Friday, October 31, 2008

The Coming Obama Bounce - Too Late to Buy In?

I don't know whether you, like me, expect the markets to rise on November 5th if Obama handily wins the election the night before. But I wouldn't be surprised. The only question is whether we've already seen the anticipatory rise this week - of whether there's more to come.

Why would the markets rise? Because, as Paul Krugman argues today, with consumers no longer spending and the economy spiriling down into recession, the only way we're going to get out of this negative pull on the economy is with a massive dose of government spending targeted at real investments (like local infrastructure, education, healthcare, and alternative energy) - and the only candidate offering that program is Obama.

One can be fairly hopeful, however, that when Obama says he's going to spend...with a Democratic congress at his back, he's going to find a way to do it. With that kind of momentum, we could be out of the recession by middle of 2009, rather than end of 2010, as everyone thought a few weeks ago.

But even more important than getting out of the Recession is HOW we get out of it, and what kind of spending we do. After the bursting of the Clinton tech bubble, we see now that Bush revived the economy with a financing bubble, by deregulating industries and cutting interest rates and taxes. When the finance bubble finally crashed, it took down not just a sector, but potentially the entire world economy. Without steady hands like Bernanke and Gordon Brown leading the way, we really may have ended with another global Depression. We're talking about a meltdown the likes of which the world has never seen before.

Fortunately, we had people able to learn from history, and we mustered the right medicine to restore liquidity to the market. Now we just have to deal with the disaster the past two months will be to the economy: a severe recession, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.

But how will we get out of the disaster? Here's the danger - if we get out of it with another finance bubble, as McCain seems to want to do - by handing out money to rich people and leaving our country to fend for itself - when that bubble finally bursts, there may be no stopping it. The meltdown next time may be brutish, swift, and final.

But if we get out of this disaster by investing in our country, by actually producing stuff again - things like new energy sources to run our cars, smart people who can compete with Indian programmers, Belarussian designers and Chinese attorneys, affordable cures and medicines, efficient roads power delivery and transportation, and other products the world will want and will keep our economy competitive - then the next downturn, when it comes, will be mild, indeed.

The choice is ours...in just four more days.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ritual Qaeda Endorsement: Reverse Reverse Reverse Psychology?

The annual ritual of the Al Qaeda endorsement of the Democratic candidate has finally arrived. This is the publicly released endorsement hoping for Republican "humiliation."

Of course, what's puzzling about this is that two weeks ago, what Al Qaeda was saying in private on its password-protected website was that it was secretly hoping that McCain would win, and continue Bush's policies, which have been so helpful for Al Qaeda.

McCain, however, declared that that was all reverse psychology! He meant that by saying they wanted McCain, they really wanted Obama.

So, now that they're releasing a tape for public consumption saying they want Obama, will McCain continue to claim reverse psychology, saying that by saying the are against the Republican candidate they are really for him? Or is McCain now going to claim reverse reverse psychology and say Al Qaeda is saying Obama because they know McCain said it was reverse psychology so they know people will think it means they are really endorsing McCain and thus think they really DO want Obama? Or did they think of all this already and their bravado about Republican defeat is Al Qaeda's own reverse reverse reverse psychology, knowing McCain will claim this as reverse reverse psychology that they really DO want Obama but that's what in fact Al Qaeda is hoping for so that people will think they DO want Obama and therefore voters will in the end be repulsed by that and after all that end up voting for McCain?

Or is it only reverse psychology when it's on a password-protected website written in Arabic?

A Victory for Free Elections

In Colorado.

More Conservative Endorsements for Obama - From Nazis and the KKK

I kid you not.

Here's a sample of their thinking:

"Perhaps the best thing for the white race is to have a black president. My only problem with Obama is perhaps he’s not black enough."

Did Obama's Infomercial Accomplish It's Sales Goals? It Just Might Have

Admittedly, us Democrats and long-term campaign watchers may not have been overly impressed with Obama's thirty-minute mini-convention (even if it was spectacularly produced). We've followed so much of this and analyzed the techniques employed for so long, it just didn't seem like news.

But if anecdotes like these are any indication, we weren't the intended audience. And the optimistic tenor, focus on middle-class issues, and carefully calculated images and assurances of middle-American family values may have reached exactly who it needed to: Republicans disenchanted with Bush who haven't yet made up their minds about Obama. Read the following post, written by a poster in Ohio to the Washington Monthly blog, and be heartened:

I went to bed last night with the knowledge that Chardon, Ohio is a very Republican town, and I've heard just about every disparaging remark possible about Obama from my neighbors over the past year. But when I woke up this morning, the number of McCain/Palin signs on my street was down---from three, to just one---and I am writing these words with the knowledge that the two households who "lost" their McCain signs are the homes of Republicans who watched that half-hour episode last night.

Not Blue-Dog Democrats; not Libertarians; not conservative Independents, mind you---but rock-solid, long-term Republicans.

Their consensus: Barack Obama is not only the better choice for the office of President, but he's also the better choice for meeting---what used to be, at least---the core principles of the GOP before the party was kidnapped by the whacked-out fringe elements.

I honestly never thought that I'd see and hear a long-term Republican say that Barack Obama makes for a better Republican than John McCain---and my day has started by experiencing it twice.

Damn---and it's not even 9 in the morning here yet....

More on response to the Obama commercial here.

The Economist Endorses Obama

Another important conservative endorsement for Obama, this time from a respected conservative financial editorial board.

Money quote:

This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Endorse...Barack Obama for President

I'm listening to Bill Clinton talk forcefully about Obama and saying, "get on the internet and say 'vote for Obama.'" And it just occurred to me: I haven't actually written an endorsement. So here it is.

First of all, let's talk about Obama's opponent: John McCain. I once said, "if there's any Republican I'd support for President, it'd be John McCain." That was years ago. The McCain who's campaigned for President in 2008 is completely unrecognizable from the John McCain I once felt warmly about. When George Bush's advisers took over the McCain campaign, McCain morphed into the worst aspects of Bush: divisive, abusive, diversionary, and erratic. There's no need to rehash the travesty of the McCain campaign here. The few ideas he has that I'd want to hear more about: extending the Bush tax cuts during the recession, how to use the free market to fix health care, how to reform our torture apparatus, how to reform immigration and offer a path to citizenship, how we address climate change, how to reform our failed foreign policy - he's been silent on, instead deciding to conduct a smear campaign of his opponent. And in choosing a running mate, he picked someone not only politically toxic, but vastly unqualified. That choice alone should disqualify McCain from the Presidency.

As for Obama, I've always believed he's been a highly skilled politician, not a savior. He's changed positions when it's been politically expedient for him, and glided past the contradictions of opting out of public financing, reversing his positions on FISA, double-talking on support for gay marriage. His stance against the war in Iraq has been more a matter of political convenience than thoughful foresight. His insistence on rolling back the Bush tax cuts during a severe recession is questionable. Some of his best policies - on health care, on the economy - have been lifted from political opponents like Hillary Clinton. And the story of him being "a new JFK" are largely mythology for his political benefit.

But perhaps the ability to adopt the best ideas on offer, no matter the source, is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Obama's skills as a politician are more often those of the better angels of politics, the kinds we haven't seen, admittedly, in a generation. He's run a tough but fair and above-board campaign, one that has justified Democratic hopes in a forceful candidate, while at the same time, reaching across the isle and the political divide in this country to speak about personal responsibility, spirituality, and political unity. Unlike Bush, or McCain, Obama obviously thinks seriously and deeply about the issues facing the country, respects the opinions of experts, processes differing opinions, and knows how to bring together and lead a consensus. He's demonstrated this by unifying the deep rifts in his party after the convention, by running a campaign that has attracted the endorsement of prominent conservatives and Republicans, by keeping his head cool when others around him - including his opponent - have lost theirs.

Obama's choice of a Vice President - Joe Biden - couldn't have been better for the country. Biden is not the best campaigner, but no one in politics will bring more heart and more smarts to that office. Obama has also surrounded himself with some of the best advisors on the economy. Both choices suggest that an Obama administration will be a team of the country's best and brightest - something that our country desperately desperately needs right now.

But more than that, Obama himself has demonstrated that he's more than ready to lead the country. The plans he puts forward to reform health care, create jobs, reform our standing in the world and foreign policy, and actually address our addiction to oil, are dramatically better than his opponent's alternatives, and all urgently critical to the health and security of our country. Over the past 20 months he's demonstrated the rhetorical skills, the political savvy, and the executive organizational discipline that we only rarely see from the very best Presidents. If he can pull off the electoral win that he seems to be headed for, he may demonstrate not only that he can be an exceptional leader, but that he has a broad public mandate to reform and renew our entire political culture. It's a bet, to be sure, and anything can happen after the election is over. But Obama has run his campaign on the idea that hope can be rewarded. If he can get us to believe in this country again, the hopes we have for him may well be justified, and his performance exceed even our best expectations.

Polling Trends: September Versus October...Don't Worry...Too Much

With numbers moving all over and people spinning the polls, I think we're all getting nervous about wht'a going to happen on election night. But here's a little something that might make you feel better.

Perhaps the best way to get a sense of what's happening is to look at the state level, and specifically, to look at the *trend lines* - which states are MOVING in these last days towards McCain, which to Obama?


It seems there are two key events in the trendlines:

September, with the market meltdown, shifted trendlines dramatically towards Obama in most of the blue-collar swing states.

October, as McCain started hitting hard on his terrorist, socialist, Joe-the-plumber race-baiting attacks on Obama, again, some states responded and started moving back toward McCain.

No state exhibits this trend better than West Virginia, which had Obama leading in September then had McCain turning around and leading again in October.

Obama needs to worry about states like this, where the McCain red meat speaks to voters. In addition to West Virginia, there seems to be a similar response in states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska. Sure, McCain is smart to take advantage of this trend in Pennyslvania and try to make the most of it. Those other states, however, give him little, since they have long been deep red to begin with.

But the states McCain needs to worry about are those susceptible to the September movement, but not responding to the October push back. These are states like North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Nevada, Colorado - states with small African American populations where Obama did well in primaries - and states with significant African American populations like Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Virginia. These states are still showing consistent movement towards Obama since September, with no effect from McCain's attacks. Those states where he's winning he's winning by wider and wider margins. Those where he's losing are getting closer and closer and could end up being swing states by election day.

(There are also states like Ohio and Florida, receiving lots of attention and moving everywhere on their own. Ohio is ending on an Obama trend and Florida on a McCain trend - which is why Obama's infomercial was in Florida tonight. But McCain would have to spread resources thin indeed to continue to fight there as well as everywhere else.)

Unless McCain can turn that momentum around somehow, it's hard to see how he wins even if he does get the additional ten points he needs to take Pennsylvania.

McCain's Socialist Tax Nonsense

I'm sitting here listening to McCain talking to Larry King about how he has the temerity to call Obama's rollbax of the Bush tax cut "socialism."

Larry asks him, "aren't all taxes redistributing income?"

"No," McCain says, "taxes are for the government, but what Obama wants to do is take money from one group and give it to another."

Huh? What Obama wants to do is return the top tax rate to what it was under Clinton, while lowering taxes for middle-income Americans. How is that taking money from one group and giving it to another, if all taxes aren't that? "It's dramatically different," spouts McCain. "Obama wants to redistribute! That's socialism! Let him admit it!"

But when Bush lowered taxes on corporations and the rich, while middle-class Americans had to pay more in property taxes, health care, and energy costs, that wasn't redistributing income? Just look at the figures: more income has been redistributed to the top 1 percent in the past eight years than since the 1920's.

Look, if McCain wants to make an argument that people making more than $250,000 shouldn't have their taxes raised, let him make that argument. There's probably some validity to it! But to just spout this kind of nonsense only makes one wonder if McCain has any idea how run an economy. This kind of crap is just stupid demagoguery, as Powell would call it, worse even than what one saw from Bush.

It's not like this is the only thing that McCain has done that's just plain nonsensical fear mongering. But it's sad. I used to like McCain. Now I don't even recognize the man.

Ah...but here's Obama's great response....

"He'll accuse me of being a communist because...I shared my penut butter and jelly sandwich in kindergarden."

Pretty much sums up McCain's campaign, doesn't it?

Obama's Prime Time Campaign Ad: A 'G-Free Zone

Well, I was kind of expecting something else from Obama's ad tonight. I was expecting it to be more of an "address to the nation" - sure, talking about the campaign, but also addressing the economy as would (and should) a President.

Maybe it wasn't the time for that.

Instead, what we got was a kind of Reader's Digest Version of the Democratic Convention. It was repleat with a bio movie, common folks and their problems, testimonials from Democrats, and an acceptance speech at the end. Call it the thirty-minute Obama Presidential campaign for those voters who've been asleep for the past 20 months.

Was it effective?

It certainly didn't hurt, I would say. Obama struck all the right themes: emphasizing the middle class, the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, energy, and voters from swing states, along with tidbits from his biography. Also a nice exhortation for supporters to get out and "knock on doors, call phones, and vote."

Most important, it was nicely positive. No negative attacks, no mention of McCain. Why give that dude free prime-time mention on Obama's dime? Perhaps that was the best call.

If there are any voters who still don't know much about Obama's platforms and haven't made up their minds - and astonishingly, there seems to be some of those voters still out there - I'd say this video got an A.

Most effective thing? Obama's learned how to drop his g's, saying thing like goin' instead of going, etc., and effecting a slightly southern twang. All pretty calculated to reach low-attention-span swing voters in middle America who are looking for someone to have a beer with.

In six days, we'll find out how well that worked.

Anti-Gay Prop 8 Being Flooded with Mormon Money

We are being vastly outspent - the No on 8 movement URGENTLY needs more money to help preserve marriage rights for gays and lesbians in California. Anti-gay activists raised over 2 million in a single day. We need to match them!

If you've donated, please donate again!

DONATE MORE NOW!

The New Swing States: More Red Turns Blue

From what the polls are saying, Bush states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada are old news - already showing leads over 5% for Obama (assuming there's no vote stealing).

What are the new swing states that are nearly tied, looking like nail-biters next Tuesday night?

Florida
Missouri
Indiana
North Carolina
Georgia!
North Dakota!
Montana!

and

Arizona!

Then again, the McCain internal polling is saying, not so much....

Clone Your Dog?

For $100,000, you can enter a contest in Korea to clone your dog.

Dogs are what the French call betes de chagrin, "beasts of regret." We form an attachment to our dogs as we would our family (I know that Zoey won't go to sleep at night until I come tuck her in and say good night), but we outlive them by a large margin. Who wouldn't want their beloved pet back?

But Zoey came into our life through a rescue agency. She wouldn't be with us today without the actions and kindness of a series of pet lovers: the patrol man that saved her off the side of the highway where she was abandoned; the rescue people who took her in; website where we found her. Now she's a beloved family member and training for her tracking certificate.

When she's gone, I'd love to have her back. But even more, I'd love to give another abandoned dog a home and chance at a loving life. The danger in cloning isn't that there's anything morally wrong with reproducing your dog: it's that fewer dogs will have the chance to become beloved family pets.


Young Zoey, when she joined our family.

The Real Media Bias Against McCain: Comedy

Politico recently wrote a piece that the media may be writing more negative stories about McCain because he has given them more negative things to write about.

It occurs to me there's another place where I've been detecting media bias in the election: comedy.

I don't watch a lot of late-night TV and such, but just a small sample of jokes seem to be running about 2 to 3 to one as Palin/McCain jokes versus Biden/Obama. Biden may even be ahead of Obama here and closer to Palin as the "Biden gaffe" joke is a pretty common comedy staple. But in terms of everything from sketch comedy to monologues, it definitely seems comedians are having an easier time with McCain than Obama.

I chalk this up to a few factors:

1. It's always a little harder to make fun of the black dude. Bill Mahar does it. Chris Rock, sure. Probably Lisa Lampenelli won't hesitate to go there. Harder to do, however, if you don't have a history of crossing racial boundaries in your humor.

2. Obama's personality is so cool, it's hard to find something there to hang a good joke on. McCain, however, just kind of hands over a fresh joke every day.

3. The jokes about McCain and Palin tend to be more cutting: more dismissing of their political point or competence (witness Tina Fey's portrayals), whereas the jokes about Obama tend to be softer, almost affectionate and making fun of the arguments AGAINST him (like the Saturday Night Live's Obama Variety Special with Bill Ayers, or Letterman's collages of Obama saying "I will tax your ass off"). But again, this has been due to McCain's strategy: it's much easier to turn around a far-out negative attack and make fun of it, than it is to make fun of boring policy positions.

4. As we all now know, it's not smart to piss off David Letterman. I bet no candidate cancels on him again.

5. Segueing from point three: Maybe McCain and Palin have just run a more absurd campaign. Asking comedians to resist making fun of it is like asking the sun not to shine.

But nothing makes the point better than humor. If McCain is having trouble with his negative campaign getting traction, the biggest culprit may be because it's being made fun of nightly, and voters, therefore, are having an easier time seeing through it.

If you ask a comedian, however, I'm sure they wouldn't call it bias. They'd call it a comedic gift.



McCain shows up on Letterman for his drubbing.

The Republican White Dwarf Party

After the election, it seems that the Republican party is preparing to have a kind of Supernova experience, rejecting tons and tons of moderate and sane Republicans in order to coalesce into a smaller, hotter, fierier, whiter party centered around Sarah Palin and sending out periodic pulses of deadly radiation.

It's kind of sad they've decided to leave us. Not that I don't want to see a nice eight-year Barack Obama administration followed by an eight year Michelle Obama administration. But I'll miss the two-party system.

It'll be fun to make fun of them in their alternative universe, though.

Tune To Blog Bunker November 5th After Election Day

I'll be on Blog Bunker again on November 5th to discuss the election.

Tune to Sirius Indie Talk Radio, channel 110, 5pm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain Advisor: Sarah Palin is a "Whack Job"

Dear readers.

Two months ago I published the Palin scandals. If you'll read the comments, you'll see I took a lot of heat. People called me "a liberal rag," "in the tank for Obama," and "on the payroll of the DNC." Two months later, this is still by far my most popular post, receiving dozens of links and thousands of hits a day. I've even found it being used in a college curriculum on "media bias" in the election.

Dear readers, all I did was compile a list of scandals that were readily found on the internet. I actually wrote things like, "Certainly making a choice to give birth to and raise [a Down Syndrom] child is courageous - and will be at least as appealing as Biden's personal backstory," and "as a small business person, I kind of sympathise with [her] taking the per diem," though, admittedly, I did accuse her of being "securely in the pockets of big oil," insinuated she might be "a female Dick Cheney," and called her church "as crazy as...Obamas."

But, dear readers, I never never called Sarah Palin a "whack job." That was McCain's advisors.

Dear readers, I never called Sarah Palin a diva. No, again, that was McCain's advisers.

Dear readers, it wasn't me who said that the choice with Palin was "whether to make [her] look like a scripted robot or an unscripted ignoramus" - again, that was the McCain campaign, as told to Robert Draper in GQ.

No, dear readers - Republicans are calling Palin a whack job diva ignoramus. McCain's Republicans. But then, I guess they don't really have a nice thing to say about anybody, do they?

So, dear readers. Perhaps you'll cut me some slack, now. If I'm on the payroll of the DNC...then that would surely make McCain one of the DNC's main henchmen. (Hmmm...so maybe that's what happened to him in the Hanoi Hilton.)

McCain's October Surprise: Rashid Khalidi

If McCain has his way, this is a name you'll hear a lot of between now and election day.

Apparently, the LA Times has a tape of Obama at a going away party for Khalidi, a Palestinian and respected Islamic professor in Chicago, listening as other attendees recite a poem describing "Resistance to Israel."

The LA Times reported on the tape. And if you read their report, it's sounds typically Obaman: a man who is congenial even with those he disagrees with, such as Palistinians who equate Israeli occupation with terror.

But McCain would love to have the tape, so he could excise just the right explosive phrases (and believe me, they would be there), and cobble together another guilt-by-association hit-piece right before election day.

Call this surprise Reverend Wright times William Ayers, topped with a Star of David.

For some reason, though, the Times won't release the tape. It's the sort of thing that should have been released months ago. But since they've held it back until now, a release right before election day could only be seen as political.

Though at this point, given the campaign McCain has run, even a tape of Obama nodding and clapping to a poem about Palestinian resistance would likely seem lost in McCain's daily barrages of general muck. Given everything the campaign is saying about Obama, how can one more smear ad make much of a difference?

UPDATE: and it appears that McCain would have some 'splainin' to do, having his own ties to Khalidi's Palestinian support organization.

Crist May Save Florida From Stolen Election

More reasons for hope: Republican Charlie Crist is extending voting hours in early voting in Florida.

Couple this with Ohio's victory in the Supreme Court preserving voting rights, and the Republican dirty tricks may fail this year in Ohio and Florida.

If that's the case - and if more Republicans like Crist do the right thing - we may actually get a free election in this country for the first time in eight years.

Haaritz Traffics in Anonymous Criticisms: McCain Strikes

Hmmm...one wonders why Haaritz, a generally respectable conservative Israeli newspaper, is fabricating reports that French President Sarkozy is critical of Obama's stance towards Iran.

No mind - McCain is jumping on it, re-releasing his ads to scare Jewish voters.

Curiouser and curiouser. If Sarkozy really believes Obama's position on Iran is dangerous, why immediately deny the anonymous report in Haaritz? Why congratulate Obama so during his visit in July?

Then again, if Haaritz fabricated the report, why would a fairly mainstream, if conservative, newspaper open themselves up to a case of libel? Why not just criticize Obama's position themselves?

Or is this anonymous tipster...connected to the RNC?

One wonders what's really going on here.

How Sarah Palin Has Driven Conservatives to Obama

Talking Points Memo has a nifty interactive graphic showing all the conservatives that Sarah Palin has scared into voting for Obama.

My favorite quote? Kathleen Parker: "If BS were currency...Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

States The Republicans Are Trying to Steal

Hold onto your hat! Republicans are making an unprecedented effort to steal the election in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia, and Bush is joining in now to help try to suppress votes in Ohio and next possibly Colorado.

One reassuring thing: Virginia is probably too far gone for the "move the election day" trick to make a difference, and even if they manage to steal the election in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Colorado, the map would still look like this:



The other thing: Obama is a lawyer. And unlike Gore, they're prepared for a fight.

But don't kid yourself: every vote in this election is going to be needed. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Republican vote-stealing tactics. For a run-down of all the dirty tricks they have going - and the millions of voters they plan to disenfranchise - read this article in Rolling Stone.

The scary thing? Exit polls showed Kerry winning over Bush by 3%. But Bush won by 2.5%. That portends a good chance that Republicans were able to steal nearly 6% of the vote. This year they've intensified their efforts, and so with all the Republican vote stealing plans in the works, Obama's 6% lead may not be enough to make this more than a very very very close tie.

Palin and McCain Battle Over the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Andrew Sullivan is now describing the internal war between Palin and McCain as a "massive clusterfuck" as both of them try to blame the other and reposition themselves.

McCain's aides have apparently decide to finally admit that Palin is a disaster.

Palin apparently thinks she's the great white hope for her party and McCain has run a terrible campaign.

And anyone would still think of voting for these two?

Thoughtful Obama Endorsement from The New Republic

One of the better written Obama endorsements.

Money quote:

In these pages, our colleague Cass R. Sunstein has described his governing style as "visionary minimalism." By this, he means Obama will work to achieve an ambitious agenda but will revise his opinion when the evidence dictates a different course. He is a sincere liberal but without the temperament of an ideologue....

This is a distinct moment with an economy that won't likely be healed by the simple application of off-the-shelf ideological prescriptions or a diminished government blanched of experts. In the middle of this recession, the national mood will run raw.... [Obama] has the soothing demeanor that might calm tempers and the gift for language that could make necessary, but not necessarily popular, policies more palatable. His election offers an opportunity to roll back the Bush legacy and perhaps--if he turns out to be the rare transformational president that occurs when man and moment meld--even restore us to our former beauty.

Installing Husband 1.0 and Wife 1.0

Making the email rounds today - for all you newlyweds out there - here are some system manuals on your new appliance.

INSTALLING HUSBAND 1.0

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as
· Romance 9.5 and
· Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as
· NBA 5.0,
· NFL 3.0 and
· Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

· Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed,

Desperate.


DEAR DESPERATE,

First, keep in mind,
· Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while
· Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6 .2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.
· If that application works as designed, Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.
· Please note that Beer 6. 1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend
· Cooking 3.0

Good Luck!

Tech Support

_________________________________________________________________


Request for Technical Support, Incident #99-02-14-01 (Installing Wife 1.0)

Last year I upgraded Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0, and I can find no documentation on several features. For example, Wife 1.0 installs itself into all other programs and launches during system initialization where it monitors all other system activity. Applications such as RunAnywhere 10.3 and StayOut 2.5 cause freezes. At installation, Wife 1.0 provides no option as to the installation of undesired Plug-Ins such as MotherInLaw 55.8 and BrotherInLaw Beta release. Also, the new program has spawned a couple of unexpected child processes that have taken up a lot of space and resources. I was considering going back to Girlfriend 1.0 but there does not seem to be a “revert to previous state” feature.

Another thing that sucks -- all versions of Girlfriend continually popup little annoying messages about the advantages of upgrading to Wife 1.0

Can you help me?

Registered User #10-1-13-5-19

Response to User #10-1-13-5-19, Incident #99-02-14-01

We receive many inquiries to this perceived problem. However it is almost always the result of a common error.

Many men upgrade from Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 with the idea that Wife 1.0 is merely a Utilities & Entertainment program. This is a serious misconception. Although Wife 1.0 includes many Utilities and Entertainment functions, Wife 1.0 is actually an entire Operating System. It has been designed to run everything.

Warning! Do not try to: un-install, delete, or purge the program from the system once installed. Trying to un-install Wife 1.0 can be disastrous, resulting in the loss of valuable system resources. You can not go back to Girlfriend 1.0. Wife 1.0 is not designed to do this. Many have tried “workarounds.” These only complicate the situation. For example, some have tried to install Girlfriend 2.0 or Wife 2.0 and found the problems persist. Others, in an ill conceived attempt, have tried to run Girlfriend 2.0 in the background while Wife 1.0 is running. This almost always results in serious system conflicts, possibly leading to a non-recoverable system crash.

***** BUG WARNING ********
Wife 1.0 has an undocumented bug. If you try to install Mistress 1.1 before uninstalling Wife 1.0, Wife 1.0 will delete MSMoney files before doing the uninstall itself. Then Mistress 1.1 will refuse to install, claiming insufficient resources.

We recommend you keep Wife 1.0 and adjust a few user input parameters. I suggest installing background application program C:\YES DEAR to alleviate software augmentation. I might also suggest you read the entire section regarding General Protection Faults (GPFs). Should a GPF occur, the best course of action will be to enter the command C:\APOLOGIZE then hit the Reset Button as soon as lock-up occurs. In any case avoid excessive use of the ESC key because ultimately you may have to give the APOLOGIZE command before the operating system will return to normal. The system will run smooth as long as you provide needed maintenance time. To free up CPU time and improve performance, be certain that you have terminated your several search and scan routines. Because each copy of Wife 1.0 is a uniquely configured system, no single manual will cover all enabled features. New users should first consult with those who have been running Wife 1.0 for many years before installing a copy yourself. You should consider joining one of our established local users group to discuss your specific configuration. Remember, the installation of Wife 1.0 can allow maximum system potential. There are no plans for upgrades; Wife 1.0 was designed to work for a lifetime.

Why the Right-Wing Bloggosphere is Out of Touch

Here's an interesting poll that shows just how out of touch the right-wing bloggosphere has become.

It's not just that despite all evidence most believe McCain will win (hope does spring eternal, we can't fault that).

It's that nearly all believe a) the media has been heavily biased towards Obama and b) the way for Republicans to win is to become more conservative.

They fail to see the contradiction: the more conservative they, and McCain, get, the more negative coverage they get. The country just doesn't want to go into that cesspool anymore, and the media is no longer in the tank for THEM.

Perhaps dear Brutus, the problem isn't in their stars, but in themselves.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lower Taxes AND More Spending

What neither candidate is going to tell you about their economic plans is that they're both wrong. The way to get out of the mess we're in is both to lower taxes and increase spending.

Keep in mind that I consider myself a deficit hawk. But as the economy slips into the worse recession since the Great Depression, the way out is going to involve expanding the deficit for a while.

That means that McCain's call to freeze spending is exactly the wrong move. What we need now is MORE spending, although on the kinds of things that will immediately stimultate the economy: infrastructure, local government, home ownership, new energy industries. Without the right kind of spending, our economy won't have the juice it needs to kick back into gear.

And while Obama is correct that the biggest tax help needs to go to the middle class, McCain has a point that this is not the best time to be increasing taxes on businesses. A smart Obama administration will find a way to fudge any tax increase to 2010, when the economy can start growing again.

Either way you look at it, however, it would seem that McCain's freeze plan would pose more danger to the economy than Obama's tax plan.

Right-Wing Deep End Watch: Part Two

Feds spoil a KKK plot to go on a killing spree decapitating blacks at a school, with the ultimate goal of assassinating Obama.

I fear that this is reflective of the atmosphere we're seeing on the right as a result of McCain's campaign of fear and loathing - maybe a most extreme form, but certainly representative of the inner demons unleashed.

On the bright side: the Feds seem to be on the job. But just because Obama gets elected, don't expect the threat of terrorism to go away. We'll just exchange foreign Arab terrorists for home-grown fascists.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Republican Deep End Just Keeps Getting Deeper

Just when you thought they couldn't freak out any more, Republican True Believers have found ways to go even further off the deep end as the polling portends a clear Democratic win in nine days.

Suggesting that Obama's campaign is being paid for by Nigeria.

Threatening Jewish voters with letters that electing Obama will mean a second Holocaust.

Claiming Obama will turn the U.S. into an official socialist country.

Saying that anyone who supports Obama - including conservatives like Colin Powell, Mathew Dodd, Ken Adelman, and Scott McClellen - are suffering from cultish delusions.

That the polls are being manufactured by a liberal media elite that's in the tank for Obama and intentionally duping the country.

Oh, and my personal favorite, that self-aggrandizing nutso James Dobbson, sending out a letter saying that a President Obama will allow homosexual scoutmasters to rape young scouts, provide mandatory gender identity training for first graders, force euthenasia for anyone over 80, and have the FCC rule that only porn can be shown on TV.

Yeah, James. The Obama Presidency will be Clockwork Orange, only with gay porn instead of violence.

No wonder sane Republicans are fleeing this party in droves. It kind of reminds me of that Star Trek episode where Beverly Crusher is sucked into an alternative reality, but doesn't realize it, and people start disappearing. She keeps wondering why more and more people are disappearing and where they are going but doesn't realize that they're disappearing because it's HER who's in a fake reality. Finally, her son convinces her to head for the light before her reality collapses completely.

I'm afraid these True Believers will go down with their collapsing reality before they ever think about heading for the light. Read more of the nonsense here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

60 Democrats. Good or Bad. Discuss

As we near the homestretch, the big drama now is whether Democrats can capture 60 seats in the Senate, a filibuster-proof majority.

A month ago, that would have been impossible. Today, it's not out of reach.

But oddly, I've heard some of my staunchest Democratic friends say that they're not sure it's a great idea. These died-in-the-wool Democrats have suggested that Democrats need a healthy Republican minority to keep them in line, to rein in any potential excesses that could lead to too swift a decline in Democratic fortunes.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Republicans like David Frum, who can see the writing on the wall for McCain, are also suggesting that Republicans should give up on the White House and try to preserve Senate seats, and arguing that a filibuster-proof Congress would give in too many liberal temptations for most Americans.

Yet, my husband and others I know see it the opposite way: basically, that Republicans have so messed up everything that the only way to get the country back on course is with a filibuster-proof majority. That it's important to have a large majority not only investigate the criminality of the Bush years, but put in place the policies for health care, energy, and regulation that we need to get out of the mess we're in.

I kind of see it both ways. I mean, the majority would be very useful...if Democrats could be trusted to hew to sound policies (even for their own good). I do think Democrats wouldn't go quite as far off the deep end as Republicans have done these past eight years. But I'm not sure I don't want SOME kind of watchdog nipping at their heels.

So what do you think? Go for broke? Or have a few Republican watchdogs around on a very tight leash? Which is ultimately better for the blue team?

Protect Marriage Rights: No on 8

Apple and Itzhak Perlman both urge support for the No vote on Proposition 8 in California.





Protect marriage rights for gay couples: DONATE HERE.

Republicans Their Own Worst Enemy Watch

During a week in which Obama literally did suspend his campaign to visit his ailing grandmother, he seems to have done exceptionally well.

That's because he's had help. McCain's campaign these days seems to be doing all it can to rally the public for Obama. Here are just a few highlights:

Story about Palin's extraordinary budget for makeup and outfits just won't die.

Republican campaign staffer makes up false claim about being attacked by an Obama supporter and engraved with a B (unfortunately, the B she faked was carved backwards, as in a mirror). Wouldn't have been so toxic a story if the McCain campaign hadn't pushed it, and FOX hadn't declaired that if it turned out to be false, "McCain's campaign would be over." Now the McCain campaign looks not only like illegal race-baiters, but pretty lame ones too.

Palin staffers create circular firing squad, laying blame for why her ratings are tanking.

McCain decides to switch tactics, and since it's working so well for Obama, launches a campaign against the Republican party. Hey, McCain - which party are you from again?

Meanwhile, more and more Republicans are endorsing Obama, creating a landslide of support.

Maybe Obama could stop campaigning entirely. I mean, at this point, it may help more than hurt if they just took Biden off the campaign trail and let the Republicans make the case for Obama for him. Then we might see a real blowout.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Geezer/Dingbat

Someone sent me this today. Normally I don't post this kind of stuff but this one made me spit out my cornflakes. Enjoy.

Polling Trends....Which Way Will It Go

Needless to say, only three things can happen between now and election day.


Things stay about where they are now.


Hard to tell which way things might be going. But with Nate Silver suggesting Obama doing just fine now in Ohio and Florida and even winning Montana, I may have been wrong a couple of days ago: we may be looking at a map like this on election day.

Entire Bush Administration Endorses Obama

Well, not the entire administration - just one more, the former press secretary, Scott McClellan.

But we're getting pretty close here to having more Republicans endorsing Obama than their own candidate. All we're waiting on now is Bush and Cheney.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah Palin’s Manolo Blahniks Walk All Over Joe the Plumber

To the consternation of Republicans, the story of Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe is in the news for a second day in a row.

This story has “legs,” if you will, not because of Democrats. And it’s no ordinary Sarah Palin scandal. No – with all unlikelihood, it could be Palin’s $1,500 Neiman Marcus blazer that exhibits the unkindest cut of all.

First of all, it should be said that Democrats aren’t pushing this story. If most Democrats are like me, they think Palin looks pretty snazzy in those duds, and are secretly happy for her. Maybe it’s the gay gene, but I can’t look at the story and think anything other than: well, good for her. She may hunt Polar Bears, intimidate officials and be in the bag for big oil, but at least she knows how to wear a pump. And if we’ve got to see her talking insufferably about foreign policy on TV, at least she has the decency to look good doing it.

No, it’s Republicans who find the story terrifying – and it’s their terror that’s keeping it in play.

But why, you may ask, are Republicans so afraid of a few designer blouses?

The reason: Joe the Plumber. McCain has staked the closing days of his campaign on the idea of recreating himself as the most unlikeliest thing of all: A Republican populist. And to do this, he needed a powerful symbol that could sell the public on the idea that tax-cuts for millionaires were a “populist” move. Enter Joe the Plumber.

Joe the Plumber – like Sarah Palin before him – was to be inflated into a symbol of the conservative working man. And McCain was making some headway with this. After all, it could reasonably argued that raising taxes on anyone, in the midst of an economic collapse, is not the most perspicacious thing to do. It takes a lot of persuasion and subtlety for Obama to make this argument, and McCain and his manager, Schmidt, are certainly not running a subtle campaign. McCain, in fact, has staked everything on running a culture war campaign, vilifying the “lily livered liberal elite” while embracing the NASCAR, moose-hunting minions who he hopes will identify with the Republican side of the so-called “war.” All right – so those NASCAR fans would actually do better under Obama’s tax plan than his. But do they realize that? With the power of symbols like Joe the Plumber, McCain hopes that they sure won’t.

Now comes the story of Sarah Palin’s designer wardrobe. Republicans remember how $400 haircuts sank John Edwards. And so they’re panicking: not because Democrats are making it an issue. But because it undercuts the us-versus-them symbolism of their campaign, and threatens to reveal the inherent contradictions in their populist platform. How can Palin be a NASCAR woman of the people wearing a Neiman Markus wardrobe? And if you start to question that…maybe you need to actually look at the platforms, too.

The problem is, Palin does pretty well for herself in Alaska. And she wears Neiman Marcus nicely. She’s no more a poor Appalachian housewife than Joe is a real plumber. In fact, if anyone can claim to be on the lower end of the financial spectrum in this campaign, it’s Joe Biden. And when you examine the Republican platform closely, the people it benefits most are more likely to be those Hedge Fund swells in New York rather than the flannel wearing populi sitting in the NASCAR stadiums.

This is why Republicans are panicked. The Palin wardrobe outs her as a secret Prada fan, actually quite at home in New York armed with an RNC credit-card in her pocket – which may be what many hard-core, lower-income Republican faithful secretly fear about their leaders. And certainly not what the moose-hunting Wal-Mart shoppers, who’ve taken the “evil coastal elite” theme to heart, now want to hear. So now the Republicans have had to spend two precious days trying to explain away the wardrobe, when they wanted to be hammering away with Joe, and their whole end-game strategy is in jeopardy. But they should have known: When you base your campaign on a symbol meant to hide a contradiction, be careful: all it takes is a little thing like a pair of heels, and the whole thing can turn around, and make the contradiction become the symbol.


these shoes were made for moosehunting...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NO on 8 Needs More Money Now!

Help preserve rights for gay couples and defeat Proposition 8 in California.

No on 8 is still behind in the polls. Donations are helping the NO movement catch up but it is still behind. Marriage rights are in jeopardy unless you donate. If you've already donated, donate more!

Give here.

Dissecting the Conflicting Polls

The polls have been all over the map today, with FOX today announcing a 9 point Obama lead and AP calling the race tied, so you may naturally wonder what's going on.

I think the polls are telling us something very interesting.

The AP poll was conducted following the last debate, but doesn't include the Powell endorsement or anything after that. The Fox poll is conducted entirely after the Powell endorsement.

I think it's become very clear that after the last debate, McCain had found some momentum. Voters clearly thought he *lost* the debate, but nevertheless, he was picking up voters. How is that? Remember, Kerry won all the debates but ended up losing against Bush. I think we were in a similar dynamic for a few days: McCain had latched onto a campaign message, the "Joe the Plumber/Obama tax" message, that resonated with voters, even though they knew it didn't make sense. They still FELT there was some irrational truth behind the message, and it was swaying them, much the way they were swayed to Bush in 2004. They identified.

The Powell endorsement stopped that. It was like a cold slap in the face: basically, saying, wake up, you imbeciles, don't you see what's going on? And Powell was someone whom these very same voters respected. Polls since then have voters returning back to Obama and giving him the big leads he enjoyed when he was most popular in the polls.

As I've been saying, the Powell endorsement was HUGE. It stopped the McCain closing surge. It could be what wins Obama the election.

The Campaign McCain Didn't Run

I can't wait to read this story this Sunday in the NYTimes Magazine about the inner workings of the McCain campaign. Biggest shocker: McCain was surprisingly close to tapping Mike Bloomberg, New York's highly popular, economically savvy and independent Republican mayor, before suddenly switching to Palin.

Of course, out in Palin country, Bloomberg would be considered a radical socialist, since he cares about gun control, health care reform, education, and the environment. But he's also a successful businessman and millionaire, ready to rewrite the law to seek a third term as Mayor of New York.

Can you imagine the alternative McCain campaign had he selected Bloomberg?

A subdued Republican convention that would have probably not done a lot immediately, but gained high praise from pundits and much talk about McCain's seriousness about the economy.

No distraction from scandals as Bloomberg is already well vetted in the press.

Dissafected Hillary Democrats would jump onto a McCain/Bloomberg ticket that paints itself as the "Independent Ticket."

Avoid the McCain pratfalls as the economy implodes: sends Bloomberg out on all the talk shows to deliver amazing economic policy speeches that put Obama to shame.

Surprising polls showing McCain winning New Jersey and Pennsylvania and tied in New York jumpstart Republican enthusiasm and give subsequent polling boosts in Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, and Missouri.

McCain starts to gain confidence and argues successfully that Obama offers nothing more than a fresh face. That times are too serious not to elect the most experienced ticket on BOTH foreign policy and the economy. Stays positive and wins the hearts and endorsements across the board of moderate Republicans like Powell, Bernanke, Brooks, and Noonan, as well as some Democrats.

Even gets Andrew Sullivan to reconsider.

By today: polls reversed, McCain/Bloomberg up by six, instead of Obama up by eight.

Oh well. Democrats can be thankful McCain didn't make THAT brilliant play.

Electoral Vote Prediction

Less than two weeks out, I'm ready to make my prediction for election night.

Surprises? I think Ohio and Florida are most susceptible to McCain's attacks on Obama. Polls will tighten there going into the election, and both will be dramatically close.

But the real surprise is that Obama has redrawn the map, and those two big swing states no longer matter as much as the NEW swing states. Instead, the new swing states are the near south/coast: Virginia/North Carolina, and the new west: Nevada and Colorado. This is the long-term demographic change Obama has helped to usher in. (Missouri, a neighbor of Illinois, will come along for the Obama ride, but this may not be a long-term change.)

But there are 13 days left, and a lot could still change.

The Republican Crack-up: Five Stages of Crazy

The idea of losing - or maybe not simply losing, but LOSING BIG - is simply driving some hard-right conservatives batshit. Let's look at the five stages of crazy that hard-right partisans are currently driving themselves into.

Vile Racist Anger: McCain supporters kick and abuse black cameramen, shout threats at rallies.

Laughable Denial: Believing the polls are wrong because they have headquarters on the coasts.

Wild Ludicrous Pleading: Sending out desperate robo-calls and threatening parishioners that they will go to Hell for voting for Obama.

Batshit-crazy Despair: Evangelicals despair that Obama has America under a voodoo spell of mass hypnosis.

What's next? I guess we'll have to wait till November 5th for bitter Acceptance.

Bin Laden Endorses McCain

Well, if you want to have a high-profile endorsement, I guess there is one person left after Colin Powell. That's bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

In a detailed message on an Al-Qaeda website, terrorists argue that a McCain presidency would be good for Al-Qaeda, driving America into endless foreign wars and further bankrupting the economy.

One has to wonder. Does everything for Al-Qaeda have to boil down to what's good for Al-Qaeda? What, for instance, is their position on global warming?

Four New Sarah Palin Scandals

Wow - I thought we were done. But no, there's more. Here are the latest scandals.

Parliamentagate - Palin still doesn't quite know what the Vice President's role in the Senate is. My take: the RNC really should have her re-do third grade before the election.

Housegate - This one came out a few weeks ago: Todd Palin's contractor friends provided free labor building their house in exchange for...Wasilla construction kickbacks? Seems to me not too unlike the similar "scandal" about how Obama got his house. So let's call it a wash.

Fashiongate - the RNC spends over 150K dollars on clothes for Palin. My take? Since she's not going to get the new address at the Naval Observatory, let's at least let her keep the clothes for her troubles. Call it a consolation prize.

Travelgate - this is a bit of a re-hash of Perdiemgate. The difference is that now it's clear that Palin's kids went on trips where they weren't invited and spent a lot of extra time on vacation on Alaska taxpayers' dimes, and Palin seems to be messing with the records. People will say this is not the doings of a so-called "reformer" (especially if you combine that with Fashiongate). I still think this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot - though maybe a bigger tempest, given that this seems to be SOP for Alaska, the teapot is still pretty small.

I think this is all pretty petty stuff. If you want a REAL Sarah Palin scandal, watch this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin's America

Somehow, I missed this Daily Show episode of Jason Jones' investigative report of Wasilla.



My favorite quote:

"You always hear the stories about New Yorkers walking right by people laying in the street...but small towns, everybody helps each other. I think the biggest example of that is 9/11."

Wow. Hard to believe, but Jones ain't making this shit up.

Two Weeks Before Election Day, McCain Learns How to Campaign

The race may be tightening a little...but not much.

One thing happening, however, is that - with no more major events left - McCain finally seems to have learned how to run a campaign. He's learned that 100% negative ads were hurting him, not Obama, and so has adjusted the mix.

He's learned how to run a populist campaign, mixing messages about Joe the Plumber and tax policy. And he's been able to stay on this same message for almost six days now, actually giving it some time to work.

He's dialed back the Ayers and ACORN attacks the voters said weren't working, instead focusing on an economic message in a time when this is the voter's #1 concern.

It may be common sense to you, me, and Obama. For McCain, he seems to only have arrived at this approach after trying everything else and only sinking further. So it's no surprise that he might finally start to make some headway. Too little, too late - especially in the face of all the conservative defections. But find the right approach, it looks like he has.

So now, if he brings up Wright, as some suggest - well, that would only guarantee an even bigger Obama landslide. My guess is, however, that McCain has finally learned the lesson, and won't.

However, if all this makes you worried that somehow McCain has become a campaign genius, don't worry. With so many forces now allied against him - including economy gurus Ben Bernanke and Paul Volker - the hill that he has to climb is pretty steep, and his tactics (as opposed to strategy) are still pretty shaky.

The Importance of the Powell's Obama Endorsement

Here is a typical conservative wish-away of the Powell endorsement. Rather than making a race-based accusation, Lowry attempts to downplay Powell's endorsement of Obama by painting Powell as "conventional" and "inside-the-beltway." Apparently, endorsements only matter if they're made by flamboyant figures.

But I think it is precisely Powell's conventionality and boringness that makes his cross-over endorsement powerful. This isn't Lieberman, who left his party long ago. And it isn't Lugar, who might be a little too unknown to make an impact. This is a Republican that many ordinary voters know, and whose opinion they respect. After all, he was able to sell the public on Bush's war. He should be able to have even more success selling them Obama.

Need more evidence? This is anecdotal, but here's an email from my Aunt in Florida, who was undeceded until the Powell endorsement.

"In the end I think that Colin Powell's endorsement might be the one thing that cinches it for me...."

I think that basically says it. For many undecided voters, lost in a sea of the now unabashedly partisan media and who have heard much ballyhoo from both campaigns, they needed a signal from a trusted, objective conventional source as to which narrative to believe. As Bush knew when he sent Powell to the UN, if you need someone in this day-and-age who can speak past the media filter and still has credibility with the broad public, it's hard to find anyone better. That's the power of the Powell brand.

If today's polls - which would be the first to start to show the Powell endorsement effect - are any indication, I think the Powell endorsement was HUGE.

Powell spent a little bit of the credibility on Sunday. It will help Obama enourmously. No doubt now he's being attacked for it. But what good is saving up crediblity if you aren't going to spend a little of it when it counts?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why Obama Owes the Country a Centrist Administration

I'm struck by something today. It struck me as I read yet one more Republican conservative endorse Obama.

First, as these conservatives jump on the bandwaggon, so to speak, I'm struck by a commonality of thinking:

1. That McCain's responses to the recent economic crisis have seemed reckless and unplanned.

2. That his pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate suffered from the same thoughtlessness.

3. That Palin has proven to be supremely unqualified, justifying the early scandals.

4. That Obama has shown himself to be thoughtful and Presidential.

5. That McCain's campaign has been divisive and dangerous.

Basically, the same points that I - and many bloggers on the left (and the lonely conservative Andrew Sullivan) - have been harping on about now for months.

That is, it seems that more and more people from the far left to the center right are converging on the same idea: McCain has come unhinged. Obama, however, could be great.

So it seems to me there is an awaking going on. An awakening around a consensus. And that's a powerful thing.

What strikes me is that, if Obama is to govern toward the consensus that is electing him, he needs to head more toward the middle than an ordinary Democrat - or his record - would suggest. He really needs to govern from the center left, as Clinton did. He needs to be Clinton, without the drama.

Let's look at this graphically:

**Far left (Daily Kos/Huff Post) - **Traditional Dem (John Stewart/Charles Schumer) - **Center Left (DNC) -
**Moderate/Independent (CNN/Blog Bunker) -
**Center Right (Powell/Sullivan) - **Traditional Republican (Lugar/Frum/Brooks) - Far Right (Limbaugh/Palin/McCain 2008)

**It seems now that Obama has support across the spectrum, except for the far right and a few moderates like Giulani who have transformed into far-right attack dogs.

There are a lot of good reasons for Obama to govern toward the political middle. There are many problems for the country to solve. Moving the country from the far right of the Bush administration will take time. It's time we had a leader for all of the country, not just half of it.

But perhaps the most important reason is that Obama OWES his supporters an administration that speaks to everyone who has seen the light and supported him. If they are listening to him - he should listen to them.

And if Obama were to govern toward the middle of his support, he'd govern somewhere between Center Left and Moderate. In other words, socially liberal/economically conservative (while attacking communal problems like healthcare, energy, education, and global warming), but with a strong theme of personal responsibility that places him just to the right of Clinton.

As it happens, that's pretty much where I am politically. So maybe I'm projecting?

But if Obama is smart, he'd go there. He'd bring both his far-left and traditional Republican support together into a consensus administration that may be slightly left of the middle on most issues, but also draws from the best ideas from both sides of the spectrum. And in the process, he'd transform the Democratic party into a governing majority party for a generation.

Tallying Campaign Violence: Republicans and Democrats

This campaign is turning into one of the most violent I've ever seen. There is nastiness almost daily on both sides, now. Here's a rundown:

Republican Violence
Tires slashed at an Obama rally
Early voters harassed by McCain supporters
Racist threats and physical intimidation against ACORN workers
Of course, the calls for violence against Obama at the Palin rallies
But perhaps this makes me the saddest: someone kills a bear cub and wraps the carcus in an Obama sign. I find the killing of a bear cub for a political point truly depressing, and perhaps an ominous omen.

Democratic Violence
McCain train campaign windows shot out
McCain supporters hit with a McCain sign
Molotov cocktails thrown into a yard with McCain sign

While the MSN will like to paint this as a "both sides are responsible" meme, quite clearly, it is McCain and Palin that have decided to stoke violence in this election through their inflammatory approach to their panicked supporters. Just because there is also a backlash from some unhinged Democrats doesn't alleviate them of the responsibility for unleashing these demons in the first place.

But let's just say this again to people on both sides of the spectrum: everyone, please just calm the f*ck down.

Joe Biden Sends Obama to Clean the Augean Stables

Biden's latest comments about Obama being "tested" and the need to clean the Augean Stables of the Bush administration have created the predictable tizzy, both on the wacky left - who claim he's preparing us for "warmonger Obama" and the hysterical right, who claim this is a sign of Biden's baffoonery.

I have had a different reaction.

My reaction is basically this: Biden doesn't represent the wacky left or the hysterical right. What he represents is the reasonable middle. But Biden gives the reasonable middle some powerful color and candor. He's like a Rush Limbaugh of the middle: telling us what it is, in no uncertain terms.

This is one of the things about Biden that I've always loved.

What Biden is saying about Obama being "tested" overseas is probably true. All Democratic Presidents get this test (for instance Clinton). Biden was essentially saying, Obama will have to respond to such a test in a politically "middle" approach, one showing military strength, and the left will have to be patient with that (if they want to continue to maintain support for Obama's domestic agenda). He may have put this colorfully, he may be a bit premature in saying all this (better to have waiting till after November 4th to bring this up), but it's no doubt correct. And personally, it's no doubt the correct thing to do.

The scandalous thing here is, Biden is setting out a pretty moderate agenda for Obama. He's basically saying, "guys, don't buy into the Republican hype. We aren't really socialists. This is going to be a pretty centrist administration. But if you want us to be able to deliver on healthcare, economic improvement, and environmental protections - the key tenants we all share - then suck it up and accept that we're going to be moderates on everything else. And accept that the far-right rudder is going to take some time to steer back to the middle." But he says it with predictable Biden color.

It couldn't make me happier.

Joe the Plumber versus Kareem Khan

If the Republicans are making a hero out of Joe the Plumber and even trying to draft him for office, I say Democrats should rally around Kareem Khan.

Kareem Khan is the Arab-American soldier whom Colin Powell lionized in his endorsement of Obama. Powell wanted to make the point that it's detestable that "Arab" should be a slur in this country. He used Kareem Khan to illustrate the point: Kareem, of Muslim faith and a native of New Jersey, was 14 years old on 2001, enlisted in the army to fight for America and was killed in Baqubah, Iraq on 2007.

Joe the Plumber, meanwhile, doesn't have a plumbers license, owes back taxes, and wants to rail against Obama's tax policy even though he would get a cut, not an increase, under Obama's plan.

So let's review:

Joe the Plumber: selfish, misinformed, tax laggard.

Kareem Khan: selfless, courageous, patriotic, Islamic.

Is this the difference in qualities between supporters that Republicans would have us make? It seems so. And if Republicans want to use Joe the Plumber as a symbolic stand-in for the average McCain supporter, then I think Kareem Khan serves as a perfectly valid symbol for the hope, inclusiveness, and courage offered by Obama.

I'd rather have a beer with a Kareem Khan over Joe the Plumber any day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is Obama Wasting Time and Money on West Virginia?

Some may argue that 5 million isn't a lot with a 150 million haul. That winning West Virginia would be a huge symbolic victory for the Democrats.

I would say...well, maybe. But with only 5 electoral votes at stake, and the state swinging back into the Republican column, democrats may be dreaming.

Why? Well, the issue in West Virginia seems to be implicit racism, where the attacks of "socialist," "terrorist," and "Arab" have the most resonance. Isn't it a bit of an uphill battle to be fighting both the Republican fear machine and age-old racial intolerance at the same time?

There's another state right next door that's susceptible to the same arguments, but has many more electoral votes at stake. That state is called Ohio. And one can't be all too certain about states like Florida either. I'd feel better if these behemoths were in the bag before Biden was off boasting about carrying five electoral votes from West Virginia.

Campaigning for the Racist Vote

It's interesting to me that the prospect of a black man becoming President has produced equal and opposite reactions in what we might disparagingly call "the racist vote."

For some, it's made them challenge their racist assumptions, as this report in Politico details.

A polite, black former Marine, Mitchell Cook, was handing blue Obama bumper stickers and yard signs to drivers pulling into the mall [in West Virginia] and was even attaching the bumper stickers himself to some of the pickups and battered two-doors. "Twenty, 30 years ago, if you had a black man stopping cars, handing out signs right here, he would have been shot," said state Auditor Glen Gainer. "Now they're stopping, asking him to put on stickers."

For others, it's allowed them to openly boast about their racism, as the video below demonstrates.


More Noteworthy Republican Endorsements for Obama

The next two weeks could see a magnifiscent crescendo in Obama support. The powerful endorsements just keep coming. The Chicago Tribune - which has never endorsed a Democrat for President - today wrote a powerful endorsement for Obama.

Money quote.

We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.... We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus.... He has been called a "University of Chicago Democrat"--a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.

The LA Times - which also has never endorsed a Democrat and last endorsed Richard Nixon - writes:

Our nation has never before had a candidate like Obama, a man born in the 1960s, of black African and white heritage, raised and educated abroad as well as in the United States, and bringing with him a personal narrative that encompasses much of the American story but that, until now, has been reflected in little of its elected leadership. The excitement of Obama's early campaign was amplified by that newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama's character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity.These are qualities American leadership has sorely lacked for close to a decade.

What's the score for newspaper endorsements? Obama: 55. McCain: 14.

No contest.

Powell Comments Further on the Campaign

More Powell comments after his Meet-the-Press interview.

Money quote is Powell taking on the latest campaign tactic of calling Obama a "socialist." Keep in mind, Powell is criticizing this tactic from a Republican fiscal conservative point of view:

Now I guess the message this week is, "We're going to call him a socialist, Mr. Obama is now a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have."

Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who paid them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there is nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that that makes you a socialist, I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate.


I don't want my taxes raised. I don't want anybody else's taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don't want to have a $12 trillion national debt, and I don't want to see an annual deficit that's over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So, how do we deal with all of this?

The Politics of the Powell Endorsement

Of course, there are political calculations behind the endorsement event today.

1. Powell mentioned that he hadn't decided until "the past couple of months." That means the Obama team has known about the endorsement for a while, but decided to hold onto it until this critical juncture when McCain has found something to start closing up the polls again. Well played, sirs.

2. The Obama team did a good job of getting blogs to underplay the expectations for the endorsement. The endorsement Powell did came out with was powerful and therefore much more dramatic.

3. Powell himself has a tarnished reputation amongst Democrats for his speech to the UN in support of the war, and not doing more to stop the war. There is no doubt that through this endorsement - calculated or not - Powell might be looking to help rehabilitate his own reputation, and (whether he denies it or not) find a way back into public service.

This was a big win both for Obama and Powell. Now just 16 days left till election day.