Saturday, October 04, 2008
Anyway, this week's featured podcast from Thom Hartmann's hour one from this Friday. Every Friday he has "Brunch with Bernie," what Thom calls a national town hall. Anyway, Senator Bernie Sanders [I-VT] and Hartmann dig into the bailout, challenging some of the basic ideas. The most disturbing point made? For 1/6 of the money, we could have rebuilt our infrastructure, created 6 million jobs, and in the end have valuable repairs would be made. Instead? We bought a bunch of bankrupt companies.
I've been unsure about how I feel about the bailout, but hearing conversations like this make me worried.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
We are literally getting fucked by the oil companies
GOP talking points by watching Ari's goofy smile.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
The reason why this pregnancy means something is that it is the daughter of someone who is running for the second highest office in the land. That person also happens to be someone who is very much against teaching sexual education in public schools and only supports abstinence only education. When her underage daughter ends of pregnant, it is incumbent upon us to ask how this private behavior matches up with their public rhetoric. It is a very real example of how this person's judgment is deeply flawed.
Now this doesn't mean that we should all go through their private lives, but we should seriously discuss how this pregnancy reflects on their political agenda.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
However, I have to say that the speech didn't do as much for me as Biden's. I know that I am in the minority on this, but I honestly choked up a couple of times when I saw it. I didn't get the same feeling from Obama's speech, although I have felt that way with other speeches.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Democratic convention in Atlanta witnessed even more tumult from the second-place finisher when Jesse Jackson, furious at being passed over for the vice-presidential slot by the party's nominee, Michael Dukakis (who failed to call Jackson and tell him the VP news), threatened to withhold his delegates' support from the party's nominee. In fact, just hours before the convention began, Jackson's supporters threatened to place the candidate's name into nomination for the vice presidency, which would have created a massive floor fight between Jackson and Dukakis' pick, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.
Pre-convention tension grew so heated that the mild-mannered Dukakis was quoted as saying, "I don't care what Jesse Jackson does. I'm going to this convention and I'm going to win." During his convention keynote address, which lasted nearly an hour -- much longer than expected, Jackson did not specifically endorse Dukakis.
Looks like they have.
This is the line that needs to get burned into the minds of voters:
“He has a huge anger problem,” Boxer said. “And he never hid that. ... I have seen it happen on the Senate floor many, many times. … He has exploded at me a couple times.”
Boxer said McCain has always apologized after the dust-ups. Nonetheless, she insinuated that McCain’s temperament makes him unfit for the White House.
“It’s all well and good to apologize,” Boxer added, “but if you are in charge of that black box, I worry about that.”
Like most media narratives, I fear that they have latched onto an idea and will never give it up. Hillary and Bill Clinton will heap praise upon Obama. 99% of her supporters at the convention will support Obama. Each of the speakers will talk about how united the party is. Yet the only thing that will come of this is that this is a party in crisis. The media will find support for this narrative by finding one or two camera hungry Clintion delegates and trot them out for a zillion interviews. Thus proving that the party is irrevocably harmed.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I think the speech will touch a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the real story of this family and it's interesting because the pundits commenting on this speech don't get that. If Michele had driven on to the stage with in a red pickup truck, that would have signaled 'Real American' to them. Unfortunately, she sort of walked up on stage which means that, of course, she is an elitist.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Barack Obama's public image has eroded this summer amid a daily onslaught of attacks from Republican rival John McCain, leaving the race for the White House statistically tied, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released today.
Far more voters say McCain has the right experience to be president, the poll found. More than a third have questions about Obama's patriotism.
I think a lot of Obama supporters (myself included) have been worried about Obama's lack of a counter attack in this campaign. Much like Kerry and the Swift Boat attacks in 2004, Obama has been absolutely silent this August and really needs to hit back. Unfortunately, it seems that he has taken the 'please stop kicking sand in my face' approach (from earlier today):
Barack Obama is giving his speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars right now. With some Dems questioning whether he's hitting back hard enough against John McCain's attacks, Obama went out of his way to directly confront McCain's claim that he would rather lose a war than lose an election.
The problem with this strategy is that it still plays into McCain's frame. It is still allowing for the discussion of whether Obama is patriotic. Instead of this feeble response, Obama needs to hit back hard. He needs to equate McCain with Bush, he needs to show the country that McCain is a pampered rich guy, he needs to openly question McCain's mental status. This is how you fight against these people.
