Friday, August 29, 2008

Haven't had a chance to update till now but Bill Clinton's speech at the convention was classic, near perfect in content, delivery and tone. He of course is no stranger to delivering excellent speeches, but this one was a testament to the fact that he's only become better at it through the years. They'll be studying this speech for many years to come, thankfully. It made me wish we didn't have a two-term limit for presidents (I've wished this for many years prior to this speech, but his performance Weds. night truly drove this home).

Obama's speech was needless to say terrific. It's been justifiably praised by most pundits so I won't spend much time on it. He hit McCain hard but respectfully. Let's see if McCain does the same this coming week (don't hold your breath).

As for Palin, when I first heard the news I thought it was Michael Palin from Monty Python (Michael would've been a better choice). McCain's campaign has certainly become a pathetic comedy act; even many conservatives can no longer take this charade seriously. He attacks Obama for lack of experience and then chooses a VP that has just a little over one year's on-the-job training as Alaska's governor. This from the oldest person to run for president, where you think he'd responsibily look to select a second-in-charge that was very experienced, ready to step in and run the country. But no, he chose instead to go with the Daddy-Daughter ticket -- scary, revealing, and a bit creepy if you ask me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We need to hear more pithy zings like this one:
"McCain likes to call himself a 'maverick,' but he votes with George W. Bush more than 90% of the time. That's not a maverick; that's a sidekick." -- Sen. Bob Casey
Tonight Hillary did what she needed to do and was expected to do. She gave a strongly delivered speech in which she tried to convince her supporters to drop the bitterness, get over the resentment, and do the right thing.

Enough is enough already, so remaining angry Hillary advocates: please take a cold shower, look in the mirror and ask yourself, "come November will I really not vote at all, or worse vote for McCain?" Really?

Hillary's key passage in the speech:
Those are the reasons I ran for President. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
She pleads with her people to stop thinking of and treating her as if she's some kind of deity or cult leader. She politely requests that they wake up and get over it, that this election is not about personalities but rather the fate of our country. It's much more important than some media-enabled ego war.

In fact, Hilzoy touches on this writing from Denver:
I've been wandering around having random conversations, and by pure chance, all the delegates I've talked to have been Clinton delegates. I have asked all of them whether they will have any problem voting for Obama, or are in any way aware of any of the disunity I see so much about on CNN. In every case the answer is not just 'no', but something closer to 'are you crazy?' The first Clinton delegate I talked to said: "For heaven's sakes, we're Democrats." The second said: "I'm sure some Clinton supporters, somewhere, won't support Obama, but everyone who thinks will." I cannot pretend that the delegates I've talked to are in any way representative, but for what it's worth, they have all reacted to the idea of not supporting Obama by looking at me as though I had come from Mars.
It's very much believable that the supposed deep ill-will Hillary supporters have towards Obama is really not that deep at all. The media lives for stoking and fanning the flames of crap like this, and needless to say the right is doing their job to inflate this supposed schism into pro wrestling type proportions.

Is it completely fabricated? Of course not. Yes, there will be some who remain beyond appealing to, but as Hilzoy makes clear most are not going to let this disappointment adversely affect their ability to reason and think clearly. And to believe otherwise is to insulte the intelligence of the average Hillary supporter, i.e. some hurt feelings = they'll throw their vote away. C'mon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

McCain's inability to remember how many homes he owns is a HUGE gaffe, mainly for the following reason:
[W]ith one little remark, he has made it impossible for Republicans to run their usual storyline about their candidate as an everyday guy in touch with ordinary people, and the Democratic candidate as a scary elitist who lives on latte and arugula.
This utterance may or may not go away but regardless it's looming effect is to take this go-to GOP tactic off the table for this election year -- a first in a long, long time. You could just hear the hired-on Karl Rove types in the campaign slamming their fists down and snickering profanity when McCain let loose this screw-up. It's as if they're now forced to drive while blindfolded; to think, the actual issues may now come to fore -- heavens!

And we have of all entities the right-wing leaning to thank for this gift?! All the more reason it's astonishing.

Also, Jonathan Cohn is correct, this gaffe very likely sunk Romney's chance of being VP. What a shame.
  • Like with so many other for-instances that have come up over the last eight years, just imagine if Bill Clinton were in office with the terrorist-watch-list system on the verge of collapse.... We'd never hear the end of it from the frantic right, as they'd justifiably howl about the incredible incompetence threatening our safety.

  • Just six in 10 adults believe McCain is a Bush clone? That's too low, it should be 8 in 10 minimum, and it should be Obama/Biden's goal to convince that other 40% that this is the case.

