Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The drone continues

Apparently CBS is sitting on at least one and possibly 2 more clips of her interview with Katie Couric. The reason that they are sitting on these things is because they want to use it in their Wednesday and Thursday lead up to the VP debates. The Palindrone's campaign has leaked the substance of one of the clips:

Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases. There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

OK, got that? She lacks curiosity to the extent that her entire focus on Supreme Court cases is Roe. One would think that to be president or vice president there should be some knowledge beyond one case. Hell, since she doesn't "believe" in evolution, you'd think the idiot would've named Scopes! Scopes, for the record, never made it to the Supreme Court of the US (only the Tennessee Supreme Court), but a Scopes related trial - Epperson vs. Arkansas - that challenged the state's right to pass and enforce a bill the prohibited the teaching of evolution did make it to the Supreme Court in 1968 (within Palin's lifetime) and was struck down. How about Brown vs Board of Education? The challenge for the Nixon tapes? Loving vs Virginia? Any ruling during the past year? Amazingly stupid. I can't wait to see it. Only Dan Quayle and G.W. Bush have been, perhaps, as ignorant.

I read this about Palin today. It's an old joke, but an appropriate one:

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, a doctor struck up a conversation. Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin.

The old rancher said, "Well, you know, Palin is a post turtle.'"

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him, "What's a post turtle?"

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

The doctor looked puzzled, so the old rancher explained, "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with."

Then, there's this piece in Salon:

I don't want to be played by the girl-strings anymore. Shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy with Sarah Palin is a disservice to every woman who has ever been unfairly dismissed based on her gender, because this is an utterly fair dismissal, based on an utter lack of ability and readiness. It's a disservice to minority populations of every stripe whose place in the political spectrum has been unfairly spotlighted as mere tokenism; it is a disservice to women throughout this country who have gone from watching a woman who -- love her or hate her -- was able to show us what female leadership could look like to squirming in front of their televisions as they watch the woman sent to replace her struggle to string a complete sentence together.

In fact, the only people I feel sorry for are Americans who invested in a hopeful, progressive vision of female leadership, but who are now stuck watching, verbatim, a "Saturday Night Live" skit.

Palin is tough as nails. She will bite the head off a moose and move on. So, no, I don't feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for women who have to live with what she and her running mate have wrought.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Excellent commentary

McCain's response to government coffers depleted by the bailout isn't to rescind his tax cut but to freeze spending on everything but defence, veterans and entitlements - a military financial complex. Obama has conceded that his plans to expand access to healthcare, education and to make America energy-independent will have to be trimmed. Finally, the American political class has embraced a redistributive agenda. The trouble is they are about to divert public money from the poor to the bankers and financiers.

"Capitalists can buy themselves out of any crisis, so long as they make the workers pay," said Lenin. It is rarely regarded as common sense to quote him in polite company. Yet as a description of what is taking place right now, it is the most sense I've heard in a long time.

Whole thing here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Coffee talk

I've spent the past couple of mornings in coffee shops. I've gotten my training done at work and had an hour or 2 to kill. On Thursday I spent that time at the Starbuck's near work. On Friday I sipped coffee at Victor's in Redmond (a lovely spot, by the way with much better coffee and food). The common denominator in both instances was discussion of politics. Thursday's topic at a couple of tables was McQueeg's campaign ploy of "suspending the campaign". I put that in quotes because he lied (again) and didn't really suspend his campaign. Rather, he just went to Washington while his surrogates marched on. The people I heard at nearby tables weren't buying it. They sided with Letterman and thought that the whole thing was a sham. It was heartening to listen in.

Friday's topic was the Palindrone's interview with Katie Couric. A couple of people nearby were speaking about how vapid the woman is and how she doesn't seem to have a brain in her head. "It was awful and it made me sick to think that anyone would consider her Vice Presidential, let alone Presidential material. People like that have a low opinion of women." This statement from a woman who noticed that I was nodding along with her.

Now, granted, I live in a more liberal area of the country with a strong progressive movement, but it was really heartening to me to hear people talking politics as if it mattered and not buying into the Republican bullshit from this campaign.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh my

Two good reads. First:

“I didn’t know I was going to be the referee for an internal G.O.P. ideological civil war,” Mr. Frank said, according to The A.P.Thursday, in the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

It was the very outcome the White House had said it intended to avoid, with partisan presidential politics appearing to trample what had been exceedingly delicate Congressional negotiations.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate banking committee, denounced the session as “a rescue plan for John McCain,” and proclaimed it a waste of precious hours that could have been spent negotiating.