Which is funny, because after 22 years of serving together in Washington- McCain has NEVER reached out to him before.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Back in 2002, the rationale for going to war was incredibly flimsy. If you looked at the case that was presented by the Bush administration and weighed the evidence thoughtfully, there was very little reason to support the war. There was no terrorist connection, there was no link to 9-11 and the existence of stockpiles of WMDs was doubtful. Similarly, McCain is an exceptionally weak candidate. If you look at what he offers, it becomes abundantly clear that he is simply not a good fit for this country. Many of the policies that he embraces are ill conceived (e.g. gas tax moratorium), downright destructive (e.g. harsh stance towards Russia) or unpopular (e.g. support for Bush Tax cut).
However, just like in 2002, it is nearly impossible to get at the meat of the issue. One thing that the McCain campaign does is exploit personal tragedy to avoid criticism. Case in point, when asked whether McCain was in the 'cone of silence' during the forum at Saddleback, the campaign response was:
“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,”
This is not the first time that the McCain has used this tactic during the campaign (see here), and it brings to mind the tragedy of 9-11 to thwart criticism of the war. We were constantly reminded of the 3,000 deaths suffered on that day, especially when anyone would point out that the rationale for the war was not as strong as it should have been.
Another tactic is the impugning of motives for those that oppose McCain's candidacy. As noted by Josh Marshall, McCain has repeatedly stated that Obama is committing treason so that he can win an election- which is eerily similar to the tactic commonly used by war supporters in 2002. While now it has become a joke (i.e. "Why do you hate America?"), many commentators would ask why 'opponents would want to undermine the troops' or 'let the terrorists win'.
Lastly, there is the suggestion that questioning McCain's credentials means that you are unpatriotic. As we all learned from the Wes Clark dust-up, asking whether McCain's military background matters is strictly forbidden. We have also had no mainstream coverage of the Solzhenitsyn issue which, as I noted yesterday, is to be expected since asking about it would mean that you are unpatriotic. This matches perfectly with what happened to many critics of the war in 2002 (e.g. Phil Donahue, Dixie Chicks), as they were vilified for opposing the war and speaking their mind.
My hope is that this trend can be reversed, but in all likelihood, public discourse will remain unchanged. I see no evidence that the traditional media will change their ways and fight through the BS. I only hope that voters are wise enough to see the difference.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
On and on it goes...
Friday, August 15, 2008
One of the great threats we face is the personal sense of grandiosity of the lead foreign hands who shape the course of our role in the world. Not national grandiosity, but personal grandiosity. Because if you're a foreign policy hand or political leader your own quest for greatness is constrained by whether or not you live in times of grand historical events.As I have been watching this all unfold, I have gotten increasingly worried that the press will fall into the McCain as leader meme that he is just itching to play. They so much want to believe that they are all living in a grand historical moment, and all they need to complete this is a grand historical figure that can lead us through it.
There's a lot of this nonsense floating around today by pampered commentators who want to find a new world historical conflict to write bracing commentary about before we're done with the one from last week. But John McCain might be president in six months. And whether it's his own shaky judgment, temperament or just the desire to find a campaign issue, this loose cannon is a real threat to this country.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is really starting to annoy me. Saying "San Francisco mentality" and derisively calling someone "a French-speaking socialist from Boston, Massaschusetts," and refering to Hawaii as "foreign" is considered completely appropriate for public discourse in this country. They issue these little bon mots in a derisive tone, suggesting that anyplace that votes in a somewhat liberal fashion (even though they often vote Republican too) is somehow unAmerican. And yes, I realize that there are liberals who are rude and dismissive of Southerners, but you don't hear it coming from politicians or media figures. They wouldn't dare say anything like this about Mississippi or South Carolina in public.She is absolutely right about this, for quite some time it has been absolutely unthinkable in popular discourse to cast the same sort of derision on these areas of the country or cultural type. I am not saying that it should be welcome on either side, but what is good for the goose is certainly good for the gander. For every pundit that calls liberals unAmerican, there should be some mention made of the large group of Americans that believe in the Rapture or deny global warming.
I know that makes me an elitist, but for those people who purposefully shut themselves off from reason I think it is deserved.
I know that sounds rather stupid, but it really seems like they believe that war exists purely to give their lives meaning.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Sixteen years ago, the Democratic Party refused to allow Robert P. Casey Sr., then the governor of Pennsylvania, to speak at its national convention because his anti-abortion views, stemming from his Roman Catholic faith, clashed with the party’s platform and powerful constituencies. Many Catholics, once a reliable Democratic voting bloc, never forgot what they considered a slight.I mean really, I would challenge the Times to present 50 Catholics who won't vote for Obama because Bob Casey Sr. didn't speak at the Democratic convention in 1992.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Last Friday, police in Des Moines, Iowa arrested four people who attempted to make a citizens’ arrest of former top White House aide Karl Rove, who was in town to speak at a GOP fundraiser. A retired minister and three members of the Des Moines Catholic Workers community were cited for trespassing. However, according to a press release, the judge presiding over the case praised their efforts:
[Mona] Shaw was the first called before Polk County Fifth Judicial District Associate Judge William Price.
