Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Turf Wars

Rachel Maddow did an awesome job last evening explaning the state of the race using a football field and some intelligent analysis:

Sorry for the long intro, this clip has the best sound quality. Skip to 2:15 for the story.

State of Mind

The Republicans and Drudge Report and Fox, etc., want you to focus on national numbers. They are citing "internal numbers" but will not reveal their specifics. They are using totally discredited folks like Dick Morris or Zogby to scare you.

Most importantly, though, they may want you to forget we elect our President via a crazy thing called the Electoral College. You know, the mechanism that made all of those Al Gore votes meaningless...

State-by-state, John McCain is just not doing well. It's irrefutable. So breathe deep and stay strong.

Nevada: the state's most respected political reporter says early voting for the Democrats is so overwhelming, the Republicans now have "an almost impossible task."

Ohio: numerous polls show Obama pulling away--ever so slightly--from McCain.

Florida: Republican Governor Charlie Crist (a sensible Republican, who knew?) extended early voting hours and opened up early voting for 12 hours this weekend, providing a huge boost to Obama's intense early voting efforts there. Multiple polls show the race in a dead heat.

Colorado: McCain has all but abandoned the state. Obama's lead has grown in recent days.

Iowa: Obama has been in the lead in every single poll taken since he won the nomination. The majority of polls have him leading by double digits.

New Mexico: All recent polls have Obama anywhere from 50% to 55%.

Pennsylvania: Despite the nervous chatter from people like Ed Rendell, polling in the past few weeks has been great, showing double digit leads. A poll out today shows Obama up 11 points. The average for Obama in the last 10 polls of this state has him at 52% support.

The reason I focus on these states above, is that if Barack Obama wins the Kerry states (of which Obama currently leads in all of them, and which includes Pennsylvania), and if Obama also adds Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico he is President of the United States.

This doesn't even consider or include Virginia, Florida, Ohio, or Missouri-- all states Obama has a strong chance to carry. Also, it doesn't even include Indiana or North Carolina, states where Obama has superior campaign staff operations and where polls show dead heats.

So the big number I keep returning to is 50. McCain and the Republicans may forget this, but in a two man race, if one person has 50 or above, they win. The opponent up against someone with 50%, well, they can't win. No chance. Just because we currently have a President who doesn't like facts or math, doesn't mean math is dead. Trust me: math lives.

The media seems to be ignoring this fact as well. Obama doesn't need to win by 10 points in every state. It would be great, and in many states his strong leads will be excellent buffers against odd factors like race, fraud or error. But in all of these states where Barack Obama is polling at or near 50%, the chances for McCain are not just remote, they are impossible. Even if McCain can surge up from his low 40s in these states, if Obama hits 50%, Obama gets the electoral votes.

I'm nervous as hell. Fighting for anything worth winning will make you nervous. But I just don't see the McCain-Palin strategy right now. Until McCain can pull out a poll (non-internet and non-Zogby) showing Obama behind in either Pennsylvania or Virginia, I'm not nervous with fear. I'm nervous with excitement.

Update (1:15pm PST): New battleground numbers from CNN/Time confirm the pretty stable situation at the state level for Obama--
Colorado: Obama 53, McCain 45
Florida: Obama 51, McCain 47
Georgia: McCain 52, Obama 47
Missouri: McCain 50, Obama 48
Virginia: Obama 53, McCain 44

Friday, October 24, 2008

Closing Days

Barack Obama takes the stage in Leesburg, Virginia on October 22, 2008.

[courtesy of a diary on Daily Kos]

Crashing, Burning

Always an interesting read, Atlantic blogger Marc Ambinder wrote a post recently that Sarah Palin might be heading off the McCain reservation with 2012 in mind. One of his examples of her awkward breaks with McCain was the comment she made in several speeches that Obama was "palling around with terrorists," which apparently was not a McCain campaign line.

Randy Scheunemann, who acts as McCain's chief foreign policy adviser e-mailed Ambinder this about the Palin post:

Just read your post. This is on the record. This is cleared by HQ. It is a fact that Barack Obama was palling around with terrorists. It was a fact before Governor Palin said it in a fully vetted speech and it is fact today. It is bullshit to claim or write anything else.

