Thursday, December 18, 2008
Earlier this year, most airlines began charging passengers $15 for their first checked bag, as well as increasing fees for subsequent bags. The reason given by the airlines when they introduced these fees was increased fuel costs at a time when oil was $147 a barrel.
At the time of this post, oil is trading at $38.97, which is down over 70% from its peak earlier this year. Jet fuel prices have fallen 60% since July. And yet, airlines are still charging the same fees that they added to "cover increased fuel prices".
Why haven't these charges been rescinded? It's because consumers have already gotten used to the idea of being charged for baggage; they aren't mad about it anymore, so airlines will keep making them pay it, even though the supposed rationale for the fee is long gone.
Similar to the inertia of baggage fees, government programs, once enacted, are very difficult to get rid of because people become accustomed to them. Social Security and Medicare were controversial programs when they were first enacted, and it wouldn't have caused a huge political upheaval if they were never passed. Now that we have these entitlements, however, there would be senior citizens rioting in the streets if the programs were seriously threatened.
This concept shows the potential for huge and long-lasting change Obama and the Democrats in the next few years. Government-subsidized health insurance is a hot issue right now, but once people have a government insurance card in their wallet, they'll be much more likely to favor the program and support candidates who will protect it.
What is this Beyonce "If I Were a Boy" song if not an attempt by Mrs. Jay-Z to add herself to the hallowed ranks of Judy Garland and Cher as favorite artists to impersonate for drag performers?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Obviously it would have been much better if, upon first hearing Blagojevich's ridiculous demands, the Obama team would have called up U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald's office, which was publicly investigating the Governor for months, to inform Fitzgerald of Blagojevich's corruption. That would have kept any of Blagojevich's stink from being passed on to the transition.
Similarly, Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress need to be more aggressive and publicly confrontational in fighting Senate Republicans over the auto bailout. Yesterday, the bailout passed the House mainly due to Democrat support. Its fate in the Senate, where 60% of Senators must support the bill (or at least support a vote on the bill), is murky, with Republicans led by Richard Selby (R-AL) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) threatening a filibuster even though the bailout is supported by the GOP White House.
I say, let 'em filibuster, and make 'em actually keep talking on the floor of the Senate; in recent years when a cloture vote fails to end debate, the Senate just moves on to something else, instead of making Senators actually filibuster, which is a shame. Such drama on the Senate floor would lay bare the clear conflicts of interest at play on this issue.
Alabama is home to three Honda and Hyundai plants, which the state attracted by giving the Japanese manufacturer's a bunch of tax breaks and subsidies. So Sens. Selby and Sessions are more than happy to abandon their apparent love for the removing government influence over the free market when it benefits their own state, but not when it helps save millions (or hundreds of thousands, depending on whose analysis you believe) of American manufacturing jobs. Republicans would also benefit from a weakened United Auto Workers, which reliably supports Democratic candidates all over the country.
By drawing attention to Republican opposition to the bailout, Democrats can either a) generate enough public support to get the bill passed, or b) clearly establish that it is Republicans who killed the bill and allowed the companies to fail. Seems like a win-win.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Let me tell you, that's a great bit of tape for Democrats
Gov. Blagojevich was being investigated by the Feds for corruption, getting campaign contributions from lots of rich folk, including our old friend Tony Rezko, in exchange for your standard slate of government contracts and other favors. As part of his investigation, Fitzgerald, who is widely thought to be the best prosecutor in the country, tapped Blagojevich's personal and office phones, as well as his office and a conference room at "Friends of Blagojevich", his political organization. The Illinois legislature passed an ethics law to make it tougher for Blagojevich to raise money, starting January 1, 2009, so time was a-wastin'.
As it became clear that Obama was going to win, giving Blagojevich the opportunity to appoint his successor to the Senate. Appointing himself to the seat would benefit him, so he made clear to anyone who would listen that he was open to offers. Bribes he was asking for included:
1. Being appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services, Energy, or an ambassador
2. Getting his wife a well-paying position on a corporate board
3. A high-paying job for himself with a political committee and/or a non-profit group
4. Campaign funds
So yeah, it's illegal to ask people for that stuff in exchange for an official decision.
There are two ways this can come back to sting Obama. First off, there's Rezko's involvement. There was a real estate deal involving Rezko and the Obamas in the past that, while probably not anything that will ever be a big deal, it hurts any time "Obama" and "Rezko" are in the same news story.
The more serious issue is a discrepancy between Obama's statements on this issue and those of David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist. In an interview with the Chicago Fox affiliate a couple weeks ago, Axelrod said that Obama had "talked to the governor" about who would replace him. Today, Obama said "I had no contact with the governor or his office." If Obama indeed has spoken with Blagojevich in the past month or two, Fitzgerald would have a recording of the conversation. Let's hope Obama's telling the truth. I think he is, actually. It seems unlikely that Obama would actually personally talk to pretty much anyone directly, especially a corrupt governor. So Axelrod just meant that Obama's people talked to Blagojevich and/or his people.
During Obama's comments today about the issue, he said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening." Notice that he stopped himself from saying "we were not aware", correcting to "I was not aware". So clearly his team knew what was going on, but Obama at least has plausible deniability. Depending on how close it gets to the man himself, he could be politically hurt, leaving him less able to pass his agenda. Health insurance reform and funding for green energy, infrastructure and higher education got a little less likely. We'll find out how much less.
Monday, December 8, 2008
With all the business closings going on these days, hundreds of thousands of workers, like those in Illinois who are occupying their plant after their employers violated federal law by laying them off with only three days' notice, find themselves in the same situation Greg did. But these workers aren't teenagers who miss out on spending money. They include parents trying to support their families and older workers close to retirement.
How about a law that, when a company goes out of business, workers get their money first? After they've received their owed compensation, other creditors, such as banks and shareholders, can be paid. What's the problem with that?
And conservatives have the unmitigated gall to say that it's un-American to tax the bank shareholders' capital gains taxes at the same rate at which they were taxed under Bill Clinton.
Every now and then, conservatives are real motherfuckers. Just utterly indefensible mommy-sodomizers.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
If you've never listened to a couple minutes of one of Mr. Osteen's "sermons", I'm sure there are some on YouTube. Check out any clip you like, and ask yourself "What is the message he is promoting? What is the fundamental "good" he is arguing for?" I haven't actually gone to YouTube to verify this claim, and yet I feel confident in saying that it's not going to be "love", "kindness", or "charity", or anything else I'd describe as "Christian".
Every time (totalling maybe 3 or 4 hours of material, if I had to guess) I've watched Mr. Osteen, the message he's selling, in his obvious used-car salesman way, is relieving anxiety, regaining control over your life, or achieving financial success. Worthy goals, I suppose, but not anything that anyone should be listening to and thinking it's "church".
He's so obviously preaching a message that bears no resemblence to and is in fact often directly opposed to biblical Christianity that I can't have any respect for anyone who follows him. If I ever met anyone who's a member at Lakewood Church, I would discriminate against them. If I'm staffing a practice, and I've got a choice between a nurse who graduated from University X and worked for Y years at Z Hospital, and a nurse who graduated from University X and worked for Y years at Z Hospital and is a member of Joel Osteen's flock, I'd pick the first one. Is that ok? Should I work on that?