After entering her plea, the judge asked Shaw, “Mamn, what were you doing at the Wakonda Country Club?”
“I was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove, your honor,” Shaw answered.
“Well,” the judge looked up and said, “it’s about time.”
Here is what bothers me, the American people are entirely sick of the Bush Administration and of the Republican party. They know how badly the policies and politics of this party have hurt the country. Unfortunately, we have a modern press discourse which wants to completely ignore this. They want this election to be about the petty issues or about how the completely fictitious "Real Americans" (as conceived of by David Broder and the rest of the pundit class thinks) are looking at this election. It is this power of the media, their ability to set the agenda for the election, that matters and how it might ultimately doom us all.
In general, I try to avoid all of this and am really fortunate that I live without a television. But, it is unavoidable to completely sequester myself from all of this crap. Whenever, I do see this stuff, I feel incredibly disconnected from all of it. As I view this election, I see a candidate (McCain) who cannot feasibly win and this is without considering the 'image stuff' (i.e. that he is old and awkward). He shouldn't be anywhere close to Obama when you look at the policies he is advocating and how poorly thought out they are and/or unrealistic to carry out. For instance, his expressed belief that he will balance the budget by winning the war in Iraq, his unrealistic belief that we can secure Afghanistan AND Iraq at the same time with troops that appear out of thin air, his advocating a gas tax, as well as offshore oil drilling, that will do nothing for the American consumer and his absolute refusal to consider the economic hardships that most Americans face. Furthermore, he is running with the legacy of the most incompetent presidency of all time and with a party that has shown itself to be inequipped to run the country.
Of course, I think that the Obama campaign must share a modicum of the blame here- but on the whole, I believe that it is the sheer incompetency of the 'new' press (by this I mean the press, as it has come to operate since the inception of Fox News) which shoulders the lion's share of the blame. They behave like children with undiagnosed ADHD and will focus on whatever shiny thing is laid out in front of them, they offer judgment on the issues by not offering judgment and they will debate, endlessly, any talking point which is shoved in their face.
That is all, time to get off of the ledge.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Then I went to the CNN story and it seems like Obama is losing because his lead is only 7 points.
Will someone please help me understand how the press thinks?
Yet, as we have seen time and time again- the narrative for McCain has already been created. He is a man of the people. It doesn't matter if he owns nine homes, travels in a private jet or has credit card debt which is more than triple the value of my home. He knows what it is like for the common man. Obama, on the other hand, shops at Whole Foods- which is a clear indicator that he is out of touch.
As ThinkProgress highlights, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Right hand of God), is up in arms over the Chinese government's plan to, in his words, spy on foreign visitors when they come to see the Olympics:
BROWNBACK: This is the public security bureau in China requiring the installation of hardware that they can listen to anybody and everybody’s and their communications and their recordings that are sent over the internet in a real-time purpose or over long-term. That’s spying, John. […] Your internet communications can all be monitored in a real time basis by the public security bureau of the Chinese government. I think they’re clearly intent upon spying. they’re going to be spying.
Seems to me, that as a silly graduate student, this is pretty damn close to what our government is already doing.
Furthermore, if I was a big time TV journalist, I would ask Senator Brownback how the Chinese plan is any different from our current plan. But once again, I am just a silly graduate student.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
If the elite press thinks that Joe Blow is going to make his voting decision based upon McCain's relationship with the senior senator from Alaska- because they have a long-simmering feud; then they need to stop eating so much paste and maybe think about spending some more time at a petting zoo instead of writing. Idiots.
Unfortunately, I think the point of this exercise is to continue with the campaign narrative that Obama is an elitist; as he continuously spurns the advances of other faculty at Chicago to join them or their causes. Furthermore, the article also mentions that he was a favorite among the students and had many followers.
You can see then, why this is such a difficult narrative to maintain- Obama avoids the famous faculty in order to hob-nob with the lowly students. Obama doesn't join the other elites, instead he tries to keep himself in the real world- which oddly means that he is out of touch.
Monday, July 28, 2008
US to be place on "heightened terror alert" in response to Republican efforts to maintain hold on presidency.