And that, my friends, is why John McCain will never be President of the United States.

McCain pals around with pathetic thugs who don't get it.

Robin Hood or Sheriff of Nottingham?

John McCain speaking to about 4,000 supporters (kinda small for the closing days of a campaign, no?) in Denver today:

"Senator Obama may say he's trying to soak the rich, but it's the middle class who are going to get put through the wringer, because a lot of his promised tax increase misses the target."

The problem for Republicans is that this just doesn't make obvious sense, and might be why voters aren't biting. McCain is saying that if Obama taxes the wealthier folks to provide relief to the lower earning working class, then this hurts the working class?

I think McCain is trying to have it both ways: Obama will raise everyone's taxes, but Obama will spread the wealth from the top to the bottom.

Which is it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lipstick and Leather Can't Disguise

This is riveting and worth the entire view. The tail end is the best moment.

This country is too great to have such a non-serious, arrogant person trying to be it's Vice President. There is nothing "elitist" about wanting leaders to know the history and facts of the United States. Even in "Non-Real America" here in Los Angeles, I do know what the Constitution says.

GOProject Runway

Who can blame Sarah Palin and her ridiculously expensive clothes?

Dealing with murderous dictators is easy, but telling the sales folks at Neiman's "No" to a $2,500 jacket is next to impossible... right?

I don't mind if the campaign wants to dress her all nice and pretty, but any rational person with actual "American values" would see those price tags and raise an objection. If you can't control your own image, then how can you be respected? What does it say about a woman who doesn't care about something like that? And truly, it's not as if Palin was exerting her brain power thinking through major policy issues or anything.

Then again, Palin never blinks, so...

The funniest aspect to me of all of this clothes hoopla is that Michelle Obama (you know, the wife of That One, who hates America!) wears reasonably priced dresses women can actually afford, while the supposed down-home hockey mom with a heart of gold requires Valentino on her outback back. Go figure.

Then again... Palin might be a victim of just running with a bad fashion crowd-- her closest clothes mentors are the Money Drunk McCains-- Cindy was wearing $300,000 worth of goods on one of the Republican convention nights, and John McCain wears $520 Ferragamo loafers.

Update: Oops. I guess Governor Palin was good at skimming funds off the top even before she met Cindy. Palin has been billing the State of Alaska taxpayers for her children's travel for many months. You know, it's really not a luxury unless someone else pays for it, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Darn That Creeping Socialism

Various reports from CNN's John King, ABC's George Stephanopulous and others indicate that John McCain's campaign is decreasing its efforts in the following states:

Colorado (9 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10), New Hampshire (4), Iowa (7) and New Mexico (5)

The margins in these states vary, but Obama has held consistent leads in them for weeks.

The total electoral vote count for these 5 states is 35 votes. Of the 5, Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado went for Bush in 2004. So, if you add these 35 votes and Pennsylvania to Obama's base of strong blue states, Obama wins the Presidency (and this is even without Obama winning in Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida--remarkable).

Look for abject denials of McCain abandonment from low level state officials, and even from the campaign itself. But watch the ad money in these states, as well as candidate visits to see the truth. Even the McCain campaign admits that it is not spending any additional money in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, and will simply spread the money already allocated into a few more days of ads.

The reality on the ground, as early voting begins in many states, is that McCain is running out of options.

Monday, October 20, 2008

15 Days to Go

Using current polling and my fortunate, dual Joe Six-pack/Plumber political instinct, here is the current JJD Electoral College map (with my most conservative estimates made). Blue states are most likely Obama states. Yellow states are potential pick-ups. All in, Obama is already at 273 electoral votes with this map, surpassing the needed 270. The amazing aspect to this 273 number is that Obama arrives there without Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Missouri, which are all strong potential wins for him (and listed in descending order of likelihood to win).