The second read confirms that about McQueeg, Putting Country Last:
I never doubted, however, that McCain's motives in pushing America into war were honorable. Nor do I question his motives in championing Georgia against Russia or in rattling the sabers against Iran. I question his judgment and wouldn't want him as president. But I do question his motives in inserting himself into the attempt by the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and the Congressional leadership (excluding the usual suspects from the Republican House delegation) to fashion a plan for preventing a Wall Street crash. He has shown a willingness to put the success of his campaign ahead of the country's welfare. And it's not over a relatively minor matter--like offshore drilling or creationism in schools.

That's a long way of saying that it is simply unpatriotic--it's an insult to flag, country, and all the things that McCain claims to hold dear--for McCain to hold this financial crisis hostage to his political ambitions. McCain doesn't know a thing about finance and is no position to help work out an agreement. If we do suffer a serious bank run, or a run on the dollar, it can be laid directly at his feet. As I said to friends last night, if McCain had been president at this point, I would have wanted to impeach him.

That brings me back to David Brooks' column. David thinks that beneath the surface of McCain the craven campaigner, that the man who nominated an ill-prepared Sarah Palin as his possible successor and has lent his energies to blocking a financial bailout, there still sits a "real McCain" who could govern fairly and effectively as president. I doubt it. I really doubt it. Whether because of age or overreaching ambition, McCain has become the kind of man he earlier railed against. He has become the Bush of 2000 against whom he campaigned or the Senate and House Republicans whom he despised. His defeat is now imperative.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game, match, set

McQueeg likes to play it loose and take gambles. In fact, he's known to gamble high stakes in Vegas. Of course, it's mostly his wife's money he's gambling. With a chance to win the White House, McQueeg could have had an opportunity to actually earn a good enough salary after he left, and add to that, the prestige, that he might earn a little more respect from his wife. Still, yesterday, I think he played a long shot and lost.

His cynical ploy to change the subject that was hitting the news - he's down by 9 points in the polls and his campaign manager has long ties to Freddie and Fannie - by suggesting that he suspend the campaign and postpone debates is going to bury him. It was a big gamble. Sarah Palin was a big gamble, but she paid off well. This, however, ain't gonna fly.

First of all, we found out afterwards that it was Obama who called the McQueeg campaign and asked for a joint statement before this nonsense. McQueeg attempted to trump him by making himself look like the originator of this idea - a maverick, indeed if not, in deed. Then McQueeg comes out and provides a statement to the press and leaves (much like a Palindrone visit to the UN). Obama comes out next and gives a full press conference and notes that the issue is too important for the American public not to hear from the 2 candidates who want to lead the nation through the crisis in debate. Then Obama notes that they both own airplanes and can do the people's business while they debate the people's future. Game, match, set - Obama.

Lincoln fought a war and ran a campaign. Roosevelt had the Great Depression and ran a campaign. Roosevelt fought a war and ran a campaign. George W. Bush fought a war and ran a campaign for orbsakes and McQueeg can't do even that?!!? He must be more feeble than we expected. Either that or it's just a cynical ploy to get votes and change the topic. My guess? This is the moment his campaign blew up. A big gamble and a huge loss. Don't believe me? Watch this:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trouble for McQueeg

On Sunday, McQueeg told the NY Times that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, hadn't lobbied for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac since 2005. He then went on the campaign trail to condemn lobbyists for the 2 failed thrifts. From Roll Call:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac emerged as issues in the presidential race last week because of turmoil in the financial markets. In a radio address from Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, McCain blamed the companies and their political clout for creating the housing mess now roiling Wall Street. “At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,’’ he said. “Using money and influence, they prevented reforms that would have curbed their power and limited their ability to damage our economy. And now, as ever, the American taxpayers are left to pay the price for Washington’s failure.’’
Got that? Lobbyists are the cause of the Wall Street "melt down" according to McQueeg. He might want to check his campaign manager's credentials out a little more earnestly than he picks a Vice Presidential candidate. Also from Roll Call:
The lobbying firm of Rick Davis, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign manager, remains on the payroll of mortgage giant Freddie Mac, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement.

The firm, Davis Manafort, has collected $15,000 a month from the organization since late 2005, when Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae dissolved a five-year-old advocacy group that Davis earned nearly $2 million leading, the sources said.

The relationship is coming to an end, however, as Fannie and Freddie’s new federal caretaker zeroes out its contracts with political consultants.

Politico has a good story on the Palindrone. Apparently she supported the "Bridge to Nowhere" for far longer than she cares to admit to today. Well, we knew that, but it went on for even longer - after McQueeg had denounced it and it had become a laughing stock for the lower 48. The nice thing about the story linked to is that A) it reveals how long she supported it, B) how she wanted to get the money while Alaska's strong men were still in Congress, C) makes clear how she kept the money rather than let it go to Katrina rebuilding and D) it explains the bridge in it's entirety to the people who have never visited Ketchikan (which, I have).