Perhaps others will see this as a bit cynical, but as noted by others- this wouldn't be the first time that the terror alert has been raised when it seemed politically expedient for the Bush Administration:
I know that these are both left-leaning commentators, but I think in light of today's findings regarding the conduct of the DOJ under Bush- the traditional press has good reason to ask- not accuse, but simply ASK- whether this is politically motivated at all. Unfortunately, it looks like the press is going to buy this hook, line and sinker (from the ABC article above):
The reasons: There are no specifics indicating an attack on the U.S. is imminent, and U.S. officials do not want to be accused of trying to inject themselves into the presidential campaign.
This is exactly why McCain made the ad:
It looks as if the new McCain ad falsely attacking Obama over his canceled troop visit may not really have a lot of money behind it, suggesting that its real purpose isn't getting it before voters directly.
Rather, the real target audience may be the media -- meaning that the McCain camp's goal is largely to get the ad debated in the press and to drive the conversation that way.
To review- the US attorney scandal only became a scandal when a sucky blogger got to the bottom of the story. Even then, there has been almost nothing written about the ways the Bush administration politicized EVERYTHING. Nor has there been anything close to official condemnation from the punditocracy.
It is this particular aspect of the whole scandal which is so anger to-the-point-of-blind-rage inducing, we will hear nothing about how the Bush administration put millions of Americans at risk because someone's wife was a Democrat- there will be no public hand-wringing, no sternly worded editorial from the Washington Post, no call for criminal prosecution, NOTHING.
Furthermore, the focus for this story is not going to be on how McCain is behaving dishonorably, but on Obama. In the 'he said/he said' way that the press reports on the campaign- the debate will be framed as "McCain says that Obama hates the troops, but Obama says that isn't true". With this framing, I think it is easy to see just how it benefits McCain. Case in point.
Ultimately, however, what makes this so frustrating is that the Democrats don't fight on these terms- there are plenty of issues that Obama could connect McCain to and in a way that generates endless debate which paints McCain in an unfavorable light. I think a great line of attack on McCain would be to say that he is in league with oil companies to maximize their profits. Why? Well, you have his recent reversal on coastal oil drilling, his support for the gas-tax holiday (which would be framed as a give away to the oil companies), the public perception that Republicans put corporations first, the fact that Americans are increasingly angry with the oil companies and the added bonus of linking McCain to an industry that Bush and Cheney were heavily involved in.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
I know this is a trifling thing, but if you are following the campaign- one of the strategies that the Obama campaign has used has been to compare President Bush to McCain. You would think that the editors at MSNBC would be sensitive to the fact that such a headline would be read as favorable to McCain. Perhaps a more accurate headline would be "McCain's foreign policy more hawkish than President Bush's", but really- what do I know.
I mean seriously folks, if you want to make those kind of distinctions- you are going to need some more data than a 1,000 person random sample with selected cross-tabs. They should really throw every political reporter into at least two graduate level stat's class- this is just embarassing.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
As many others have observed, it's an odd thing about political journalists that they hate much about the subject they cover, specifically the messy business of politicians actually doing things to attract supporters and voters. While one can certainly hate certain structural aspects of politics as institutionalized in this country and wish them to change, the part about politicians trying to do things to get voters to vote for them is pretty much a constant in a democracy.This is why they love the inanity that is Jib-Jab, as they both share a deep contempt for the political process. They all want some magical land where all politicians can be like Martin Sheen, Michael Douglas or Kevin Kline, presidents who say exactly what they mean and not have to worry about what the voters will think. Now, how does this president get elected? I have no idea.
To be a good critic you actually have to have the capacity to love what you cover, otherwise you're just a cynical curmudgeon.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning.
A few thoughts came to mind when I read this-
- Hitting a pedestrian is only a citation? Note to self- NEVER JAYWALK IN DC.
- How do you not know that you hit someone? I guess when all you get is a citation, you can be pretty cavalier about the whole thing.
- Robert Novak drives a BLACK CORVETTE. Is there a more perfect car for him to drive? I can totally see him hitting on Georgetown undergrads at some swanky bar and thinking "wait til they see the 'vette, it's an A.P.R.S, (Automatic Panty Removal System)". What do you think he has in the tape deck? Boston? Aerosmith?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I hesitate, however, to completely demonize the fathers that take part in these events. Outside of a wedding, there aren't many father/daughter sanctioned rituals in our society. Yet, with fathers and sons- there are seemingly infinite opportunities for both of them to bond. So in that regard, and as a newly minted father to a wonderful little girl, I can see why these fathers are trying to ritualize certain elements of the father-daughter relationship.
