Saturday, October 04, 2008

Invisible Press Conference, Obama Haz 'Em.

Yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe program, the two hosts berated an Obama spokesman about the candidate's supposed refusal to discuss with the media his position on this economic crisis/bailout, and answer specifics on how he would move forward as President. Yes he has, said the spokeswoman. Nuh uh, insisted the pundits again!

The truth is that, even though he's not granted Joe Scarborough the pleasure of a visit recently (McCain gets around a bit more, even though he now believes the media is destroying America), he has spoken on the issue on an almost-daily basis, even though it gets little to no press (so way boring). As I've been writing for months now, the media loves to ignore Obama's more substantive speeches and press conferences, while simultaneously demanding more substance from his campaign. Hey, they know what sells and what doesn't.

For the record, here's video from earlier this week of Barack Obama discussing exactly what the Morning Joe crew insisted he hasn't... Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. It may not be perfect, but let's not pretend it didn't happen.

The next Obama-McCain debate is Tuesday, by the way, and will have a town hall format.

The GOP In A Nutshell

Poor Joe Biden. All of the talk on the debate is focusing on Sarah Palin (natch)... her obsession with rehearsed, folksy anecdotes* in lieu of substantive answers (see this 10-minute debate summary video); how conservatives are in love with her again; and-- my favorite-- her over-reliance on note cards to give her scripted answers. Oops, there I go again, talking about the past, donchaknow!

(*As Andrew Sullivan points out, the full accent and aw-shucks folkiness is a recent invention)

But it's the blogs that have caught onto a subtle moment that's now, to me, the most telling Palin moment from her rambling. After an earlier Reagan shoutout (which all Republicans are contractually obligated to give), Palin decided to end by quoting the Gipper-
"It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free."

No one on TV paid much attention to this (it was at the end, when everyone just wanted to a) go to bed, or b) get drunk while stumbling down spin alley), but a few people at home did think to themselves... hey, what's she quoting? One of Reagan's inaugural addresses? His speech about tearing down the Berlin wall or something equally grand? Neither.

The quote is from a 1961 recording that Reagan made on behalf of the American Medical Association warning about how 'socialized medicine' proposals such as Medicare would destroy America as we know it. Yes, it was so sad when Medicare took away our freedoms... perhaps even worse than when the minimum wage and unemployment insurance raped our liberties a generation earlier.

So, yes, that's Sarah Palin talking in 2008 about protecting our precious freedoms a few of which she actually supports by quoting a nearly 50-year-old Reagan polemic against Medicare. Those are the 'freedoms' conservatives really care about (their record on freedom in general being a bit spotty these days). This choice of quote is pretty much the modern Republican party in a nutshell.

(Full Reagan audio... here)

I apologize, of course, if this post has now excluded me from induction into the Team of Mavericks that will be cleaning up Washington DC next year by sheer force of will and imagination.

[PS- I liked this Ronald Reagan a lot more. Too bad he never got to be President.]

Friday, October 03, 2008

Why We'll Never Really Solve The Energy/Climate Crisis

Sometimes I am reminded that the full seriousness of the interrelated energy and climate crises we face first became apparent a little over 30 years ago, during the Nixon years, and became a major issue as the Carter years began. There was lots of talk at this time of finding solutions (pretty much the same solutions we discuss, except now with greater need). These were scoffed at. It's my apartment; I'll turn the thermostat up as high as I fucking want!

The issue then faded away, while the problem(s) got worse. There was kind of a resurgence in the early 90s, but then 'Captain Planet' got cancelled and we got bored of discussing it again. It's nice to see these issues making yet another comeback-- and being such a crucial issue in the presidential campaign-- but since one party's candidate can't even discuss the issue without attracting the ire of his base, we're still not exactly in a position to be rolling up our sleeves and tackling this mess. I'm not sure I'd say we've gone backwards on these issues, but we certainly haven't made progress either.

Here is a 1977 address Moonbat President Jimmy Carter gave on this issue-

And, for fun, a 1978 'Schoolhouse Rock' cartoon-

That earth is right... we need to use less energy on our readin' and writin' and jivin'.

Imagine if our parents' generation had heeded these warnings and taken the recommended steps then how much better off we'd be now. But we didn't, and we still won't now (because no one in DC will really think about this until they fix the economy and our two wars and health-care, etc). Perhaps in another 30 years, when we're officially out of oil for good and the polar ice caps are gone as well, we'll have another little chat about all of this.