-Starting off with the economy. Who'da thunk?
-All Obama's talk of helping states and telling Brokaw that "Governors have projects that are shovel-ready" and just need funding gives him a tremendous amount of political capital. He's basically telling 50 state leaders "come along with me and I'll make you look good to your consituents"
-He's better than any politician of my adult life at explaining both sides of an issue, stressing both the need to help the Big Three automakers and the need for them to restructure.
-He actually seems to think that if we give Ford/GM/Chrysler billions of dollars, they won't come back for more. Maybe he is hopelessly naive.
-Just did a great job deflecting Brokaw's suggestion of a new gas tax, since gas is so "cheap" now, by pointing out the other ways people are worse off economically. Good policy, but even better politics. "I feel your pain", in quite a few more words.
-Interesting thought about the "moral hazard" problem of bailing out homeowners who took bad mortgages, thereby "punishing" responsible homeowners by making them pay their whole mortgage and pay taxes to bail out their neighbor. "If my neighbor's house is on fire, even if they were smoking in their bedroom, I want to keep the fire from spreading to my house."
-Commercial break. I don't know if you ever watch these Sunday morning shows, but there are some weird freakin' ads all the time. Companies like Boeing and Archer-Daniels-Midland, the huge agricultural business, advertise a lot, even though 99.999% of people never buy anything from these companies, those big-time corporate "decision-makers" do watch these shows, so it's worth it to advertise to that tiny but powerful faction.
-He's really talking like his presidency is going to be a complete refutation of the Reagan Revolution. Greed is not good. Help everyone to help the economy, don't just help the rich and wait for benefits to trickle-down.
-When do you suppose Obama actually offered the Secretary of State job to Hillary Clinton? In November? During the general election? My money's on toward the end of primary season.
-Nothing earth-shattering so far. But really, there never is with Obama. Part of his appeal, I suppose.
-Ostensibly talking about farmers in Afghanistan, he says that the country needs things like infrastructure improvements and increased aid from the Afghan national government. Nice, subtle effort to further bolster support of such help to the American little guy, too.
-Would have been better if he had said it at some point during the campaign without prompting from Brokaw, but Obama's answer extolling the virtues of the Presidential "bully pulpit" being used for wider purposes than just government, such as culture, parenting, art, etc.
-Obama won't say that he's quit smoking but does say that he's done a great job, "under the circumstances", to make himself healthier. Meaning every now and then, brotha needs a smoke.
-And we end with "news" about the future of Meet the Press, with David Gregory replacing Tom Brokaw. Good riddance! I've never liked Brokaw. He completely lost me when he came out with all those books about "The Greatest Generation". I mean, sure, they did a lot of great things, but his completely positive portrayal of them struck me as a blatant attempt to make money off of nostalgia. Tim Russert tried the same thing with "Big Russ and Me". So watch for the next book to offer a collective blow job to the people who gave us Nixon and Reagan, from new MtP host David Gregory!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
-Why is the Democrat never the one in the lead when there's a close federal election?
-Who wants to make wagers on how soon after January 20th Supreme Court justices start to retire? I think there'll be at least 2 next year.
-I continue to be confused by the psychology of the stock market. The Labor Department announces the worst one-month loss of jobs since 1974 AND adds more lost jobs to the totals from the prior 2 month, and stockholders respond by sending the Dow up 250 points.
-Actually, I'm not confused. Traders, analysts and pretty much everyone else make money when the market goes up. So when there's good news, the market goes up cuz things are good. When there's bad news, the market goes up cuz, so the thinking goes, things are so bad now that it has to improve eventually. Amazing how people will interpret data when they have a financial interest in the outcome.
-Maybe LeBron James and the Cavs are playing a mind-game with the rest of the league. By dangling the possibility that he'll leave Cleveland and play somewhere else in 2 years, teams such as the New York Knicks have been trying to get rid of expensive players so they'll have money to hire LeBron in 2010 but making their current team worse in the process. This makes the Cavs more likely to win in the next couple seasons, as the other teams are worse.
-Is there any reason to appoint Gen. Shinseki, who's the guy who was fired after saying we'd need "several hundred thousand" troops for Iraq, your VA Secretary other than to poke Bush in the eye?
-hehheh. "Poke Bush"...
-I like Chris Matthews, but if he really runs for Specter's PA Senate seat, I'm not voting for him. Governing is way different from talking about governing.
-Remember when Bush vetoed an increase in funding for children's health insurance last year, which would have resulted in millions more children being covered, because it cost too much? The $34 billion being discussed for the Big 3 automakers could have paid for the increase for about 5 years. The $700 billion bailout could have paid for a century.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Choosing people from Bush's Cabinet and the McCain campaign demonstrates Obama's supreme confidence in his management abilities. He said when introducing Gates that "I will make policy" and "the buck stops with me," even though he has selected a man who very publicly disagreed with him on Iraq, the central issue which will be run by Gates' department in Obama's administration. Cabinet Secretaries, particularly those Obama has selected, are not politically powerless, and they tend to be protective of their power and influence. But Obama, choosing Gates, believes that he can keep Gates in line on this very important issue.
There are two reasons why I'm potentially thrilled about the selection of Gates, assuming Obama indeed will be able to set Pentagon policy, which I trust he will be. One is that Gates has already been running the Defense Department for years, so he figuratively (and, sadly, literally) knows where the bodies are buried. It's also fabulous that Gates, and Jones as well, will provide opposing viewpoints. One of the biggest factors that lead to the problems during the run-up to Iraq was that pretty much everyone around the President was a neocon who thought the war was a good idea. Wall Street is in such deep doggy-do because just about every financial CEO had an Ivy League MBA and thought CDO's were the bee's knees. When it comes to foreign policy, Obama will have within his own Cabinet viewpoints from men who disagree.
Having two former Democratic primary opponents in his Cabinet, as well as another as his VP, raises the risk of Secretaries looking after their own political interests before the Administration's. I don't think you'll find many people who would argue with Clinton and Richardson being the best-qualified Democrats to hold a Cabinet-level position, so there is also a significant benefit to these selections. It will be up to Obama's management skill, as well as his political muscle, to keep these two in line and put their massive qualifications to good use. Same goes for Emanuel, though it's pretty hard to score political points for yourself when you're Chief of Staff. Actually, I'm convinced Obama picked Emanuel only because in Hebrew "Rahm" and "Barack" translate to "thunder" and "lightning".
Selecting Napolitano also is not without negatives because, according to Arizona law, she will be replaced by the current Arizona Secretary of State, who is a Republican. It also robs the Democrats of a very strong chance to defeat John McCain in 2010 when he runs for another Senate term; Napolitano is the strongest Democrat in the slightly red state and the only Dem with a good chance of taking McCain's seat, so it's no coincidence that McCain spoke publicly and strongly in support of Napolitano's nomination. Just because they didn't get to 60 Senate seats this time doesn't mean they wouldn't have a chance next time around. Choosing Napolitano makes it significantly less likely. Clearly, Obama is aware of this implication of her nomination, so he must really think she's gonna be a great Homeland Security Secretary.
