Archive for the ‘Election 2008’ Category

This Is Beginning to Get Scary

October 10th, 2008 1 comment

At the beginning of this campaign, John McCain solemnly and repeatedly vowed to run a “respectful” and “honorable” campaign, taking the high road and refusing to go negative on his opponent, instead leading with the issues.

John McCain pledged a “respectful campaign” Tuesday against either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, but said he is less confident about the influence of outside political groups.

I think we can safely call that promise broken. It’s gone way beyond being able to blame it on 527’s.

The thing is, McCain broke that promise long ago, maybe even before he started making up stuff like saying that Obama refused to visit wounded troops if no cameras were allowed, or that Obama would intentionally lose the Iraq War just to win an election.

Now, Obama is ahead in just about all of the polls. has Obama so far ahead it’s not even funny–McCain now has less than a 10% chance of winning. A lot can happen in a month, but you’d be asking for a hell of a lot for McCain to turn things around.


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Of course, that’s not the scary part. Nor is the idea that the polls may not be taking into account Obama’s full power in the upcoming election–that high turnouts by minority voters and vast numbers of new Democrats registering are not being fully factored into the numbers we’re seeing. More and more, it’s beginning to look like Obama is going to win this one.

Nor is the scary part the economy, though that’s plenty scary; Obama is not a miracle worker, and what he will be able to do may be limited, especially if when Republicans go into full-out obstructionist mode, blocking every scrap of legislation in sight and then calling Democrats “do-nothing” losers, the exact technique they have used to good effect (for them, not the country) for the past two years. It’s not quite so scary that Obama won’t be able to do much there because (a) presidents usually can’t do much good, but (b) they can do a lot of harm and McCain looks to do that harm and more.

No. None of that is so scary. So, what is they scary part?

The scary part is that the McCain campaign is starting to look less and less like a campaign and more and more like a lynch mob.

Think I exaggerate? Think again. The McCain campaign has gone almost 100% negative, doing nothing but attack, attack, and attack some more, and the attacks are not subtle; they are playing the “terrorist” angle to the hilt, running ads linking Obama to Ayers as if Ayers bombed D.C. and Obama was right there with him burning a flag. They echo this on the campaign trail. Mentions of Obama’s middle name have re-emerged, and crowds are shouting “Obama, Osama!”

This is made more significant not just by the disrespect, but the utter, complete lack of any respect whatsoever; referring to Obama as “that one,” making thinly veiled racial references, and painting Obama as “dangerous.” McCain and his people know who they are talking to. They know they have the fundie base energized, that they are more and more appealing to the extremist crowd. And they are playing it up.

The question is, how far will they play it up? The answer is, apparently, almost all the way. Maybe not to 11, but damned close. Now it is not uncommon for McCain to ask his crowds, “What kind of man is Obama?” and the audience members shout back, “terrorist!!” Recently, Sarah Palin was stoking the terrorism fire when an audience member shouted out, “Kill him!” In another Palin crowd, someone yelled, “Off with his head!”

In no instance did McCain or Palin rebuke such a response; they just kept on going.

These are not just wackos in the crowd that can be ignored; after all, how often have you ever heard of people in controlled political events shouting death threats against the opposing candidate? And if they did, would you not expect the campaign to go out of its way to disavow and condemn such things?

That’s the scary thing: that McCain and Palin are unabashedly whipping their supporters into angry mobs lacking only pitchforks and torches, though maybe not ropes to hang from trees. They know what they are doing and yet they keep on pressing forward with the attack.

This has gotten so bad that even people inside the McCain campaign are starting to publicly question the wisdom of stirring up such hostility.

In response, a McCain advisor simply said that they were “happy” with how the campaign is going.

I certainly hope that Obama’s secret service detail is beefed up and hypersensitive to all threats, because John McCain seems to be just one short step away from losing it and shouting to his supporters, “Go lynch him!”

Update: Saner opinions in the McCain campaign seem to have prevailed, as McCain has just suddenly hit the brakes on the “Obama is a terrorist” car. At a rally in Minnesota where the audience booed Obama, McCain called for “respect,” apparently thinking this would do the trick and erase the last several months of McCain issuing severe disrespect for Obama, repeatedly calling him in all but name a terrorist and a traitor.

But as is often true after one lathers up an angry mob, the mob has a momentum of its own and is not easy to slow down. Even after McCain’s appeals for respect, audience members “pushed back,” asking McCain to tell the “truth” about Obama (“you know, tell us all about his Muslim terrorist ways!”), and telling McCain that they feared an America led by Obama. McCain tried to reapply the “respectful” brakes, but again to little effect–a subsequent speaker from the audience started by announcing that she is scared of Obama because he is an “Arab terrorist.” McCain actually had to grab the microphone away from her and state that Obama is a “decent family man.”

McCain is suddenly discovering that lynch mobs are not quite as easy to reign in as he may have thought.

Later Update: Here’s a video of the aforementioned rally, which shows that TIME slightly misreported, but that clarification just makes it stranger:

The woman did not say that Obama was an “Arab terrorist”; she said he was an “Arab,” and then stopped–maybe she wanted to go on to say terrorist, but she didn’t. She just said “Arab.”

What is strange is that McCain took the mic back and said, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not.”

Umm… “He’s not an Arab, he’s a decent family man citizen”? So, Arabs are not decent?

One can understand why the TIME blogger thought she said “terrorist”: because McCain answered as if she had. At least he’s in tune with his crowd that much.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Levels of Responsibility

October 7th, 2008 3 comments

Right now, my college is undergoing an accreditation review. For those who don’t know what that is, it is essentially the licensing for the school. You can’t offer a degree worth more than the paper it’s printed on if you don’t continuously win and re-win accreditation from one of the major agencies.