And hopefully, at that time, President Track Palin will have the courage to lead this important fight.

Band-Aid Fails To Heal Massive Shotgun Wounds, News at 11.

House caves and passes porked-up $700B bailout bill. President Bush enthusiastically signs said bill. Stock market craps out anyway. The surge is working!!

Prediction: Rather than ever stopping to take the time to address the real core problems facing our economy in the last decade (lack of real job opportunities and/or job security, declining wages, rising energy and food and home costs, health-care expenses... not to mention the lack of oversight for corporate/financial activity), the DC folks will insist upon-- ala, those (like Obama, to be fair) who want another stimulus bill-- a secondary bailout package sometime in the next six months. Or maybe this type of stupidity will be flushed out along with the Bush administration. Let's take bets.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Team of Mavericks? You Betcha!

At some point tomorrow, my brain will recover and I will have some detailed thoughts on this debate, and where things stand. The short of it is that Palin was an embarrassing robot of tired political cliches and talking points while Biden proved a quiet master of the issues... but it matters not, because she was charming and folksy, and that may be all that matters to the oft-mentioned Joe Sixpack. Time will tell. As I speak, the morons on cable news are spinning away and filling airtime with noise and bullshit.

My friend and I live-chatted the debate if any of my reader(s) are interested in that.

[UPDATE: A solid, bipartisan (maverick?) debate fact-check by the AP. Worth reading.]

In Lieu Of A Drinking Game

Watching the debate? Play Palin Bingo!

General Thoughts

I'm going to try and have a substantive post later tonight after the debate, but there's a lot to discuss and it's making my poor head hurt. So here's some drive-by thoughts.

For instance, last night the Senate passed the bailout bill-- after loading it up with pork-- and the House will vote again on it tomorrow. I still think this is a bad idea because a) it's literally the very definition of throwing money at a problem, b) it's based on the same type of top-down economic theories that got us here to begin with, and c) spending this $700B ensures the next President will have no fucking money to accomplish anything of substance on health-care, climate change/green jobs, infrastructure development, etc. It's a short-sighted panic reaction to a serious, complicated problem (aka- the Bush years in a nutshell). But with the economy exploding all around them, its passage by Congress was inevitable and now we wait for the fallout. America... fuck yea!

And don't even get me started on the right's attempt to pre-spin tonight's debate by using a book by moderator Gwen Ifill to imply that the liberal media is conspiring to destroy Palin, and who is of course a helpless victim of her own stupidity (the few conservatives actually speaking out about Palin have been greeted with vitriol by their kin). The bar has been so lowered for Palin at this point that she almost wins just by showing up. The bottom line is McCain picked a gimmick candidate for VP and now he's seeing the consequences of that. I'm sure his prep team has helped her memorize a decent amount of answers and talking points tonight... what remains to be seen is whether Ifill, or Biden, dare to call them out.

As for polls showing huge Obama leads? I'm psyched, but it's October 2nd. Long way to go.

Feel free to chime in yourself with any thoughts on any of these topics.

Video Smörgåsbord

People seem to like watching videos on the internet. So here you go!

More!! Sarah Palin also shows her expertise on Supreme Court matters. Last week, in a now famous clip, CNN's Jack Cafferty tell us how he really feels about Palin. Barack Obama gives a lengthy speech on how he'll move forward as President. Bill Clinton stumps for Obama. Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman discuss the updated bailout bill. A Fox News reporter at a PA restaurant proves his fair and balanced bonafides. Bill Maher discusses religion and his new film on 'The View'. Finally, in a preview of this year's Simpsons Halloween special, Homer Simpson attempts to vote for Barack Obama and is thwarted by Diebold.

In Other News...

Here's a collection of important stories buried under the campaign and economic news- Remember Iraq?--
The drop in violence has made the war an afterthought -- and allowed McCain to claim we're "winning." Here's why we're not -- and we can't.

Time (Joe Klein): Iraq This Week

Washington Post: Carbon Is Building Up in Atmosphere Faster Than Predicted

Washington Monthly: Prosecutor Named For U.S. Attorney Scandal

TPMMuckraker: Report Shows White House Engineered U.S. Attorney Firings

AP: Illegal immigration declines as economy falters