By assembling such a strong Cabinet, in name, stature, and diversity of opinion, Obama is raising expectations for his Administration. With such power in the Executive branch, as well as near-dominance of the Legislative, Obama is setting the table for a strong government. It'll be pretty much make-or-break time for the Democratic Party. They've got their all-star team in the Executive branch, so they have no excuses if they fail.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is up for re-election in 2010, and he's in the unenviable position of being a Republican in a state that has voted for a Democrat for President every year since 1988, including a huge 11% victory by Obama. It will be very difficult for Specter to resist a President so popular among his constituents. It also helps that Specter is about the most liberal GOP Senator.
His competition for that title include Sens Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine, which went for Obama by 18%. So there's two more pickups that should be pretty easy for one bill or another.
Richard Burr (R-NC), Norm Coleman (R-MN, assuming he beats Franken), John Ensign (R-NV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and George Voinovich (R-OH) are all Republicans from states which made significant shifts toward the Democrats/Obama in '08. They'll no doubt be more persuadable than they might have been in the past when it comes to voting for cloture on a Democratic bill
As long as Obama remains popular and politically strong, it shouldn't be too difficult to find some Republican votes. So screw Georgia! They can keep their stupid Republican Senator,
Monday, December 1, 2008
This past week's action on Wall Street have greatly refuted the idea that stockholders are scared of Obama. On Friday, November 21st, Obama announced that New York Fed chair Timothy Geithner would be his pick to be Treasury Secretary, which, to remind you, has become an absurdly powerful position lately. The Dow responded to Geithner's nomination, which NBC News reported at 2:59pm Friday, by skyrocketing 500 points in the hour before the stock market closed. Take a look at that last link. It's obvious that Wall Street loved Obama's choice.
But maybe this was a one-time fluke. Obama has been pressing his luck by holding daily press conferences the three days before Thanksgiving. The Dow has gone up each of those days, plus this past Friday. It should go without saying that a 5 day winning streak on the Dow, in this economy, is nothing short of remarkable. The last time the Dow Jones Industrial Average went up this much, percentage-wise, five days in a row was 75 years ago.
Screw the "one President at a time" line that Obama's been spouting. Time to take over, Barry!
UPDATE: Today, the Dow went down 680 points. Obama, instead of holding another economics press conference, decided to announce his national security team today, including Hillary as his Secretary of State (more on this later). It's official; he's not allowed to talk about anything other than the economy.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen announced that he's just gonna go ahead and spend the $700 billion on other things, such as bailing out auto companies and buying shares in banks. And it did not require a new act of Congress to change where all that money (the technical term is "shitload") would be spent. How is it possible that Congress gave so much money without imposing more strict controls on how it would be spent? Is Paulsen prevented from spending a few billion on a Paulsen theme park? I'm not so sure...
The Franken (D)/Coleman (R) race in Minnesota is similarly closing. Right after Election Day, Franken trailed by 725. As precincts have updated/corrected their counts and started counting absentee ballots, it's down to 206. Soon they will begin visually inspecting the tens of thousands of ballots which did not register a vote for anyone in the Senate race. Due to the overlap between people likely to vote Democrat and the people likely to screw up filling out their ballot (e.g., writing X's in ovals instead of coloring them in), it's more likely than not that Franken will also emerge victorious when all the votes are counted.
So that leaves Georgia. Unfortunately, it looks like Chambliss will hold on, leaving the Senate 59-41. But, if Obama were willing to use a tiny portion of the massive amount of popularity and political capital he has at his disposal to help Martin, the Dem candidate, 60 is most definitely in reach, as long as they don't do anything stupid like boot Lieberman.
Update: Right after I posted this, I clicked over to MSNBC for Countdown. As counting has continued, Begich is now UP by three votes. Whoo!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Then, as you might be aware, despite being a pretty standard, down-the-line Democrat on all issues outside of Iraq, he decided to publicly (very publicly, it must be said) support McCain for President, going so far as to speak at the Republican convention in September. Democrats were pissed, but, because Democratic Senate leadership and committee chairmen needed Lieberman's vote in order to remain Senate leadership and committee chairmen.
Now, with the new Senate based on Election Day looking like 55 Dems, 2 Independents, 40 Republicans and 3 still undecided (though all leaning, to varying degrees, toward the Republicans), it looks unlikely that Lieberman's caucus vote will matter very much. Being the 51st vote in a 100-vote body is a much stronger position than being the 57th, so now Harry Reid is ratcheting up the pressure on Lieberman to give up his committee chairmanship; he currently leads the Homeland Security committee. The likely outcome of stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship would be that he would caucus with the Republicans, making it 56-44 (assuming Franken, Begich and Martin fail to come from behind in any of their undecided races).
There are two reasons why stripping Lieberman of his position, effectively kicking him out of the caucus, is a terrible idea. The most obvious is that it's still possible that the Democrats will reach a filibuster-proof 60 seats, if they should manage to run the table in the three undecided races. It's also possible that, with 19 Republican seats and 15 Democratic seats up for election in 2010, that the Democrats will pick up the three needed seats in that election. Booting Lieberman out would mean they'd have to win 4.
But more importantly, it is utterly ridiculous for them to boot him out now, as opposed to the day after he spoke at the Republican convention. Stripping him only after his vote is no longer necessary to keep you in power is spineless, and far from a new sort of politics that President-elect Obama campaigned on. One of the few things that would make me respect him even more than I already do would be if he were to, as a matter of principle, instruct Reid to back off of Lieberman.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Cameron relates how McCain aides were terrified of Palin's lack of knowledge of international, national, and even basic civic issues. Cameron reports that Palin was unfamiliar with the concept of "American exceptionalism," and that not only did she not understand that Africa was a continent rather than a single country but also that during debate prep Palin was unable to name all the nations in North America.
Palin was apparently a nightmare for her campaign staff to deal with. She refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was rightly panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw "tantrums" over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.
1. Obviously, we have to start with Palin. Of course, in such a sparsely populated state, maybe she's the best they can do.
(addendum: I'd planned a separate post on this, but there's really nothing to say about it than just to report, from Newsweek: "The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied." This is one of those times when I have to restrain myself from calling her the C word.)
2. Earmarks. These fuckers get a check from the state government every year for THOUSANDS of dollars, and yet they get more per capita in federal earmarks (i.e., money from you and me, who don't get fucking checks from their state governments) than any other state. Assholes! They got some fuckin' nerve taking all those federal bucks.
3. And finally, they re-elected a man just convicted of SEVEN FELONIES relating to corruption to the Senate. This isn't a guy gettin' a beej from a fat chick. It's taking money from rich people, and what do you suppose they got for their money? And these fuckin' jokers are sending him back to the Senate. Unbelievable
Fuck you, Alaska! Allen (or anyone else who might encounter an Alaskan), next time you see anyone from Alaska, give 'em a figurative kick in the nuts for me!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Of course, the 200 now for Obama plus California plus Washington plus Oregon is money, with Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina, EDIT: and Missouri as potential overkill.