Today we met with the consultant evaluators, and they asked some pointed questions. These are professionals, they’ve been in the business a long time, they’ve done this before and they know their stuff. And of course, it’s their job to know what you should be able to show them, namely that your institution is doing what it is supposed to be doing, that the students you teach are getting what they should be getting.

And it occurred to me in this process that if we did something like ignore a question and address something else we wanted to point out instead, it wouldn’t fly. We might get a long stare that asks us to change our minds and answer the question asked. That if they asked us what the institution could offer students, and we replied that we were real close to a city library, so we had access to lots of information we could give the students, we would probably have to sit there in silence while the evaluators worried about what fate our students would suffer at our inexperienced hands. Or that if we hired someone for a vital position who had no qualifications worth mentioning for the job, they would rightly question our ability to staff the school. And if we knew in advance that our answers would be inadequate and simply denied the evaluators access, it would be even worse.

In short, we could lose our accreditation, our jobs, our school.

Now, we’re just a small school which runs a basic general education program, small potatoes in the bigger world of higher education. It’s not like we want to become leaders of the most powerful nation on Earth.

And yet, it occurred to me in this process, that we are being held to a far higher level of accountability than is the McCain campaign. And it’s not like McCain and Palin are being evaluated by chimps; it’s not as if the entire field of journalists don’t know their jobs, their responsibilities, their duties. It’s not as if they don’t know how to ask the tough questions, how to report on what’s really happening. It’s not like they can’t tell that proximity to Russia has zero value, that McCain and Palin are lying through their teeth, that Sarah Palin is not qualified or appropriate for her position, or that denial of access is equal to an admission of fear and incompetence.

But if you want accountability, head down to your local community college. I can speak from experience that in order to stay in business, they have to answer to a far higher level of scrutiny, and live up to their promises, with no lies, evasions, or bull.

Don’t try to get that from the McCain campaign, though; they don’t even come close to living up to those lofty standards. In fact, they don’t even try.

They could not succeed in running a small junior college; how can they claim to be qualified to run the entire country?

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Debate Mockery, Mockery of a Debate

October 6th, 2008 3 comments

As usual, SNL did a great job showing a lot of truth via comedy in the latest debate:

On that note, here’s a quote from the real debate by Sarah Palin:

And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.

News flash, Sarah: if no American people asked you a question and you don’t respond to any question asked to you, then you’re not talking to the American people, you’re talking to yourself–and by ignoring the moderator, who represents the people (as you agreed to when you decided to join the debate), you’re ignoring the American people.

Yeah, I know, this is very late commentary. But it’s been on my mind and I just wanted to get it out.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

At the Debates

October 4th, 2008 Comments off

Movie critic Roger Ebert gives an apolitical review of the debates which has a lot of interesting stuff. He analyzes, among other things, a point that many have brought up: that Palin, after Biden’s genuine emotion when speaking about his family, spoke with a jarring lack of sympathy or emotion herself. I hadn’t seen that bit.

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October 4th, 2008 1 comment

My apologies to those who were hoping for links to streams, transcripts, or other resources from here; I’m afraid that that I have not been able to do very much blogging because of demands of my job. The college where I work is undergoing an accreditation review, and yesterday was crazy busy for us; from just before 11am to about midnight last night was back-to-back nonstop business.

I was able to catch the first half of the debate myself before I ran off to work, and have seen a variety of reports since then. One of my thoughts even before the debate began was a realization that there would most likely not be any Katie-Couric moments. The reason for this that occurred to me was that a debate format is way different from an interview format; debates tend to question the major issues of the campaign and the major events of the day, something easy enough to predict in advance and make sure Palin knows well. We’ve seen her Alaskan governor race debate clips, and she can be very cutting and precise when she is well-enough prepared. Even more to the point, the McCain campaign had made sure as much as possible that Ifill was warned away from trying to manufacture any “gotcha” questions (you know, the ones which might show that you don’t know something vital that you didn’t think you’d be asked about). They pre-accused her of bias and all that, so if she asked anything too specific or unpredictable, they were all set to fall on her for being “in the tank for Obama.”

But it turns out that Palin had another technique to help her even further: ignore the questions asked her. And not only did she ignore some of the questions, she didn’t even pretend that she wasn’t ignoring them–in fact, she declared that she wasn’t as a badge of honor, saying that she preferred to talk “straight to the American people.” How charmingly dishonest. Whenever she didn’t like a question or thought that she might flub the answer, she would just say, “you know, instead I’d like to talk about energy!”

Very hard to go deer-in-the-headlights when you are effectively asking yourself your own questions.

Not that this was too surprising considering the source, but it is even more telling.

No, what really surprised me about this debate is that Palin does not seem to have won the expectations game. Surely, a lot of people did expect her to get all kerfuffled (surprisingly, that’s not Yiddish) at some point or maybe several times during the debate, and that Biden would just stand a mile above her. But for some reason, the McCain campaign did not play up the expectations (again!) and perhaps that’s why there are so few people today saying that Palin won by not losing. There was no narrative set, no spin campaign to dominate the news cycle. People noted that she did not do as badly as many might have expected, and that she saved her career by not self-destructing, but she was not credited for boosting the McCain campaign last night or for turning the campaign around.

In fact, the verdict seems to be that Biden won, by swaying uncommitted voters more than Palin, and that Palin’s major accomplishment was convincing people that she’s not quite as dumb as they thought she was.