  • McCain's excessive use of "P.O.W." is beginning to take on the likeness of Rudy's constant reference to "9-11". Need I remind that it was Biden who very likely put the final nail in the coffin of that train wreck of a campaign with his clever and dead-on "a noun, a verb and 9-11" critique of Rudy. It's good to see Biden started his first day as VP with another memorable critique (McCain's "7 tables"). Hopefully this is the first of many to come from Joe because the fact is these stark sound bites work, and the very good ones are devastating.
  • Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Obama/Biden. Not bad. This ticket strikes me as one that will only appear better with time, over the next several weeks. There may be concerns at this moment based on what we know about Biden, such as foot-in-mouth tendency and he loves the spotlight, but the good chemistry between he and Obama is very palpable, and Biden is no dummy and will quickly learn to modify his behavior to better fit the role of VP.

    The zealous right may look to jump on Biden for his supposed plagiarism incident in 1987. Then it was laughable and today it should be considered that much more a ludicrous accusation. There's nothing to it, much as there was never anything to the Al Gore-invents-internet nonsense.

    However, there is very much something to McCain's latest fetish for telling a POW story that to many people appears to have been "lifted" from the recently deceased Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Yes, McCain has been retelling a story ("Cross in the Dirt") that Solzhenitsyn wrote more than 30 years ago. McCain had never recounted this story in his biography and actually only started to tell it a few years ago concerning another POW, not McCain himself. It's only in the past year or so that McCain twisted it further to have it apply to himself. So the story has been plagiarized and over time McCain has changed the focus of the "borrowed" story to himself. And he's criticizing Obama's judgment?

    Many months ago, McCain decided to flush his integrity and self-respect down the toilet. He embraced the Rovian tactics that were used against him in 2000, tactics that he harshly criticized then and with good reason. But as with Ralph Nader, who's done a wonderful job at soiling his once admirable reputation, McCain has managed to do even more damage to his own historical standing. To paraphrase that well-known saying, for some men the lure of power corrupts, absolutely.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Recall the countless times when Republicans have cried states' rights and new federalism as a solution to divisive political issues. Forget government at the federal level, let each state decide what's best for their electorate.

    But if it has to do with pollution and clean air, well, suddenly the federal government is not so bad:
    A federal appeals court yesterday struck down a Bush administration rule that prevented states and local governments from imposing stricter monitoring of pollution generated by power plants, factories and oil refineries than required by the federal government.
    State, federal, whatever -- the GOP goes with whichever most favors big business on any given issue. Health and longevity be damned.
    Radioactive GW

    William Pesek at writes:
    There's an underappreciated common denominator among embattled leaders in Asia: George W. Bush.

    For leaders wondering why they lost popular support, there's plenty of blame to go around. In some cases, it was a sluggish economy. In others, it was scandals or corruption. Inept handling of everything from poverty reduction to dodgy infrastructure to climate change may have fanned discontent.

    Yet leaders in nations such as Australia, India, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea also are learning of the perils of cozying up an unpopular U.S. president. They've lost elections, resigned or have high disapproval ratings at least partly because of close ties to Washington.
    Pesek forgot one -- perhaps the best known of the lot: Tony Blair. If Blair didn't suck up to Bush as much as he did post-9/11, he would likely still be in power today. Let's see if Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will be the next leader stung by this association.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    The following is nice to read, encouraging, but also quite sad:
    [A] recent poll conducted by Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger showed...[w]hen they tested Democratic and Republican messages without identifying which party they came from, "the Democratic message consistently won out over the GOP message by 11 to 25 points." This was true even among Republican voters, who preferred the Democratic message on every issue but Iraq. It was only when the messages were identified by party that the Republicans won back their voters. On taxes, for instance, Republicans opted for the Democratic message over the Republican message, 52 percent to 38 percent. When the very same messages were identified by party, however, Republican votes favored the GOP message, 65 percent to 27 percent. The GOP's brand isn't in crisis -- it's the only thing keeping them alive.
    I've seen this type of result in other polls, where the majority of respondents align with the issues favored by Democrats over that of Republicans. I assume in those polls they're simply asking questions about the issues and avoiding this concept of branding. So when people objectively weigh in on issues and do so with no hint of partisan taint, they consider themselves Dems by a landslide. However, when allowing for party labels to enter the picture, the sheep bow their heads and meekly shuffle over to their "correct" group.

    It's much like the blind taste test, and it's why so many consumer product companies spend millions upon millions of dollars every year trying to convince us that their brands are the best. Perfect example: bottled water. In test after test, tap water either wins out or is near tops when pitted against expensive bottled water.