"Exit polls claim 'Obama +15' in PA... Developing..."
Drudge usually has pretty good exit poll leaks. Do I believe that this means Obama will win PA by 15? no. But will he win? I'm far more confident than ever
(To non-gamblers, if a casino puts the over/under at x, you could bet money on the over, meaning you think that two teams in a game are going to score more points than x, or on the under, meaning you think they're going to score less than x. So I'm saying that if I had to choose for my guess to be wrong for being too high or too low, I'd go with too low)
I can't express how badly I want these votes counted, even though it hurts my guy. Anything that moves toward more people getting their votes counted is a good thing.
Also any state I expect McCain to win.
So say a toast and take a drink whenever one of these states is called. Why? Because I feel like less of an alcoholic if other people are doing the same thing. I'll post when MSNBC calls any of them from Obama
By the way, you never really realize how hilly Pittsburgh is until you spend 7 hours walking around in it.
I anticipate a ton of posts tonight, so I'll do separate posts instead of one long one like for the debates. I'll try to consolidate a few thoughts into each post.
So stay tuned. Leave comments as the night goes on, if you want.
Monday, November 3, 2008
If Barack Obama is going to do any of the things he's campaigned on, whether specific policy proposals or changing the tone in Washington, he will need to put up a big win. 270 is of course the magic number, but if he only wins, say, Kerry plus VA, IA, CO and NM, for a total of 286, many will interpret his victory as a squeaker, a failure of Obama to close the deal, and a reaction to all the "socialist" talk in the last weeks of the campaign. Even with 56-59 Dem Senators and a majority in the House, it will be difficult to reform health care, expand education funding, or anything else without an obvious mandate.
So this is why, despite my 100% confidence that Obama will win tomorrow, I will be out knocking on doors for Obama in Pittsburgh all day tomorrow (pushing the start of the liveblog back to 8ish). And to all my readers in Ohio, that's a vital 20 EVs. Anything with a 3 in front of it is immeasurably better than anything with a 2, and Ohio could very well be the difference. Obama wins in Ohio and Florida pushes McCain perilously close to something starting with a 1. In the perception game, that's a big deal. So get out and vote, and when you're done with that, call all your friends. Maybe knock on some doors. It's important.
All the Kerry states minus Pennsylvania (231 EVs)
Iowa (7 EVs)
New Mexico (5 EVs)
Pennsylvania (21 EVs)
Colorado (9 EVs)
Virginia (13 EVs)
Nevada (5 EVs)
Ohio (20 EVs)
Florida (27 EVs)
North Carolina (15 EVs)
It's also possible, but unlikely (from least to most unlikely), that he'll win Missouri (11), Indiana (11), Nebraska's 2nd District (1), North Dakota (3), Montana (3), Georgia (15), Arizona (10), West Virginia (5), Louisiana (9) South Dakota (3), Arkansas (6), and South Carolina (8). Which gives Obama an absolute ceiling of 438.
That leaves Alabama (9), Mississippi (6), Texas (34), Oklahoma (7), Nebraska's other votes (4), Kansas (6), Wyoming (3), Utah (5), Idaho (4), Alaska (3), Kentucky (8), and Tennessee (11) for McCain's safe states, totaling 100 EVs.
(Note: Some bolds there. In my defense, these states are perfectly safe for McCain and therefore boring.)
The Democrats will pick up 8 Senate seats, leaving them, sadly, one seat short of 60, again starting with the ones I'm most confident about:
There are 39 Democratic Senators not up for re-election; Obama will be replaced with another Democrat
All 12 incumbent Democrats will win, including Biden, who will also be replaced with another Democrat, possibly his son, Beau.
Udall in New Mexico over Pearce
Udall in Colorado over Schaffer
Warner in Virginia over Gilmore
Shaheen in New Hampshire over Sununu
Begich in Alaska over Stevens
Hagan in North Carolina over Dole
Merkley (only bold for spelling) in Oregon over Smith
Franken in Minnesota over Coleman
I feel very, VERY confident about the first six, pretty darn good about Merkley, and better than 50/50 about Franken. They also have an outside chance at beating Chambliss in Georgia, McConnell in Kentucky and Wicker in Mississippi. Any one, along with winning the 8 above that they're supposed to win, would mean 60. Depends on African-American turnout in these red states.
I haven't really read anything about governorships or House races, so look elsewhere for predictions on those races.
So tune in tomorrow and see how I did. You better believe there's going to be a live blog.
Obama leads in 18 out of the 19 states with the largest recent declines in home
prices, whereas McCain leads in 13 out of the 14 states with the largest recent
increases in home prices.
I know, I know. Correlation does not imply causality. But that's some impressive correlation!
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it
will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all
that greenhouse gas that's being emitted
West Virginia (along with, more important in electoral terms, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Montana, among others) depends on the coal industry. 40,000 jobs in the state are directly in the industry. So even at a hospital in a non-coal region of the state, people are pissed.
So I've spent most of the past 6 hours or so trying to talk NICU nurses out of burning Obama in effigy. It's important, like with many political "gaffes", to look at the complete context of the quote. It's long, so I'll just post a link.
In short, Obama is talking about charging electric companies for the damage to the environment that pollution from their plants does. A traditional coal plant that pumps tons and tons of CO2 into the air would contribute to global warming. Obama wants to use a cap and trade system, under which companies are taxed based on how polluting their plants are, to encourage cleaner techniques, such as trapping CO2 instead of emitting it. So what he meant in the bad-sounding quote was if someone wanted to build a traditional, high-polluting coal plant, they can; it's just that it would bankrupt them..."
Obama is not suggesting ending the use of coal for electricity; he's just saying that consumers and producers should pay its true cost, instead of just releasing pollution for all of us to deal with.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I am absolutely terrified that Obama is going to be killed at some point during his (still-potential) Presidency. He is the first leader with both the ability and the (still-potential) political mandate to do all the things progressives want government to do. And it seems, I know this is crazy, like he actually believes in the issues he advocates. Like, Mrs. Doctor and I were discussing our federal student loans vis-a-vis the credit crisis the other day, and we wondered if it were possible that student loan programs might be cut. But then we realized that if Obama were elected, aid for higher education would be just about the last thing to be cut. How great is that? We're looking at the possibility of a talented leader fighting for a liberal agenda he truly believes in!
Which, if history is any guide, means that he's going to be assassinated. If there's any doubt that some Americans want to see it happen, check out a McCain/Palin rally.
From The Corner:
[I]f Aunt Zeituni had settled in Wasilla - say, in lodgings across the way from Bristol Palin's boyfriend's ex-girlfriend's uncle's sled dog's veterinarian's ammunition dealer - the fact that she's an "illegal immigrant" might have come out a lot sooner, even if only from the Atlantic Monthly investigative unit driving by and asking her whether Joe the Plumber had ever serviced Trig's real mother's double-wide.Rather than bitching about the "liberal" media not telling us about Aunt Zeituni before today, why don't they ask themselves why Drudge/Fox News/The New York Post et. al didn't find out about it themselves?