VP debates rarely do much anyway, so perhaps this debate was overblown. Right now, Obama is killing McCain in the polls, and McCain needs some kind of game-changer to turn things around. While this debate may not have been a disaster averted for McCain, neither was it anything close to what he needs to save his faltering bid for the presidency.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

McCain Decides He Has Already Lost in Michigan

October 3rd, 2008 Comments off

With the economy tanking (with McCain’s fingerprints all over it) and Sarah Palin’s shine beginning to dull, Barack Obama is not only ahead in pretty much all the national polls, but has started recording significant leads in most of the battleground states as well, including Florida–a must-win for McCain. CNN’s latest polls give Obama a 4-point lead in Florida and New Hampshire, a 6-point lead in Wisconsin, an 8-point lead in Ohio (which has started voting as Republicans again try to squelch the vote), and a 9-point lead in Virginia and New Jersey. But Obama now has double-digit leads in Minnesota (up by 11), Michigan (13), Pennsylvania (15), and Iowa (up by 16 points). In the remaining battleground states (Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado), McCain holds only a 1- to 3-point lead. That’s pretty damn weak. Other polls reflect these trends.

Other polls show similar gains by Obama, and unless something really big happens, hope for John McCain seems dim at this point.

That would explain McCain’s desperation move to pull his forces out of Michigan, a state where Republicans thought they had a chance after Obama “didn’t count the votes” in his fight against Hillary. Instead, McCain will now focus on the other battleground states and rely on picking off one of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota–states which, as noted above, are now favoring Obama by 15, 6, and 11 points respectively. Getting one of those will not be easy, and that’s assuming that McCain will somehow win back most if not all of the other battleground states.

There’s a month left to go. McCain is still doing far better than his actual performance merits. Anything could happen.

But things are looking good.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Be Like Julie

October 2nd, 2008 1 comment

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

McCain & Republicans Further Trash the Economy

September 30th, 2008 1 comment

For the past eight years, George W. Bush and the Republicans have trashed the economy with massive giveaways to corporations and the wealthy, deregulation of critical industries, and encouragement for companies to move production overseas. They also starved the lower and middle classes–weakening unions, refusing to raise the minimum wage, allowing pensions to fail, attempting to sabotage medicare and social security, reducing federal services, and ballooning costs for education, medical care and insurance–an equation which drains the flow of the economy by making it difficult for people to spend money, which is what fuels the economy in the first place. The economy is an engine where money has to flow, but instead the right-wingers have succeeded in hoarding all the fuel into one part of the engine and have refused to allow it to cycle through. (This is one reason the Democrats don’t want to just flood the engine in the part where the fuel is currently amassed.)

Now we have a banking crisis based upon deregulation and predation on the poorest members of our society collapsing into a stinking, heaving mass of greed. All part of the problem, but distressingly, only one fetid corner of it–which may be why the markets are reacting the way they are, because they know full well that McCain’s claim of the economy being “fundamentally sound” is complete and utter horseshit. If the economy were sound, then the markets would have more confidence in the banking crisis being cushioned and contained. They don’t.

So, here we have McCain “suspending” his campaign (while not really stopping very much) for a few days, charging into D.C. to manage the crisis. A petty show of impotent grandstanding, but he made a huge deal out of it. “I’m doing something!” he cried, but when it came to action, he didn’t stand up. And when it came to a vote, he failed to get even his own party–much less Washington D.C. as a bipartisan whole–to toe the line. 60% of Democrats voted for the bill, but only 33% of Republicans did so–the major reason why the bill failed. So if McCain really was the leader here, he failed miserably, and stocks plummeted. I didn’t even want to look at Apple stock, but I did, and regretted it. Thanks a bunch, John.

But at least McCain was not partisan about it, right? Hell, of course he was. Despite saying “Now is not the time to fix the blame, it’s time to fix the problem,” blame from McCain and Republicans was effusive. Immediately before talking about not fixing the blame, McCain said that Obama “and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process.” Har! McCain’s grandstanding was the partisan pillar of this entire mess, and probably was just as responsible, if not more, for the eventual failure than anything else. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are surging to blame Nancy Pelosi for the bill’s failure. McCain blames Obama for just “watching from the sidelines.”

News flash John: Leadership means actually leading, not failing pathetically and then blaming the opposition.

This failure is owned by John McCain; he claimed the mantle, he broke it, he bought it. Now he’s trying to palm it off while boasting that he’s not palming it off.


More Palin Fun, and a Caution

September 29th, 2008 1 comment

Tina Fey nailed Palin in the intro to last week’s SNL, in case you happened to miss it:

The amazing thing here is that it appears that segments of the script were lifted from transcripts of the real interview; the audience was laughing even before they got to the embellishments.

In real life, The Adventures of Sarah Palin continue to be revealed. A Wasilla native reports that Palin insisted that humans and dinosaurs lived together just a few thousand years ago, citing human footprints in dinosaur tracks as evidence. It needs to be said that the source is biased; however, it would be harder to believe if we didn’t have footage of Palin standing to be blessed by a pastor going on about witchcraft, a guy who started his career by accusing an innocent woman of causing traffic accidents with dark magic.

But if you’d like to instead focus on her more secular side, read this article, which reveals that Palin was pretty corrupt as mayor of Wasilla, sailing past rather blatant conflicts of interest, helping friends get special breaks, and changing zoning rules so she could profit from the sale of her property which had zoning violations. This aside from receiving various gifts while in office.

Oh yeah, and CBS has two more Palin interview responses to Couric which are “embarrassing.” More than what we’ve seen already? That would be something. The source of that news, by the way, reports that the media is scaling back it’s criticisms of Palin for fear of looking like they were “piling on.” Sorry, but when you have a completely inappropriate candidate acting like a complete loon and lying her ass off like this, piling on is absolutely called for.