    But then people still believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11, that he had WMD, that he was in cahoots with al Qaeda. What can you do? People are going to believe what they want to believe, no matter the facts, and frankly many people are gullible and naive. It also gets back to Thomas Frank's premise in What's The Matter with Kansas?

    Do people have to be this robotic and brainwashed? What's the solution(s)?

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Many evangelical Christians are straying from the flock -- the flock being the GOP. It's about time they woke up and realized that they were used as convenient pawns by Rove/Bush.

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    With Bush's statements about Russia regarding Georgia, he's neck-deep in irony and most likely has not a clue being so:
    With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.
    And invading Iraq of course had none of these things (damaging credibility in free world, bullying, intimidation used to conduct foreign policy)....

    Get ready to witness GW/Cheney's reckless actions over the last few years hoisted back in our faces with provocative, ambitious actions like Russia's move into Georgia. It's OK for us, not OK for them.
    The latest Obama ad is pretty effective, targeted at swing-state Ohio and basically the entire working class. Obama's people should continue to highlight McCain's deep relationships with lobbyists, putting to rest the mythology that McCain is an outside-the-beltway maverick who will bring about dramatic change.

    And for what it's worth, over at Google Trends, by a ratio in excess of 2 to 1 Obama continues to lead McCain in the number or volume of web searches conducted in the U.S., and this ratio remains the same for key states like Ohio and Florida. The aging Straight Talker just can't seem to drum up any interest -- at least not with Americans who own a computer. Has to be that dastardly liberal media at work....

    UPDATE: Please email this ad to friends, family, enemies, etc. It drives home the crucial link between McCain and Bush ("McBush").

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    I'm just now reading the piece in The New Yorker profiling Keith Olbermann. It's a pretty good read but I get to this sentence and pause: "Olbermann’s success, like O’Reilly’s, is evidence of viewer cocooning—the inclination to seek out programming that reinforces one’s own firmly held political views."

    I'm willing to concede that most viewers watching Olbermann most likely agree with the partisan slant of his show, fine, got that, but when will the media stop trying to symetrically compare a Bill O'Reilly with a Keith Olbermann? I watch Olbermann not just because he's a welcome relief from the overt, extreme right-wing slant of Fox (and yet they're "fair and balanced"), but more so because I believe truth and reality is being reported and conveyed on his program. That is a HUGE difference between these two on-air personalities, something that goes far beyond partisan stripes and so-called "cocooning." If I began to even remotely sense that Keith was distorting things here and twisting things there to better get his message across, I would be gone in a heartbeat. Needless to say, O'Reilly does just that, fabricating and distorting on a nightly basis, AND he's called out on it BUT his audience doesn't seem to care.

    That's the big difference, I believe, between Keith viewers and O'Reilly viewers. Yes, Keith viewers are going to want a liberal slant to the program content BUT they're also going to expect and demand that whatever is stated on the program is as accurate and truthful as possible, and frankly Olbermann does a pretty darn good job on this front. O'Reilly violates the accuracy and truthful litmus test regularly and yet his audience doesn't seem to care a wit; as long as the warm and comfortable "cocooning" is occurring, they're happy as a clam -- facts be damned.
    Regarding Bush, Georgia and Russia, interesting. Very interesting. Me thinks this entire issue is more complicated and nuanced than people might first believe....

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Here's a shocker: Mukasey will not seek to prosecute anyone involved in the improper Justice Dept. hirings.

    I've felt this entire scandal has never received the media coverage it deserved. Granted, Bush is a lame duck president on the way out, but that doesn't excuse the media from their duty and responsibility to report on substantive news, esp. if it relates to the desecration of a branch of government.

    Imagine if this scandal broke with Clinton in office. The screeching right would be rioting in the streets, demanding that Clinton step down from office -- regardless if he had just a few months to go.

    Where's the equivalent outrage with GW? Is it Bush fatigue? Very likely -- so many scandals and wrongs that we've become numb to just another revelation of stench.
    Like Daddy, Like Son

    Did GW manage to embolden Georgian President Saakashvili to the point where he felt he could make a move on South Ossetia and have the backing of the U.S.? After all, in 2005 Bush said to the Georgians that "the American people will stand with you." Many Georgians have been quoted over the last few days perplexed as to when the American forces would arrive to help.