Yet another foreign policy failure for the Bush administration. When they came to office in 2001, the Bush administration wasted no time in trashing all things Clinton. One of the first victims was the Clinton administration's approach to North Korea. Bush went saber rattling and before you could wink, North Korea's nuclear program was back on the table.

Then, the World Trade Center bombing occurred. By 2002, North Korea was being labeled part of the "Axis of Evil". More bluster followed, but by 2007 tempers had cooled and the Bush administration hailed a deal that they had made with North Korea. It was a deal that looked remarkably like...the one they had thrown out in 2001. In other words, it was basically the same deal that the Clinton administration had made. For 6 years the world endured the saber rattling of both nations. The Bush administration blinked, we ended up back where we started, and the administration crowed that it had scored a victory. Typical Republican pablum: tell the lie and scream it from the rafters and it must become the Truth. McQueeg is a master of this right now.

However, 2008 is a year of change. North Korea didn't want to be left out and who can blame them? Somehow, what was once hailed as a great foreign policy success is now unraveling. Sure, the Bushies will blame it on North Korea. While North Korea will blame it on the same problem that they had with the Clinton administration - that the U.S. wasn't fulfilling it's promises. There's probably a bit of blame to go around, but considering how incompetent this administration has been about numerous other agenda items, it's hard not to give the North Koreans the edge on this one.

Not that they are right in what they are doing. North Korea should not be using such a potentially dangerous option to extort aid from the west. These actions are immoral and unethical. Such actions only subvert the very soul of a nation and it's people and further distrust throughout the rest of the world. But they may also have a legitimate gripe with the way that the agreement is being administered.

How will this play out in the elections? That's hard to say. McQueeg is likely to consider this a boost to his campaign. He'll mock Obama's willingness to use diplomacy in order to achieve international goals. It will be Obama's response to this that will be crucial. Still, America's currently focused on itself and the economy. Problems abroad are not high on the agenda, though they are also more apparent than in the 2000 election where foreign policy did not rate a debate, sadly. This development will be important to the Obama campaign not so much because it is crucial in American minds, but because his response to it will help shape the opinion of him that Americans will form as a leader. Let's hope that he doesn't fail in the similar ways that Democrats have found to fail in the past.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking hits from conservatives

A good question from a WaPo article:

Yet others, including some sympathetic Republicans, have begun to quietly question whether McCain and Palin are well served by strategists so firmly anchored in the Bush establishment when the candidates are presenting themselves as a "team of mavericks" and agents of change. One Republican with long-standing ties to the Bush administration described the situation as a paradox in which Palin is especially vulnerable.

"If the McCain campaign is trying to prop up Palin as its change agent, and its inoculation against the 'third Bush term' rap, then why on earth is she surrounded by a cast of Bush advisers?" said the Republican loyalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Since she's been selected, every single one of the senior aides that she's brought on board had prominent roles in Bush's White House or on his campaigns, or both."

It's an easy set of answers. First, they were declared winners in the last 2 elections so they are experienced. Secondly, she ideologically worships Bush and is willing to lie, just like he is, at all costs to win elections. Third, she IS Bush III. Consider a certain lack of curiosity or experience in the world, a value of loyalty and secrecy over all else, a vindictive streak, a lack of honesty, and all founded on the fact that she can make a decision and stick to it because her/his vision of the world is embedded with a moralist view. Right or wrong, damn the torpedos. She's a Republican wet dream.

Speaking of experience, George Will, conservative columnist and not to be confused with a Republican one, has some words on that topic today.

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

Monday, September 22, 2008

McQueeg was for deregulation before he was against it

The candidate is on the campaign trail decrying the deregulators, but of course he's one of the main advocates of that policy. In fact, as the NY Times reports, a member of his staff was a lobbyist for Fannie and Freddie. You know, the same thing he's trying to smear Obama with. Snippet:

Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions.

“The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again,” said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae, who said that while he worked there from 2000 to 2002, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together paid Mr. Davis’s firm $35,000 a month. Mr. Davis “didn’t really do anything,” Mr. McCarson, a Democrat, said.

In other economic news, Treasury secretary cum Banking Czar Henry Paulson is trying to convince the rest of the world that they need to follow the U.S. model for restructuring and regulating the global economies. Snippet:
"I'm going to be pressing our colleagues around the world to design similar programmes for their banks and institutions," said Paulson during a round of interviews on Sunday. "Our system is a global one."
Britain, the article goes on to note, is not having any of it. Why should they?

Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that things aren't so sunny for the Palindrone in Alaska:
The standoff has ended any vestiges of bipartisan goodwill for Palin in Juneau, after just 21 months in office. "The level of money [the McCain campaign] sent up here to attack people is unprecedented in a small state like this. If [McCain] were truly a reformer, he'd end this nonsense and apologize to all the people he's attacked up here," said Rep. Gara, a Democrat.

"I don't know why they're trying to paint this [legislative investigation] as a Democratic partisan attack," said state Sen. Wielechowski. "The thing I constantly remind people of is: Democrats didn't push this. You know who pushed it? It was the Republicans. This is the thing people conveniently forget now. There were no Democrats out there screaming for an investigation."

The House Judiciary Committee vote to endorse the issuance of the subpoenas included five Republicans and two Democrats.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

McQueeg: Health care should be like banking

McQueeg is running around the country telling people that he is the scourge of Wall Street. That he'll be the maverick that will bring reforms and regulations to reign in their excesses. Funny, because he wrote an article (pdf) for the September/October issue of Contingencies magazine (an actuarial journal) that says the following:
I would also allow individuals to choose to purchase health
insurance across state lines, when they can find more affordable
and attractive products elsewhere that they prefer. Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition,
as we have done over the last decade in banking, would
provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by
the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Got that? He thinks that the deregulation of the banking industry was a good thing. He also wants to expand that model to health care. I suppose that there's a nice tie in here with the financial sector being on life support, but it sounds like McQueeg wants to pull the plug on both.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Now that we own an insurance company can we please provide health care to everyone? Just a quick thought.

Oh, and it was very stupid to bail out AIG, but that is a much longer and larger discussion. Same with Bear Sterns.

McQueeg watch

The Washington Independent points to 3 pork barrel projects that McQueeg supported. To be sure, it was 17 years ago, but he's out on the stump saying he's never done that. Snippet:
On the campaign trail, Sen. John McCain frequently decries earmarks and pork-barrel legislation, proudly bragging that he has never requested a single earmark for his home state of Arizona. However, a news article and a scathing editorial from The Arizona Republic during his first-term as the state’s junior senator reveal that McCain did, in fact, go outside the normal legislative process to secure funding for at least one pet project for Arizona. He also supported appropriations for at least two more — three projects that, much to his embarrassment, he later railed against as “pork.”
McQueeg is also trying to tell people, now, that he's for regulation for the financial industry. This is a lie in an attempt to convince voters that he's got a plan and will be in charge if he is elected (Question for McQueeg's folks - why not get their man, W, to implement such a plan now?). It's a lie because, as WaPo points out, he's favored deregulation practically his entire career. Snippet:

A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth.

Now, as the Bush administration scrambles to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance company, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" on Wall Street.

Ezra points out that McQueeg now says that Wall Street has betrayed America, but just 3 years ago he signed on to putting our social security funds into Wall Street via privatization of that program. He should be asked if he still supports that plan.

Why none of this matters. Snippet:
Yes, the McCain campaign is replete with exaggerations, evasions, and outright fabrications. It’s your responsibility to defeat them, not complain about them. If this means listening to advice you don’t want to hear, and getting out of the "comfort zone," so be it. Three months ago, when you were riding high, the McCain campaign was flat on its back. But give McCain credit: when he was told that to win he had to change, he did. He focused, and he accepted a kind of discipline that he had previously resisted. Now it’s your turn.
As I stated earlier in the week, campaigns are not about talking points or political details. Obama's advertising to date has been the same tired sort of advertising that Gore and Kerry used. He needs hit harder, try humor, be concise. He also needs to understand that what wins campaigns are emotions. Americans will decide over the next month who they are voting for and it will be based on gut reactions formed from a variety of sources. They will also consider the fact that they are likely to be voting in a Democratic Congress and Americans like divided government as a check to each branch (plus, they have in recent memory an example of how horrible a undivided government can truly be). Expect McQueeg to hammer that point home without any sense of irony that his party was that undivided government.

At this point, given Obama's charisma, he should be pounding this one home. The fact that he isn't is example one of how his advisors are failing him. Like Bush in 2000, this should be a slam dunk for Obama. Instead, he's listening to the same old Democratic stylists who have a penchant for losing elections and it is to his, and our, great disservice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Voting Republican


Couple of thoughts

If the Republicans lose this election, what are the odds that they'll blame it on McQueeg picking a woman to run as VP? A certain sector that currently is crying sexism when liberals mention The Palindrone will probably express disgruntlement later on.

