases in Japan and Germany. His “hundred years” comment is usually represented as a hundred years of war; this is often disputed because McCain claims that there will be peace in Iraq in just a few years under his stewardship. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, then we will have the long, indefinite war.

Foreign Policy: Obama emphasizes controlling nuclear material and curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, but the heart of his foreign policy lays in the re-establishment of diplomacy. Diplomacy to deal with Iran and other hostile states, but also the rebuilding of diplomacy and good relations with our allies, both current and potential. There would be a strong focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a new initiative to fight poverty, a consolidation of alliances within NATO, and new alliances with Asian partners.

McCain’s site does not have a specific section on Foreign Policy, instead listing such issues under “National Security” and “Homeland Defense,” emphasizing the “dangerous world” paradigm. McCain leads with intelligence work to fight terrorism, relying on missile defense programs, and increasing the size of the military and modernizing it. Elsewhere he outlines a policy to fight nuclear proliferation, somewhat similar to Obama’s. For the Middle East, McCain emphasizes defense of Israel, and takes a notably bellicose stance against Iran. Reviewing the page on McCain’s site addressing the Middle East, it is full of fear-provoking language–words like danger, threat, regime, violence, and catastrophe, using action words such as tough, sanction, cannot allow, launch, and force. Everyone knows about McCain’s “joke” about bombing Iran and his general support for such plans.

McCain is also known for his idea to build a “League of Democracies,” essentially a plan to establish a permanent “Coalition of the Willing,” in other words, a group of nations that would basically do what the U.S. wants them to do; the body would be exclusive, like a group of kids making a club where only those they approve of can join. As can be inferred from so much else that is and is not stated on McCain’s site, this would be much less about diplomacy and much more about throwing our weight around, with the assistance of whomever we can get to stand behind us.

It should be no wonder, then, that in worldwide polls, Obama is vastly favored over McCain; a large number of countries have strong preferences for Obama, and in only a few countries is there more support for McCain–but McCain’s support never surpasses the “don’t know/refuse to answer” category. McCain’s support is greatest in Georgia (no surprise there), the Philippines, and Cambodia, with a razor-thin lead in Laos. In Lithuania and Pakistan McCain and Obama are tied. Obama, however, holds commanding leads, being ahead of McCain by 50% or more in at least a dozen countries, with strongholds in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Africa.

There should be little or no doubt that Obama would be far, far more popular and effective on the world stage than would McCain.

In Short, Obama has (1) tax plans that reverse the Bush-McCain trend of shifting wealth to corporations and the rich, giving more tax cuts to the middle class in an economically responsible fashion; (2) a clear but responsible plan for withdrawal from Iraq that does not involve permanent bases or a potentially endless war; and (3) a foreign policy strong with diplomacy versus McCain’s aggressive, bellicose stance, which may explain why most of the world is praying for an Obama victory.

More policy reviews tomorrow.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Why Is McCain Doing So Well?

October 30th, 2008 Comments off

Kevin Drum asks, “Why is Obama winning?” The idea is that with all that conservatives are lobbing at Obama, how could he still be ahead by so much? My immediate reaction is, “why isn’t he ahead by more”? Seriously.

I hesitated on that question, primarily because I thought that my own bias was getting in the way. But then I thought of a way to get past that.

Think of it this way: what if Obama were the Republican and McCain were the Democrat? What if the Republicans had a youthful, charismatic, African-American candidate who was a great orator, and the Democrats were running a septuagenarian fuddy-duddy with a weird laugh and a so-so-speaking style? What if the Republican was outspending the Democrat four-to-one in advertising? What if the Republican was the one with consistent policies and the Democrat had flip-flopped on almost every issue? What if the Republican promised bigger tax cuts to the middle class, and the Democrat’s proposals were the ones promising to explode the deficit more? What if the Republican had a solid if not-so-exciting running mate while the Democrat chose a lightweight, far-left whacko? What if the Republican had a solid campaign organization running a competent 50-state policy while the Democrat’s campaign was in disarray? What if the Republican was standing tall while the Democrat was lying left and right and running a pathetic smear campaign?

Take all that, and then add the idea that the election comes after an 8-year Democratic presidency mired in war, corruption, and policy disaster ending with the biggest economic downturn in generations, and the Democrat was running on essentially the same policies as his predecessor?