    Dimitri Simes, founding president of the Nixon Center in Washington, said, "It is not a happy situation, and we did not have to have this situation, and I think the (Bush) administration has considerable responsibility for that....Saakashvili was discouraged from attacking Russian troops in South Ossetia but he clearly never was told point blank 'If you do it, you are on your own...'" Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations said, "I think in many respects Saakashvili got too close to the United States and the United States got too close to Saakashvili....It made him overreach, it made him feel at the end of the day that the West would come to his assistance if he got into trouble."

    Does this sound familiar? Recall when George H.W. Bush did something similar with the Iraqis in 1991. Bush Senior encouraged Iraqis to rise up and fight back against Saddam, with the inference that the U.S. military would be there to provide the needed support. The people did rise up and fight -- but they were eventually slaughtered when Bush decided he would not support their efforts.

    The Bush (both) legacy is all about building up expectations only to disappoint, immensely, and often with grave consequences. To them promises were made to be broken.
    If you follow polls, then they would have you believe that a majority of Americans favor offshore drilling for oil. Not so fast.

    David Moore, a former Vice President of the Gallup Organization and Managing Editor of the Gallup Poll, has been guest blogging on Kevin Drum's terrific blog and he has written that the true story about offshore drilling's popularity is more complicated than that. Depending on the questions asked and if several approaches to the energy problem are offered, the results can vary. If the poll includes choices such as conservation and alternative energy, then offshore drilling falls dramatically in popularity.

    What I want to know is why haven't Reid/Pelosi/Obama made this point publicly? Why have they allowed McCain and the Republicans to have us believe that most of us indeed favor offshore drilling, when in fact we do not once given the additional choices of conservation and alternative energy?

    Do they wish to lose another close election? The messages need to come fast and furious, and often. is out with a survey finding that:
    62% of U.S. Homeowners believe their home’s value has increased or stayed the same in the past year. In reality, 77% of U.S. homes have declined in value over the past 12 months.
    To a large extent, this simply confirms that humans will be humans, as when most people say they're above-average (then who is average?). But it's also a statement about the times we're in and just how much people have come to expect homes to never depreciate. Time to wake up folks, the game has changed.

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    With Ron Suskind's latest book, which drops the bombshell that the White House gave instructions to the CIA to forge a document to make it look like Iraq and al Qaeda were connected, the administration has done its usual trash-and-dash defense. They try to undermine the credibility of Pulitzer Prize winner Suskind just like they've tried to do in the past with Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh. I suppose we need to wait for the stellar, prize-winning folks over at Fox News to report these scandals for it to be believable....

    As for hoping to get anyone to testify under oath about this plot, just one word -- HAH! That only occurs if you've had consensual oral sex from an intern, not if you've attempted to fabricate intelligence to make a better case to take the country to war. Don't be silly.

    (Needless to say, the usual refrain applies here: Imagine if Ron Suskind's book came out with this revelation and Bill Clinton was in office.... The wingnuts would be screaming for him not just to resign but that he should be jailed for treason -- regardless if he had just a few months left in office. It would be a 24/7 crusade.)

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Assuming Obama wins this November, I'm very interested to see how he decides to run things. The main reason being the influx of scare-mongering is staggering at this point, with many on the right outrightly describing him as a Marxist or a socialist, the viral mass emails spreading fears daily, and even Wal-Mart "warning" that he'll unionize companies.

    If memory serves, before entering office Bill Clinton was likewise warned to be a horror, someone who would end the world as we know it... Meanwhile, GW entered office like a warm-and-fuzzy savior, with all that compassionate conservative BS and one who could reach across the aisle and be reasonable, pragmatic, honest and chock full of ethics.

    Hmm, it would appear Obama has a darn good shot of being quite successful.
    This from Dan Abrams show last week, another example of why the poll numbers for Congress are as low as GW's if not lower:
    ABRAMS: What is the reluctance, if any, do you think on the part of the House to hold Rove in contempt?

    REP. LINDA SANCHEZ, (D-CA) HOUSE JUDICIARY CMTE.: Well, you know, in talking with my colleagues, I‘m not sensing reluctance. The factual situation is the following—we have a very short amount of time left in the term in which to conclude a number of legislative projects. And the problem becomes one of, you know, what takes priority and, you know, what are they going to schedule in September.

    And, you know, I understand that this is something that I would love to see move forward in September, but the reality is, there are a lot of competing projects that are of very huge importance to the American public and so, you know, in September, the speaker is going to make a decision.

    ABRAMS: The bottom line, the bottom line—it sounds to me like bottom line is—you don‘t think anything is going to happen any time soon.