So, why are Karl Rove and Fox calling McQueeg out on the lies of his ads? I think it goes back to the candidate's convention speech. That section where he spoke of Washington failing and how he was going to clean it up? Those words could be read as the "Maverick" riding into town to get government back to work for the people or if you've been in charge for some time, understand the game and play it well, then those words could be code for threatening the world in which you operate. I'm thinking that Rove read it as the latter. Sure, he'll be a lap dog when he's asked to do so, but he needs to protect his turf and image in order to maintain his status as political "wunderkind". Also, Rove has read the polls and he understands them. He may know the outcome of the election already.

Monday, September 15, 2008

McQueeg's lies

Yesterday, Danny Westneat had a good column in The Seattle Times:

Does lying matter anymore? Is it so common that voters will shrug and say: "Oh well, everybody does it. What's the big deal?"

This is the presidency. And this time it isn't lies from an independent group or anonymous blog. It's from the candidate himself.

What happened to McCain? Maybe he has many sides. Or maybe I judged him wrong. But I remember the reason he impressed me was because he showed me, in person, how he believed in something intangible, a principle beyond the game of politics.

Now I can't tell what he believes in. Beyond winning. Any sleazy way he can.

Westneat was a McQueeg admirer. This campaign has turned him sour. The problem is that most people in the press aren't willing to call a lie for what it is. Things are starting to turn, however. Witness Slate's Farhad Manjoo:
Since July, John McCain and his campaign have made 11 political claims that are barely true, eight that are categorically false, and three that you'd have to call pants-on-fire lies—a total of 22 clearly deceptive statements (many of them made repeatedly in ads and stump speeches). Barack Obama and Joe Biden, meanwhile, have put out eight bare truths, four untruths, and zero pants-on-fire lies—12 false claims. These stats and categories come from PolitiFact, but the story looks pretty much the same if you count up fabrications documented by FactCheck.org or the Washington Post's Fact Checker, the other truth-squad operations working the race: During the past two and a half months, McCain has lied more often and more outrageously than Obama.
Libertarians are also taking note. Steve Chapman in Reason magazine:
But McCain has concluded that a fact-based case about Obama isn't enough to prevail in November. So he has chosen to smear his opponent with ridiculous claims that he thinks the American people are gullible enough to believe.

He has charged repeatedly that his opponent is willing to lose a war to win an election. What's McCain willing to lose to become president? Nothing so consequential as a war. Just his soul.
It's good to read that some outlets are calling these folks out (both Obama/Biden and McQueeg/The Palindrone), but back to Westneat's point: Does lying matter? I'm not convinced that it does. For one thing, if lying mattered then the current president would have been tossed in 2004. By that point the American public knew that he had lied about going to war in Iraq, about torture, and about a number of other scandals. It was troubled by that fact, but it didn't stop him from getting into office. Of course, the Democrats gave him a bit of a head start by nominating an exceedingly weak candidate.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that most Americans are not really paying attention to the campaign yet. Oh, they tune in here and there, but only to begin to form opinions. For the pounding away on the lying to sink in the media are going to have to continue to bring it up often and without fail through November. Even so, most of the public is likely to walk away from the current coverage with the message that both candidates lie and not that McQueeg lies egregiously, outrageously, and at almost double the rate of Obama.

Finally, and I've noted this before, presidents are not elected based on such things as policy positions or lies. A candidate could promise to put a new hybrid car in every driveway and a year's supply of beer in the garage and it wouldn't get him elected if he were Michael Dukakis or Gerald Ford. Why? Because he doesn't have the proper personality and charisma. Candidates are elected because people trust that person to do a good job in office. Simple as that. It's a visceral, gut reaction. Policy positions, promises, and lies do not matter a whit.

There's good reason for this reliance on gut reactions. Our system of government is generally designed to prevent any president from really going off the rails by having a legislative body that can prevent that from happening. No matter what the candidates promise, the 535 members of Congress will ultimately write legislation, pass spending bills, and do much to actually make government work (or not). When that doesn't happen, when too often the legislative body is perceived as just being a lap dog for the president, then a correction is voted into office. The 1994 and 2006 elections were just such a correction.

Democrats who are heartened by my analysis of electing a president based on personality and charisma should take pause at the point made in the paragraph above. Obama certainly has the charisma over McQueeg. On the other paw, McQueeg is still selling that "Straight Talk" bullshit and people seem to be buying it. Still, Obama should cream him. He's young, exciting, intelligent, and energizing. McQueeg on the other paw is old, boring, intelligent, and finds orange juice energizing. McQueeg is prone to emotional outbursts of anger - not exactly a trait one wants in a president, but one might find endearing in a sitcom grandfather.