I'm officially freaking out. Obama's crushing McCain in big states like CA, NY and IL, while McCain has thinner leads in Texas and smaller states. So Obama has to win the popular vote by kind of a lot in order to win the Electoral College.
Breathe. Just breathe...
On the upside, one of my senior residents, who's a regular reader of this humble blog, showed me how to use the Google Translate function to bypass the SurfControl. Good ol' seniors
UPDATE: After a few minutes feeling like I was about to puke whilst doing some poking around the Zogby website, I am somewhat reassured. Zogby assumes that the Dem/Rep breakdown will be identical to the breakdown in 2004, when in fact there are a bunch more Dems now. He also only interviews 400 people a day, so it is by no means a large sample size. So this is a net positive for Obama, I think, cuz it might persuade some of his supporters that he doesn't really have it all locked up.
Friday, October 31, 2008
"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."I continue to be amazed at her ability to have no fucking idea what she's talking about. The First Amendment isn't about shielding ignorant people who should never be candidates for dogcatcher from criticism. It's about protecting citizens from government attempts to silence speech, particularly speech about government officials.
note: we're near the library today for a lecture series, and these computers ain't blocked by SurfControl. So bonus Political Doctor, you lucky ducks
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Clever that the Obama campaign actually created this footage. Sure looks like it's a real race, don't it?
And then there's Obama's 30 minute ad which aired yesterday. It's a perfect embodiment of his campaign. While some might have expected a passionate argument in favor of Obama's liberal ideas, like one might have expected Obama to be more aggressive during the debates, Obama instead chose to project a safe image, of a man who is plausible as President. Which is exactly what he should be doing to win. It might result in a bigger win, or a stronger mandate, if he were to attack the GOP and/or be more vocal about his own ideas, but it runs the risk of making him look like a Muslim radical. Obama recognizes that the central issue of this campaign is whether he can appear presidential. A clear majority of the country wants to vote Republicans out, so long as they are convinced that Obama won't f it all up. And last night's ad was yet another attempt to reassure us.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
-The RNC, who because of McCain's accepting public financing is doing most of the spending for the GOP, is spending money in West Virginia (Bush+13) and Montana (Bush+20). There is no chance, none, that this can be explained as anything other than an attempt to avoid a BLOWOUT. Like, before Obama wins West Virginia or Montana, he's going to win Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri and Indiana. Their apparent goal in spending in these states is to lose 375-163 instead of 383-155. Clearly, their goal is to make everyone think they're giving up, only to hope that it rains or something in all those above states and we, out of complacency, decide to not bother voting. I mean, they're desperate to avoid 60 Democratic Senators, and it sure seems like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) or Roger Wicker (R-MS) would be a better use of that money than making a huge blowout into a not-quite-so-huge blowout.
-The McCain campaign continues to implode. A McCain advisor called Palin a "whack job". Senior McCain aide Douglas Holtz-Eakin asked, re: McCain's health plan, "Why would they [younger workers] leave [their employers' health plan]? What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit." I'm almost thinking they want us to quit advocating for Obama, since they're doing such a good job of doing it themselves.
I, I just can't believe it's even possible that Obama isn't going to win by a lot. But we must turn to the Simpsons for a lesson about complacency. Remember when Bart ran for class president against Martin? He had the support of a vast majority of the class, but everyone was having too much fun at Bart's victory party to actually vote, so Martin's own vote (along with that kid who throws up all the time whose name I can't remember. I am shamed) carried the underdog to victory. So, especially since most of my readers live in OH, PA and WV, please get out there and vote! Maybe even knock on some doors. At least make sure your family members and friends go to the polls. It's important!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Based on the interview, as well as statements from such luminaries as Sarah Palin and John McCain, it's clear that the "redistribution of wealth" Obama is referring to means a fairly standard slate of liberal ideas, such as a progressive tax structure (i.e., one where the rich pay a higher rate than the poor).
All but the most economically-conservative support the idea of a progressive structure. Obama happens to be in favor of one that is more progressive than the one McCain, President Bush and the Republicans favor. How this makes him a socialist or crypto-Marxist is beyond me.
McCain accused his opponent of supporting a "giveaway" for some while raising taxes on others because the tax cuts that Obama advocates for the working poor are refundable, meaning that, if the cuts result in your total taxes due being less than $0 (or they are less than $0 already), the gub'mint will cut you a check. This idea of refundable tax cuts/credits was first instituted as the "Earned Income Tax Credit" (EITC), which aimed to help out poor folk with jobs. It was signed into law by Republican Gerald Ford.
And who was the crypto-Marxist who, while signing into law a bill which expanded the EITC (i.e., increased the size of checks given to the working poor, like Obama wants to do), called the EITC "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress"? That's right! Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Sarah Palin is, literally and figuratively, an attractive candidate for the GOP. She gives a voice to the George W. Bush wing of the party, those who emphasize anti-intellectualism, tax cuts, increased spending, "social issues" (i.e., dividing America), etc and all the other things "Joe the Plumber" likes in a candidate. She inspires enthusiasm among the GOP base unseen since Reagan, though, admittedly, without the appeal to moderates.
Should she manage to escape this election with her reputation more or less intact, her popularity with the base means she instantly becomes the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination. And she has the potential to be a very strong candidate next time around, with 4 years to learn about the Supreme Court, the job of the Vice President, and how to handle a live interview. It's clear that she has made rapid progress at being a credible candidate since being introduced as the nominee; while she's still a terrible candidate, she's improved from the trainwreck she was earlier on. I think she might actually be intelligent, but she just doesn't know that much about politics and government.
Saving her electoral future will require a close loss and/or Republicans' not blaming her for their loss this time around. But, luckily for Obama in '12 or Hillary/Bill Richardson/Someone We Haven't Met Yet in '16, there is a very credible case to be made for Palin's candidacy being the most important factor in McCain's hypothetical (though increasingly likely) loss, even more important than the economy.
1. No credible person could argue that she's qualified for the office.
2. Therefore, no credible person could argue that McCain "put the country first" over politics and party by picking Palin.
3. Her selection, then, was perceived as a political stunt.
4. Therefore, two weeks later when he announced he was suspending his campaign to go deal with the economy, it was also perceived as a political stunt.
5. The $150,000 Plain shopping spree, along with the Colin Powell endorsement which Powell described as being based in no small part on the Palin nomination, killed any momentum McCain might've gotten out of the Joe the Plumber thing.
Palin, still in her larval stage as a serious candidate when plucked out of relative obscurity in Alaska, has the potential to develop one day into a strong candidate. We need to crush her now before she has a chance to crawl back to her arctic cocoon for four more years of maturing.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In this election, however, Republicans have been beyond blatant in this strategy of tearing us apart to help their own electoral chances. In a famous Hardball appearance last week, Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann said "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America. I would love to see an exposé like that."
