Saturday, November 01, 2008

Looking Ahead

Here's a collection of articles/interviews looking ahead to a potential Obama presidency-

New York magazine: The Next New Deal--
The huge opportunities—and huge risks—of a possible Obama administration.

Rolling Stone: Obama's Moment-- The Democratic nominee for president talks about how George W. Bush screwed up, why John McCain turned ugly and what he's learned from Bill Clinton.

Time: Excerpts from Klein's Interview with Obama

Newsweek: COVER STORY: THE PRESIDENT’S INBOX--The World That Awaits

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ohh Great Pumpkin, Where Are You?!!

In honor of this blog's namesake...



Assuming that Obama wins the election [*knock on wood*], the Republican party will spend the next week tearing itself up apart arguing who was to blame. The moderate factions will blame Sarah Palin and the far-right for scaring away swing voters. The far-right ideologues will blame McCain for not being conservative enough for... well, who knows what or who. The idiots like Limbaugh and Fox News will blame the 'drive-by media' and their inability to see the genius in running an angry, erratic, and divisive campaign.

And the sane among us will know that it was simply that, in addition to Democrats having the more appealing candidate, the GOP ran a poor campaign aimed solely at their own base, while seemingly attempting to alienate the swing constituencies they needed most. Something tells me that Sean Hannity will disagree with me on that.

Two things not to expect, however...

1) Do not expect the Republican party's post-election soul-searching to result them deciding to move back toward the center, and move away from their current base of religious conservatives and tax cut fanatics. Rather, they will likely double down and insist that going more conservative is what will save them (this was basically their attitude after 2006 anyway).

2) Do not expect Republicans or conservatives to be gracious in defeat. After you've spent months implying your opponent is a borderline terrorist, can you really turn around and say "Hey well-played campaign! Congrats, and good luck!"? No. And they won't. Unlike Democrats, who after the 2000 election (in which we lost by a mere technicality) began working with Bush to accomplish things on issues like education, Republicans will be immediately begin criticizing and undermining and Obama presidency. They'll even get a kick out of doing so (also their post-2006 attitude).

After the 2004 election, I wrote a blog entry coping with the Bush reelection, and deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt for his second term (spoiler alert... he didn't deserve it). Expect no similar posts on The National Review or any of those other sites. Just lots of bitterness.

I'd like to say I will enjoy watching the right self-destruct, but we just have too much work to do.

Random Notes

Rachel Maddow interviews (1/2) Obama. Bill Kristol + Jon Stewart = FAIL. Sarah Palin + Constitution = EPIC FAIL.

Reader's Choice #2

The next topic was suggested by reader 'rivendweller'. She said "I want you to give us your opinion on the McCain campaign vs. the Obama campaign in terms of basic morality. Which campaign displays more compassion? Which campaign really cares about human beings and which campaign just gives lip service?"

Probably a bit of a loaded question, but definitely a good one.

Obviously, in terms of morality, I never could've imagined that the McCain camp would stoop so low in that regard. I thought Bush/Cheney were bad when they suggested that voting for Kerry would invite a terrorist attack. But not only did McCain/Palin (seriously, it was when he nominated her that they went into full slime mode) make that same claim-- during the recent distortion of those Biden remarks-- but they went further into using the Ayers innuendo (etc) to imply that Obama is practically a terrorist himself and is too 'radical' for America. And that's just what these two actual candidates are saying.

Their surrogates and supporters on the campaign trail have been far, far worse to the point where calling it racist and scary is an understatement. Thanks-- in no small part to McCain/Palin rhetoric and conservative media outlets-- if Obama wins, a significant amount of Americans will believe their President is a radical Muslim socialist terrorist who kills babies. Think about that.

They have little to no argument for why their candidacy is superior (no, saying 'maverick' a lot is not an argument)... just rantings about why Obama is scary and bad. In terms of morality, this helps brings out the worst in ourselves.

The Obama campaign has been-- by contrast-- all about... hope. It's a campaign that has inspired millions of Americans to hate and fear believe in their ability to create change and to believe that we can come together to solve the problems our country faces. Whether we ultimately can or not is a good question, but this is what the promise is. And, god, after these past eight years, it's someone we really need to believe.

(The 'Yes We Can video is the epitome of this)

Obama is asking people to vote for something; McCain wants them to vote against something. A key distinction.