All told, with the national polling at about 5+ points for Obama, and with the extremely good state polling news (he's consitently ahead in Virginia and even more ahead in Pennsylvania) Obama is sitting in a very comfortable driver's seat, especially if he wants to win big enough to avoid the vote machine problems and other shenanigans the GOP pulls out every time. In fact, with the various state combinations available to Obama, it is hard to see how McCain can pull this off unless he sweeps Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

That's a tall order for an angry old guy.

Update: John King on CNN said late this afternoon that McCain campaign sources consider both Iowa and New Mexico as battlegrounds already lost to Obama. The sources also conclude that Colorado is all but lost to Obama (which is interesting because they sent Palin there tonight). King reports that the McCain campaign is deciding to strongly contest Pennsylvania as part of their victory strategy. Polling for weeks in Pennsylvania has shown Obama with a 8-10 point lead. On a state-by-state level, McCain-Palin is slowly losing good options.

Group Think

You may recall, all three of you, a recent post I wrote describing Barack Obama as the staid and steady institution (he as the Arch) when compared to flimsy Sarah Palin (she as the floating riverboat McDonald's).

Well here's one more St. Louis-based contrasting of images for you:

Barack Obama attracted 80,000-100,000 citizens to hear him speak under the Arch this weekend (and another 75,000 in Kansas City, Missouri).

This morning, John McCain attracted 2,000 in suburban St. Louis.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Leading Print Vindicators

Their influence waning, the great beasts of print media are looking to the future.

Senator Barack Obama is starting to rack up some impressive newspaper nods:

The Washington Post

...Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

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.

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

Allegedly coming Sunday:
The New York Times

Left Coast(ing)

Our recent heat wave isn't just weather-related... today SurveyUSA has a California poll out:

Obama 59%
McCain 35%

Which isn't the biggest news in the world, obviously. However, the 24 point margin does strongly suggest --if the number holds, which I suspect it just might-- that Obama will have some significant Golden State help in keeping the national popular vote total close enough to hopefully prevent a "Bush 2000" scenario of an Electoral Vote win but popular vote loss.

Keep in mind that in 2004, John Kerry won California by only 10 points, 54% to Bush's 44%. And in 2000, Al Gore didn't fare much better margin wise, beating Bush by 11 points, 53% to 42%.

Something to keep in mind: 60% in California is a huge number... even for a Democrat.

Nothing from Nothing

Life gets in the way and I haven't posted in two days.

How many posts? Zero.

Senator McCain is shocked.

More soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Assumption High

John McCain made a very big assumption in his campaign for President, one that seems to be at the core of his consistent failure to connect with voters: he assumed everyone knew who he was.

Just because you've been around forever doesn't mean people know you. I still don't have any idea why McCain wants to be President. Saying you put Country First is not a platform for anything. It's actually uninformative and silly. Most Americans expect their President to put Country First. It's almost as if McCain's motto was "America Forever" or something.

So... because John McCain has not offered up any original ideas nor an overarching vision for America and because he no longer looks like any shade of maverick but rather just plain shady, the guy has a huge task ahead of him tonight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Barack Obama is up 14 points in today's New York Times/CBS poll:

Obama-Biden 53%
McCain-Palin 39%

Obama made huge gains with independents and white voters, and consolidated self-identified former Clinton supporters.

It's safe to say he has a sustained, solid wind at his back for tomorrow's debate. Hopefully he'll use this to turn in his best debate performance yet.

Department of Slime

Huffington Post is reporting that the man tapped to be in charge of McCain's most-likely-not-going-to-happen-please transition to the White House was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein.

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.

The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein's government.

During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.

Timmons' activities occurred in the years following the first Gulf War, when Washington considered Iraq to be a rogue enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism. His dealings on behalf of the deceased Iraqi leader stand in stark contrast to the views his current employer held at the time.

Brilliant. Now... while the media even mention this?

Ready to Go

Tomorrow's debate is entirely focused on issues related to the economy.

Recall that the Obama campaign pushed hard to have the first debate in Tennessee changed from the economy to foreign policy issues. At the time, for political nerds like me, it seemed odd for them to want to start the debates within what was perceived to be Obama's weaker policy realm. But Obama nailed that debate. Even more importantly, that debate solidified his standing on trust and leadership traits with voters.