When Palin first appeared on the ticket, more than a dozen scandalous points just toppled out of what would become a cornucopia of shame, most of that initial stuff still unanswered in fact. But it just kept on coming, and it still keeps on coming. The more and more we learn about Palin, the more and more we realize the terrible depth of poor judgment John McCain demonstrated by choosing her.

All that said, we do now have to be careful regarding the upcoming debate: unlike McCain, Palin has become somewhat of a public laughingstock from her gaffes, and so stands to win from the expectations game. Biden is expected to do well, so it will be difficult for him to “win”; this debate is Palin’s to lose, as she’ll be seen as a victor if she can get through it without looking like a complete ass. The bar is set very, very low for her–so we have to watch out for relativity to hand her an ill-deserved victory.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Campaign of Gimmicks: A Made-for-TV Movie

September 28th, 2008 3 comments

First there was the selection of a beauty queen-turned-governor as a vice-presidential running mate. Then we had the shutting down of the convention, if only for a day. Then Palin had to go silent while she saw off her son to Iraq. Then there was the “suspension” of the McCain campaign to become the supposed hero of the bailout. And now, there are rumors that the Bristol Palin quasi-shotgun wedding is going to become a central campaign event, possibly taking time away from Sarah Palin’s availability to the press. The McCain campaign has turned into a gimmick train, trying to win the public over with a series of outrageous PR stunts, each one outdoing the last.

The media, of course, loves this, and that’s probably a major reason why McCain is resorting to stunts like this. Manipulating the media, giving them razzle-dazzle to sell ads, that’s central to the McCain campaign. Which is why I am not totally discounting the whole wedding event thing–it sounds exactly like the kind of thing they’d do.

Interestingly, there are some parallels in fiction; in the movie The Birdcage, a right-wing politician tries to revitalize his campaign marred by scandal by using his daughter’s wedding as a centerpiece of his public relations.

I am also reminded of a book by Neal Stephenson called Interface, in which a politician given a microchip implant in his brain is swept into office via a campaign of surprise gimmicks slickly engineered by a power broker using the politician as a front. The coincidences in the book become creepy when you remember that the guy’s vice-presidential candidate, Eleanor Richmond, was a working-class mother swept into politics after showing down a corrupt politician, and she becomes president after the candidate wins the election and dies. The coincidences end there, however–in the book, the woman is a person of honor and conscience, not even close to Sarah Palin.

John McCain is slowly–no, make that quickly turning this campaign into a fictional melodrama. All we need now is product placement; everything else relevant to fictional storytelling and movie promotion & distribution is in place and running.

Update: The following mock movie trailer would be a hell of a lot funnier if it weren’t so potentially close to reality:

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Debate Fallout

September 28th, 2008 1 comment

Obama seems to have won this one, that much is fairly well agreed upon. A lot of people are talking about the fact that McCain refused to look at Obama as a major point, and while I agree that this was significant, I think that there is another significant reason that most people are not talking about.

First, a little about the eye contact thing. This was immediately apparent; before looking at any blogs, I watched some of the debate. (I recorded it while the wedding was going on and saw a good piece of it after going home that evening, while Sachi took care of some other things) The fact that McCain almost resolutely refused to look at Obama was one of the first things that stood out to me. As some mentioned, it looked like a stance of utter contempt, like he wouldn’t deign to even look down upon Obama, a kind of ultimate gesture of disrespect. That, along with him repeatedly calling Obama naive, saying that he doesn’t understand things which he clearly did understand, made McCain come across as both arrogant and condescending.

What I have not heard commented on is how this played with African-Americans, or even minorities (and perhaps even women) in general. If you’re white and male, this usually will not even register with you, but if you have been at the receiving end of discrimination, McCain’s attitude could very well resonate with your past experiences and come across as more than just condescending. I have no idea how that played out, but would be very interested to see any figures on that. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I have the feeling that the reactions amongst minority groups would be stronger. However, the end effect would not be so great, as McCain has little support from these groups in any case. Suffice it to say that the direction of McCain’s gaze, whether it was a planned tactic or not, worked against him in any case.

The other reason I think Obama won, the reason I think has been overlooked, is that this was the first time that people were able to see Obama and McCain together in an unfiltered setting. Before now, people have seen them apart, but mostly in forums where the media filtered, edited, and gave immediate commentary. McCain’s worst blunders have been either toned down, excused by commentators, or even completely edited out from media coverage, while a good deal of the coverage regarding Obama has been negative to outright hostile–I remember tuning into CNN where they were doing an absolute hit piece on Obama, taking a clip where he said “no one questions my patriotism” and made it out to be a threat of bodily harm in the style of corrupt, “bare-knuckled Chicago politics.”

It certainly didn’t hurt that Jim Lehrer was moderating the debate, giving questions that were as cogent, relevant, and reasonable as the ABC Clinton-Obama debate questions were not. Lehrer is one of the best, if not the best anchors out there, recognition aside, and he ran the debate like a pro, or so it seemed to me.

So while the media has filtered the public’s exposure to the candidates in the past, at today’s forum, people got a chance to see both of them directly, side by side. While McCain appealed to his own people, I think he lost a lot of independents. Obama came across as reasonable, respectful if disagreeing, more warm and personable; McCain came across, as mentioned before, as condescending and cold. With audio only, McCain may have fared better, but the visuals made a big difference.

Both came across as studied and understanding of the issues–which only hurts McCain, as his narrative says that Obama doesn’t understand, something he reiterated throughout the debate. But Obama’s performance showed up how wrong that accusation is, showing that Obama could hold is own and maybe even then some, when face-to-face with an opponent who was supposed to be superior on such issues. Obama also put up a fight, taking McCain on whenever McCain misrepresented him, and I think got his point across. People who may have worried about Obama’s experience were given a chance to see him in a better context relative to McCain. So McCain actually lost ground despite not making any gaffes himself.