If this were 1996, Obama would defeat McQueeg as badly as Clinton defeated Dole. Unfortunately for Democrats their party controls Congress and it looks as if they are going to get greater control of Congress. That doesn't bode well for Obama. This country likes divided government. It prefers that the legislative body is not a lap dog of the executive branch. We've had recent experience where that was the case and it hurt us in many ways. If the Congress does indeed go to the Democrats, then it becomes more likely that it will prefer the Republican candidate in office to hold that Congress in check.

To my mind that's the real problem for Obama. He's got the goods to be president in most people's minds. But does he have the ability to keep the Congress from giving into it's worst habits? He needs to prove that he can control that body. He also needs to convey some sense of really understanding and managing the economy. We've entered an economic malaise that isn't going to end any time soon if we continue the policies we're pursuing. He needs to offer something different and sprinkle it with a bit of hope. I don't expect that he'll do that so Obama better work on the Congress issue hard.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey as the Palindrone

You can't make this stuff up...or can you?

One of McQueeg's strong points is that he is perceived to be forthright. That is where the "Straight Talk Express" line comes from. Some people believe he's not afraid to speak truth to power and stand up for their rights. FWIW, I've never thought that even back in 2000 when I thought (erroneously, as it turned out) he was the best person running for president. He's a man and a politician which, almost by definition, means he's a liar. Proof that his campaign is not what he makes it out to be is beginning to appear more often in the media.

For instance, Bloomberg reports that his estimates of the crowds attending his campaign rallies since the Palindrone joined the ticket are fabrications. According to WaPo, the Palindrone is caught again fabricating a story about herself. This time it's in regards to her visit to Iraq. And MSNBC has a round up of the stories last week that both McQueeg and the Palindrone were pushing that were out and out lies. Meanwhile, the ladies of The View grilled McQueeg harder than any reporter that I've seen and he lied directly to Barbara Walter's face.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fallows on Palin's Interview

Good blog post. Clip:
Gibson used the word "preemptively" -- but if a knowledgeable person had pushed back on that point ("Well, preemption was what John F. Kennedy had in mind in acting against the imminent threat of Soviet missiles in Cuba"), Gibson would certainly have come back to explain the novelty of the "preventive war" point. Because he knows the issue, a minor mis-choice of words wouldn't get in the way of his real intent.

Sarah Palin did not know this issue, or any part of it. The view she actually expressed -- an endorsement of "preemptive" action -- was fine on its own merits. But it is not the stated doctrine of the Bush Administration, it is not the policy her running mate has endorsed, and it is not the concept under which her own son is going off to Iraq.

How could she not know this? For the same reason I don't know anything about European football/soccer standings, player trades, or intrigue. I am not interested enough. And she evidently has not been interested enough even to follow the news of foreign affairs during the Bush era.

A further point. The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:

1) Ignorance
2) Lack of curiosity
3) "Decisiveness"

That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness.

We don't know for sure about #2 for Palin yet -- she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3. Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.

Time to move on from 9/11

Thursday, September 11, 2008

No lipstick zone

There was some actual political news yesterday that didn't deal with lipstick. First, the WaPo reports the following:
Government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators reported yesterday.

The report from Inspector General Earl E. Devaney contains fresh allegations about the practices at the beleaguered royalty-in-kind program of Interior's Minerals Management Service, which last year collected more than $4 billion worth of oil and natural gas from companies given contracts to tap energy on federal and Indian lands and offshore. The revelations come as Congress is set to consider opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and areas off the coast of Florida for drilling.

Now I understand why Republicans were chanting "Drill, drill, drill" at their convention...then again, maybe it wasn't just oil they were talking about? More...

The inspector general's release comprised three separate reports, including one devoted to the program's former director, Smith, 56, who resigned last year. It alleges that Smith improperly worked part time for Geomatrix Consultants, an Oakland, Calif.-based environmental and engineering firm, and marketed the company to government clients.

Additionally, the report said, Smith had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate whom he paid to buy cocaine, allegedly promising her a $250 bonus in return. The report stated that Smith admitted to the sexual encounter.

Smith, who now works for a private oil company in Denver, did not respond to requests for comment.
Sex and cocaine are really not the issue here. The issues are bribes, graft, and moving into a promotion in the private industry afterward. Still, if I were doing cocaine, then I'd certainly be prosecuted. So, surely, must be this guy, right? Um, not in Bush's land where cocaine is a youthful indiscretion for Republicans like the President. More:

Investigators referred their findings to federal prosecutors, who did not charge Smith with any criminal wrongdoing and declined to comment on their decision.