Calling Americans who have the gall to disagree with you on this issue or that "anti-America" represents a stunning effort to divide the electorate into "us" and "them". And it's far from an isolated incident among Republicans. North Carolina GOP Rep. Robin Hayes said this past weekend that "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."
John McCain's brother Joe called Northern Virginia "Communist country", and McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer called parts of the state other than Norther Virginia "real Virginia."
And finally, Sarah Palin talked this past Friday of how much she enjoys campaigning in "real America", the small towns who "run our factories and teach our kids and fight our wars for us"
Republicans are making a fetish of "small-town America", just like they always do, but in this election cycle, they are being far more obvious about dividing one part of our nation from another. We can only hope that voters will reject these despicable tactics by voting the bums out.
How can anyone possibly argue that she is qualified to be VP? As much as I hate W, I at least understand how someone could like him. I truly do not believe that any rational person could really think she should be Vice President.
Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”
PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.
What's the difference between Sarah Palin's mouth and Sarah Palin's vagina? Only some of the things that come out of her vagina are retarded.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with.Just an ugly thing to say. First off, I don't know of any non-presidential endorsements he's ever made, so it'd be tough to come up with any other black candidates. Secondly, fuck you, Rush. Ya bastard...
It's understandable that conservatives would react badly to a Powell endorsement. He helps Obama in a number of ways. On the most obvious level, you've got a very popular guy who's pretty much universally respected saying he's going to vote for you, which always helps.
Then there's the fact that he's one of maybe two living generals (along with Petraeus, who can't endorse anyone as he's still in uniform) whom your average American can name. Having his endorsement, particularly for a candidate trying to persuade undecided voters that he can handle being Commander-in-Chief, is a big deal.
The way Powell went about explaining his endorsement also helped Obama more than a typical endorsement. As a moderate Republican, it is damning that he talked of the GOP becoming a narrower, less "big tent" party. It says to any Republican who might ever vote for Obama (i.e., not the die-hards) that maybe the party is moving away from them.
Finally, having a black man who many white voters have already gotten used to as a serious national leader will help undecideds make the leap toward Obama.
Given that Powell is one of the few Americans whose endorsement can move votes, I get why Rush et al would want to try to tear him down. I didn't expect, however, that they would try to turn him into just another n****r for Obama.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
He seemed to be ok with fighting on McCain's ground, especially on taxes early in the debate. McCain pretty resoundingly trounced Obama early on in the debate. Obama was unwilling to give a full-throated defense of taxing the rich, which makes sense if you're just looking to not piss anyone off. Oddly, however, he didn't do much to tie McCain to Bush on taxes, which is about the easiest issue to do so.
Segregation sucked and everything, but McCain, while discussing John Lewis's George Wallace comments, calling it "the worst chapter in American history" was a bit over the top. Were I an African-American, I'd much rather be in the South in 1956 than 1856. But maybe that's just me
I loved McCain's use of the hatchet/scalpel metaphor to explain his budget freeze: "We need both a hatchet and a scalpel." Watching the debate from the hospital, I was picturing the surgeons on the 5th floor getting started in the OR by jamming a hatchet into someone's gut, then using the scalpel to actually get the appendix.
Obama, later in the debate, came back to McCain's "hatchet" spending freeze when discussing aid for special needs children and their families being an example of an area that needs more funding. Great move to try to break through McCain's ridiculous and hollow budget-buster persona.
Twice during this debate season, once tonight and once at the first debate, McCain derided Obama's insistence that new nuclear power plants be safe, labelling him an "environmental extremist". Really? From last night, "Senator Obama will tell you, as the extreme environmentalists do, that it has to be safe." Who knew Obama was such a pussy
If you wanted to identify the exact moment where McCain ruined any last chance he might have had of winning the election, here it is:
Just a stunning slap at the clear majority of Americans who are pro-choice. It's even a slap at those pro-life people who, ya know, don't hate women.
Obama succeeded on the abortion question by, as he had during much of the debate on cultural issues like vouchers and charter schools, reaching for the center. Instead of staking out a bold and somewhat extreme position as McCain did, he basically said "I'm pro-choice, but I'm not 100% sure I'm right".
So, in the end, while McCain was rhetorically the more successful candidate last night, and "won" the debate, it's an empty victory because Obama prevented a knockout. It would take a huge change, and the only one that seems at all realistic is another terrorist attack on US soil, for McCain to have an chance.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
But it also does make sense for McCain to campaign in states like Iowa. As it stands now, McCain is going to get crushed. Just utterly obliterated. He'll make Bob Dole look like Samuel Tilden. There is not nearly enough time before Election Day for McCain to fight back to a tie state-by-state. It's going to take a huge event, like Obama calling McCain a cracker tomorrow night or an al Qaeda attack, for McCain to get close to reversing the 8 point deficit he faces right now; campaigning in Iowa instead of North Carolina or vice versa isn't going to win him the election. But if every states moves 6 or 7 points to the GOP, then it's states like PA, VA, and IA which are going to decide the election. There is absolutely no scenario in which North Carolina is going to be where the election is won or lost, because if North Carolina is close, McCain's lost Ohio, Virginia, and a bunch of other battleground states that are more blue than North Carolina.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
McCain is spending today in Iowa, and Palin is preparing for a bus tour through West Virginia
Just ridiculously bad strategy by the campaign. Not once, out of any of the 27 polls released in '08 from Iowa, has McCain led Obama (there was one tie). fivethirtyeight.com gives Obama a 97% chance of winning the state. And yet, McCain chose to spend one of his precious last days in a state he has virtually no chance of winning instead of in Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, or any of the other states that are far more likely to influence the outcome of the election.
And, let me tell you, sending Palin to West Virginia can be nothing more than an effort to keep from getting absolutely CRUSHED in the Electoral College. There is no chance that West Virginia will change the outcome. If West Virginia is close enough that Palin needs to visit, that means that he certainly has also lost Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, whose rural regions are demographically similar to WV but also have larger urban and/or black populations. So a close win in West Virginia thanks to a Palin visit would turn a 210 Electoral vote defeat into a 200 vote defeat. That's the best use of Palin's time?
The Branchflower Report on "Troopergate"
Alaska's Legislative Council, which has more Republicans than Democrats, voted 12-0 to release a report which said that Palin abused her power and broke a state ethics law. The McCain/Palin campaign, incredibly, argued that the report was a partisan vendetta, despite the fact that, as previously discussed, it was Republican-dominated.
While this report is bad for Palin, I don't think it actually will move any votes. People who already love Palin will continue to do so, people horrified by her will be even more so, and I really don't think there are that many people who hadn't already formed an opinion of her one way or the other. It does strengthen what I think is an already-strong, objective case that she would be a terrible VP.
McCain's campaign manager admitted McCain "blew up" the original bailout deal.
Ben Smith has the story.