As I pointed out in a previous, recent entry, Team McCain talks down to voters and speaks in insulting generalities (Joe the Plumber! The 'real' America!). Obama, on the other hand, actually respects the intelligence of the average American. I saw him speak in person at a fundraiser one year ago this month, and thought his academic, thoughtful way of speaking would be his downfall in the primaries, as he'd be eaten alive by more savage opponents. Obama believed differently. He was right, I was wrong. While McCain and Palin are offering lip service on issues where their records do not match their records, Obama is offering an honest argument for his leadership. Agree with that vision or not, at least it's an honest one.

Now that's kind of a long answer to what was a simple question, but I wanted to clarify in a very general sense what I saw as the overall differences between the two campaigns. It's hope versus fear. And what could possibly be moral about running on the latter?

4 More Days...

An official warning from Team Obama-

And remember... contrary to what many GOP-created fliers are telling swing state voters, Election Day is this Tuesday, November 4th. Go vote. Drag everyone you know with you. Refuse provisional ballots if you can. Report dirty tricks to the police. And pray.

[UPDATE: Okay, this makes me feel better... apparently, Bill O'Reilly and Fox envision a fantasy scenario for McCain to win. It involves Oregon, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado not going for Obama. That is frickin' adorable.]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Odds and Ends

Here's another news roundup as we nervously count down the final days...

Barack Obama's post-infomercial media blitz continued with an interview on The Daily Show. And then a big rally down in Florida with Bill Clinton. Al Gore's scheduled to appear there for Obama too.

John McCain, meanwhile, gets stood up by his celebrity BFF, Joe Sam the Plumber. At the end of the clip, McCain asks the audience to give a round of applause to the absent plumber for "what he's done for America". Which is... what exactly?

TPM's Josh Marshall has a video roundup on key House races in this election.

Exciting news: "The government reported Thursday the economy shrank in the summer, the strongest signal yet that a recession may have already begun, a day after the Federal Reserve slashed a key interest rate to battle an economic downturn."

Recession? Exxon-Mobil hasn't gotten the memo.

And it appears a second stimulus package-- what specifically it would entail is still unclear (infrastructure investment? extending unemployment benefits?)-- is definitely in the works, possibly being introduced soon after the election. In related news, are the Treasury Dept and the FDIC near a deal on mortgage aid?

In foreign policy news, the rumors of Kim Jong Il's poor health appear to be well-founded.

Meanwhile, in Iraq... "Iraq wants to eliminate any chance U.S. forces will stay here after 2011 under a proposed security pact and to expand Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops until then, a close ally of the prime minister said Thursday. Those demands, which were presented to U.S. officials this week, could derail the deal — delivering a diplomatic blow to Washington in the final weeks of the Bush administration."

Finally, Dems may strip Lieberman of his Homeland Security committee chairmanship.

"Must... Tell... President McCain!"

The past eight years have been filled with such insanity, it's hard to even satirize it anymore (Stephen Colbert started out as an exaggeration on right-wing pundits... now, he doesn't take the gag far enough). As an example, here is a clip-- obviously completed many months ago-- from this Sunday's annual 'Treehouse of Horror' episode of "The Simpsons"-

And here is what is actually happening in West Virginia right now-

But remember, according to Republicans, the real "voter fraud" we should be concerned about is the super serious threat of Mickey Mouse showing up to vote on Tuesday because some volunteer tried to scam some extra $$ out of ACORN. It's very depressing hilarious.

Matt Drudge, World-Renowned Scientist, Fails Again.

Can you tell I'm a little bit obsessed with the Drudge report? That, along with the NY Post and the National Review's blog, are to me the ultimate barometers of what bullshit the right-wing is attempting to foist on an unsuspecting nation each day. Today's top 'issues' seem to be more on the socialism nonsense and a 'conspiracy' by the LA Times to hide more Obama connections to terrorists. Also, the economy is totally fucked, but no one's taking the time to think about what that means.

Further down on Drudge, though, I see these headlines all compiled together-


(This is one Drudge's favorite recurring gags... LOLZ!)

Seriously, someone needs to sit these morons down and actually explain the science of climate change to them. Crazy, record-breaking weather patterns-- ie. October snow in strange places-- is proof that it is happening, not a refutation. I expect we will see a cold, weird winter... and I expect lots more headlines like this during that time.