Now, Obama has the stronger turf ready for the taking tomorrow night. I suspect that this final debate will have the most viewers, and as the last major joint appearance it will provide the final series of soundbites and clips that voters will be exposed to right up until Election Day.

There's always risk involved, but making this the economic debate minimized Obama's risks.

That's some darn good strategy. Finally, a Democrat that wants to win big.

Frum Pudding

Last night on Rachel Maddow the "conservative" writer David Frum was a guest. By all accounts, Frum was asked to come onto the show to discuss the state of political discourse in light of McCain and Palin's recent crowd troubles (not the size lies, but the mob chants).

Instead, Frum decided to chastise Maddow's use of humor and sarcasm and to claim that by being smart and flip, she contributes to the poisonous political discourse. He equated her show with dirty politics. Frum was arrogant, oddly personal and rude. Maddow was the model of supreme restraint.

But even worse is the disgusting irony lost in Frum's self-important rant-- Frum was demanding that the political discourse needed to be raised in America while blatantly disrespecting someone.

That's modern American conservatism in the Age of Rove for you.

The funniest aspect to this is that Maddow's show is probably the most calm, straightforward and sensible of any cable show out there. Unlike most other shows, it isn't about her ego but the facts.

For evidence of Frum's sad ego, watch the clip from the show.

Size Issues

More crowd size lies!

Looks like Mathematics is in the tank for Obama, my friends.

McCain's campaign is fibbing about the size of rally crowds -- again. The campaign claimed an impressive 20,000 showed up in Virginia Beach yesterday. But the actual venue where the rally was held allows a maximum of 16,000 people. And the local fire marshall (in the tank) says the crowd was about 12,000.

Maybe Diebold tallies up the McCain rallies?

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Bridge to Somewhere

Enjoy your visit to lovely Davenport, Iowa tomorrow Senator McCain!

As you can see, Senator, another poll out today solidly confirms that the birthplace of Joe Justice is not interested in you. Another recent poll shows the same, sad story. Hawkeyes do not like phony Mavericks.

IA-President Oct 10 SurveyUSA Obama (D) 54%, McCain (R) 41%

IA-President Oct 1 Res. 2000 Obama (D) 55%, McCain (R) 39%

But what a place to kill some time! I'd suggest a stop at Rudy's Tacos. And you're old so you love ice cream, right? Be sure to hit Whitey's Ice Cream (what an ironic stop for you, in light of the race-tinged campaign you are waging!).

Have a great weekend.

Taking Chances

Today's Newsweek poll has Obama surging over McCain with an eleven point lead, 52% to 41%. This closely mirrors what Gallup's daily monitoring for the week has shown.

But the real significant item about the poll is this: "An astounding 86 percent of voters now say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States..." which leads to this: "Asked which ticket they thought was most likely to bring about change if elected, voters said Obama-Biden over McCain-Palin 52 percent to 37 percent. A month ago, Obama-Biden led by only five points, 47 percent to 42 percent."

This raises an interesting aspect to Obama's momentum as of late-- it's just as connected to the concept of change as it is to the spiralling economy.

Which suggests that all of these "the only thing that can save McCain is a terrorist attack" stories and their ilk that I'm reading all over the web might be missing a deeper, larger shift among the voters. If Obama's current trending is actually based, in part, on the powerful and inherent message of change he represents, it is far from certain a major foreign policy disaster at home or abroad would bring the Rovian jolt to the race McCain needs.

The dominating mood reflected by this Newsweek polling reminds me of an interchange I read from a Time magazine reporter recently talking to folks down in Northwest Missouri:

I soon gathered that six of the eight adults standing in that driveway planned to vote for Obama in November. Their support ranged from enthusiastic to reluctant. And of course, there's nothing scientific about one driveway. But I heard similar things throughout my trip. Among white voters, Obama appeared to be rising on a pile of empty wallets. Many folks in Lincoln County shared that impression.

"Who do you think will win around here?" I asked.