    SANCHEZ: I don‘t know that for sure. We won‘t know until September when they assess what needs to take precedence in the House.
    So it's not that the House is reluctant, mind you, to do the right thing when it comes to Karl Rove -- meaning to treat him as any of us would be treated and that is to swiftly hold him in contempt and arrest him if you must. But no, you see it's more a matter of scheduling priorities, with so many "projects" of "very huge importance to the American public" needing to get passed ASAP. So sorry, there's just not enough time to bring Karl Rove to justice -- not when there is offshore oil drilling to be debated!

    While Bush II is clearly the worst president in history, this Congress cannot rank too highly either. Regarding the Dems, I can't recall a more gutless and overly calculating bunch of placating, pandering do-nothings.

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Cheney is one crazy you-know-what. We're talking Dr. Strangelove nuts (which he would probably take as a compliment).

    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    The question again needs to be asked, what liberal media?
    A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, which conservatives have always regarded as sympathetic, says the three broadcast networks have been more critical of Obama than of John McCain in their recent news coverage. Most of what the networks air is neutral, according to the study. But when reporters offer opinions, 72 percent of those about Obama are negative--compared to 57 percent for McCain.
    McCain continues to get treated with kid-gloves by the media, despite what the right-wing scream machine attempts to have us believe. Incessant, baseless propaganda about the "leftist" media may actually cause their listeners and viewers to buy into this falsehood, but the facts argue otherwise. It wouldn't be the first time reality and truth worked against their talking points and it likely won't be the last.
    Cindy McCain is on record stating her husband will stand for "none of this negative stuff, you won't see that come out of our side at all." Quite laughable. If anything, that's all that's been coming out of the McCain campaign -- negative, negative, and more negative.

    But Jonathan Alter pretty much hits it on the head:
    Look, this thing—it‘s really clear what‘s going on here. You got people in the “National Review,” for instance, a conservative magazine, telling John McCain, “If you don‘t turn into an attack dog and rip Barack Obama and try to depict to him as unpatriotic, you‘re going to lose.” So, this is what they urged him on the cover of that magazine. A lot of other Republican strategists are saying the same thing.

    I happen to think they‘re wrong. I don‘t think that‘s the way for McCain to win, but clearly and his campaign has accepted that advice and they have decided that they have to kind of throw these desperation “Hail Mary” passes that are not going to help him, but it‘s like the ad they had last week that said that Obama created, was responsible for the high gas prices.

    People don‘t believe these kinds of ads. They know this was a scheduling snafu. They know that there wasn‘t any horrible judgment here. The horrible judgment is, supporting a $1 trillion war with people like me and John McCain did at the time. That‘s bad judgment.
    Yes, Alter and McCain got it wrong big-time concerning this catastrophically expensive war, Obama got it right. But with the Olympics coming up soon followed by the Dem convention, apparently McCain's camp has decided their best chance to smear Obama ala Swift Boat style has to come early and often. We're seeing that now. Hopefully Alter is right and "people don't believe these kinds of ads" but we know they've believed fabricated crap before so it may be naive thinking.
    With Sen. Stevens in the news for alleged wrong-doing involving an oil company, it's interesting to recall that in 2005 when the oil executives faced the Senate, Stevens refused to have the executives swear in. Try as Sen. Cantwell might, Stevens adamantly resisted enforcing what is a routine formality at all hearings. It appears as if he was simply looking out for his generous buddies....

    Meanwhile, many of his fellow Republicans are donating (tainted) money given to them by Stevens. But based on his recent quotes, Stevens remains optimistic about his chances in November -- and why not? As much as voters complain about wasteful federal pork spending, such "waste" is looked on in quite a different light when it comes home to them. Of course Stevens has long known this fact as he has brought home the pork in droves to bribe win over his constituents. Same principle applies with negative campaign ads, the public scorns it but unfortunately they work. Once again, we get what we deserve.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Pakistan appears to be showing its true colors:
    American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

    The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

    The American officials also said there was new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
    My favorite sentence in the story:
    Some American officials have begun to suggest that Pakistan is no longer a fully reliable American partner and to advocate some unilateral American action against militants based in the tribal areas.
    You think? Bush created this mess over his eight year reign and though he may be lame he still has a few months to go until exiting, so what does he plan to do about this? Nothing and leave it for the next guy?

    The "war on terror" (Iraq) is gradually evolving into something much more complex and difficult to handle than it was a few years ago or even several months ago. The tentacles are spreading, other interested countries are working behind the scenes, it's getting beyond just a one-country issue. In this case, we see Pakistan use the "war" to perhaps settle a score with a longtime rival, India. Will other countries get increasingly involved to shape the flow of events to their advantage, or are they already involved? It may be a naive question but still one worth asking.