Saturday, August 30, 2008

other thought on Palin

She has an awesome blog.

You really need to check it out.

Seriously.

Like now.

quick thought on Sarah Palin

I can't even really process this decision. At first I was confused about the choice but now I am just angry, extremely angry. At no time in modern American history has a person been selected for office who is so under qualified. There is no need to judge the political merits of this decision. It is dangerous, cynical and disgusting.

Nothing is set in stone

Until the convention and Palin's nomination is official, I still have a chance to sway McCain. As of today I'm going to start a campaign to be McCheeks' VP.

McCain
Pork Rinds
Not as elitist as it sounds

On the bright side

The selection of Palin should be an inspiration for all little kids, because she proves that literally anyone can reasonably dream of being vice president some day.

Comisery loves company

I'm gonna call Mittens and Joey and Tim-bo and those other guys - and that woman. I want to start a club for the passed over VP hopefuls. I think we should call it Bent Over and McCained (BOM).

Actually, that sucks. Well, the name isn't important. I'll take suggestions for the name. I gotta make some phone calls...

Holy moly!

I just realized that because I actually live in a foreign country and not just near one, I have more foreign policy cred than Palin. Also, we share a border with Russia that touches. And I'm a lot closer to the Kremlin. Plus, I've met some Russians. Egads! My resume kicks ass!

For the record, I didn't get a call from John saying I was being passed over either; that self-centered prick!

Obama convention speech

I loved Obama's speech. The speech framed the progressive agenda as more mainstream thinking, which some may say waters down the message, but I think it more closely approximates the reality of America. Americans are more progressive than they seem - progressive issues consistently poll well. Unfortunately we've been plagued by a combination of fear-mongering assholes on the right and an inability or unwillingness to articulate these issues on the left in a way that people can relate to.

It was intelligent and clear without getting bogged down in either lofty rhetoric or boring factoids.

Obama also has the gift of inspiration, and I did feel inspired. There is just no reason to deny that he is able to make an emotional connection, which is why he's likely to win the presidency despite his unlikely profile.

My only gripe is that I wish we didn't have to play the God card all the time, but most Americans are full-on Christians, so what can you do?

Party on America!

Oops! Nevermind.

Norway disowns the Bin Laden comment.

Palin by comparison - 2

Here's my attempt to be a little more insightful and little less insulting about the Palin pick. I think she's a substantively bad choice. There's plenty of talk about troopergate, inexperience, and the Hillary voters, so I won't repeat that.

The reason I think this is a tactical blunder is that it casts more doubt on certain (big) states that were barely in play. The best example is Florida. McCain has been consistently performing well there, and barring some big blunder, was pretty set to win there come November. Well, I think this was the blunder. My understanding of Florida is limited, but it strikes me as a state with a relatively high population of right-leaning moderates, which is what McCain used to be labeled. With his selection of someone so ideologically inline with the extreme right I think he officially put to bed any speculation about the McCain of 2000 - he's gone. As a result of this move I think that he's essentially energized his base (maybe), but he's also done a lot to solidify his new place on the Bush end of the political spectrum.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into this. Perhaps after the convention this is simply an attempt to put up some kind of fight. Perhaps this is just the desperate act of a campaign which sees the writing on the wall and is going to go down swinging wildly, consequences to the free world be damned.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin by comparison

McCain goes full-tilt senile right before our eyes. Scary! It's just a good reminder how tenuous anyone's grip on reality really is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quick thoughts on the speech

I thought this was a great speech by Obama. It was focused and smart and thoughtful.

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.

Tomorrow's conservative news today

They are going to scream and shout the following:

"Barack Obama is ANGRY"

Tax cut calculator

Check it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The unexpected

Thought I'd take a break from the convention coverage and see what was going on a little closer to home. Here's a headline that isn't for the faint of heart.
Norway willing to talk with Osama bin Laden

About...what? Well, I guess they'd just chat.

I honestly admire the sentiment.

The city of light

I was in Paris last week. I love that place.




What? That's it.

My "duh" moment

I should stop reading the news, both traditional and non, at least until the convention is over. The stupid is really starting to burn.

Denver as I understand it

So here's what I gather from Denver so far with help from the tubes and the MSM:

McCain wins points because Hillary delivered her speech so well that Barrack will have a hard time looking more presidential. It's an uphill battle for Barrack to get his message across. No one knows this guy. Biden is going to be good, but maybe he'll be too good too...and he's a gaff machine. This is a circus without substance. Not aggressive enough. Too divided. Too slow. Change is an empty promise. Bill is bitter.

Did I miss anything?

Vacuous

Who actually pays these people for this? "Out of the park." "Into the parking lot." Yikes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

History Lesson

For all of this talk about conflict between Hillary and Obama, Eric Boehlert offers a refreshing history lesson. Consider this:

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.