"Obama," Robbie Haggard answered flatly, and several others agreed.

"But Missouri's always been Republican," Pyle protested.

"I think Missouri's had about enough," Holly Haggard said.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Desperate Louse Lies

Today Barack Obama is smartly taunting grumpy Gramps McCain for his unwillingness to utter his many recent character attacks straight to Obama's face. It is yet another undeniable example of the poetic reversal of rhetorical fortunes that has taken place between the political parties since 2004.

Abject failure on all policy levels is hard to hide with fear or smear.

And McCain's recent failure (Josh Marshall is calling it "cowardice", which may be apt) to confront Obama on the side issues of past associations-- or whatever sludge that is the Republican's trade-- during the 2nd debate is pretty striking. McCain obviously surmises that the voters are not interested in these things (in public, that is). McCain surely knows that raising them directly during a Presidential debate threatens to stink up the already moldy Maverick brand McCain once clung to.

As they say in the Midwest, and maybe even in Alaska, "put up or shut up."

And so in the rational world, McCain lost his shot. The debate in Tennessee was a last chance lost. Of course, we all think, John McCain cannot bring these "issues" up in the final debate. In his last major audience with the country, such a move seems like a false one, a bad one. As Americans bear down and tune in and take the election semi-seriously, McCain cannot afford to spoon feed the electorate with such dirty distractions. It would leave a final, bitter after taste in the mouths of voters that no candidate can serve up in the final days of a campaign, not if victory is desired.


Well, hold on. Throughout the past many weeks, John McCain has proven he operates in a non-rational world. He is not a serious person. It is not beneath him to bluntly disrespect the country he claims to place first. He blatantly lies about facts easily righted with a brain and a Google. He runs silly political ads comparing a fellow United States Senator to a whack pop star, or even worse claiming this fellow Senator (a father of young girls) supports sex education for little children. He bows to advisor pressure and selects an unprepared, anti-knowledge running mate with a grossly oversized sense of self. He fake suspends his campaign and rushes to Washington... for an expensive dinner with the self-impressed Liebermans. He jokes about hair plugs during a debate. He still thinks he can win Iowa. Etc.

So next Wednesday, I wouldn't put it past John McCain to bring along that barrel of monkeys (Ayers, Wright, and more). McCain has nothing left, and nothing left to lose. His recklessness is on record.

And if there is one thing John McCain has never missed an opportunity to remind us, it's that he isn't afraid to crash the plane.

Couples Therapy

Some cable outlets merely alluded to the fact that Barack Obama and Michelle stayed behind in the debate hall in Tennessee for a considerable amount of time after the 2nd Presidential debate had ended.

It's a minor happening, but it speaks volumes.

Wonkette has a good timeline of what the objective C-SPAN cameras revealed once the cable cameras shut off. Gramps McCain and Cindy bolted, and fast (Country First!), while Barack and Michelle took the ultra-elite tack and stayed behind, chatting, taking pictures, and generally engaging with the, um, actual voters that were there.

Makes me wonder: who really wants this thing more?

Or better yet: who actually enjoys the campaign?

I tell you, my friends... that one might be a celebrity, but he's got a common touch and confident political sensibility that McCain cannot match.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


After another solid, serious debate performance, Obama nabs a crowd of 10,000 on a rainy weekday in Indianapolis (other estimates place the crowd around 12,000).

“I can take four more weeks of John McCain’s attacks,” Obama told the huge crowd, “but America can’t take four more years of John McCain’s Bush policies.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

For McCain, It's the Pitts

Greg Sargent at TPM reports both Bill and Hillary Clinton will appear with Joe Biden in the Scranton area sometime this coming Sunday.

This is in light of recent polls showing Obama leaping away from McCain in the Keystone State-- today's Rasmussen poll shows Obama up a staggering 13 points, 54% to 41%. Other polls in the past few days give Obama a similar lead range: between 10 and 15 points.

So the question is: how long before cash strapped McCain makes a tough decision and bails out of PA?

Or, more pointedly, does McCain have a better shot at Virginia, Florida or Pennsylvania?