It is also here that McCain not only lost the expectations game, but arguably handed that win to Obama. McCain passed on the chance to allow his many gaffes to work for him. The media’s efforts to tone down and even edit out McCain’s rather significant errors in the past made him look more astute before the debate began. Had the public seen more of the real McCain, it could have lowered expectations for him, something which I expected his people to play up. They did not, and I think that average people did not really expect McCain to stumble. As a result, McCain did not gain from such expectations (like Bush did in 2000); had they played this tactic, McCain may have very well been declared the winner on the simple grounds that he didn’t do badly during the debate. Instead, ironically, it was Obama who benefited from low expectations, expectations which the McCain camp itself set up and perpetuated.

If you were watching the debate, you probably noticed the audience reactions showing in the graph at the bottom of the screen. While hardly definitive, they did show that the independents went strongly for Obama; that when Obama spoke, the Independents’ line rose, and fell when McCain started speaking. With minor exceptions, things seemed to go that way for much of the time I watched.

McCain needed a clear win; instead he lost, or at the very best, fought to a draw–which really equals a loss, as the focus on foreign policy was supposed to be his strength.

It will be interesting to see how this is reflected in polls already trending in favor of Obama.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

September 26th, 2008 5 comments

How can any conscious human being watch this and not conclude that Sarah Palin is an idiot?


Couric: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don’t know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Yeah, it’s funny that reporters would be so exasperatingly stupid to suggest that Sarah Palin doesn’t have foreign policy experience because Putin flies several miles over her head once in a while. Those darn reporters, what lunkheads!

Even if Putin did fly over Alaska on his way to America (which I don’t think he does), that’s a remarkably stupid thing to say. What, she and her staff go on high alert and contact foreign leaders when Putin is in the air overhead?

And trade missions? Um, how many have you headed up, Sarah?

Even with Palin’s complete lack of foreign policy experience, it staggers the mind that the campaign could not engineer a better answer than that.

There is just no tiptoeing around this: Palin comes across in this interview as laughably stupid–as would anyone who would watch this and then state that Palin made some sense to them. Just no two ways about it. No wonder they want to cancel her debate.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

McCain Campaign Manager Huge Lobbyist for Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

September 23rd, 2008 Comments off

What I wanted to head up my blog page for today: the reason why the McCain camp scrambled to accuse the media of being “in the tank” for the Obama campaign.

The NY Times reported that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis earned $2 million as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this role, Davis fought for deregulation of the industry–exactly what was responsible for the whole debacle.

In other words, McCain’s campaign manager was one of the worst black hats responsible for the current mortgage crisis. The McCain camp’s explanation for this? Get ready: Davis didn’t lobby for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he just ran the lobbying organization. Which, of course, makes it all good.

Frankly, this Davis news should be a major story that the media should focus on: if McCain is so fired up to kick SEC Chairman Christopher Cox’s ass out the door for being “responsible” for the crisis, then how come McCain’s own campaign is being run by a multi-million-dollar lobbyist for the two worst and biggest players in the crisis? When will McCain fire Rick Davis? Probably not until absolutely forced to, as such a move would be equivalent to confirming that McCain’s campaign has been directed by someone at least in part responsible for hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their homes and costing the taxpayers close to a trillion dollars in bad debt, driving the economy into the toilet.

At this time, none of the major news sites has this story on their front page. So much for being “in the tank” for Obama.

Meanwhile, Faux Noise is trying to distract viewers with accusations that Democrats are responsible for the current mortgage crisis because they supposedly encouraged ending money to minorities, euphemistically called “risky folks.” Already a controversial charge, it is hampered by the small fact that it was McCain campaign manager Rick Davis who was lobbying for more loans for minorities–and not to help minorities.

Financial news of the day: the market dives and oil prices spike.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

McCain Campaign’s Daily Media Distraction Call: To Prove We’re Not Liars, Here Are Some Lies

September 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Things must be falling apart at the McCain campaign. Usually they are very good at controlling media attention, but this time they just fell flat. Essentially, they held a conference call with reporters to complain about how often they’re being called “liars” and to deflect the main story of the day, which is that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis was a big-time lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at least in part responsible for the current crisis (more on that above). Apparently, the media embargo on coverage of unseemly McCain activity is starting to show cracks, and McCain’s people are getting nervous about it, with this big new story just out. Funny, how the media can start calling you liars after you have lied heavily and consistently for so long. And, as it turns out, the media reports following the conference call were pretty much all about the conference call and what a joke it was (except for Fox News, which of course covered it as favorably as they could).

They complained that the media was “completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for Obama” (translation: you’re reporting about McCain a little bit more accurately and are no longer completely in the tank for us, so that means you’re shilling for Obama).

To set the media right, they insisted that the reporters focus on Obama dirt, and they just happened to have three stories they wanted the media to focus on this week instead of the Davis story, and instead of noting how incessantly the McCain camp is spewing lies. The unfortunate thing about their pitch: it was filled with more lies.

They wanted the media to report heavily on these stories:

  • One of Biden’s sons is a lobbyist for banks and credit card companies–except the isn’t, he was an executive for a bank and credit card company, but never lobbied for them.
  • Obama began his political career with fundraisers at Weather Underground member William Ayers–except he didn’t; he held a single campaign event at Ayers’ house in 1995, but it wasn’t a fundraiser, and Ayers never gave Obama any money.
  • Obama surrogate Robert Wexler called Sarah Palin a Nazi sympathizer–except he didn’t; he called Pat Buchanan a Nazi sympathizer, and noted that Sarah Palin supported him, remarks which he retracted and apologized for.