However, that doesn't mean that this way of celebrating the relationship isn't off the charts f-ing creepy. Here are some pictures of a recent event:
Um...yeah- that ain't right
Monday, July 21, 2008
What I think is the funniest part about all of this is that over the years, the press has made Lieberman the official Jew of Washington and the man that represents all American Jewish thought in this country. Half the reason why Obama was assumed to have a 'Jewish problem' was not because Jewish voters didn't like him- rather, it was assumed he had a 'Jewish problem' because Joe Lieberman didn't like him.
And that's the sort of thing that makes the conservative movement hard to take seriously -- it's an organized defense of existing power and privilege that now and again adopts principled rhetorical modes of various kinds but basically can't be moved to act unless some lobbyists pay them too.
In their survey, they found that with cellphone users included in the general sample Obama leads by 48% to 40% vs. 46% to 41% in the sample w/o cellphones. So, there is a 3% swing of support once we include voters who do not have landlines.
Yet in reading some of the commentary on this subject (e.g. here), it seems that people don't see cellphones as having a big effect. Now, I will admit that the number is not very large- but in terms of assessing its effect, I would say that it is considerable. This type of effect comes up repeatedly in studying the mass media (for example- media violence), where small effect sizes are ignored because they are numerically small but not substantively small. A shift of 3% in the general voting public (if we foolishly assume that cell phone voters are evenly distributed) would mean that Obama wins by almost a landslide- as Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Montana and Virginia would all move into his column from the narrow McCain column. At the very least, I would venture to guess that this almost guarantees that Obama will win at least two of these states- which would mean a very comfortable win.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
What is at issue? At our 40 week prenatal visit with our midwife (on April 21st), she scheduled an ultrasound and fetal stress test- IF we did not have the baby by the 27th. Amelia had other ideas and arrived on the 24th. The insurance company has insisted that we actually attended our appointment on the 27th for these procedures.
Now, to be clear- I am not a doctor. I have not studied medicine, nor have I even stepped foot in a medical school- so I advise you to take my words at face value. But I am pretty goddamn sure that the ultrasound and the FETAL stress test would have been considered moot three days after our daughter was born.
Unfortunately for JGT, the ratings from the game are in and judging from the numbers, the prospect for changing the format does not look good as the percent share increased during the extra-innings from 16% for innings 1 to 9 to 18% for innings 10 to 15.
I think fans of the show, however, like the show because it actually treats its audience like adults. Case in point- yesterday's show covered the discrepancy between President Bush's press conference and Ben Bernacke's testimony to Congress. Furthermore, Jon Stewart pointed out that the White House seemingly timed their press conference in order to blunt the news coming from the Capitol (see the first two minutes).
Now, I am what you would call a voracious news consumer. Yet, in my search through the news yesterday, I didn't find any mention of this audacious attempt at White House spin. I think it might have been nice of them to cover this.
So, here we have an instance where the McCain's reveal their ridiculously favorable financial status and their complete ignorance of how most of us live- but there is nary a mention in the elite press. Now if Barack or Michelle Obama had said this, you can be pretty damn sure that the media would have hopped all over it.
There is a simple, but tragic, reason for this discrepancy- reporting on the McCains' elite status would go against the already decided upon narrative for them. As ThinkProgress detailed, much of the media has determined that McCain and his wife are 'regular people'. As such, we can easily sketch out the rules for how the McCain narrative is to be handled-
Rule 1: McCain is a straight-talkin' man of the people, who is just as regular as you and I.
Rule 2: If any story reveals that he is not a straight-talkin' man of the people, who is not as regular as you and I- then refer to rule 1.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”
U.S. troops abandoned a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan where militants killed nine American soldiers this week and insurgents briefly overran the area, officials said Wednesday, underlining the difficulties faced by forces in the border region.
Furthermore, if I was a certain candidate running for president- I would make it absolutely clear to the American people that the trouble in Afghanistan has its roots in the failed policy advocated by McCain. But what do I know, I am just a caveman graduate student.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I believe that Joe Lieberman was also a poor choice. Even back in 2000, a lot of liberals (myself included) strongly disliked him, so putting him on the ticket likely depressed enthusiasm among the base, and may even have driven enough lefties into the arms of Ralph Nader to throw the election.As someone who got caught up in the Nader fiasco in 2000, Gore could have done himself a huge favor if he had picked a genuine progressive as his running mate. Gore was running as somewhat of a centrist, and his selection of Lieberman only reaffirmed that image. If Gore had chosen someone who had a lot of credibility in the progressive community, much of that Nader zeitgeist would have been squashed. The Republicans, on the other hand, seemed to understand that appealing to the base had merit and weren't afraid to have a rock-ribbed conservative as the VP.