Good time for a rollout

I was wondering if the Democrats were going to hit McCain on his well known temper.

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.”

Help me

My daughter just learned how to scream. It is loud, it is repetitive and it pierces my spine.

On the bright side though, she laughs her ass off when she is finished.

Obama v. Clinton

I was listening to coverage of the convention last night, and all I really got from the commentators was that there was a huge rift between Clinton and Obama. However, whenever one of the reporters would interview a convention goer, it was the same refrain 'We are here to elect Obama'. I am kind of wondering then, just what would have to occur so that the media reporting on the convention would have to admit -"This is a united party".

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.

awesome

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jon Stewart Lays in to Traditional Media

Very inneresting.

Kind of hope there is a recording of this.

My take on Michele Obama's speech

It was a lovely speech and went a long way to accomplish something that has gotten away from the Obama campaign- showing that they are uniquely American and normal. I laughed at the end when Barack Obama showed up and his kids said 'hi' to their dad. That was great.

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.

Observation

Michele Obama is kind of hot. But I am told that she is angry.

Cindy McCain looks like a withered old beauty queen. But I am told that she is down to earth.

Poverty and the tax plans

Citing research published in the British Medical Journal, an article at Center for American Progress points out that it's not so just poverty which creates problems for children, but inequality.
...it’s not the richest countries that are best for children to grow up in, but those that share their riches more evenly
And in the US.
Income inequality at the state level was significantly correlated with rates of teenage births, juvenile homicides, infant mortality, low birth weight, child overweight, mental health problems, and high school dropouts as well as with worse educational scores.
This is pretty logical, and borders on being a "duh" issue. Still, I see the potential for a direct contrast between Obama's tax plan and McCain's. Obama's plan seeks to progressively tax the rich, who can afford it, while making larger cuts for lower and middle income families. Of course, in a country where the inequality is truly staggering, tax restructuring should be but the tip of the iceberg for sweeping social changes.

Elections are one thing, but an important measure of president Obama's success is whether or not he is going to decisively address these issues and won't back down when Republicans pull out the tired-as-hell class warfare ruse. I think that he will or I wouldn't be so stoked about him.

My vote for Kerry in '04 was a lot more like a vote for harm reduction. This time around I think it's about making real progress on so many of the vital progressive issues. Here's to hoping I'm right.


BTW - Anecdotally, it's common thought in Norway that the reason people here are so content, and that there are much lower rates of crime, drug abuse, adolescent behavior problems, etc. than in the US, is because there is so much oil money to spread around. That has always just seemed like too convenient an answer to me. It's not too difficult to imagine what things would be like here in Norway if all of that oil money was in the hands of a wealthy few. Americans live that reality everyday. Where I think that the real difference lies is that everyone in Norway is covered by insurance, everyone receives paid time off for illness, vacation, and the birth of a child, and everyone earns a livable wage (e.g., 7-eleven employees make a minimum of $15/hr). And yes, there are rich people in Norway too, they're just not stupid-as-hell, McCain-definition-of-rich, rich.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Too stoopid, even for the bobbleheads

Mark Halperin on George Stephanopolis tries to call the Obama ad on McCain's houses gaff the worst moment for one campaign - the Obama campaign. You know you're in a world of stupid everytime he opens his mouth, but still.

Watch the vid.

My favorite moment: Mark is trying to defend McCain's statements about Obama losing the war to win the election.
That...that....that was about a policy debate - to some extent.
I like that he tacked on the "to some extent." Yes, Obama's official "policy" is going to be lost wars = won elections - er, or something along those lines. Good call buddy.

A better idea for the tax debate

TPM points out a reader suggestion which expands on what I posted earlier about contrasting tax cuts, but cleverly ties it to the out-of-touch branding.

This is an argument which needs to be handled in pictures. Talking points and one liners aren't going to do it and I think it would resonate with people.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the tax plan stupid

McThey're-her-houses' tax plan has got to be on the Obama team's target list. It should anyway. The graphic speaks for itself. Out of touch and hates poor people, as well as middle income people, and pretty much anyone who doesn't make lettuce-picker wages.

Teh out of touch

I think the Obama camp's out of touch narrative may stick to Huggy McI-was-a-POW. It is too bad that this comes right before the convention diverts attention, but we'll just have to see.

Then there's also delicious audio - to offer someone a job making $104,000/year to pick lettuce as if it were a negative. Sure it was a fake job, like all the fake jobs Bush created with his tax cuts, but still. Maybe he's just thinking that no one could possibly afford to hire help for all their houses on a measly lettuce-picker's salary. It's compassion. Hehe.