I mean, seriously: are you freaking kidding me? The Republican would be ahead by huge margins. A landslide would be confidently predicted. There would simply be no question.

So the question becomes, why are things the way they are? Why isn’t McCain losing by a lot more? Why is this even as close as it is? Only so much can be explained off by McCain’s war hero image versus the guy with the funny name. Only so much can be attributed to conservative and rural voters being far less tolerant of a black man who does not enthusiastically share their political views. A bigger part of it is, I believe, the fact that Democratic voters are far less willing to accept BS than Republican voters are. When an al Qaeda affiliate all but endorsed McCain, all I heard from Democrats was that the statement could have been self-serving; had the statement ‘supported’ Obama, the right wing would have erupted in an orgy of finger-pointing, name-calling, and smears. Again, this could just be bias talking, but the right wing far more easily accepts demagoguery, incompetence, and unethical behavior in the name of ideology than the left does.

Another factor is quite simply the media. In part, it’s because they wanted a horse race, but in my opinion, it’s much more because there is a rather glaring right-wing bias involved. Come on–how many times did you see McCain do stuff and note, “if Obama had done that, he’d be toast”? Rather than being about what the public would accept, this is mostly due to what the media decides it will focus on. Just at the beginning of the year, we had McCain blatantly violate campaign finance law, a felony charge with a five-year prison sentence, and the media gave it a total pass. I don’t think anyone could competently argue that Obama would have received the same bye on such a matter. The expression “on the tire swing” gained recognition on its own merit and became widely recognized as describing a reporter who had lost objectivity and favored McCain; the expression “in the tank” for Obama was pushed by the McCain campaign, and instantly died.

The truth of the matter is, had the media reported objectively, truthfully, and with equal depth and candor on both candidates from the beginning, McCain would not have had even the slim chance he now has. Part of Obama’s recent rise came, I believe, as a direct result from the media bailing out on McCain after Palin was chosen as his running mate. At that point, the McCain campaign stopped giving them the access they craved, and started peddling such absurd lies that even those who had been on tire swings were now egregiously offended by the McCain campaign assumption that they would willingly play along when they were being so obviously dumped on.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Playing the Terrorist Constituency

October 23rd, 2008 Comments off

The news came out recently that commentators with ties to al Qaeda writing that McCain has the terror group’s support, as his policies would further their goals.

Now, it’s no secret that I believe this to be true; I have posted at least a few times in the past that the Bush administration’s policies have benefitted al Qaeda greatly, and that in fact, the two have fed off each other since 9/11. Since McCain’s policies are essentially an extension of Bush’s, it naturally follows that the the terrorist organizations would want McCain to win. An Obama victory, on the other hand, would just by its presence win a great deal of sympathy toward America from al Qaeda recruiting grounds, diminishing their strength and effectiveness. Obama’s policy of going straight for al Qaeda to defeat them, rather than feeding and using them as a tool to gain more power, would just as certainly not be welcome with the terrorists.

So forth and so on–you get the idea, but that’s not the central thrust of this post. The reason I did not jump on the news when it came out was because any statement from al Qaeda or its supporters must be suspected as self-serving; while I believe that the statement made was true in a factual sense, it could be interpreted in the opposite sense as well, in that such a statement is bound to hurt McCain and that might have been its intent. So the end valuation of the remark is self-cancelling, and therefore can not be interpreted as having any real meaning or impact.

However, as I reasoned thus, I immediately reflected on the fact that had the al Qaeda statement been in support of Obama instead of McCain, conservatives–the McCain campaign and John McCain himself at their vanguard–would have exploded into an orgasmic state of exuberant mega-attack against Obama that would have made a shark feeding frenzy look like a Jenny Craig seminar. That the terror group’s support was reported to be with McCain made things different: Democrats know that riding such pronouncements is dishonest and thus we have the resultant relative silence on the issue.

On the conservative side, however, the perception is very different. Maybe intellectually they know that Democrats are too straight-arrow to jump on this, but their conservative smear-campaign instincts just won’t allow them to believe that in their truthiness-imbued guts. They obviously felt that someone on the left would make a big deal about it, so they held what a reporter called a clearly “panicked” conference call intended to defuse the issue. Which, of course, was self-defeating, as the Democrats were not going to play this news like the Republicans would have.