If we fail to take this issue seriously, it will be because, in no small part, conservatives a) refuse to understand it, and b) just see the whole thing as an excuse to make Al Gore jokes. Also, the whole world is kind of broke. That doesn't help either.

[Bloomberg News: Second Planet Needed to Meet Natural-Resources Demand]

Quote of the Day

"Now, because he knows that his economic theories don't work, he's been spending these last few days calling me every name in the book. Lately he's called me a socialist for wanting to roll-back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class. I don't know what's next. By the end of the week he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
--Sen. Barack Obama, speaking in North Carolina yesterday.

[UPDATE: McCain, meanwhile, runs such an erratic campaign, he can't help but undermine his own argument.

Also, this cartoon? Is made of WIN.]

But Wait, There's More!

The half-hour Obama infomercial is now online in full. Call now... supplies are limited!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lee Atwater, Alive and Well?

I think that this analysis is spot on... beneath the anti-Obama 'socialist' stories that the right is pushing is an undercurrent of race-baiting. The writer feels that the ads are "aimed ultimately at white working class undecided voters who would construe 'spreading the wealth' as giving their money to blacks. It's the latest version of Reagan's 'welfare queen' argument from 1980. It if it works, it won't be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them."

It's always the '60s/'70s to the Republican party. They never moved on. As we've seen from their Reagan fetish-- less evident now than in the primaries-- they run every campaign like it was 1980. The reality of the country and the world today (ie. the last eight years, which they pretend hasn't existed) doesn't factor in.

And it's the same undercurrent that we see in many conservative 'voter fraud' stories.

It's the old dog-whistle approach. I can see it. And judging from many frantic posts and comments I've read on conservative blogs in the last day or two, they've gotten the message (this flyer plays to the same point). It's an issue Paul Krugman discussed at length in his 2007 book, 'The Conscience of a Liberal' in regards to the rise of movement conservatism.

The writer of that analysis goes on to say, however, that "I don't doubt that this argument will have some effect, but I suspect it's too late and that worries about McCain and Republican handling of the economy will overshadow these concerns." Let's hope he's right about that too. But definitely expect to see Obama's lead narrow because of this rhetoric.

Reader's Choice #1

Earlier in the week, I asked my reader(s) to suggest topics for me to blog about in this final week. Suggest away!

Anyway, my friend Steve asked me to write about... why still hasn't sent him that free Obama button he was promised. He is threatening to vote for McCain unless it arrives. Steve, I do not know why your button has not arrived. My brother mailed me the Arizona state quarter a few weeks ago and someone stole it right of the envelope! Perhaps that is what happened to you. A tragedy regardless.

[UPDATE: My friend informs me he actually received a personal apology email from MoveOn. He's happy now.]

Video Smörgåsbord

Stephen Colbert takes on John McCain and his favorite supporter, Joe the McCarthy-

More videos!! 23/6 edits together a hilarious montage of the limited 'debate' at the three presidential debates. Chris Matthews and Christopher Hitchens chat about his Obama endorsment and McCain's erraticism. Rachel Maddow looks at the latest GOP vote-blocking efforts. Finally, Joe Sam the Plumber proves too crazy even for Fox.

Conservative Intellectuals

So while making my daily blog rounds, I finally got to the National Review's 'The Corner'. This is the current top blog post there, by one Lisa 'red diaper baby' Schiffren-
Lucianne links to a website that is subversive, funny and useful. The Peoples Cube seems to have Barack's number. Among other things, they have an insightful take on those disturbing videos of American children singing the praises of/to Obama: "Kids' hymns to Obama a success of Democrat strategy: If you can't abort them, indoctrinate them." (Does this apply in reverse? If you can indoctrinate them, you shouldn't abort them? That was the basis of Third Reich abortion policy...)

And they sell t-shirts that say things like "Keep your tax laws off my bank account." Or feature Uncle Sam pointing a finger, saying "This finger wasn't made to press one for English." Not that you will be allowed to wear such things when the new regime takes office, of course.

Remember, this isn't some random conservative blog, but the website of the oldest and most prestigious conservative magazine in America. And I read that site every day... it's all like this. This movement has become a self-caricature. I just can't imagine why Christopher Buckley's son decided to endorse Obama.

Is it Tuesday yet?

Save Marriage Equality in California

Attention, Facebook users... help promote an important cause needing last-minute support.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random Notes

TPM's Josh Marshall looks at the state of the Senate races one week away.