Justice officials also declined to comment on their decision not to pursue a criminal case against the highest-ranking official named in the report, Lucy Querques Denett, former associate director of the Minerals Management Service, who worked in Washington. She is accused of improperly arranging a million-dollar deal for two retired employees.
Bribes, illegal contracts, sexual harassment, and cocaine and pot use. No prosecutions. Can we call for the Attorney General to step down NOW? "Drill! Drill! Drill!" Makes you wonder what the lobbyists paid for that chant, doesn't it?

The other story is another tale of familiar Republican behavior and it comes from the Michigan Messenger. It deals with voter suppression. It seems that while the Republican candidates for president and vice president are traveling around the country attempting to convince voters that they are friends of the middle class, that they understand their economic and housing woes, that they support equal rights for all and are interested in representing the poor and middle class in swing states, the Republican representatives in at least one state is using that against the voters that McQueeg/Palin say that they want:

The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.

“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week.

The Macomb GOP’s plans are another indication of how John McCain’s campaign stands to benefit from the burgeoning number of foreclosures in the state. McCain’s regional headquarters are housed in the office building of foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott. The firm’s founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the Republican nominee.

The Macomb County party’s plans to challenge voters who have defaulted on their house payments is likely to disproportionately affect African-Americans who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. More than 60 percent of all sub-prime loans — the most likely kind of loan to go into default — were made to African-Americans in Michigan, according to a report issued last year by the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

You see, the Republicans economic plans helped cause this mess. They profited for a number of years and now working class and middle class Americans are getting shafted by it. The profiteers? Well, they're getting bailed out of the mess by the government (a practice supported by both parties). Now, McQueeg and his lobbyist friends want to disenfranchise - or make suffer further - these voters who might want to vote for a change that might offer them some relief from the incompetent policies of the Republican party. Oh, and make no mistake: Michigan is not the only battleground.

Carabelli is not the only Republican Party official to suggest the targeting of foreclosed voters. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County (around the city of Columbus) and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

Hebert, the voting-rights lawyer, sees a connection between Priesse’s remarks and Carabelli’s plans.

“At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.

“When you are comprehensively challenging people to vote,” Hebert went on, “your goals are two-fold: One is you are trying to knock people out from casting ballots; the other is to create a slowdown that will discourage others,” who see a long line and realize they can’t afford to stay and wait.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Remember the 2000 campaign when McQueeg was running against Bush? The whole thing got derailed when a lie was spread amongst the Republican party that McQueeg had fathered an out of wedlock black child that his family had taken in. First, the lie was racism. Secondly, the McQueeg family had done the noble thing of adopting a child from a third world country and providing her with a chance at a better life in the U.S. McQueeg and his campaign were outraged by this nasty, racist, cynical tactic from the Bush campaign, but it worked.

Guess what? McQueeg's campaign hired the guy behind the smear as the point person to manage Sarah Palin's campaign. McQueeg will do anything to get elected.

Obama and Biden better start fighting harder because at the moment, they've lost momentum and they've got some dirty opponents. Hiring this scumbag is but one reason why the lies are flying fast and furious right now. Obama's hiring of the failed representatives of the Clinton/Gore camp may explain why he's not ahead right now.

McQueeg opens mouth and inserts foot and lie disease

McQueeg, quoted on CNN:
“Of course, now he wants to increase it,” McCain told an audience in Lee’s Summit, Missouri Monday. “But during the primary he told a liberal advocacy group that he’d cut defense spending by tens of billions of dollars. He promised them he would, quote, ‘slow our development of future combat systems.’”
Note: "Future Combat Systems" is a specific weapons program; not all such systems. McQueeg didn't note that to his audience. What Obama really said:
“I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending,” Obama said in the video. “I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of Future Combat Systems.”
McQueeg's senior economic advisor provided a plan to the WaPo on July 14, 2008 to balance the budget. Amongst his proposals:
Balance the budget requires slowing outlay growth to 2.4 percent. The roughly $470 billion dollars (by 2013) in slower spending growth come from reduced deployments abroad ($150 billion; consistent with success in Iraq/Afghanistan that permits deployments to be cut by half -- hopefully more), slower discretionary spending in non-defense and Pentagon procurements ($160 billion; there are lots of procurements -- airborne laser, Globemaster, Future Combat System -- that should be ended and the entire Pentagon budget should be scrubbed) and reductions in mandatory spending ($160 billion) from a mix of excessive agricultural and ethanol subsidies, slower health care cost growth, Medicaid savings from the expansion of private insurance, and other reforms.
He was against it before he was for it, I guess. Either that or he can't control his message. Or McQueeg doesn't know what his message is. Or, he's a fucking liar that will say anything to get elected, much like his VP choice. Take your pick.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Palin

From WaPo:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official "duty station" is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.