In the conference call, the McCain spokespeople just reinforced their own reputation for opportunistic dishonesty, the same reputation they were trying to foist on the Obama campaign. They not only claimed that the al Qaeda-affiliated endorsement for McCain was actually an attempt to undermine McCain, but they also brought up the litany of unsavory people (Hamas, Ahmadinejad, Gaddafi) making statements that appeared to support Obama–in effect, attempting to turn the anticipated attack against Obama and thus voiding or reversing it.

Sometimes, just the simple state of being a bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking rat bastard can be its own worst curse. But you knew that already.

Electoral Math

October 22nd, 2008 1 comment

Not only is it looking pretty bad for McCain, but we should be able to know the end results pretty early this election day. In order for McCain to win the election, he is going to have to pull off some pretty amazing upsets. Here is a best-case-scenario squeaker win for McCain:


Compare this with the actual present-day electoral map according to an aggregate of state polls:


In short, McCain has to win not only all the states where he currently holds a lead (Obama seems to have a long-shot chance at Georgia), but he also has to win all four states currently trending slightly for Obama–Nevada, Missouri, Ohio, and North Carolina–and he has to win back Florida, tilting slightly more for Obama–and he has to win a big state currently solid for Obama, and it looks like they are trying for Pennsylvania. Which probably explains their strong emphasis on race and distrust–they hold that image of Hillary beating Obama there and that race being decided on those very issues. The problem, of course, is that Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania is not only significant, it is still trending sharply for Obama:


Maybe I’m crazy, but I just don’t see McCain pulling off Pennsylvania.

In short, on election day, watch for how McCain does in the Keystone State. If he loses that race, then he has virtually zero hope of winning the election.

In the meantime, go to Pollster and check out the situations in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and Nevada. In only one of those states–Ohio–does the trend favor McCain. In Florida, the candidates are both holding steady. In all the other states, Obama is the one moving upward.

Going by the trendlines, one has to conclude that with the time remaining, McCain would have to pull off a literal miracle to win this election. No way he’s going to win it on his own–there would have to be some incredibly significant, game-changing event in the next two weeks to move the public’s opinions that fast, that sharply.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

New tactic for McCain’s Legions: Protest the Vote

October 21st, 2008 Comments off

The right-wingers have really started to outdo themselves. McCain followers are rally getting scary, and I mean scary. It’s bad enough that you have people attending McCain and Palin rallies shouting, “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” Bad enough that McCain supporters have demonstrated outright racism, like hanging Obama in effigy on front lawns or putting Obama tags on monkey dolls.

But now, McCain/Palin supporters have started taking on tactics of the extreme pro-life movement: just as you see pro-lifers grouping in protest a mandatory distance away from abortion clinics and screaming at women who enter, we are now starting to see McCain’s followers protesting voting places. That’s right, they are protesting the vote. This example was in North Carolina, as voters went to a polling place after an Obama rally. The protesters were lined up to heckle and harass the voters. Some even had graphic “dead baby” signs up, again mirroring the pro-lifers. This group was shouting anti-Obama, pro-McCain rants at the voters in line. Make what you will of nthe fact that the voters standing in line to exercise their public right and duty were mostly black; the crowd shouting at, taunting, and decrying those voters were mostly white. Anyone who knows their history should be at least a bit disturbed by the imagery.

This is voter intimidation in its rawest form. If I were a McCain supporter, I would be deeply ashamed.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Republicans Break Irony, Again

October 20th, 2008 1 comment

It turns out that there is voter fraud going on: California police just arrested a guy for submitting a fraudulent voter registration form.

They guy: Mark Jacoby, head of a voter registration group hired by the California Republican Party (CRP). Yep, with McCain calling ACORN a threat to the fabric of Democracy, and the extremely-politicized Bush justice department investigating and leaking news at politically advantageous times, a chief Republican registration official is the one arrested for fraud.

If that’s not ironic enough for you, then how about the reaction of the Republicans? Money quote:

The CRP called the arrest “politically motivated.”

Wheee!! Look at irony, shattering into a million tiny pieces!!