These were listed and debunked by The Politico, which noted that the stories are all unfavorable about Obama when only the truth is told, but the lies piled onto them just made the McCain camp seem even more the bunch of liars they protested the media was calling them. When these were pointed out, the McCain campaign replied back that they were “quibbling with ridiculously small details when the basic things are completely right.” Regard that as you may.

But the McCain campaign is really laying it on. One can assume either that they have informed the base of the talking points, or set up a woman attending an event to scold and shame the media back into McCain’s camp from the public’s angle:

Schmidt’s anger has apparently bubbled over to McCain supporters as well. At a town hall in Scranton today, instead of asking the candidate a question, a woman issued a diatribe against the media.

“I also want to take the opportunity to ask the media, where is your 30 investigators over in Chicago looking at Ayers? We want the media to start doing their job and stop picking on little children because of their age and their pregnancies. Shame on you! Shame on all of you’s!”

“That is a great question,” McCain responded.

Did I mistake that, or did McCain just morph into Bush? Remember Bush’s phony town halls where people just got up and praised him without asking anything, and Bush thanked them for the “question”? The student has become the master.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Imagine a World That Likes Us (It’s Easy If You Try)

September 21st, 2008 2 comments

Actually, it might be hard to imagine right now. Though it wasn’t right after 9/11–we had the world standing beside us after that day. Of course, it didn’t take us long to kill that dead. All it took was the Iraq War and the inconceivably idiotic manner of taking anyone who didn’t agree with us and mocking them or calling them cowards, enemies, or worse. Those were the days of freedom fries, and Americans traveling overseas had to start pretending to be Canadians. And McCain is just more of the same; it is doubtful that he’ll instill worldwide confidence in our country again.

Obama, he’s a different story. Look at his reception in Germany. You think McCain could have pulled in that crowd there? Hell, no. That’s why McCain complained; he said the media was giving unfair coverage to Obama because when he had done the same kind of thing, it wasn’t covered so much–except McCain hadn’t done the same kind of thing as Obama–despite all his “experience,” he just doesn’t inspire admiration or confidence in people around the world. McCain couldn’t get those crowds, McCain couldn’t have gotten the Iraqi leader to go along with his hundred-year strategy… but Obama is more in tune with the rest of the world. And the rest of the world loves him. Even here in Japan, it’s “Yes, I love Obama!” and “McCain who? Oh yeah, the other guy.”

Granted, it’s not through understanding of his exact platform; granted, a lot has to do with his race. But that’s more relevant in the rest of the world; one of America’s long-standing icons of arrogant dismissal of the rest of the world has to do with race, with color. That America would vote for a man of color as our leader is far more significant than most Americans understand. It’s a signal to the world that we are truly ready for change. And that idea has excited the world.

Brazil is just one example. Under that country’s election laws, politicians can register under any name they wish. As a result, there are now six Barack Obamas running for various levels of office around the country.

The article didn’t say how many John McCains there are, but it’s a safe bet that there are fewer than six. Maybe five or more fewer.

Call it a matter of race, call it a popularity contest, call it a negative backlash against Bush. But after this administration pissed away the whole world’s good will and trashed it so thoroughly as to be virtually unrecoverable, the ability to recover that good will and once again be respected by the world is no small gain.

Many conservatives, being isolationist and/or nationalistic, might snort and dismiss such an idea. But it is worth an incredible amount to us, and anyone who dismisses it is, shall we simply say, unwise.

Disenfranchising the Foreclosed

September 19th, 2008 1 comment

Story out of Michigan: a left-leaning web site reported that the Macomb County, Michigan Republican Party Chairman James Carabelli stated that he plans to use lists of families with foreclosed homes as a target for challenging their voter eligibility. In just the second quarter of this year, about 63,000 homes were foreclosed in Michigan alone, and reportedly more than half of the foreclosures in Michigan are on homes owned by African-Americans–likely Democratic voters, as are the others who lost their homes. As the saying goes, a Democrat is a Republican who lost his job, or in this case, his home.

While it is true that the report came from a left-leaning web site and that the source denies the story, it fits in very closely with Republican voter-suppression tactics of the past. In 2004, Michigan Republican state senator John Pappageorge said, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” Publicly. Also in 2004, the GOP played a dirty trick by sending mass mailings to black college students during the summer break when they were inevitably not at their college addresses; when the letters, marked “do not forward,” were of course returned, they were used to challenge these strongly Democratic-leaning voters their right to vote in that election. So going after people, mostly black, who had their homes foreclosed–most likely strongly Democratic–fits in perfectly with documented past Republican efforts.

The Republicans who are denying this story claim that it can’t be true because “the lists don’t give them information on where a voter lives.” However, this is not a deterrent for the GOP voter caging program–in fact, it’s a perk for them. Remember, in the 2000 election, they successfully disenfranchised tens of thousands of African-American Florida voters, overwhelmingly Democratic, simply because they had names resembling those of convicted felons. Here again, they have a list which is mostly black and Democratic, and would likely use the same tactic of overreaching to try to disenfranchise everyone in the state with names matching those on the lists. As stated, it fits in with past documented Republican disenfranchisement efforts.

So, while there is a possibility that this story is not true, the Obama campaign is quite wise to file in court for an injunction to prevent Republicans from doing this. Because despite their current spate of denials, Republicans also have a past record of not only denying stuff they’re doing, but also of doing reprehensible acts and then defending it with thinly-veiled arguments to make it sound like it was somehow necessary, justified, or even patriotic. After all, the whole voter caging and disenfranchisement effort is based upon accusing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of honest American citizens of being vote-stealing criminals. Which also fits this story.