I don't think Obama has the same problem with the base that Gore does, nevertheless I think it would be a poor decision to go with someone that the progressive community has issues with.
Fournier is a main engine in a high-stakes experiment at the 162-year old wire to move from its signature neutral and detached tone to an aggressive, plain-spoken style of writing that Fournier often describes as “cutting through the clutter.”
I think the idea behind this is decent, but for the AP to take this on is really troubling. The AP exists as the one entity in the current media environment which offers 'straight' news (or as close to straight news as possible). If news organizations want to use their stories, it is up to the editorial staff to add commentary or opinion. By opening themselves to editorializing, the AP is making a potentially horrible mistake.
I certainly don't think that the New Yorker cover is the biggest deal in the world, but the basic reason I find it problematic is that I look at it and I think, "Yes, well, that's what the Right says about the Obamas pretty much daily." It channels what they say, but they forgot to add the funny. Hamas loves Obama, he hates the flag and America, he's a Muslim, Michelle Obama is a black militant, etc. It isn't funny to me because I read this crap every day all day. This crap isn't just on obscure wingnut blogs, it's everywhere. G. Gordon Liddy is thrilled.
If in 2000 they'd ran a cover which expressed in various ways things like "Al Gore claimed he invented the internet," "Al Gore claims he discovered Love Canal," "Al Gore grew up in a fancy DC hotel," "Al Gore is such pandering politician that he's wearing 3 button suits and EARTH TONES" (no I've never understood this one either), it wouldn't have been a parody, it would have been channeling the media zeitgeist. The Obama thing? Not so different.
Here's the thing, it is an absolute embarrassment that people believe these things, and I know from personal experience that there is a sizable group of people who do. The New Yorker would have been better served if they mocked these people directly. Unfortunately, what is going to happen now is that conservative commentators (like Gordon Liddy) will point to this cover as clear evidence that Obama is un-American.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Okay, so I suppose an explanation is in order...
I think The Name of the Rose is one of the greatest novels ever written. I also believe that this is one of the greatest songs written. To combine the two? That just blows my mind.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
“The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit.But wait...it gets better. As Josh Marshall notes:
But here's the thing. McCain doesn't have any numbers. None. Not vague numbers of fuzzy math. He just says he's going to do it. Any other candidate would get laughed off the stage with that kind of nonsense or more likely reporters just wouldn't agree to give them a write up. But this is all over the place.He then gets the McCain campaign to answer some questions about how they would do this, and this is their explanation:
It's pretty straightforward, as we win, costs will go down with a smaller footprint over time, and those savings will go to deficit reduction. It's really the logical extension of Senator McCain's position as articulated in the 2013 speech. Achieving success in Iraq would obviously lead to reduced expenditures on the effort.Well, duh.
I mean, I have the same kind of plan for making $5 billion dollars. You see, I am going to cure all forms of cancer. How am I going to accomplish this masterful plan? Well...when I cure cancer, lots of people are going to be interested in cure. They will then pay me for it. The plan is really quite genius.
What is it with these people? How do they get from what Obama said on Iraq, which has been incredibly consistent, to 'he is adopting McCain and Bush's strategy'? It boggles the mind.
If Obama said that his plan for Iraq was to give everyone a gumdrop pony we wouldn't have to scrutinize his plan, but since he has addressed this topic with serious thought, he must be pulling a fast one on us.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I would classify the conservative view of patriotism as 'childlike' and liberal patriotism as 'adult' in that a traditional conservative's love of country matches the love a child feels for its parent and the liberal's love of country matches the love an adult feels for his or her parent. As a child, my parents existed as infallible beings and my love for them was unquestioning. Conservatives view love for country in the same way- the entire 'Love it or Leave it' serves as a testament to this world view.
For liberals however, love of country is complicated -just like the love I feel for my parent's is complicated. As I have gotten older, I see my parents as human and capable of making mistakes. Yet, it is their humanity which makes them all the more lovable (and sometimes maddening).
This quote is really just covered in irony. John Kerry, who will forever be known as a serial flip-flopper, brings up the fact that McCain has repeatedly changed positions on a number of issues, and the response from Schieffer is that bringing up such issues is an attack on his integrity. Wow.
Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation, responding to John Kerry stating that McCain has completely changed his position on a large number of issues:
“Are you attacking John McCain’s integrity?”