Republicans wanted to start a nationwide dragnet to catch even the tiniest evidence of election fraud, even going so far as to fire any US Attorneys who refused to make that campaign their primary task. Well, as they say, watch out what you wish for: you just might get it! And they did–except the Californian authorities missed the Prime Directive of that campaign: only prosecute Democratic fraud. You’re supposed to let Republicans get away with it. Think I’m kidding? Witness Ann Coulter herself being guilty of the exact same voter registration fraud as Jacoby. Coulter was let off without so much as a slap on the wrist–it helps when the administrations in power are on your side, I guess.

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McCain: Lobbyists So Much More Trustworthy than the Masses

October 20th, 2008 1 comment


McCain also complained that the identities of people who contributed more than $200 million of Obama’s total take have not been reported, although that is allowable under federal law because the individual donations fall under the $200 reporting limit.

“I’m saying it’s laying a predicate for the future that can be very dangerous,” McCain said. “History shows us where unlimited amounts of money are in political campaigns, it leads to scandal.”

Ultimately, the only problem with raising such big amounts is that the politician will be beholden to the donors and will feel it necessary to repay them with access and special favors. You know, the kind that McCain is embroiled in up to his neck and higher, as evidenced that his campaign is riddled with lobbyists, his campaign manager being a major lobbyist for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. McCain gets a great deal of support, monetary and otherwise, from these lobbyists and their big-player clients, and, totally by coincidence I am sure, his policies and Senate votes have fallen in line with these players’ interests. Being so close to the corruption, one can perhaps see why McCain is talking about the need for reform so much.

But what McCain is objecting to here is that Obama raised less than $200 apiece from more than a million average Americans; he calls this “dangerous.”

Um, Senator McCain? I think you need to go back and look up what the word “reform” means.

Categories: Corruption, Election 2008 Tags:

Powell Endorses Obama

October 20th, 2008 3 comments

Not that it wasn’t expected:

Powell said he had watched both Obama and Sen. John McCain in the last “six or seven weeks,” since the national political conventions, and paid special attention to how they reacted to the nation’s worsening economic situation.

“I must say, he seemed a little unsure about how to approach the problem,” Powell said of McCain. “He didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems we have.”

Powell also expressed concerns about McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. “I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of vice president,” Powell said, adding that it raised “some questions in my mind” about McCain’s judgment.

As for Obama, Powell said, “I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.” “He’s thinking that all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values,” Powell said, in an apparent reference to remarks Palin made earlier this week that she enjoyed visiting the “pro-America” areas of the country.

The retired general said that “John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know,” but he expressed serious concerns about his campaign’s, and the Republican Party’s recent focus on Obama’s past association with William Ayers and robocalls the campaign has placed in battleground states this past week. “I think this goes too far. I think it’s made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me. The party has moved further to the right,” he said.

Now, as a result of his performance at the U.N. leading up to the Iraq War, Powell does not have nearly the cachet today that he once had, far less with liberals, in fact. But he is still highly regarded by many independents and conservatives, and that could be critical in the next few weeks as many people in the center or just right of it make up their minds. Powell’s voice could swing votes to Obama, or at least lessen enthusiasm for McCain where McCain needs it.

To me, Powell is a tragic figure–a man who could have been the first African-American president, instead choosing to avoid the brutal fray of politics that Obama is now navigating, only to wind up badly damaged by the people he swore his loyalty to.

Signing up to serve in Bush’s cabinet was a colossal blunder for Powell. He was crassly used by that administration. His sage advice was largely ignored, he was cut off and disregarded–and then his gravitas, the respect everyone had for him, was abused by his boss, who knew he had a soldier who would follow orders. Powell lost a massive chunk of his credibility by the time he had left the Bush administration.

Like the tragic good-guy-turned-villain-turned-good-again in so many movies, this seems like Powell’s exiting grasp at righting some of what went wrong. I can only imagine someone altering the ending scenes from Return of the Jedi, putting McCain’s face on the emperor’s, shooting wicked rays at Luke Obama, and have Darth Powell turn on McCain and throw him down the shaft in a final act of remorse and heroism.

It will be interesting to see how McCain reacts to this.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Palin on Anti-American Americans

October 19th, 2008 Comments off

Not that Sarah Palin hasn’t jumped the shark about ten times already, but here’s the latest, from a rally in North Carolina:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.