It’s All in the Details

September 18th, 2008 5 comments

Via Andrew Sullivan’s site, here are the two candidates’ messages on how to fix the economy:

Quite a difference. Obama’s plan:

1. Reform tax system with $1000 tax break to middle-class families, not the rich;
2. Real regulation that protects your investments and pensions;
3. Fast track “energy made in America plan” to end dependence on Middle East oil;
4. Crack down on lobbyists;
5. Bring a responsible end to war in Iraq so money can be spent on America.

McCain’s Plan:

1. Reform Wall Street
2. Fix Washington

This is better than Obama’s plan because:

1. His “opponent’s” solutions are only “talk and taxes.”

How stark can it get? One lays out a 5-point plan (with a link to a web site with a great many details on how this will be accomplished), and the other says he’ll “fix things” without saying how, while bragging that he’s “taken on tougher guys” than Obama.

I’m sorry, but if you’re voting for John McCain to reform the economy better than Barack Obama, then you’re a complete idiot.

Me, I’ve seen my stock price fall a lot chiefly because of market pressures due to Bush/McCain deregulation. No more, thanks. The economy has gone far better under Democrats than under Republicans for a very long time. Let’s stop the BS and turn the economy around, something possible under Obama but not under McCain.

Categories: Economics, Election 2008, Main Tags:

Running a Corporation

September 17th, 2008 Comments off

Carly Fiorina, CEO of HP, recently got into trouble when she said that Sarah Palin couldn’t run a corporation. She quickly amended that to say that she was talking about specific business credentials, and that John McCain (who was responsible for the BlackBerry, don’t you know), Barack Obama, and Joe Biden were similarly unqualified.

That brought me to think about exactly that question–how would each of the four perform as a chief executive of a corporation? Having no experience in or knowledge of the job or the environment, let me give my completely unqualified assessment, and see if you agree.

McCain would be the closest thing to a pointy-haired boss; especially in a tech corporation, he would likely not understand what he was selling. He would probably lead by whim more than by far-sighted planning, and would probably be easily influenced by those around him, doing either the last thing someone told him was a good idea, or the thing that the most people on his senior staff thought was a good idea. His mercurial temper would not help. He might have a few priorities and directions he would want to go in, but these would be limited in scope and importance. He would be uninspiring overall–workers would be less than impressed with grampaw’s war stories, and more affected by his poor speaking style. His health would spark concerns that would dampen (or, I suppose, spark) stock prices, and people would always be asking about who’s next in line to take over.

Palin would be the usurper, the lightweight that shot up to the top for a variety of reasons not having much to do with actual talent. Though sharp and ambitious, she would not be the productive type; she would have gotten to where she was over the backs of others she tore down along the way, or by the helping hand of those above who favored her. There would be widespread concern about how capably she would govern, and while she might win over the PR crowd, the professionals would have strong doubts. The social pages of the newspapers might herald her self-proclaimed accomplishments, but those in the know would laugh at the claims and understand her for the lightweight she is; look to the boring columns in the financial sections to read far-less-optimistic reviews. Those working for the company would be unhappy–people in any management position would be in constant fear of being fired (except for the neophytes, cronies, and kiss-ups), and those below would be wondering what draconian edicts would restrict their working conditions next. She would bring light to the company, but not progress, efficiency, or productivity.

Biden would be the college-professor type of CEO–a good deal of knowledge and experience, but otherwise uninspiring. He might miss the big picture for the details, and some would see him as ineffectual. While some workers would be comfortable with the low-key professional, others would be worried about whether or not this leader could take the business where it needs to go, and whether the big boss had what it takes to sell the company and make it thrive. Biden would have connections, but not necessarily the power to bring the company to the heights expected of it. He would be far preferable to McCain or Palin, but would just not be the type who would make a company a great one. The corporation he ran would be as low-key as he is–getting by, doing OK, but never in the big leagues.

Obama, while a new face, would be the only one who would really do well as a CEO. While relatively inexperienced, he would have two necessary things that any of the other three would not: the charisma to drive the company and sell the product, and the intellect to grasp what the company needs to do and how to do it. While Obama technically has no executive experience, he did start from virtually nothing and build a multi-hundred-million-dollar organization which took on and took down one of the biggest, if not the biggest political dynasty around. Obama is, in fact, closer to a self-made dotcom startup that offers a great new product that everyone wants to try. It might be heavy on flash and style, and it will have bugs, but still has the substance to sell. There is the same effect in both cases–people who like the product say it’s really great, and the naysayers quickly tire of the fans, exaggerate the expectations, and then try to shoot down the company for not being 100% perfect and delivering a product of god-like perfection. But the product is still solid and sells well. Obama is similar to Steve Jobs–someone with very good business intuition and the public persona to sell it. Everyone working for him might wonder if he could take on Microsoft after leaving Dell in the dust, but they’d be optimistic about the stock options and excited about the person leading their corporation.


Categories: Corporate World, Election 2008, Main Tags:

Actually, We Should Focus on Palin

September 14th, 2008 2 comments

I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that we ignore Palin, either because of or despite her popularity, and focus on McCain. I have no trouble with focusing on McCain, but I think there is a great danger in ignoring Palin. The reason why is because she is not just a lightning rod to take attention away from McCain–she has, in fact, quickly become the heart and center of the McCain campaign. She’s the one drawing huge crowds, she’s the one who is revitalizing the base, she’s the one who is bringing his numbers up. Ignore her and you ignore McCain’s greatest new strength. I don’t think that’s wise.

Furthermore, she has maintained her popularity precisely because there has not yet been enough critical attention paid to her. Her lies go relatively unchallenged, her claims about reform and accomplishment pretty much non-fact-checked, her background allowed to mostly slide while America focuses on the trivial irrelevancies which she can use to her advantage.

This is beginning to change. The blush is off the media rose, the honeymoon is beginning to end, insert your metaphor here. Gibson’s interview started that process, and now we are seeing more and more about her finally begin to leak through to the media sources that most Americans pay attention to. And the McCain-Palin lead is beginning to erode and evaporate.

One thing beginning to come through is her lie about the Bridge to Nowhere. It has been noted that she stopped telling that particular whopper when she went to Alaska, but now that she’s back in the lower forty-eight, she’s right back at using the lie again–as if she were aware that Alaskans knew her too well to buy that particular line of horse manure.

But for those who are confused by the claims or don’t know the whole timeline, I have pieced it together here:

November 2005: Congress strips funding for the bridge project.

September 2006: Palin shows up in the town where the bridge is supposed to link, brandishes a “Nowhere, Alaska 99901” T-Shirt, and proclaims she “feels the pain” of the townspeople for their town being called “Nowhere.”

October, 2006: In a direct answer to whether or not she supported the bridge to nowhere, Palin wrote, “Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.” Palin says publicly, “I support these infastructure projects,” “I’m going to fight hard with our federal delegation for the federal financial support of our infrastructure that Alaska deserves.”

November 2006: Palin says “I would not get in the way of progress of” the bridge to nowhere. She wins the election and becomes governor of Alaska.

August 2007: Congress allows Alaska to keep $233 million even though the bridge is long dead.

September 2007: Palin finally kills the project, saying: “Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398-million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329-million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. … Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here, but we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

September 2008 (repeatedly): “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!”

And McCain: “Yes, the pork barrel project, a $233 million bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it,” McCain said. “She, as governor, stood up and said, we don’t need it, and if we need it, we’ll pay for it ourselves. Now, that’s guts. I saw that, and I said, this, this is what we need in Washington.”

So: Ted Stevens gets the money for the bridge, but then Congress and the public react in disgust, stripping the funding. For two full years, Sarah Palin maintains her support for the bridge project–starting her campaign for governor on it–telling the people of the town that she feels their pain, and the people of Alaska that she’ll fight for federal money. She repeatedly voices support for the bridge, specifying federal funding. Then Congress decides to allow Alaska to keep much of the money that had been set aside for the bridge. ONLY THEN did Palin kill the project, saying the feds were not going to give them enough money for the bridge to be built. But she kept the money they gave her.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!”


To be honest, I was not aware of much of this timeline. I didn’t know that Palin supported the bridge for a full two years after funding had been cut, or that Palin killed the project right after Congress released the funds to Alaska. Let me tell you, making those claims about saying “no” to Congress, “thanks but no thanks” to the bridge, “We’ll pay for that bridge ourselves!”–that takes guts, lying so blatantly and outrageously!

That’s the kind of thing that needs to be told everywhere, made clear to everyone. Obama should make a commercial showing the timeline:

After Congress cut the wasteful spending on the bridge to nowhere, Sarah Palin fought for two years to get it back. She went to the town where the bridge was going to and began her campaign for governor telling them she’d fight for the bridge (show photo with the “Nowhere Alaska” T-shirt). She made the bridge a part of her campaign, repeatedly promising to get the federal funds. (Show video clip of Palin saying, ““I support these infastructure projects!”) But only after Congress cut her a check for 233 million in your taxpayer dollars (show graphic: “Palin accepts $233 million in federal pork”) did she finally kill the project–and she kept your money to boot. Then she said: (show clip after clip after clip) “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!” And McCain was right behind her: (show clip) “She, as governor, stood up and said, we don’t need it, and if we need it, we’ll pay for it ourselves!” She demanded pork. She got it. Then they both lied.

Heavily cutting, and completely, 100% factually correct.

That’s a campaign commercial we can believe in.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

One Is Consistent, the Other Was Posturing

September 13th, 2008 Comments off

Remember how the McCains and Palin jumped into action when Gustav threatened New Orleans during the Republican convention? They visited the region threatened so they could “help out” by getting in the way, showing how much they cared. Obama wisely stayed out of the way, offering support from afar, curtailing his campaign events and raising money for storm victims, the most constructive form of help a politician can muster.

Now, Ike has hit Texas. Obama is reacting the same way–he has canceled his appearance on SNL (hopefully he’ll come back for it next week), and again raises money for storm victims (his site’s main page is wholly given over to raising funds for storm relief) and monitor things from afar, staying in touch with officials in Texas by phone and offering whatever help and support he can.

McCain? Well, his main page now has a panel for storm relief among his other stuff, but that’s about it. No canceling of stump events that I can see–Palin is still going to Nevada to stump, and they will still have the NASCAR event this weekend. But what is most telling is the fact that neither McCain, his wife, nor Palin are rushing out to the site of the storm damage to “help out” again. Frankly, I think that such “help” is a bad idea and the people in the storm path are better off without it–but McCain obviously doesn’t think so, and certainly never noted such himself.

If you recall, McCain once deeply cut into Obama for canceling a visit to the troops because reporters with cameras would not be there, a charge which was patently and demonstrably false. But now that the media glare from the convention is no longer around, McCain is not visiting the storm-ravaged areas like he did when the cameras were greater in number.

Obviously, McCain cares far more about the media spotlight than he does about the people of his country, which, from what I have heard, is supposed to come “first.” Unless that’s just some throwaway line in a sales pitch.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags: