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Political Pastimes

This is an archive of older items. 
For the current Election updates, visit the Main Political Pastimes page.


September 2008

Happy New Year! Now setstatsBail.

Post Turtle

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old rancher whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.  Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid to be a heartbeat away from being President.

The old rancher said, 'Well, ya know, Palin is a post turtle.' Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.

The old rancher said, 'When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle.'

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain.

'You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with.'

We Strain in Vain to Find McPalin's Brain

  • Whoopsie.  McCain appeared on George Stephanopoulos' show on Sunday on ABC, and um... had to retract the statement his esteemed running mate made the night before: "Saturday night, while on a stop for cheesesteaks in South Philadelphia, Palin was questioned by a Temple graduate student about whether the U.S. should cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan. 'If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,' Palin said." 
  • Hmmm, that sounds familiar... wait, what was it Barack Obama said during Friday night's debate? "If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out." 
  • At that point, McCain, you might remember, said testily, "Now, you don't do that. You don't say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government."
  • McCain, gently corrected Palin's statements: "She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest," McCain told ABC's George Stephanopoulos of Palin. "In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's—that's a person's position… This is a free country, but I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin."
  • This is the man who can't remember the name of the new Pakistani President (sending debate transcript typists into a confusion as to how to spell this mythical "Kardari" --Kaddari? Kidari? Qardari?).
  • Palin is still PERKY [read, "adorably catty"] saying of Thursday's debate with Biden. "I'm looking forward to meeting him, too. I've never met him before, but I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade.''
  • Joining in on the growing chorus of aghast conservatives, Ron Dreher, the Crunchy Conservative, says, "Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin's just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero....I remember the morning I woke up in my college dorm room and went in to take my final exam in my Formal Logic class. I knew I was unready. Massively unready. And now I was going to be put to the ultimate test. I sat down in Dr. Sarkar's class and resolved to wing it. Of course I failed the exam and failed the class, because I had no idea what I was talking about. I wasn't a bad kid, or even a stupid kid. I was just badly unprepared, and in way over my head. Seeing the Palin interview on CBS, I thought of myself in Dr. Sarkar's exam. But see, I was a college undergraduate who had the chance to take the class again, which I did, and passed (barely). I wasn't running for vice president of the United States."
  • Palin is safely tucked away prepping for debate someplace in one of the McCains' three or four homes in Sedona, AZ out of the ten McCain homes
  •  In the Wall Street Journal they report that "the McCain campaign aims to halt what it sees as a perceived decline in the crispness and precision of Gov. Palin's latest remarks as well as a fall in recent polls."   "'It's time to let Palin be Palin -- and let it all hang out,' said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist."
  • McCain' spokeswoman saying essentially that if Gwen Ifill comes up with questions that are 60% foreign policy and 40% economy that it's unfair to Palin.
  • Mitt Romney joins in with a backhanded defense: "Look she wasn't selected by John McCain because she's an expert on foreign policy." [Yeah.  We got that.] "John McCain's the expert on foreign policy..." [Um...he is? John, can you say "Ahmadinejad" one more time?]
  • Everyone keeps fact-checking the Kissinger lines from Friday's Presidential debate.  I guess only a few people out there even bother to ask anymore whether Kissinger should be everybody's favorite foreign policy guru.
  • The LA Times reports: "Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said."  That's TOTALLY true.  I saw it on TV once.
  • Sarah Palin, going for the all-important Sleestack vote. It's paying off: McCain is now polling at 52% among Sleestacks likely to vote.
  • Bonus round: Spot the dinosaur on the ticket.

    On the Road again
  • Newsweek writes, "The three tests of recent weeks—the vice presidential nominations, the conflict in Georgia and now the financial crisis—have raised, in a serious way not always evident in presidential politics, the key question: how would each man lead? Our view is that if you are among the 18 percent or so of undecided voters (the current figure in most national polls), we think you now have more than enough on which to decide. McCain and Obama see the world differently, and you can see how; they behave in their own skins differently, and you can see how. The drama of the autumn has served perhaps the noblest end we could hope for, shedding light on how each man would govern. McCain is passionate, sometimes impulsive and unpredictable; Obama is precise, occasionally withdrawn and methodical."
  • Plus, McCain's oft-cited war story with a slightly new twist: "In his most recent book, Hard Choices, McCain describes how, on his last bombing mission over Hanoi, he heard the warning tone of an enemy SAM missile locking on to his plane. Bravely, or rashly, McCain did not take evasive maneuvers but rather kept on flying straight in an attempt to deliver his bombs on target. The missile blew off his right wing, and he spent the next five years in captivity." 
  • setstatsThe campaign marches on.  Obama and Biden stood in the pouring rain to talk with 26,000 Virginians.
  • Gallup Daily had Obama up three points Saturday. and by this morning, he was up by EIGHT points. I know it's meaningless, but it make me feel better.  The Electoral Vote shift has been more pronounced though. Enjoy the trending...


Palinista Update

  • Though we saw an awful lot of Joe Biden after the debate, commenting on how Barack Obama did, where was Governor Palin weighing in with her commentary on her running mate's performance ?
  • The National Review's blog "The Stump"  quotes Wolf Blitzer on CNN: "We've been getting some emails from viewers out there wondering why we spent some time interviewing Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and not Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee. We would have loved to interview--we'd still love to interview Sarah Palin. Unfortunately we asked, we didn't get that interview...We're hoping that Sarah Palin will join us at some point down the road."
  • setstatsTina Fey strikes again with another pitch perfect "Sarah Palin" in an interview with Katie Couric.  The wacky thing is that she's not really parodying Sarah Palin, she's just quoting her.
  • Even the National Review's Kathleen Parker, once "in the tank"  for Sarah Palin, now says, "As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion."
  • Oh, and in case you're not outraged enough about Palin's utter insensitivity as a human being, note that while Palin was mayor in Wasilla, the town began charging rape victims for the costs of their own rape kits.
  • More of Katie interviewing Sarah Palin COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that? PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters-- COURIC: Mock? PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah. (HuffPo)
  • setstatsHere's the special irony: Alaska's governors DO often enjoy more contact with Russian officials because Anchorage is the base for the Northern Forum, an organization representing leaders and sub-leadership from countries around the Arctic Circle including Russia, Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea. The Seattle Times reports: "Yet under Palin, the state government — without consultation — reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group's executive director. That forced the forum's Anchorage office to go without pay for two months. Palin — unlike the previous administrations of Gov. Frank Murkowski and Gov. Tony Knowles — also stopped sending representatives to Northern Forum's annual meetings, including one last year for regional governors held in the heart of Russia's oil territory." Great. Twenty years of glasnost down the drain. Plus, she doesn't even have the brains to mention that this organization exists when the Russia question comes up.
  • Palin worked her way up to answering FOUR whole questions from the press.
  • Campbell Brown goes OFF on the McCain camp's sexism in shielding Sarah Palin from the Big Bad Media: "Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any claim she is ready to be one heart beat away form the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now."
  • Even Fox News reporters are starting to get testy about the Palin Media Shutout.
  • Maureen Dowd refers to Palin's recent rush through Top World Leaders plus a bonus Henry Kissinger Round as "speed dating diplomacy."
  • Why they can't leave Palin unattended: the BIG interview, with Katie Couric of CBS playing "Stump the Candidate." Particularly delicious is the moment when Couric asks Palin to cite "specific examples in [McCain's] 26 years [in the Senate] of pushing for more regulation."
  • Couric also does a series called Presidential questions, in which she asks the same question of Obama and McCain. One of the questions was "When is it appropriate to lie to the American people?"
  • Sarah Palin Troopergate Update:  The Plank pointed out that even the AP newswire is getting snarky, putting out this lead in a story covering the investigation: "Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature's investigation into her alleged abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire."
  • "Is Sarah Palin qualified?" poll on PBS NOW's website.  I sent it out, and many of you have sent it to me.  Well, the poll, which only ran a week in early September on PBS' homepage, became the single most viewed page on their entire site, even though nothing links to it now that the homepage link is gone. But it's remained so popular via email that PBS was moved to post this notice.  As many people noticed,  voting "da Chicago way" seemed to be entirely possible, and apparently was until yesterday, when they embedded cookies so you can only vote once per computer. 


  • My bank was seized last night. Wow!  I'm like, part of history--part of the biggest saving and loan failure of all time!
  • And in a good old classic run on the bank, WaMu customers went in this morning to demand their $10 back. Following the largest US bank failure in history. JP Morgan Chase acquired WaMu after the bank was seized Thursday night,  and all operations continued as normal on Friday morning, even though depositors pulled $17 billion from the bank. (I don't know why those instant stock quotes embedded in text of the above article bother me so much. Makes me a little panicky frankly.)
  • Dealbook blog's moment-to-moment coverage:  Do you have money in Wachovia-- which may be "Citi-chovia Traveling Group" by the time I get done typing this sentence?  A scorecard in case you've lost track of who lost what and who bought what in the last, oh, week and a half.
  • Well, looks like we're buying it, folks. 
  • To the right, a humorous juxtaposition of articles  on
  • The New York Times has an interesting assessment of the real reasons why AIG (too big to fail) got a government bailout deal when Lehman (Let the market decide) got the "Go Fish!": "As the group, led by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., pondered the collapse of one of America's oldest investment banks, Lehman Brothers, a more dangerous threat emerged: American International Group, the world's largest insurer, was teetering. A.I.G. needed billions of dollars to right itself and had suddenly begged for help.The only Wall Street chief executive participating in the meeting was Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson's former firm. Mr. Blankfein had particular reason for concern. Although it was not widely known, Goldman, a Wall Street stalwart that had seemed immune to its rivals' woes, was A.I.G.'s largest trading partner, according to six people close to the insurer who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. A collapse of the insurer threatened to leave a hole of as much as $20 billion in Goldman's side, several of these people said."
  • By the way, David Lazarus in the LA Times notes that : "As our friends in the financial sector were passing the hat among taxpayers last week for $700 billion in bailouts to cover their crappy mortgage investments, they were simultaneously condemning the House of Representatives' passage of a "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights," which aims to crack down on some of the industry's more troublesome practices."
  • A look at the Argentinian Financial Crisis in the early 2000's.  Hmmm.  Hints of what's ahead?
  • $700 Billion-ish: From Forbes: "In  fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy. 'It's not based on any particular data point,' a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. 'We just wanted to choose a really large number.'"

  • Krugman weighs in on the Paulson plan and the alternative that McCain basically blew up: "So the grown-up thing is to do something to rescue the financial system. The big question is, are there any grown-ups around — and will they be able to take charge?"
  • Someone has at last used the "F" word in describing this bailout, and it ain't "finance": "Our government and its owners appear to be testing how much the American public will tolerate. A few years ago, no one could have imagined that the silent majority would quietly accept thefts of this magnitude from a government that stopped tiny payments to single mothers with poor children in the name of welfare reform because the program's $10 billion cost was breaking the federal budget. This isn't socialism, it's fascism."
  • At TPM, mswogger has come to the same conclusion: "Frankly, that word is fascism.  It's no secret that corporations are fascist entities themselves, where decisions are made by a select few that can affect millions of people who have no say in the matter.  But this government-corporate 'partnership' (for lack of a better term) is the epitome of fascism.  As Mussolini and his partner Giovanni Gentile wrote in 1932, 'We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state.'"
  • The Swedes watch as the US basically copies a page from Swedish history.  Couldn't we learn something from their financial crisis in the 90s?

He Came, He Saw, He Screwed it Up

David Letterman Corner

Media Roundup

  • Stephen Colbert and  Jon Stewart hilariously recreate the Michelle & Barack Obama cover from the New Yorker. " (EW)
  • And in case you didn't see it,  watch a pretty savvy Chris Rock on Larry King. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)  "The choice isn't Republican or Democrat. The choice is you got a guy that's worth $150 million with 12 houses against a guy who's worth a million dollars with one house.The guy with one house really cares about losing a house, because he is homeless. The other guy can lose five houses and still got a bunch of houses. Does this make any sense? Am I the only one that sees this?" 
  • Over on Leno, Wanda Sykes goes OFF on Sarah Palin. "They say, 'Oh, she's meeting with the world leaders.' But there's no reporters. I'm like, is she meeting with the world leaders, or did you take her to the Epcot Center? Let her drink around the world? You know, because I've done that. Maybe I should be Secretary of State..."
  • Campbell Brown, We Love You: "Seriously, what were you thinking?"
  • This season's Fahrenheit 9/11?  Oliver Stone's W., Based on a True Story will open on October 17. Here's the official site with a trailer. Frankly, I think I'm still too close to all of this, because while intellectually I recognize that it's funny, I'm still crying.  No, no, it's okay, I'll be alright.  I'll be better when Obama wins in November.  It won't hurt so much next January when I see Obama's right hand in the air taking the oath of office. And when he finally sits down in that Oval Office (after it's fumigated, of course), I might be able to watch the trailer without tears of impotent rage streaming down my nose.
  • An analysis of the overarching "story board" for this election from Michael Cohen: "After back-to-back election cycles in which Democratic nominees seemed unable to maintain a compelling narrative for their campaign, Mr. Obama has shown a level of message discipline that is striking."



Econ 101

Campaign Trail In/S/Anity: Part Three

  • Bill Clinton on the View, on Letterman, on the Daily Show
  • Chris Rock has some pointed remarks to make about the former Prez's tepid support of Obama.) But liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, surely we all can admit that he was a sight smarter and a more effective manager than our current president.
  • Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising, is now available to download for free
  • McCain's camp is peeved about being called "liars" all the time: "Sen. John McCain's top campaign aides convened a conference call today to complain of being called "liars." They pressed the media to scrutinize specific elements of Sen. Barack Obama's record. But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy." (Politico)
  • George Will is body-slamming McCain in every column over at the Washington Post "It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"  (WaPo)
  • Will also points out what I've been saying all along: "Is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary." (WaPo)
  • A fascinating deconstruction of what "costs $700 billion" really means, from the Dealbook blog on the NYTimes. "The $700 billion is only the maximum amount the government can hold of these assets at any one time. In fact, over time, the government may purchase far more than $700 billion of securities, as it repeatedly purchases and then sells these assets. Finally...based on how the bill accounts for the costs of these assets, Mr. Paulson can conceivably spend much more than $700 billion at any one time under the bill's current wording."
  • More on everyone's favorite governor: Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic sticks to his guns on the Twelve Lies of Sarah Palin. "Just for the record, I asked an intern to go back and double fact-check the twelve documented lies that Sarah Palin has told on the public record. These are not hyperbolic claims or rhetorical excess. They are assertions of fact that are demonstrably untrue and remain uncorrected."
  • setstatsAnd not that we didn't know this about Sarah Palin, but David Talbot at Salon recounts how Palin's mayoral election in Wasilla took on tones of nastiness that echo the current campaign. "According to some political observers in Alaska, this pattern -- exploiting 'old-boy' mentors and then turning against them for her own advantage -- defines Sarah Palin's rise to power. Again and again, Palin has charmed powerful political patrons, and then rejected them when it suited her purposes."
  • Relations with the press have totally deteriorated for the erstwhile "Straight Talk Express,"  McCain's folks decided today that they wanted the world to see photos of Palin looking presidential-like while meeting with world leaders at the UN, but they didn't want any pesky reporter-types actually asking her questions or going editorial about her meetings. So they banned the editorial pool reporters from covering the event, and planned to allow only a cameraperson.The Media, who've been kept on a short leash around Palin, finally rebelled. CNN (who had the designated pool cameraperson) threatened to pull their crew entirely before McCain's campaign relented. (NYT/HuffPo)
  • According to a study by Women's Campaign Forum Foundation women have donated twice as many of their dollars to Obama as they have to McCain."$75.3 million to Sen. Obama and $34.2 million to Sen. McCain through July 31, according to the report. In 2004, women sent $58.1 million to Mr. Bush and $57.1 million to Mr. Kerry." (WSJ)
  • The article further notes points...
    • Women are heavy users of social-networking and campaign Web sites that put them in a position to make online donations. (What? What're you lookin' at me for?  So I use Facebook and I "became a fan of Obama")
    • 92% of the women who responded visited campaign Web sites (How else am I supposed to get information for my e-mail Rants?)
    • 79% signed up for email news from campaigns (Hey, I signed up for McCain's emails too.. just to see how lame their online machine is...)
    • 60% signed online petitions. (It only takes five seconds)
    • Of the women who made two or more donations in the last year, 28% gave $50 or more. (But it was in $5 increments)
    • The frequent female donors also tended to be more active using online resources to recruit supporters to their candidates. (Um...)
    • Four of five of these frequent donors forwarded emails or news about politics to friends, (...ummm...)
    • while 37% asked friends to make donations. (Hey, I only say that as a public service--to combat depression with donation therapy!)
    • Here's the link to the website to donate to Obama's campaign, by the way.  In case you know...a little lift....

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

  • goes after Obama's comment about the McCain Social Security privatization plan. "In Daytona Beach, Obama said that 'if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.'  The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. Obama would have been correct to say that many workers under age 58 would have had some portion of their Social Security benefits affected by the current market turmoil – if they had chosen to participate. And market drops would be a worry for those who retire in future decades. But current retirees would not have been affected." (Factcheck)

Cash for Trash

  • "Cash for Trash" is how NY Times columnist Paul Krugman is referring to the bailout plan. And in case you were wondering if the rest of America has noticed that we just bailed out giant firms who took on more debt than they could handle (too big to fail), while ignoring the average Joes who took on more debt than they could handle (not big enough to notice) an article in today's Washington Post: "This may be a Main Street bailout backlash in the making. The details of the financial crisis are still hard for most people to follow -- what with talk of exotic "derivatives" known as "credit-default swaps" and so on -- but the central fact of the matter hasn't been lost on anyone in this Northern Virginia community: The taxpayers are on the hook for the bad judgment of others. And they say they don't like it. They didn't break it, but now they've bought it."And away they go....
  • What does a trillion look like exactly? If you were to stack up $1 trillion in $1000 bills, the pile would reach past the troposphere, through the stratosphere into the thermosphere.
  • Of course, the $1000 bill has not been printed since 1945 and not circulated since 1969, when Nixon halted their circulation in an effort to fight organized crime.  Incidentally they featured the face of Grover Cleveland, a Democratic president whose second term coincided with the Panic of 1893 in which speculation (railroads, not mortgages) contributed to a series of bank failures (sound familiar?).
  • Morgan Stanley and Goldman have changed their status to bank holding companies. "The decision means that the Goldman and Morgan Stanley will be able not only to set up commercial bank subsidiaries to take deposits, giving them a major resource base, but they will also have the same access as other commercial banks to the Fed's emergency loan program."

Campaign Trail In/S/Anity--Part Deux

Multimedia Corner

Statistically Significant

Ayn Rand "The Sound You Are Hearing is the Free-Market Squelch" Alert:

Obama on Economy


McCain-Palin: Even Conservatives Know  He's Lost It

  • In the (Unintended?) Levity Department: Si se habla Espanol, por favor, eschucha esta entrevista en Union Radio en Miami y digame si que es la problema de Johnny Macque?  Did JM really not understand that Spain's Prime Minister Zapatero is not in Latin America?  Does he just not like his tie?  Or maybe he just think he's passing on tapas?  Y mira, check out this piece in El Pais.  This is, of course, getting more play in Spain than it is here.
  • Yesterday, McCain laid the blame for the crisis at the feet of SEC chair Christopher Cox. "Regulators were asleep at the switch," says John McCain in his attempt to explain it all.  In his speech in Cedar Rapids, he also called "for creation of a new agency modeled after the Resolution Trust Corp. that handled the fallout from the savings and loan crisis." He said the new agency would be called the Mortgage and Financial Institutions Trust."
  • McCain says, "The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President and has betrayed the public's trust. If I were President today, I would fire him."  I guess no one has told him that the President, um... doesn't actually have the power to fire the SEC chair? (ABC)
  • In another "Ow-ee" moment, the  Wall Street Journal editorial board blasted McCain with the kind of sarcasm that, well, that you usually see ME using.  And I quote: "Wow. 'Betrayed the public's trust.' Was Mr. Cox dishonest? No. He merely changed some minor rules, and didn't change others, on short-selling. String him up! Mr. McCain clearly wants to distance himself from the Bush Administration. But this assault on Mr. Cox is both false and deeply unfair. It's also un-Presidential." (WSJ)
  • Christopher Cox is of course, not amused by McCain' critiques, but releases a remarkably level-headed response... compared to the WSJ. "The best response to political jabs like this is simply to put your head down and not lose a step doing the best job you can possibly do on behalf of those you serve." (HuffPo)
  • McCain's history as one of the Keating Five: Remember them?  Five Senators accused of helping the head of the failed Lincoln savings and loan dodge Federal regulation and taking kickbacks from same? McCain was officially cleared of wrongdoing, but admonished for "bad judgment" in meeting with Federal regulators on Keating's behalf. (Phx New Times)
  • Robert Scheer reminds us that  John McCain's stock in trade was always eliminating regulations: "McCain has been a master of the special interest giveaways to Wall Street that enabled this meltdown... he voted for abolishing all of the significant rules put in place at the time of the Great Depression designed to prevent a repeat. The two main bills accomplishing that, which McCain enthusiastically supported, were the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Gramm is former Sen. Phil Gramm, chair of the Senate Banking Committee when he acted as chief sponsor of both pieces of legislation. The same Gramm that McCain picked to co-chair his presidential campaign." (SFGate)
  • Even the most forgiving conservatives are turning against McCain. Conservative columnist Richard Cohen writes: "The John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised...His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir -- the person in whose hands he would leave the country -- is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that." Read it--seriously, it's a good piece. (WaPo)
  • McCain "laboring to hit the right economic note:" "Mr. McCain has had to labor to get past the impression — fostered by his own admissions as recently as last year that the subject is not his strongest suit — that he lacks the experience and understanding to address the nation’s economic woes." (NYT)
  • Earlier in the day, McCain came out, guns a-blazing,  about not using taxpayer dollars to bail out AIG(ABC)
  • Obama and McCain weigh in on the crisis. "People are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong," Mr. McCain told a rally in Jacksonville. "But these are very, very difficult times."  "We just woke up to news of financial disaster this morning and he said that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong?" Mr. Obama told voters at an afternoon rally here. "Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about?" (NYT)
  • McCain clarifies what he meant he thought he was about to try to say: "Well it's obviously true that the workers of America are the fundamentals of our economy, and our strength and our future,'' he said. "And I believe in the American worker, and someone who disagrees with that – it's fine. We are in crisis. We all know that. The excess, the greed and the corruption of Wall Street have caused us to have a situation which is going to affect every American. We are in a total crisis.''
  • Betcha didn't know McCain invented the BlackBerry-- and that was BEFORE he learned to use email....Says the NY Times, in a droll, one-sentence aside: "The original BlackBerrys were made by a Canadian company, Research in Motion."
  • And on the subject of one of my bugaboos about the "McCain: Hero for All Time" stories, Mary Mitchell points out that if we're being asked to evaluate candidate McCain on his character based on his war-hero years, then we should also be told the the story of the shabby way he treated first-wife Carol. Maybe that's what attracted him to Cindy. Ariel Levy's profile of Cindy McCain in the New Yorker looks at her family matters. "Cindy McCain regularly calls herself an only child. In fact, she has two half sisters: Kathleen Portalski and Dixie Burd, Marguerite's daughter from a previous marriage. 'I feel bad about having a father that wasn't there, and then having my face rubbed in this—having her stand up and say she's an only child—makes it even worse,' Kathleen Portalski told me." Kathleen Portalski visited her father almost every day in the months before his death. When he died, Cindy McCain inherited the Hensley empire; Kathleen Portalski and her family received ten thousand dollars. Stephanie Portalski found that a credit card her grandfather had given her had been cut off days after his death.

Social Security

  • Given the tanking markets, should we consider the wisdom of privatizing Social Security-- you know, cause we workers have been missing out on putting that money into the stock market and earning those high rates of return.
  • A recap for those who don't remember: debate has raged over how to fund Social Security because if it continues at current rates, "starting in 2017, program expenses begin to exceed revenues."
  • President Bush has pushed during his second term for a plan in which "up to four percent of taxable wages, up to a maximum of $1000, could be diverted from FICA and voluntarily placed by workers into private accounts for investment.... These personal accounts could be invested in various managed investment funds similar to the government employees' Thrift Savings Plan, in which the investor can choose between Treasury Bills, Corporate bonds and a stock market fund."
  • Obama "opposed President Bush's privatization scheme because it would have undermined -- not strengthened - Social Security."
  • In addition, McCain' position has been unclear and inconsistent on Social Security privatization. In March, he campaigned heartily in support of Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. But in June while at a town hall in Nashua he said: "I am not for quote 'privatization of Social Security.' I never have been, never will be. That is a great buzzword for an attack."  (Nashua Telegraph)

Electoral Aside

Toxic Asset Load

A Chance to Show  Your Quality: Part Deux

  • McCain's appearance on the View is well worth seeing, just to see McCain's moment of realization that the "ladies of the View" are not here to give him a tea party. Watch Barbara Walters go after him on facts -- It's quite the sight.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (What does it mean when the toughest questioning a candidate gets in on "The View?") (YouTube)
  • How far have you gone if Underhanded Sleazy Tactic Meister KARL ROVE says you've gone too far?? "McCain has gone in some of his ads -- similarly gone one step too far," Karl Rove told Fox News, "and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the '100 percent truth' test." He then realizes what he's saying and quickly adds that Obama's gone too far too. (CNN)
  • Speaking of Codename: Turdblossom, get ready for the ugly.  Swift Boaters are readying ads against Obama.  "Republicans appear to have a head start. In April, Simmons, a corporate tycoon who had spent heavily on the Swift boat campaign, began holding meetings with other Swift boat donors to discuss renewing their effort for 2008-- meetings that included input from Bush's former strategist, Karl Rove." (WaPo)
  • Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL. Frightening it is, how much Palin looks like Fey, and how Fey has got those Palinisms pretty much nailed. (Wired)
  • And if you've ever wondered about McCain's second wife, Ariel Levy's profile of Cindy McCain looks at her family matters. "Cindy McCain regularly calls herself an only child. In fact, she has two half sisters: Kathleen Portalski and Dixie Burd, Marguerite's daughter from a previous marriage. 'I feel bad about having a father that wasn't there, and then having my face rubbed in this—having her stand up and say she's an only child—makes it even worse,' Kathleen Portalski told me." Kathleen Portalski visited her father almost every day in the months before his death. When he died, Cindy McCain inherited the Hensley empire; Kathleen Portalski and her family received ten thousand dollars. Stephanie Portalski found that a credit card her grandfather had given her had been cut off days after his death." (New Yorker)

Cosmetic madness

  • It seems after Obama made a remark about McCain's "change" slogan being like "putting lipstick on a pig," McCain's camp immediately presumed he was referring to Sarah Palin, since she's the only one on a major party ticket who wears lipstick (Are you quite certain about that?) and they got their knickers in a twist (whoops--is that going to offend John, who is obviously the only one who would wear "knickers"?).  (ABC)
  • Barack was just quoting Johnny Mac himself, who said the exact same thing about Hillary's healthcare plan.  (YouTube)
  • Barack fires back about the Piggy Lipstick nonsense. "See it would be funny, it would be funny except, of course the news media decided that was the lead story yesterday. The McCain campaign would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future." Watch the video on MSN.
  • And Obama makes an appearance on Letterman, looking much calmer and more relaxed than the rest of us feel! (Transcript here)
    Dave: "Yeah, they got together and they said, 'You know what? He called our vice presidential candidate a pig.'" (audience laughs) "Well, that seems pretty unlikely, doesn't it?"
    Obama: "It does. But keep in mind that, technically, had I meant it that way, she would have been the lipstick, you see? The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig."
  • And speaking of the Palinista--SHE SPEAKS! Palin finally answers questions from what McCain was really, really, really hoping would be a sympathetic and softball Charlie Gibson on ABC.  I know,  Most of you don't even want to watch-- you can read the excerpts.
  • Was Charlie tough enough? Ehn, coulda been more.  Did Sarah stumble? She made Charlie a little testy, it's true, but she also had her lines pretty well memorized.  Still there were some obvious bumps in the road. She kinda declared war on Russia (calling the Georgian invasion unprovoked--um, those Georgians are nice and all, but....even I wouldn't say "unprovoked"), couldn't figure out what Bush's doctrine was, and yes, she STILL says "nukular." 
  • Gloria Steinem compares the Palinista to Phyllis Schlafly.  But she also reminds us "the culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine." (LAT)
  • Andrew Sullivan has a nice piece about what this says about McCain' integrity: "McCain made a decision that revealed many appalling things about him. In the end, his final concern is not national security. No one who cares about national security would pick as vice-president someone who knows nothing about it as his replacement. No one who cares about this country's safety would gamble the security of the world on a total unknown because she polled well with the Christianist base." (Atlantic)
  • McCain' roomates have heard his war hero POW story too many times (FunnyorDie)

Poll madness

  • For those depressed about the swinging poll numbers, YOU MUST CHILL.
    Keep the following in mind:
    •  Pollsters generally use land lines, but when most Americans, especially the young, have switched to cell phones, what demographic are they really capturing?
    • Pollsters SELECT whom they wish to poll based on demographics. Hardly anyone talks about the methodology of that selection process these days, although it's been pointed out as a problem as far back as 1980
    • More recently, HuffPo's Seth Colter Walls pointed out: "Gallup's tracking poll, USA Today and CBS News all show the Republicans with some kind of lead over the Democratic ticket. But, interestingly, all three polls were also conducted using a higher sampling of Republican voters than in July, raising a question of methodology. In a year in which Democrats have a lead of 11 million registered voters over Republicans, and have been adding to that advantage through a robust field operation, are pollsters over-sampling Republicans?"
    • "Is Candidate Name someone you would like to be friends with?" Are we in the middle of constructing a fantasy film. Revisit the Wall Street Journal's early August article "When Voters Lie," for some insights.


  • Wonkette points out that, even with the "dismal" poll numbers, if Obama holds in all the states that Kerry won in 2004 (which I think is totally likely) and then takes Iowa (which seems pretty clear now), New Mexico (also a distinct possibility), and, say, Colorado (Hey, they had the convention there) Obama wins. You can pick other scenarios too.  All Kerry states plus Ohio. All Kerry states plus New Mexico and Virginia.
  • Go ahead, try it, using the Washington Post's "Choose your own scenario" applet.
  • Here's where the candidates have been spending their time. It's easy to pick out battleground states of course.  I think it's also interesting (looking at Ohio) to sort of cross-reference this with which counties in Ohio went for Bush vs. Kerry in 2004. Obama's spent more time in Ohio recently than McCain, but also made an effort to get to some of those red counties.
  • Some Virginia county registrars are trying to keep college students from registering to vote in Virginia, a possible swing state, by telling them if they register in Virginia, they may lose their tax status as a dependent and possible scholarship money.. "In a year in which historic youth voter turnout is anticipated, and the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been propelled by college students' support, this case in the battleground state of Virginia is "not an isolated incident."

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Media Bits
(in their own voices)


  • Plan for Change Ad: "For many of you, our troubled economy isn't news."
  • DNC Acceptance 2008: "What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me; it's about you."
  • Speech in Berlin: "People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."
  • On Racism: "I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes."
  • Launching his campaign: "By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail. But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.  He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope."
  • DNC Keynote 2004: "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

DNC Speeches

  • Al Gore: "We have a candidate whose experience perfectly matches an extraordinary moment of transition."
  • Joe Biden: "Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as -- as ordinary as they are profound, questions they never, ever thought they'd have to ask themselves."
  • Bill Clinton: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."
  • Hillary Clinton: "We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much."
  • Michelle Obama: "All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be."
  • Ted Kennedy: "The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."


RNC Speeches

  • Cindy McCain:  "From its very birth, our party has been grounded in the notion of service, community, self-reliance..."
  • Sarah Palin: "I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone... Here's a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion."
  • Mitt Romney: "What do you think Washington is right now, liberal or conservative? Is a Supreme Court liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitution rights? We need change all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington."
  •  Mike Huckabee: "Heck, I was in college before I found out it wasn't supposed to hurt to take a shower."
  • Rudy Giuliani: "At exactly the right time, John McCain said, "We're all Georgians."
  • Joe Lieberman: " The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can't build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks."
  • Fred Thompson:  "She has run a municipality and she has run a state. And I think I can say without fear of contradiction she is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field-dress a moose."
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