If these numbers hold, the legal limitations on how McCain spends his money will demand a few tough choices be made, and soon.

Our Town (Hall)

Obama: Calm, steady, focused on question and questioner. Push economic policy hard. Will mention his little girls. Push that he is in touch. References to swing states like Virginia, Ohio, Florida. Mention his work as a state senator. Drinking Game Terms: Malia and Sasha, Chicago, Bring People Together, Responsible. Drink Twice Bonus Term: Hillary Clinton.

McCain: Attempt to highlight folksy side. Will mention Palin several times. Will push old school idea that Democrats want to raise taxes. Push Iraq surge. Will pathetically blame Obama for the negativity from McCain's campaign, due to Obama's rejection of weekly town halls early in campaign. Drinking Game Terms: My friends, Make them famous, Workforce, Maverick. Drink Twice Bonus Term: Joe Lieberman.

Open Issues: Who will move around the most? Will McCain make overt attempts to look at Obama? Will either move into the others' designated area, like Bush consistently did to Gore in 2000? Will Brokaw offer any follow-ups? Will any one voter/questioner become the star of the night? Will any questions involve Gramm/Keating/Ayers/Wright? How many parents of soldiers in Iraq will get to ask questions? How many bad jokes will McCain attempt to tell?

JJD Electoral Map

As of October 7, 2008, this is where it seems to stand:

The polling is undeniable that Obama has surged in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. McCain's camp believes they have a shot in Pennsylvania, but now that the economy is front and center (finally) I sincerely doubt they have one there anymore. No one will report this, but I do suspect Joe Biden has helped Obama shore up a considerable number of votes in PA.

And Minnesota didn't even fall for Reagan, you guys. They aren't going to fall for McCain-Palin.

A few recent polls show Missouri is closer than I would have thought. You never know. I'm sure the Governor's race there-- Democrat Jay Nixon has a good lead-- helps Obama with a few (needed) points.

This map has Obama with 264 EVs and McCain with 163 EVs. Who would you rather be at this stage?

(Note: you can click on the individual states to see how many electoral votes each has, or to change the state color to view different scenerios).

Northern Exposure

I don't consider Alaska to be part of the United States.

There, I said it. And I've been slowly revealing this opinion of mine to co-workers and friends alike. And most, if not all of them, are sympathetic to this sentiment (even the Republicans).

First, I don't know what Alaskan values are. I don't see any values, really, emanating from the Palin family, that seem admirable. A short list of facts about the Palin brood: a recent teenage pregnancy and alleged drug use, a young son in trouble and therefore shipped to War, the abandonment of a newborn with down's syndrome to mommy's ambition, and the systemic abuse of power at work (including the personal destruction of those who disagree).

Second, how often has Palin been around the country as a mere citizen? The press never explains if she has. What states did she visit? How can Palin relate to Iowa, to California, to Florida, to Colorado from a brief, frenzied rally? I have no idea what Alaska is like. I'd never run up there and try to take charge of the government. I'm not even sure I know enough about the states surrounding my own to do such a thing.

My point is this: why are we allowing this woman to assume a mantle of supreme patriotism and knowledge of America, when she is not exactly of America?

For the last several months, right wing pundits have derided Obama's birthplace of Hawaii as an example of his "otherness." If this is their take, how can they support Palin? Unlike Palin, Barack Obama eventually made his way onto the mainland. He was schooled here, he has worked here, he has built a family and a home here. He is a United States Senator for a state in the Heartland, for pete's sake.

But with Palin the standard is different (plus, she's white!). Because she talks mean and shoots guns we are all prevented from asking: Who heck is Sarah Palin?

Honestly, under normal electoral circumstances, my instinct would be to not care. I've seen enough to know Sarah Palin is obviously a misguided, paranoid woman with no set of values beyond babies, drilling and killing. So, fine. I would like to turn away and fill my time with more purposeful pursuits, such as the election of Barack Obama as President.

There's just one little thing.