Barack Obama is airing a half-hour infomercial tomorrow night. Check local listings.

Sarah Palin understands science and medical research as well as she does anything else.

Our Dumb Dialogue (Pt. II)

No, I definitely did not expect the Drudge/Fox News axis to be humbled by their latest failure, particularly with just one week left to scare Americans into believing that the junior Senator from Illinois is some scary radical who will doom America forever (do I need to link to more footage of what insane/racist things McCain-Palin supporters are saying at those rallies?). Still, their final push is even more hyperbolic than ever. Here was Drudge's huge headline yesterday, a story that is now leading on Fox News, conservative blogs, the NY Post, etc-


(This is the interview audio the Drudge headline linked to... full audio here.)

This is how far to the right our current leadership has dragged this country... that the extremely modest proposals made by Obama (seriously folks, Obama is Ronald F'ing Reagan and Milton Friedman's dirty love child on economic policy compared to the Republicans of our parent's generation, like Eisenhower, and Nixon and Ford to an extent) are considered radical or far-left, let alone socialist, a word that apparently no longer has any meaning.

If what Obama has proposed-- middle class tax cuts, merely restoring upper income tax %s to the Clinton-era levels, assorted credits for small businesses and tuition, etc-- constitute socialism, then what labels can we assign to John McCain and Sarah Palin given their economic records?

But all of this nonsense isn't about having a substantive debate over economic policy (this and this sum up the media 'seriousness' on these issues). It's about throwing out scary buzzwords and banking on the stupidity of the average voter. It's all they have left. Can any McCain-Palin supporters reading this honestly tell me that their side has been making an honest case for their own policies? If so, I'm all ears.

The Reality-Based Community's Mark Kleiman has a reality check on the heavily-edited audio the right is pushing-
Is this really the best the wingers and their tame press and their adopted candidate* can do in the way of an Obama scandal? Obama would like people who aren't rich to get a fairer shake than they now get. He thinks those changes need to be made by the voters through their elected representatives, not through the courts. He thinks it was a tragedy that the civil rights movement, having accomplished important expansions of formal rights through the courts, then over-relied on the courts, rather than the voters, in moving on to make substantive changes.

In a previous entry, he wrote specifically on the socialism charge that-
The whole "socialist" thing is so wrong on so many levels it's hard to get started.

First, it's obviously, grossly, ludicrously false. Obama does not believe in state ownership of the means of production. He believes in a state that makes capitalism work for everyone. When he thinks about economic policy Obama's first move is toward Alexander Hamilton, who invented what is now called the "mixed economy" before anyone had ever heard of socialism.

Second, McCain doesn't really believe it. First he cites his vote against the Bush tax cuts as evidence that he's a maverick. Then he cites Obama's opposition to extending those cuts as evidence that Obama is a "socialist." Or it's because Obama offers refundable tax credits, when refundable tax credits are at the center of McCain's own health care plan. This stuff doesn't pass the giggle test.

Elsewhere, Andrew Sullivan rolls his eyes-
Go read the original talk that Obama gave on NPR and see if it says anything even faintly similar to the truncated quotes about to be used by McCain... Here's what it's based on: the "tragedy," in Obama's telling, is that the civil rights movement was too court-focused. He was making a case against using courts to implement broad social goals - which is, last time I checked, the conservative position...

...So Obama was arguing that the Constitution protects negative liberties and that the civil rights movement was too court-focused to make any difference in addressing income inequality, as opposed to formal constitutional rights. So it seems to me that this statement is actually a conservative one about the limits of judicial activism.

Is this really all McCain has left?

No! Not true! McCain also has thousands of Republicans across the country engaging in dirty tricks and old-school, Nixon-style ratfucking. And racism. So there, Andrew!

Seriously folks, it's gonna be a long and stupid week. Spend it educating your swing state friends and family.

[PS- Drudge's headlines from last night and today are just... who even knows.]

Video Smörgåsbord

Okay, so we're now officially a week away from the election. That's kind of exciting... and definitely a little nerve-wracking. I promise (for real!), I'll be doing a lot of substantive blogging in these final days, starting later today. In the meantime, I offer a video roundup. First up, because this is the issue the election will turn on, another excellent report (this one 12 minutes) explaining the history behind the financial crisis.