The governor's daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.

Legit, perhaps, but in my class on ethics in government, this would not have been considered ethical. Being paid to live at home must be sweet! There's more break down in the article. I encourage you to read it.

Now, from HuffPo:
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."

..."Heretofore, if the treasury had a balance sheet there would have been a liability but there was never a taxpayer payment before [the bailout]," said Gerald P. O'Driscoll, an economist with the Cato Institute. "[Fannie and Freddie] were not taxpayer funded. They had taxpayer guarantee, which is worth something, especially in the stock market..."

..."You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country's mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn't speak well for her, I'd say."

Palin reality

From the Wall Street Journal:

She endorsed the multimillion dollar project during her gubernatorial race in 2006. And while she did take part in stopping the project after it became a national scandal, she did not return the federal money. She just allocated it elsewhere.

"We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge," Gov. Palin said in August 2006, according to the local newspaper, "and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative."

The project referred to is the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere". Palin endorsed it before it became a national scandal (thanks, in part, to her running mate) and then dumped it. Rarely does a politician lie about such things, but McQueeg and Palin are doing just that in order to get the perception out there solidified in voter's minds. Obama's folks have made a huge mistake by not attacking this often and early.

That hockey rink Palin is so fond of mentioning? From the Wall Street Journal again:
The biggest project that Sarah Palin undertook as mayor of this small town was an indoor sports complex, where locals played hockey, soccer, and basketball, especially during the long, dark Alaskan winters.

The only catch was that the city began building roads and installing utilities for the project before it had unchallenged title to the land. The misstep led to years of litigation and at least $1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small budget. What was to be Ms. Palin's legacy has turned into a financial mess that continues to plague Wasilla.

...Last year, the arbitrator ordered the city to pay $836,378 for the 80-acre parcel, far more than the $126,000 Wasilla originally thought it would pay for a piece of land 65 acres larger. The arbitrator also determined that the city owed Mr. Lundgren $336,000 in interest. Wasilla's legal bill since the eminent domain action has come to roughly $250,000 so far, according to Mr. Klinkner, the city attorney.

Now, granted, the litigation that occurred was on a parcel of land that the city claimed as eminent domain after Palin left office. However, it was her administration that chose to begin building on the land before securing the title to it, leaving the next mayor to deal with the mess. As someone in the article notes, Ms. Palin wants to be judged on executive experience. It was her job to know the problems that she was creating and to protect the public's funds and interests in the creation of this project. Instead, she got a tax increase to build this thing that has actually cost the city a lot more than she said it would. In a city of 6,700+ people with a budget of $20 Million, a sports facility that cost $14.7 million plus litigation costs is not a drop in the bucket.

Perhaps the budget constraints placed on the city are the reason for this next tale of the Palin administration. While she was mayor, her police chief argued, presumably with his mayor's backing, that it was ethical to charge rape victims for the costs of their examination to collect evidence. While the news media is currently suggesting that Ms. Palin is a feminist, this specific charge suggests otherwise. From the article:
While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

In the past weve (sic) charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.

Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Flag waving

So, the McQueeg campaign has decided to play a little gotcha politics (something that I think is low, but fair) and pick on the Democrats for "throwing away flags". The Dems deny it, of course, and it probably was some low level intern or maybe even the stadium crew itself that just didn't understand the bullshit political hay that would be made of it.

What bullshit political hay? Oh, they are obviously attempting to question the patriotism of every member of the Democratic party, but also Obama in particular. It's the subtext the fuels the racial hatred of the campaign and the flat out false email lies that have been circulating. But it's also true to Republican form in another way. Could it be that they are attempting to distract from their own methods of shredding the Constitution by focusing instead on the flag? Republicans have a history of focusing on symbols rather than the language that founded this country and provided freedoms for most of it's people. Or could it simply be that they want people to focus on the Denver flags rather than these flags:

I think both scenarios are plausible. Got a different one? Leave it in comments.

Now playing on VLC: Underworld - Best Mamgu Ever
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Gender Card

"Cynical and Gimmicky"

That's what Republicans are saying about McCain and his choice of VP when they think that the microphones are off.

Sarah Barracuda

She lived up to her nickname last night, but that might not be good enough. For a speech allegedly about substantive policy it was incredibly lacking in such. She did get some good one liners in, but that just allows Democrats an opportunity to open up on her. I suggest that the Democrats use this letter as a starting point. Excerpt:
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.