This, of course, clearly implies that there are parts of the United States which are not “pro-American.” Since Palin has spoken in pretty much every part of the nation by now, we should review something she stressed as a cardinal rule of politics:

I might add that, in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they’re listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. No, we tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

But hey, let’s give Sarah Palin a chance to clarify her hypocrisy with a completely inconsistent, blather-mouthy, weaselly excuse, from, appropriately, Fox News:

Every area, every area across this great country where we’re stopping and where also the other ticket is stopping and getting to speak at these rallies and speak with the good Americans, it’s all pro-America. I was just reinforcing the fact that there, where I was, there’s good patriotic people there in these rallies, so excited about positive change and reform of government that’s coming that they are so appreciative of hearing our message, hearing our plan. Not, not any one area of America is more pro-America patriotically than others.

Uh huh. I won’t comment on this further because, you know, what really can you say that’s not blindingly obvious?

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Joe the Fake

October 18th, 2008 11 comments

You have almost certainly heard of Joe the Plumber. Maybe you heard that his name is Samuel, not Joe, but Joe appears to be his middle name, and if he uses it, then it’s a non-issue and let’s move on.

And there is a lot to move on to. McCain apparently did not vet Joe the Plumber any more than he did Palin. But since McCain repeatedly talked about Joe the Plumber, he really should have gotten his facts straight. McCain thought that Joe would be a great way to attack Obama. Joe stopped Obama in Ohio and said that he was preparing to buy his boss’s plumbing company; he claimed that the firm’s income was more than $250,000 a year, and asked “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” McCain glommed on to this amateur attempt to show up Obama as unfriendly to the common man, mentioning Joe almost two dozen times in the debate.

The problem is, Joe’s question to Obama was not exactly legitimate.

First, Joe ain’t a plumber. He works for a plumbing company, but he’s not trained or licensed in the state of Ohio, where he lives. He says he works under his boss’s license, but (a) that appears not to be legal in many places in Ohio, and (b) if Joe bought the business he would not be able to work under his boss’ license anymore. He’d have to retake the training program he never finished and then get licensed first.

Second, Joe is highly unlikely to be able to buy the business in the first place. Records show that Joe makes around $40,000 a year and owes back taxes he hasn’t yet paid; he claims that he wants to buy a business that nets a quarter mill a year. Without a whopping big loan, less likely now than ever considering the bank loan crisis, Joe probably isn’t buying anything; his question to Obama was likely a fictional stretch in an attempt to make Obama look bad.

Third, the business he claims to want to buy probably doesn’t make “more than $250,000” in taxable income; people who know Joe’s boss, All Newell, say that his business is run out of a garage and couldn’t possibly net that much. Experts estimate the business’ net income at no more than $150,000 to $200,000 a year at the outside, where it would not be taxed more under Obama’s plan. As Obama explained it to Joe in that initial talk on the street, any income under $250,000 would not be subject to a tax hike–only the taxable income over $250,000 would be taxed. If, as Joe claimed, his imaginary business made $280,000, then only $30,000 would be taxed at 39% instead of 36%–a modest increase of $900. And frankly, on that level of income, you’re doing damned well enough to pay your fair share.

Fourth, Joe is not your average, independent, undecided Joe Voter. Joe is a registered Republican. He first claimed he was undecided, but eventually admitted that he is indeed a McCain backer. And to top it off, it appears that he hails from Mesa, Arizona, in McCain’s home state. This was not an honestly uncommitted voter trying to suss out the truth from a candidate, it was a McCain supporter trying to do a “gotcha” on Obama under false pretenses.

So in the end, we don’t have a hard-strapped independent everyman plumber who will be hit hard by Obama’s oppressive tax plan, we have a Republican McCain supporter putting forth a fake scenario intended to make Obama look bad, but who will actually not be hurt at all by Obama’s plan.

In fact, in the ironic capper to the story: Joe will make out better under Obama than he will under McCain. Recalling the candidates’ tax plans and Joe’s actual current income, Joe would get a 2.0% tax cut under Obama, but a 0.6% tax cut under McCain–that’s about $800 in relief from Obama and $240 from McCain.

But Joe seems to represent an ever-increasing segment of the American population: those who are actually helped more by Democrats, but vote Republican because they dream and fantasize about being rich and influential, under which circumstances they imagine they would benefit greatly from Republican policies.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

The ACORN Fraud Fraud: How to Fake an Issue to Commit a Crime You Are Denouncing

October 17th, 2008 Comments off

The claim is that ACORN is a group with close ties to Barack Obama and is involved in a massive scam to register hordes of fake voters so as to throw the election for Barack Obama. McCain claimed in the debate last night that ACORN is “now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

The truth, of course, is significantly different.

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is a voter advocacy group that holds registration drives, focusing on increasing participation among lower- and middle-class citizens. While ACORN often finds itself aligned with Democrats on the issues, it is not affiliated with any political party, and McCain himself was the keynote speaker at an ACORN rally, where he praised ACORN and its workers, saying, “What makes America special is what’s in this room tonight.”

ACORN is not involved in any vote fraud. The focus of the recent storm is something which has always plagued all registration drives by all such organizations of any size: workers scamming their employers for a little extra cash. ACORN, and many organizations like it, hire people to register citizens to vote. You’ve probably seen this many times, where a card table is set up somewhere in public with forms, and a few people are approaching passers-by and urging them to register. The people who work these tables are hired just like with any organization or company. They are paid to register people. And whenever you hire lots of people, some will be dishonest. In this case, some decide that it’s easier to simply fake registrations instead of signing up real people, which is how you get registrations for Mickey Mouse and Tony Romo.

This is not directed by or encouraged by ACORN, Barack Obama, or John McCain, it is not the fault of anyone except a few dishonest people for hire. ACORN, the actual victims of fraud here, do their best to flag such fraudulent registrations, but are not allowed to throw out even the most egregious fakes–all must be submitted. But this does not mean that this will result in any fake votes. This is a few people trying to get a few extra bucks by submitting forms with fake names and information.

There is no evidence–zero, zilch, none, not a scrap–that this is anything but what I have described above. So why is it such a big story? The answer is an old one: because it is a helpful red herring for right-wing efforts to commit real election fraud.

There is a real and penetrating effort by conservative groups to suppress the poor and minority votes, primarily due to the fact that these groups vote strongly Democratic. There are several ways to do this. One is to introduce new laws which challenge and restrict registration and voting by these groups, such as Voter ID laws, which discourage poor voters by throwing more obstacles in their path. Another way is to fight against laws which make it easier for these people to register, such as Motor-Voter laws, which conservatives have always fought against. Another way is to disenfranchise large numbers through a variety of dodgy, dishonest, and often contemptible means, such as voter caging; the most recent iteration of this is to challenge the registration of voters whose homes have been foreclosed.

How are these efforts helped by false claims of fraud by groups like ACORN? In truth, there is very little actual voter fraud amongst these groups; in light of that truth, there is little justification for the conservative efforts to suppress the vote. But by claiming massive voter fraud where there is none, such efforts are given a false veneer of legitimacy. Without any voter fraud happening, Voter ID laws don’t make much sense; by claiming voter fraud is rampant, you gain support.

In McCain’s case, the reason is more immediate: to not only sully his opponent and energize the base, but also to begin construction of a false narrative as to why the election will go the way it will go.

This whole situation is made much worse by the recently leaked news that the FBI is now launching an official probe into ACORN. Coming just a day after McCain made his big ACORN smear campaign official, the news smacks of dirty tricks, giving just such false legitimacy to the claims of vote theft. The real question here is why ACORN is being investigated while blatant efforts of real election fraud go uninvestigated and unpunished, from Katherine Harris’ 2000 fraud where she knowingly disenfranchised tens of thousands of Democratic voters in Florida under an intentionally-botched purge of felons from voter lists, to more recent caging efforts that target college students who are required to leave their dormitories during summer break, or even soldiers who are serving overseas.

These efforts result in the actual loss of voting rights by tens of thousands of real American citizens at the polls, as compared to the claimed ACORN fraud, which has very little if any impact at all on actual votes cast in any election.

But those real and significant cases of election fraud benefit conservative politicians–draw your own conclusions as to why they go uninvestigated.


October 12th, 2008 2 comments

After McCain loses the election in November, will he revert back to his former self? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags: