Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Gem from Palin

From ABCNews' Political Radar:
"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

Don't Rock the Boat (or Plane)!

According to Drudge, looks like the Obama campaign has booted reporters from the NY Post, Washington Times and Dallas Morning News, all of them conservative papers, from the press pool on his campaign plane. Why oh why does he find it necessary to poke newspapers in the eye?! Granted, it's not like New York, DC or Texas are quite the definition of swing-states, but still...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Obama Ads

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

Are They Trying to Make Us Complacent?

News items from the day:

-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

We're All Distributionists

Over on Drudge, Rush, Hannity etc., a lot is bring made of this interview from 2001 with State Sen. Barack Obama on a Chicago radio station. In it, Obama says that one of the failures of the civil rights movement is that it failed to bring about "distributive change" and "redistribution of wealth". The reason it failed, he said, was that the movement focused on litigation, not legislation; courts are limited in how dramatically they can shift away from society at large.

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.

Wonderful Summation of the End of the Campaign

A post from me coming shortly, but, from, here's a fabulous round-up of the last weeks of the campaign since the middle of debate season. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Palin Keeping Me Motivated

It's getting to be hard to stay motivated about the race. According to fivethirtyeight and RealClearPolitics, Obama's ahead by a lot in all the national polls, and time is running out for McCain to make up the gap. But there is one thing that is keeping me rooting for a blowout: destroying Sarah Palin's career.

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

Blatant Dividing of America

We can all agree, I think, that, all other things being equal, it's better if Americans identify strongly with each other than not; a united country is better than a divided one. It used to be that Democrats would accuse Republicans of using "wedge issues", like abortion, guns, etc., to "divide" voters into distinct groups. Republicans would be able to deny this charge because they could say that they were only raising issues that are important to Americans, and it's not a completely ridiculous defense.

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.

Oh Sarah

Another ridiculous comment from the league leader:

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.

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.

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

Just Another N*****r for Obama

I try every now and then to take Rush Limbaugh seriously. Then he has to go and ruin it by saying things like this:
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

Devastating Piece on Taxes

Here's a piece from that destroys the myth of Obama destroying America's small businesses through being a dirty tax-and-spender. The whole thing's worth a read, but let me summarize. Turns out that, even with McCain's ridiculous definition of what constitutes a small business (he and Obama both qualify because of thier book income), it's only the top tiny portion of "small" business owners who would be affected. With any reasonable definition, it's tinier still. So, in a nutshell, it's exactly like every other Republican tax plan ever: cuts for the rich wrapped in populist rhetoric.

Turn Out the Lights

If you've never seen a presidential poll prior to last night's debate, you'd still be able to tell that Obama was significantly ahead. He was in his prevent defense, willingly giving up some ground to avoid risking a huge loss.

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

No Live Debate Coverage :-(

I am once again working all night, so no live-blog of tonight's debate. You'll get my reaction tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reconsidering McCain's Strategy

After attacking McCain's campaign strategy in a recent post, I have reconsidered. It turns out that Palin was not, in fact, going to campaign in West Virginia, which would have been a ridiculous decision, because if he might lose West Virginia, he's certainly lost the election. She was just landing in WV and then campaigning in Ohio, which makes much more sense.

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 Campaign in its Death Throes

I thought the McCain campaign was in deep trouble when I made my last post on Thursday. As I watched the news updates yesterday and today, I continued to be amazed at how bad the news was for McCain and how dreadful the campaign's reactions to recent events have been. Let's do a quick rundown, in increasing order of ineptitude:

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). 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

Old Man's Gone Tone Deaf!

I know I'm not the most objective analyst of the McCain campaign, but are they insane?

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

Can We Talk About Abortion?

Make no mistake, my friends, the fate of Roe v Wade will be decided in this election. If Obama wins, Justices Stevens (88 years old), Ginsburg (70 something with a history of colon cancer) and Souter (inexplicably wants to retire and go back to New Hampshire), all pro-Roe, and possibly the other two pro-Roe Justices, Kennedy and Breyer, will retire and be replaced by younger justices who will defend Roe for the next 20 years. If McCain wins, one of Stevens/Ginsburg/Souter will die/retire, allowing McCain to appoint a pro-life justice who will, as soon as a case can get to the Court, tip the balance against Roe. While he would have to get the nominee past a Democratic Senate, if McCain picks a moderate nominee who happens to be anti-Roe, particularly if the nominee is already known, the Democrats won't be able to stop it.

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

Town-Hall Debate Reaction

Down about six points, which is a heck of a lot in Presidential politics, McCain needed to have, if not a devastating victory, at least a strong performance. I think I can safely say that McCain did not have one moment that will move the polls in his direction one iota. What was new were an expensive new idea (buying and renegotiating mortgages) and a lame attack (projector earmark). That's not going to move him up at all.

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, 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.

Presidential Liveblog 2: The Revenge

9:00 We are live from the Doctor's Office in The 'Burgh. Will McCain land an uppercut, or will he be penalized for a low blow. My money's on B. Let's watch!

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

Debate II Preview

What exactly is the Republicans' strategy at this point? They've been relentlessly attacking Obama not so much for his policy, but for a board he sat on which happened to include "an unrepentant domestic terrorist," Bill Ayers. Who exactly do they think they're going to convince with this? Obama is already at 50% or above in many recent polls, and it is highly unlikely that anyone who's already an Obama supporter is going to be turned by vague, guilt-by-association attacks. The Dow is down well over 30% in the past 2 years, from its peak of 14,164 on October 9, 2006, and these jokers want us to vote based on a board Obama sat on 10 years ago?

I wonder if McCain will attempt to lash out at Obama on Ayers at tonight's debate. It's clear, based on the first debate, that a boring debate more or less on the issues will do nothing to help McCain, and will probably even hurt him. So McCain has to spice it up a bit, and if he is unable to find a legitimate line of attack, I expect that he will try to pin Ayers on him, and in so doing, if he comes off as "mean", end his campaign.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Play This on a Loop!

Pretty devastating to McCain's apparent strategy to go hard negative, huh?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Excellent Strategy by Palin

Well, by her debate team, anyway.

It appears clear that she had some number of canned responses ready for the debate and was able to pull one of them out for pretty much every question. It's true that all politicians do this to some degree or another, deflecting a question onto a topic they'd rather talk about. But Palin had fewer topics into which she could pivot, so her attempts to do so were much more obvious.

What makes this an excellent strategy, despite its obviousness to anyone who watched the whole debate, is that not that many people actually watch the whole thing. To the voter who catches the highlights on CNN or the Daily Show, there is no 20 second clip in which Palin looks Couric-interview bad. By being allowed by a format which severely limited follow-up and interaction between the candidates to not directly answer any of the questions, Palin was able to hide her general lack of knowledge and experience compared to Biden.

Biden did ok, I guess. I think he should have relentlessly called her out on answering the question. Then the debate would have been fought on his strong points and her weaknesses. And what would her defenders have said? That he was being unfair in asking her to speak on the topics the moderator brought up?

"Live" Blogging the VP Debate

MSNBC is reshowing the VP debate now, so I'll just "Live" blog it now. I saw maybe 25-30 minutes of the debate on Thursday night in between ordering Tylenol, so I'm not totally seeing the debate for the first time. I have been trying to avoid watching the media's reactions to the debate, but I have seen some. So, with that, it's showtime:

3:00 The liberal in me likes MSNBC, but I do hate the intro music they use for their debate/election coverage.

3:01 "Can I call you Joe?"?!? How about "hello"?

3:04 Already a couple "middle class"es from Joe Biden. This obsession with "John McCain didn't say 'middle class' one time!" is silly.

3:04 Is Palin going to address the bailout, which was the first question? She's just talking about the economy in general.

3:05 They're still hanging onto "McCain meant the "fundamentals" are workers" thing. How are people not seeing through this? He never one time stated that's what he meant, and he called the fundamentals strong something like 15 times this year.

3:06 I hope Biden keeps bringing things back to the question Gwen Ifill asks.

3:07 Kind of a showy flag pin on Palin today.

3:08 That was a "maverick"-heavy response. Has she said anything about the bailout yet?

3:08 Oh yeah, there will be commercials during this, since it's not live. weird

3:11 Aw, Gwen, don't make it a multiple choice test for Palin! "You bet it was the predatory lenders." Wow

3:12 "Let's not get ourselves into debt," she says? Good Republican policy there. It really is appalling how we're letting the GOP off the hook here when it comes to deregulation.

3:15 MSNBC's got a neat feature running where they show a "truth squad" graphic, "Pop-up Video" style, where one or the other candidate lies. Palin just told a doozy about Obama voting 94 times to raise taxes.

3:16 Biden is still calling her out for not answering questions. I haven't heard about this being a theme after the debate, so he must stop soon, but I wonder why. It seems like an effective strategy.

3:17 She still didn't answer the question about regulation.

3:18 The Obama campaign need to shout the "no taxes if you're making under $250,000" thing from the top of his $400 million mountaintop.

3:19 I'll just admit it, I have a hatred of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate. And I don't think it's an irrational hatred. Just felt I needed to get that out there

3:20 How is it that Republicans are still talking about raising taxes on rich people back up to the rates they were at under Clinton would result in poor economic growth? Do they remember the 90's?

3:20 Whopper of a lie there by Palin! Obama's health care plan doesn't mandate care for Americans, only children.

3:22 We as a society definitely need to talk about health care a lot more. Both candidates are proposing fairly big changes. Stay tuned!

3:23 Good response by Biden about McCain's plan. Making health care benefits not tax-deductible encourages companies to drop coverage. So we all buy insurance on our own, not through our companies, meaning consumers, acting separately instead of together, have less power to negotiate prices. How is that a good idea?

3:25 Aw, bummer out of Biden, delaying plans to double foreign aid because of the budget deficit.

3:27 "Go back to the energy plan," Palin says? Were we on the energy plan?

3:28 Biden better call her on the windfall profits tax she charged oil companies in Alaska

3:29 Why is she drawing attention to the fact that she's only been around 5 weeks and hasn't promised to do anything?

3:30 Hey, he called her on the windfall profits tax! Hooray! And he did a good job doing it!

3:31 And of course they cut to commercial before she has a chance to respond. I'm assuming they aren't going to edit anything out, but of course, I'm sure she won't bother responding to that, either, just like she doesn't bother responding to Ifill's questions.

3:32 How about this giant hearing aid that looks like a Bluetooth earpiece? What a great idea! As Mrs. Doctor points out, people are embarassed to wear a hearing aid, but Bluetooths (blueteeth?) are cool.

3:33 See, the question was about the bankruptcy bill, and she's talking generally about Wall Street!

3:35 Oh, she thinks the economy is a toxic mess, and she wants to unfreeze the credit markets, but she doesn't bother saying one word about how. Thanks for talking.

3:36 On the other hand, Biden's answering the questions but being a little boring about it

3:36 Why the fuck (sorry for the profanity. I try to keep it clean here, but....) is she talking about energy again?!? The question is about bankruptcy law, and this is twice you've completely dodged just this one question!

3:40 Surfing around during commercials. Apparently Palin didn't pay income taxes on that money she charged the government to live at her own home instead of the governor's mansion. That's, like, illegal and stuff. More on this after the debate.

3:41 Ugh, they're playing the awful MSNBC music coming out of every commercial break

3:41 She doesn't want to argue about the causes of climate change? Then how does she propose to do anything about it? It seems to me to be a fundamental part of the process of fixing something to figure out what caused it in the first place

3:42 Why did Biden feel it necessary to "correct" himself, calling her "Gov. Palin: instead of "Sarah Palin"? Was he coached that saying "Sarah Palin" sounded condescending?

3:43 "Senator Biden, why do you want to give our technology to the Red Chinese?"

3:44 Why did she feel it necessary to correct him on the "drill baby drill" thing?

3:44 "nuke-yoo-lur", she says?! "NUKE-YOO-LUR"........ NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!

3:47 Biden says there will be no differences under the law between gay and straight couples. Except, of course, that they can't get married. That's kind of a biggie, Joe.

3:48 Oh, Biden just came back and said it's up to churches what to call civil unions/marriage/etc. OK, that'll do

3:50 This "funding the troops" line is BS. It's not like the Democrats were going to stop paying for fuel for Humvees and leave troops in the field. The vote would have resulted in troops coming home. How awful

3:51 Obama/Biden need to push the point that the Iraqi government wants Obama's Iraq plan.

3:52 If Iraq really has had 400,000 soldiers stand up, join the Iraqi army and get trained by us, can we stand down now, pretty please?

3:53 "White flag of surrender"?!? Then why does Malaki support it?

3:54 Why is it that Bush/McCain/Palin want to be told by their Generals how to run the military? Isn't that the President's job? More on this in a future post, if I remember to do so.

3:54 Biden seems genuinely amused by her.

4:00 Biden needs to mention the speech he gave on September 10, 2001 where he said that threats to America would come from, among other places, the belly of a plane.

4:04 Way to emphasize the crap out of McCain saying he wouldn't necessarily meet with Spain's Prime Minister, Joe!

4:06 "No one in the US Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden." Uh, how 'bout Obama, Joe?

4:09 Instead of pointing out how McCain is different from Bush, Palin is just saying, basically, "oh Joe, don't keep looking to the past." Translation: "OK, you got us, he's got a lot in common with Bush."

4:11 It just annoys the heck out of me when Palin is giving what she thinks is a clever answer and her voice gets higher and more nasal and she stops moving her teeth. So annoying!

4:13 She's not answering the question about when we should use nukes, just talking about nuclear proliferation. It's like her brain said "ah, she's asking about nuke-yoo-lur stuff, here's an answer I have on that!"

4:14 No, you can't talk about Afghanistan! Answer the question Ifill asked first!

4:15 Biden likes the "let me say that again" method of emphasizing points, doesn't he?

4:20 Oh yeah, Darfur! Remember that? I gotta admit, I pretty much forgot about it

4:22 Do you really think that Palin watched the Democratic debates? I sure don't

4:23 If Alaska has a $40 billion fund invested in, among other things, companies in Sudan, why are we still giving the state federal money? This race is making me really hate Alaska!

4:28 Other than throwing her former buddy and Alaska GOP chair under a bus, what has Sarah Palin ever done to show herself to be a maverick?

4:30 "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again"?!?

4:37 Why is Joe not just talking about education or whatever else he wants to talk about? Silly things like the moderator's questions aren't stopping Palin from talking about what she wants.

4:38 She agrees with Cheney about the role of the VP. That's gotta scare some undecideds, right?

4:40 Ouch, Biden just said Article 1 defines the Executive Branch, when it's actually Article 2. I wonder if anyone caught that.

4:42 Why is she talking about her and McCain's track record? Isn't that looking to the past, not the future?

4:42 Nice mention of McCain's vote on the Violence Against Women Act. His record on women's issues really is pretty bad.

4:43 Wow, actual emotion from a politician! The cynical part of me says Biden planned it, but it really seemed genuine.

4:43 ...followed immediately by Palin immediately launching into another canned spiel, including at least 2 "maverick"s.

4:45 Fabulous answer by Biden about McCain's "maverick" issues, such as immigration, carbon cap & trade, campaign reform, etc. aren't actually terribly important issues, compared to the issues he's a "typical" Republican on.

4:48 More commercial reading: apparently Palin only found out about the McCain campaign pulling out of Michigan by reading it in a newspaper. Shouldn't she have been in on that conversation? Looks like the campaign doesn't respect her all that much more than I do.

4:50 Did Palin just admit to "caving in" sometimes? Why would a maverick do that?

4:52 Biden's trying to play a little early defense by talking about not questioning people's motives. McCain's campaign, being so far behind 1 month from the election, will be going very negative. Right now their entire advertising budget is being spent on negative attacks.

4:56 Unnecessary jab at Michelle Obama on the "always been proud to be an American" thing.

4:57 Ugh, the "McCain's the only one whose ever really fought for you" line is so offensive.

4:59 Not a strong closing by either candidate. Immediate response, not a terribly strong debate by either. More complete response in a bit.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No Liveblog Tonight!

Just a reminder that I won't be liveblogging the VP debate, as I'm at work tonight. Tune in tomorrow for my reactions.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin, Expectations, and the Need for Elitism

As previously discussed, there was a rumor that Palin had failed spectacularly on a question from Katie Couric regarding Supreme Court decisions other than Roe v Wade. Well, today, we have the video, and transcript:

It's pretty bad. Palin's half of the clip starts at 2:00, where she discusses Roe v Wade, and at 2:57 Couric asks about other cases. Definitely worth two minutes of your time, and the contrast with Biden is worth another two.

But it's not nearly as bad as I was expecting. She pauses for about 7 seconds before launching into a generic response about leaving decisions to states. It's a really bad response, and I remain convinced that at that moment she could not think of another Supreme Court case. But to anyone expecting a disaster, it's not awful. She might not come off too terribly to a non-committed voter.

It is in this way that the shockingly low expectations for Sarah Palin in tomorrow's VP debate. It appears, based on the testimony of an opponent of hers in the Alaskan gubernatorial debates, that Palin is not completely without skill at debates. She is "she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality." Now, we can argue if that statement is true, based on her terrible, transparent nonanswers during the interviews with Couric and Gibson, but she might be able to not completely embarass herself.

Palin takes pride in being "Joe Six-Pack" and talks about "those Washington elite who don't like the idea of just an everyday, working-class American running for such an office." I would hope that I speak for all of us when I say, if we're going to get a working-class, or any other class, American, I want them to be far from "everyday".

Why in God's name would we want an average American to lead us? We live in a complicated world, and while no one's close to having it all figured out, I'd rather put our best minds on the problem than our most average. Doesn't that make sense?

Why is elitism bad? The sort of elitism that I think most people are thinking of when they think of "elite" as a perjorative term is the caste-like, nepotic systems whereby the "common man" can't get ahead. And I think we can all agree that that form of elitism is bad. But the kind of elitism where we want our best to lead us is ok, I would hope.

Sarah Palin's candidacy represents a false sort of populism in opposition to "the elites". She comes from a middle-class background (though, relative to her surroundings, she's doing more than ok), which is, I'll admit, preferable to someone who comes from a wealthier home, all other things being equal, as she is more likely to understand how government affects the average (i.e., plentiful) American. But she also seems to take pride in being average in her thoughts, knowledge and ideas. When will we start seeing the latter as a bad thing in a leader?

It's as if the Cleveland Browns signed me to be their quarterback (for my non-sports readers, the guy who throws the football) and the fans decided to judge me on the scale of an overweight 26 year old who hasn't touched a football in years, instead of on the scale of an NFL quarterback.

Palin's embrace of her image as the everywoman, in every aspect, means she has ridiculously low expectations to live up to in the debate. What would be a dismally bad performance for a qualified candidate would be a great performance for an everywoman. The genius of Palin's candidacy is that her supporters believe that an everywoman makes just as good a leader as someone who, ya know, can name more than one accomplishment of the Judicial Branch of Government.