The way the guardians of the discourse see it, just noting that McCain has changed his mind is beyond the pale and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why that is. I don't know of another figure in American politics who is consistently painted in such a favorable light by the media and is afforded as much room for error.
The only other person that even comes close is Colin Powell, so it may be a military thing. Yet, if it was, people like John Kerry, Wes Clark, Bob Kerrey, Chuck Hagel or Max Cleland would also be afforded the same privileges by the media- but they aren't. It could be that McCain's history as a POW has set him apart from others, so that he is viewed as having integrity than any of the others. But should his experience be valued more than triple-amputee Cleland or Medal of Honor winner Kerrey?
Could it be his support for Campaign Finance Reform? Probably not. If it was, a bevy of liberals would get the same favorable treatment from the press.
At the end of the day, I think the simple reason for this deference to McCain is part of a vicious circular logic. The press loves McCain because he is a maverick. Why is he a maverick? Because the press says that he is.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Perhaps most damaging was Thursday's statement in North Dakota, where he said he would reassess his stand on the Iraq war after he visits the front later this summer for briefings from American military commanders. Republicans tried to play that as an expedient political flip flop — a signal Obama was moving away from his vow to withdraw all combat troops within 16 months of taking office, a defining issue of his campaign.Note to the AP, this is only damaging if you carry water for the republicans. As Josh Marshall notes, this is just really embarrassing for the AP on so many levels.
Obama quickly said that wasn't the case but the Republicans rushed in with a critical broadside.
I think part of what bothers me is that it hits pretty close to home. I grew up in a working class family with parents that never saw schooling past high school. I was the third person on my mother's side, and the fourth person on my father's side to go to college. My wife, has a similar background.
Yet, because both of us are soon to be graduates of ivy league schools we would fall into the supposed category of elitist.
Forgive me if I am wrong but, I used to think that we were pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps. I mean, if all that conservative crap is to be believed- we are the embodiment of the American dream.
But in this new social calculus, Obama and I are the ones that are out of touch with real America. If you want to know what real Americans are like, you need to talk to a guy that was born into the aristocracy, married an heiress and owns a million homes.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
To these people I say this- shut your cake hole- this is about building a movement. This is about changing the way politics works at the generational level. Obama is not going to be the perfect candidate, he might not even be a very good candidate (although I happen to think he is). But at the end of the day, we are that much closer to seeing universal health care, respect in the world community and the return of the middle class.
Just look at religious conservatives, the Republican party had them eating a bunch of shit sandwiches in the beginning- but they went on to become the most important constituency to the Bush administration. If we whine and throw tantrums like so many have in the past, we are going to be knee deep in McCain shit for the next 4 to 8 years.
Quite simply, what Obama was saying was that he was working on a more perfectly articulated plan of getting out of Iraq. I am not shoehorning here. That is what he literally said. Yet, the media went crazy saying that he flip-flopped, and when Obama came back to say 'you are all idiots' (he actually didn't say that), they say that he had to clear up some inarticulate phrasing.
I mean really, this is what they have to do to show that he is a flip-flopper? Really? Meanwhile, McCain is changing his policies mid-sentence and he is still a straight-talkin' maverick.
I think as we get closer to the election, I am going to be drinking my own weight in whiskey.
This is why the news out of Montana is so great. If Obama can win in this 'conceptually' deep red state then many of the pundit claims that he is out-of-touch with regular Americans is, potentially, mortally wounded.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Hmm...I wonder if there is any straight talk on that express? But wait, the media fawning gets worse- a hell of a lot worse...
Straight Talk Express Gets an Upgrade
By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS -- The Straight Talk Express has gone airborne.
McCain senior aide Mark Salter quipped this morning that "only the good reporters" would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. "You'll have to earn it," he said.You wonder if the press will ever realize how their mancrush on McCain impacts the lives of everyday people and our standing in the world. Once again, we have an election that will be decided, not by policies or ideas, but on which candidate is cooler to hang out with.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Not to fear, however, as intrepid colleague-Gail Collins- publicly rushes to Dowd's defense:
What I think this shows is two things. The first is the mindlessness with which members of the pundit class view criticism. They have one metric- are people from both sides angry? This is just stupid. Rather than splitting it down the middle, writers like Dowd would be far better served to take a look at the nature of the criticism. The complaint from the left is not that she skewers too sharply, it is that her view on the political stage is written for a grade school audience.
As a Times columnist, I never envisioned myself writing a letter to a fellow resident of the paper’s opinion section. But I feel compelled to respond to your assault on Maureen Dowd.
Your complaint about Maureen seems to be that many supporters of Hillary Clinton found her columns offensive. As a former editorial page editor, I can absolutely assure you that supporters of many, many candidates from both parties have found Maureen’s columns offensive over the years.