[Hat tip for the video and analysis-- The Anonymous Liberal]

More videos!! In Ohio, Barack Obama delivers his closing argument. Joe Biden explains to a 5th grade report what a Vice President does. On DL Hughley's show, Scott McClellan explains his support for Obama. Finally, John McCain meets the press.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Odds and Ends

Seriously folks, I'd love some feedback! In the meantime, a lot of big news today...

Sen. Stevens found guilty "of all seven counts in his federal corruption trial." Good luck with that reelection, Ted! Seriously, Republicans are gonna kick so much ass in their Senate races next week [/sarcasm].

Ugh, there goes the liberal media again, playing the race card: "Law enforcement agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said Monday."

Meanwhile, in a super non-related story, a McCain/Palin supporter (from the pro-America parts of America, no doubt!) screams out "And he's a n***er!" at a rally of Sarah Palin, who of course makes no effort to acknowledge/rebut the remark. Look out, she's gone rogue!

And the Rev. Wright card is finally played in three key swing states.

John McCain enters supreme desperation mode, stating today that he hates that President Bush guy. Speaking about himself and Obama, he said "We both disagree with President Bush on economic policies." I hope for his sake that most Americans get amnesia over the next week.

McCain on keeping nuclear power safe... meh.

News of the Middle East!! The U.S. military threatens to "shut down military operations and other vital services" in Iraq if their government doesn't approve the troop agreement we are demanding. We made democracy there!!! Also, we decided that bombing Syria was a good idea (October surprise?). And we bombed Pakistan too, but that's old hat by now.

Finally, the economic bailout plan continues to grow in size and scope.

Reader's Choice!

So we're now officially a week away from the election (seriously, how long has this campaign been going on... 100 years?). And yet I have a massive case of writer's block. So dear readers, I leave it up to you to decide what topic I should blog about. What's on your mind? What do you want me to write about? Do you want me to write at all?

Post suggestions/thoughts in the comments. I'll respond accordingly.

Obama's Endgame

Obama still draws record crowds. And he'll be delivering his closing argument starting today.

[UPDATE: Interesting endorsements... from Alaska's top paper and the Financial Times.]

Quote of the Day

"I for one appreciate the McCain campaign treating us like children. McCain will bring us back to a simpler time. A time when you could identify your neighbors’ jobs by the hats they wore. Like Sam the Fireman, Bill the Cowboy and Jose the stereotype. These are the people in your neighborhood. The people that you meet when you’re walking down the street. They’re the people that you meet each day. And what the people in your neighborhood, the Joe the Plumber, the Wendy the Waitress need are tax cuts for the wealthy and off shore drilling. They don’t need universal health care or last names."
--Stephen Colbert

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm An Optimist. Can You Tell? (Pt. II)

While this analysis (and 7/11 customers) seem to be quite sure that Sen. Obama has this election in the bag, there is still plenty of room for skepticism to survive.

Yahoo has a more divided view on what all the various polls are saying.

I think my view, as of this week, is summed up by The Anonymous Liberal writes: "I think Obama has run an excellent campaign and now has a much better than even chance of becoming the next president. But I think McCain has a victory scenario that is much more plausible than pundits are making it out to be. This isn't 1996. McCain does not need a miracle. He just needs a good week."

[PS- Remember, voter turnout is key. Get your free ice cream and get your ass to the polls.]

Random Ramblings

Here's some quick, drive-by thoughts on a few topics of interest...

The right-wing (lead again by that lovable scamp, Matt Drudge!) really made a big fuss out of comments made, and then taken out of context, by Sen. Biden that "it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America ... Watch. We're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy..." (the right translated this into 'Vote Obama, and America will die'). Of course, the obvious response is that Sen. Kennedy passed his test-- the Cuban missile crisis-- with flying colors (Nixon probably would've gone nuts and started bombing Cuba), and that Obama can be expected to do the same. "They're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine," Biden said in that same speech. See the link I provided for some good historical context to these remarks.

Do you need further proof that the national Republican party is working overtime to suppress voter turnout for election day? The President himself is getting personally involved in asking the Justice Department to force provisional ballots on perfectly eligible registered voters in Ohio. Umm, liberal media, I'd start asking questions now.

John McCain tells some lies about the 2005 Social Security privatization battle.

And Alan Greenspan admits to 'making a mistake' in trusting a deregulated free market.

Finally, Meanwhile, Sen. McCain gets that final, official George W. Bush endorsement he's been waiting for... taking advantage of early voting in Texas, Bush cast his vote for McCain.