Yeah, I know the audio is old, but it really fits with the narrative doesn't it?

And sometimes you really can't script it better.

While we wait for THE text

Saw this on Kos. If you haven't seen it yet, too funny not to share.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NOT fighting back

The latest LA Times poll shows that McCain's attacks on Obama's patriotism and perceived celebrity status are working:

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.

Straight Talk!

At the Saddleback Forum, John McCain stated that he would heavily rely upon Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis of Georgia for advice if he were to become president.

Which is funny, because after 22 years of serving together in Washington- McCain has NEVER reached out to him before.

Odd.

Monday, August 18, 2008

2002 all over again?

Watching the current presidential campaign makes me feel like I have traveled back in time as I have the sinking feeling that we are headed to same type of disaster which led us to war in Iraq. However, this time we run the risk of electing John McCain. Back then, every time I watched, listened to or read the news it seemed that we could never have an honest discussion of the issues because certain rhetorical tricks were being employed by those who wanted us to march to war. Unfortunately, a lot of those same tricks are being used right now to push for McCain's candidacy. Here is what I see so far:

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

McCain as plagiarist

I think the evidence for McCain stealing another's story for his own personal gain is solid, but as Michael from Balloon Juice rightly notes- no one will call him on it for fear that it will seem like we are questioning his patriotism.

On and on it goes...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mediocre men needing to believe they are great

I touched on this the other day- but Josh Marshall does a really nice job of expanding on the point:
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.

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.
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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

American Untouchables

Digby touches on something that has bothered me for a while:
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.

Thoughts regarding warmongers...

When I read this stuff, the first thing that comes to mind is: Do they realize that when wars are fought, people die?

I know that sounds rather stupid, but it really seems like they believe that war exists purely to give their lives meaning.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Farewell to these fair shores

Well, It's been a great summer at home, but now it's time for me to dust off my skinny jeans, apply pomade liberally, wipe the inane smile off my face, and say farewell to the desire to eat anything - I'm going back to Norway tomorrow.

Why we fight

It's things like this that remind me what November '08 is really about.
Poverty imposes enormous costs on society. The lost potential of children raised in poor households, the lower productivity and earnings of poor adults, the poor health, increased crime, and broken neighborhoods all hurt our nation.
...
Our nation has seen periods of dramatic poverty reduction at times when near-full employment was combined with sound federal and state policies, motivated individual initiative, supportive civic involvement, and sustained national commitment.
Plus, McCain is a lying jerk and Obama kicks ass.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Time to impeach

In the past, I have been a tepid opponent of impeachment for a number of different reasons. However, after listening to Ron Suskind's interview on Fresh Air- I think there is compelling evidence that the president committed some egregious acts in getting us into war with Iraq and keeping us there. I am not sure if Suskind's case is iron clad, but there is certainly enough there to at least start impeachment hearings.

Bob Casey Sr. was apparently the American pope

This is just layers upon layers of ridiculousness:
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.

Analogy

John McCain is to politics what Brett Favre is to sports.

Here is why: they are both seen as straight shooting mavericks, the press LOVES them and neither of them have done a damn thing this century.

Follow the money

Zoiks!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Strange things are afoot in Cali

This is a story worth watching. If this were another world McCain might consider distancing himself from Sargeant (something equating to "I don't even know that f'ing f!"). Since this is this world however, I'm sure that McCain needn't worry much whether something illegal or unethical has actually happened or not. Thou shall not doubt the Mav and his Mavosity.

I know this sounds a bit bitter, so I'll just wait for cable news to prove me wrong. I'm waaaaiting...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tuesday sing-a-long

OMFG!

Not only is John McCain not responsible for his own campaign, it's partly the fault of the blogosphere. I mean, who can possibly keep up with all the facts! Certainly not someone campaigning for president!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Oh Christ! Here we go.

I really don't know what to say about inflategate, other than I agree completely with one of the comments of Don B on Carpet Bagger:
I agree this is nonsense. At the same time, these people won the last two presidential elections for George Bush doing the same kinds of things. Remember the Purple Heart band-aids? Until these tactics stop working, I won’t make fun of them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

An elaboration on the theme

In furtherance of my post below, this item from ThinkProgress perfectly illustrates what has been bothering me. Here is the text of the post:

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.

Feeling Despondent

I think it is time to talk me off of the ledge, as I think I am about to lose it. I have spent some time watching and reading about the latest press coverage of the 2008 election and I am losing all hope that this race will be covered with the type of care and thought that we deserve. This past couple of weeks, we have been treated to stories that defy reason. The talking heads debated whether Obama just hates the troops or REALLY hates the troops, whether he is arrogant, whether he is playing the race card and whether he is an elitist.

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.