The sharpness of her wit makes her commentary particularly painful to those who are on the receiving end. That’s also why so many readers love her and exactly what The New York Times pays her to do.
When the public editor laces into an opinion page columnist for making fun of a controversial political figure, it sounds like a suggestion that all of us tone things down. I hope I’m hearing wrong.
The second is that this episode shows quite clearly, that the pundit class doesn't do introspection. The problem is NEVER them.
I, however, am not so optimistic. I think this is going to be an incredibly close election with a very good chance that McCain pulls it out. Why? Because McCain enjoys a relationship with the press that no other major politician enjoys. They love him and will not cover him in a critical light. This is very reminiscent to the way that the press treated Bush, except they managed the press through fear and not through camaraderie.
We have already seen a few examples of how this is working itself out on the campaign trail. For example:
- The post below- McCain's military record cannot be questioned
- Similarities between Bush and McCain- Josh Marshall has a lovely rundown on how the media has made it clear that McCain is not like Bush
- McCain's dust up with the FEC- He has broken campaign finance law but there is barely mention made of this.
- McCain's wife- Terry Heinz had to report all of her income in 2004, but Cindy does not have to offer full disclosure.
- C@#tgate- while this is a rumor, the press has happily spun thinner ones against Obama.
The part that is a little more interesting is how the media reaction to this comment differs from the reaction to the rumors regarding Obama's background. Wes Clark made no disparaging comments about McCain's service (in fact, he praises him at length earlier in the interview), all he was saying was that McCain does not have any command experience during wartime. Which (I think) is an important contribution to the debate, and if the press had half a mind to treat the American populace like adults, we could reasonably discuss the merits of the claim. Like it or not, McCain is campaigning heavily on his military background, so he the first one to make it an issue. However, the press has gone batty over what Wes Clark said (here, here, here) and has equated the comment to swiftboating McCain.
Now, contrast this reaction to the one provided by the press over whether Obama is a secret Muslim, Marxist, homosexual, America hater- which are actually still talked about as potential problems for Obama. Instead of leaping all over these baseless claims, the great Commentariat sit and wonder if it is going to be a problem for Obama.
Hence, if you are keeping score at home:
Asking if John McCain's military background is actually something that relates to his performance as president: TOTALLY OUT OF BOUNDSawesome.
Wondering aloud if the baseless rumors regarding Barack Obama's background are going to damage his chances in November: A-OK.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I am not sure if this happened or not and I don't give a flying f#%k if it did. Do you want to know why? Because I am an adult and realize that in real life these things happen. I realize that in politics not everything can be gumdrop ponies and ice cream castles. Unfortunately, the press corps would rather act like a bunch of chattering school girls and gossip then actually give us something of substance.
So President Bush has delivered his last State of the Union. And what everyone in the House press gallery is talking about isn't the speech. Rather, it's the snub.
Sen. Barack Obama refused to make himself available to greet Sen. Hillary Clinton before the speech.
When members of the Senate entered the chamber, Obama came in before Clinton. He went out of his way to greet as many House members as possible and walked halfway across the chamber to greet members of the Supreme Court, the president's cabinet, the military joint chiefs.
That made what happened next even more striking. Obama returned to stand by his seat next to Sen. Edward Kennedy who endorsed Obama today in a widely watched event that reverberated across the political world.
As Clinton approached, Kennedy made sure to make eye contact and indicated he wanted to shake her hand. Clinton leaned towards Kennedy over a row of seats and Kennedy leaned in towards her. They shook hands.
Obama stood icily staring at Clinton during this, then turned his back and stepped a few feet away. Kennedy may've wanted to make peace with Clinton but Obama clearly wanted no part of that.
The sense in the press gallery was that Obama didn't cover himself in glory. Someone even used the word "childish." (Not this writer.) Judging by how much conversation there was about this brush off in the press gallery, Americans will be hearing a lot more about this tomorrow and in coming days.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking. But you are going to hear more than has ever been revealed before.
After his capture, Saddam met every day with one man, an American he knew as "Mr. George." George is FBI agent George Piro, who was the front man for a team of FBI and CIA analysts who were trying to answer some of the great mysteries of recent history. What happened to the weapons of mass destruction? Was Saddam in league with al Qaeda? Why did he choose war with the United States?
There is no doubting Saddam's general horribleness, but did he really draw us into war the second time? I thought there was a general consensus that this was a war of choice for the Bush administration. It kind of scares me to see this framed as Saddam's choice.