[I]n the middle of the greatest disaster in our financial system that we’d had in our lifetime, that the Democrats in the United States Senate would actually link payments to ACORN in the bailout package that they promoted -- prior to Sen. McCain coming to town and actually blowing that package up. So we can actually say that in addition to saving taxpayers millions of dollars, and we’re very happy that no more taxpayer dollars were added to the pile of money going to ACORN.This statement, not by some flunky or a left-winger but by McCain's own campaign manager, Rick Davis, directly and completely contradicts McCain's own statements about his role in the bailout, which, to remind everyone, is the government's most significant action in response to the economic crisis, clearly the biggest issue of the campaign. Senator McCain, during an event (in Iowa, for some reason) the day after the House voted down the original bailout package, said:
"Our leaders are expected to leave partisanship at the door and come to the table to solve our problems. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process."So McCain publicly blamed Obama for blowing up the bailout bill when in fact, as his campaign manager admitted yesterday, McCain was the one who did the blowing.
This is a big, big deal. McCain should thank his lucky stars that the Palin probe report came out yesterday and drowned out news of this shocking bit of truth from the dying McCain campaign.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The plunge by McCain's poll numbers corresponds strongly to the trials and tribulations of the stock market, which demonstrates that the economy is the issue on which most voters are basing their decisinos. The Dow was down another 678 points today, bringing its total losses to over 40% from its peak a year ago (I mis-subtracted in an earlier post when I said it was 14,164 two years ago). And he responds by releasing his first ad which mentions Bill Ayers. Caring about politicians' personal lives was all well and good back in the 90's when we had surpluses and low unemployment as far as the eye can see. But if McCain thinks voters are going to move to him in any significant numbers on the basis of such guilt-by-association tactics, he is sadly mistaken.
To McCain's credit, his campaign has not been entirely focused on personal attacks, but even his policy efforts have demonstrated poor understanding of what is important to voters. During the most recent debate, he unveiled a plan to have the Treasury buy bad mortgages and renegotiate the terms with homeowners, giving banks more money to stay in business and letting people stay in their homes. Sounds good, actually, if you ignore the enormous cost and the fact that, thanks to CDOs, it's pretty much impossible to buy a specific mortgage. Today, McCain clarified that he intends to buy the mortgages at their full price, for some reason. Let's say you loan me $250,000 so I can, using my $50,000 downpayment, buy a $300,000 house. In the years that people had money and the economy didn't suck, I repaid you $50,000, plus interest. So I still owe you $200,000. But now housing prices suck, and I can't refinance my house, so I can't pay you anymore. Bad for you, bad for me, and bad for the economy. So McCain wants the government to step in and buy the mortgage. Instead of reducing the amount he would give you for your loan made to a deadbeat (me) to reflect the general crappiness of your investment, McCain wants to give you the full $200,000. So, instead of banks losing money for making bad investments, he wants to entirely, completely replace the banks' losses using taxpayers' money. This plan goes even further than the already-passed bailout bill in giving tax dollars to Wall Street. That McCain thinks this is a winning strategy demonstrates how clueless his campaign has become.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This is a big freakin' deal. Without getting into which side is right, I think we can all agree that this is a big freakin' deal. And yet, we're discussing Bill Ayers and who "looks more presidential" during the debates.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The highlight of the night for me was Obama's answer on health care. Through a personal story about his dying mother, he demonstrated the monstrous nature of our health care system. Insurance companies have a profit motivation to deny care to people. By making it harder for insurers to deny coverage, Obama's plan will be a huge help to costs.
Obama once again succeeded in looking more presidential. McCain's repeated lame jokes, refusal to answer the question on his priorities as President, and (while it shouldn't matter but it does) shuffling gait on stage weren't exactly distinguished. And I think he also did a better job of reaching toward the center on taxes, health care and energy.
McCain needs a Torn ACL Moment from Obama to have any chance. McCain, while attacking Obama's credibility in potentially effective but predictable and worn-out ways, refused to attack him on Ayers, or anything else that might somehow save him. If he's not going to attack Obama, and if Obama has nothing Thomas Eagleton-level in his past, this thing is over.
ADDENDUM: Watching a discussion on MSNBC with a focus group of undecided voters. Why do we give one shit what these imbeciles think about this election?
ADDENDUM II: OK, that was a little harsh. It's possible that people are undecided because they have been busy with other things and haven't been paying attention yet but are capable of having intelligent reactions to tonight's debate. These are not who they got for this particular focus group, however.
ADDENDUM III: Per fivethirtyeight.com, apparently "cool hand at the tiller", a phrase McCain used twice, when typed into Google results in exactly 2 responses. So not only did he use a ridiculous, non-appealing (cuz only rich old people who own boats know what a tiller is) line, he completely made it up out of the Ether.
ADDENDUM IV: All of these addenda are after I've started reading other people's debate responses.
ADDENDUM V: Brokaw definitely took more control of the evening than he should have. Clearly he read my preview post and decided to abandon the pretense of a town hall.
ADDENDUM VI: A bit more about the "Bomb, Bomb Iran" song. Obama talks about how he is qualified to deal with foreign crises or whatever, and McCain jumps in with some lame line or another. The conflict and overtalking gets the viewer's attention. So, then, Obama hammers him, saying "You're the one who sang "Bomb, Bomb Iran". Just excellent timing, and his strongest attack of the night.
VII: Apparently in his stump speech recently, McCain sets up a parallel between himself and Obama, referring to himself as "this Senator" and Obama as "that". It came off as very awkward and condescending when Obama referred to Obama as "that one" without setting up the parallel. This is not the first time that McCain made this mistake in a debate. In the first debate, when discussing earmarks, he said at the end of his response "I will make them famous". Anyone who's heard McCain talk about earmarks prior to that debate knew what he meant, that he would find congressmen who push for ridiculous earmarks, tell us their names and make them famous. But without the set-up, it comes off as non-sensical. Tonight, he did the same.
VIII: Excellent point by Rachel Maddow: It makes McCain look weak to have his entire campaign focused on attacking Obama on Ayers for the past several days and forseeable future and then not have the guts to do it to his face.
9:02 If you're Tom Brokaw, don't you kind of feel like you wouldn't be here right now if Russert hadn't died?
9:03 With tens of thousands of questions culled into the questions for tonight's debate, Brokaw, the culler, has just as much influence over this debate as if he'd been answering the question himself. If he wants to ask a question on Social Security, he's got hundreds to choose from and can pick one closest to what he would ask. With so many options, it'll be pretty darn close. Why bother with the charade of "voters" asking him questions?
9:05 I actually like Brokaw, despite the blog being entirely focused on him. Obama's being boring.
9:06 btw, if no one's following along live, I'm just gonna post all my comments at the end (after these, of course). If you are reading live, make a comment, or e-mail me.
9:07 It's a fine, if somewhat expensive, idea to buy up bad mortgages and renegotiate them. But where was that idea before? He didn't have time to push this idea before the bailout passed even with all the time he saved by "suspending" his campaign.
9:08 First lame joke of the night. "Not you, Tom" by McCain in response to his question about McCain's future Treasury Secretary.
9:09 McCain wants to put the founder of EBay in charge of the Treasury?!? I mean, EBay's a great company and everything, but that's not what Treasury is about. You need a banker/investor.
9:11 An undecided voter who's black?!? He must be RIDICULOUSLY conservative!
9:12 Croneys of Obama from Fannie Mae? You mean the black guy who dared talk to the campaign once, and the guy who ran Obama's VP committee for about 2 seconds? Nice.
9:13 That number that shows Obama getting more from Fannie and Freddie than all congressmen but one is ridiculously misleading. When you consider it as a proportion of the huge amount of money he's brought in compared to any other congressman, the result is that Obama has not received a disproportionate sum from these companies, but just so much money from everyone. He got, proportionally compared to McCain, about as much money from Fannie and Freddie as he got from the U.S. Armed Forces serving abroad.
9:14 Obama's counterpunching already, talking about McCain's dereregulator past. Good tactic to use a fairly impersonal, issues-based counterattack to McCain's silly allegations.
9:15 Ow, and he takes it too far by talking about Rick Davis' lobbying firm working for Freddie. Risky move.
9:17 Apparently buying up home loans is McCain's big idea to win the debate. He wants to spend hundreds of billions more than we already did on the bailout.
9:18 Oh, so now we're fighting over who signed what letter to the financial powers-that-be? That's constructive!
9:19 It really is an indictment of Republican conservatism when you look at what happened to the deficit under Reagan and W. Just awful, and we're not really discussing it.
9:20 Savings from Iraq give Obama a fabulous defense against the "big spender" label because he can give the response that, in total, he's cutting spending.
9:22 McCain's telling us to take the word of conservative groups like the American Taxpayers Union. Nice objective source...
9:23 McCain's getting aggressive here, talking about Obama's votes on spending. I just wonder how well those punches are going to land, though.
9:24 Anyone else notice how slow McCain walked across the stage there?
9:24 Hey! "My friends!" Take a drink!
9:25 Can we please stop calling "clean coal" an alternative fuel, Senator McCain?
9:28 Obama's being boring and McCain's being blandly aggressive.
9:29 I guess the planetarium's projector Obama had the government put up the cash for is McCain's other big idea. God forbid the federal government spend money on educating its citizens.
9:31 Wow, who had Obama in the "first to bring up 9/11" office pool?
9:32 Incentivizing conservation really is a winning strategy, I think, and I'm glad Obama's going for it, talking about subsidies for home insulation, energy efficient vehicles, and such. Liberals like that you're spending money and helping the environment, conservatives like that the market is still involved. Tax cuts and incentives for energy companies are great and everything, but
9:35 The hatchet/scalpel analogy for their approaches to the economy is a powerful one, emphasizing that Obama can still "help people who need it."
9:35 Didn't Clinton raise taxes in an economic downtime? Does McCain really want to compare Obama to Clinton on economics?
9:36 Really fake and rehearsed "I've got news for you, Senator Obama. It's bad" is, itself, bad. It's buried in the middle of a tonally much different response.
9:38 Barack, don't emphasize the "Straight Talk Express" thing. Memories of 2000 McCain is the only thing 2008 McCain has left.
9:39 Obama pretty effectively shoehorned his tax answer into a question on health care. Sarah Palin should take a lesson on how it's done.
9:41 Does McCain think he's going to appeal to undecideds with his constant deification of Reagan? Turning out the base is all well and good when your base is bigger than the other guy's, but that's clearly not the case this election.
9:42 Such a lame format, with no follow-ups or questions between the candidates. No wonder it's boring.
9:43 They officially have every undecided black voter asking a question at this debate.
9:44 McCain says that commie Obama thinks nuclear power plants have to be safe!?! What a radical!
9:47 Obama is really going over on time. Heaven forbid that a candidate speak longer than a couple minutes.
9:50 That questions about health care being a commodity is right in Obama's wheelhouse. Let's hope he hits it.
9:51 Hooray, Obama's talking in favor of computerizing health records. Let me tell you, as a professional in the field, that computerized health records would result in HUGE savings in health costs. If McCain said he'd pay to computerize the whole damn system, I'd vote for him.
9:52 Sorry, I might've gotten a little carried away at the end there.
9:53 "Medical errors, as they call them," McCain says. Is that a term he just came up with?
9:54 Another lame attempt at humor, re: hair transplants. A veiled reference to Biden?
9:56 Excellent, EXCELLENT answer by Obama about his mother arguing with insurance companies from a hospital while dying of cancer.
9:58 And he follows it up with factual answers about not mandating care for anyone but kids and that McCain voted against expanding health coverage for kids. And companies being able to shop across state-lines for healthy people to cover.
9:58 Maybe it's because I'm biased, but I think Obama absolutely eviscerated McCain with this health care answer, and McCain could only respond with a lame, lunging attack about a "fine" Obama supposedly wants to impose on companies that don't cover their workers.
10:06 Actually, Senator McCain, if we did what Senator Obama wanted in Iraq, we never would have been there.
10:07 Does McCain really think he's going to convince people by talking about Lebanon in the 1980's?
10:10 Obama is, outside of his health care answer, being really boring. Which is good, actually, when you're trying to avoid a knockout.
10:11 You know why Obama can talk so loudly? Brotha carries a big stick
10:12 The Taliban did not come back in to Afghanistan after we left. The Taliban is who we were supporting while we were there. Ridiculous attempt at a parallel by McCain!
10:14 There's an Obama channel on Dish Network. It need to play "Bomb, Bomb Iran" on a loop for the next 4 weeks.
10:15 "I hate to even go into this." Then don't!
10:16 McCain's repeated statements that he "knows how to get bin Laden" are AWFUL! If he knows, why hasn't he told the Bush Administration?
10:17 I don't think Obama really wants to put more troops into Afghanistan, but it might help, and it keeps him from looking like a wimp.
10:19 McCain's talking about Putin and the KGB. Outside of Rounders, would any voter under 35 have any response to the KGB? And would anyone older still be afraid of them?
10:21 Let me paraphrase for McCain: "We're going to, along with our European allies, put political and economic pressure on Russia to bring them in line, but it's not going to be a new Cold War."
10:22 Gold star for the strategist who had Obama put out a statement in April on Georgia/Russia being unstable.
10:23 Wanna bet they're gonna go longer than yes or no?
10:24 Why would McCain say "maybe"? That has to be the worst possible answer! A regular wordy response like Obama gave is fine, as is saying yes or no. But not maybe! Another lame attempt at humor
10:26 Why oh why are people still attacking Obama on meeting "without preconditions" with world leaders? What undecided voter hadn't heard about this before?
10:29 Meeting with foreign leaders is a topic where Obama can strongly tie McCain to Bush (and every other President, but that's beside the point)
10:30 Obama busts out his one attempt at humor. It was better than any of McCain's, and better timed.
10:30 Obama's ending with biography and humor. The only bar he has to cross at this point to be President is "Is he a radical Muslim domestic terrorist?", and this is an easy way to do it.
10:33 Wow, wars in places most people couldn't find on a map? What a change!
10:34 Saying "I've been serving this country for many, many years" is
10:34 Do most people know what a tiller is? McCain's mentioned it twice!
10:34 What a great ending with McCain standing in front of Brokaw's teleprompter! Is that going to be the one memorable moment from this debate?
10:35 Summary reaction soon. Stay tuned