Sarah Palin is messing with the national fabric in a deeply destructive way. She is wandering around the real United States these days--my United States- and she's spewing some pretty harmful and divisive language about the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. This week she has deemed it acceptable to essentially call the guy a terrorist who doesn't love America. Her crowds are yelling, "Kill him!" after her words are spoken.

As the biographer of Robert Kennedy, Thurston Clarke, writes today in a post at The Daily Beast:

The line between a political smear that is merely unpleasant and one that is dangerously inflammatory is a matter of judgment, difficult to calibrate, and different depending on the candidate. Justice Potter Stewart’s famous statement is probably the best standard for rendering a judgment. I would argue that Governor Palin crossed the line when she accused Obama of being “not someone who sees America as you and I do—as the greatest force for good in the world…[but] someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” This is an incendiary charge to make seven years after real terrorists killed thousands of Americans, one that risks encouraging extremists to consider Obama fair game—and his assassination as a victory in the war on terror.

People who know me would most likely admit that I love to argue. I like political fights. I'm not averse to the ugly side. But there's ugly and then there's Palin.

Whoever wins this election will need to govern. The real America (down here in the lower 48) is having a crappy time. There's no way around it. It is weighing upon every one of us. It starts at the front door every day when you leave: the gas in your car costs a lot, the neighborhood around your house is falling apart, once you leave the driveway it's evident the roads aren't being kept up, the traffic is simply awful, the people driving are nasty, the office is crazy because you are essentially working two jobs, the food prices at lunch are astronomical, and so on... this doesn't even include the pressures of family, of children and parents at every stage. Education. Health care. It's endless. And no matter your walk of life these days, the closer you look around the more you understand the unyielding, serious set of problems the country faces.

Does Palin understand the American condition right now?

All she speaks of, as a voice for John McCain, is snark and hate. Condescension. Division. Nastiness. Arrogant, uniformed generalities. She is speaking as if there are no problems. She is delivering speeches based upon pure and simple delusion.

With a fragmented, insecure media, no one will make Palin stop. Senator McCain has proven he maintains no control over his impulses once they have been put into thoughtless motion.

So for the next few weeks we must endure the drive-by insults of a self-impressed princess. I didn't think America could get much worse. Palin is proving me wrong.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Diminishing Returns?

I noticed this weekend that on a gloomy Saturday in Carson, CA the crowd that turned up to hear Sarah Palin spew her perky talking points was estimated at about 8,000 people. Now, that's a big crowd where I come from in the Midwest. But in the ultra-conservative Carson area and the heavily-populated surrounding area (where there is a great IKEA and Chili's... no lie) that is surely not a big crowd, especially on a not-sunny Saturday.

And now this from The McCain campaign says they won't release crowd counts any more... (which is funny because as I've posted earlier all of McCain camp's early bigtime numbers were total lies).

A Florida paper puts the crowd size at today's Palin rally at 4,500.

Maybe it's just more fun to watch her on Saturday Nights?

America Knows B.O.

Today in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Senator McCain plans to go hard after what McCain calls Obama's "touchiness" when it comes to his record. In some ways, this is the inverse of Karl Rove's political theory--attack your opponent's strength--as McCain is essentially attacking Obama for perceived flaws that McCain has, not ones Obama has.

Voters know that Barack Obama has been running for President for over one year now. They have had constant, successive opportunities to witness him in various venues. Not once, not in any clear instance in public, has Senator Obama appeared annoyed or sarcastic or even "touchy."

The extremely touchy guy running for the White House is John McCain. Lately, McCain cannot be questioned about anything at all, and everyone knows this. Just ask the Des Moines Register Editorial Board. Or just watch McCain debate. He can't even look at Obama.

Here is a key graph from McCain's prepared remarks today:

My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story with Senator Obama. All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.

The true problem with this, is that it might have worked, oh one year ago. It might have worked if Obama was a totally new force on the political scene.

But Obama is not new. He's the opposite of new. Obama has been wandering around the United States for many months now. He's been everywhere. Answering questions, giving speeches, explaining himself. Didn't McCain even complain about this? How Obama was a "celebrity" figure in the world?

The other aspect of this is that Obama reacts with umbrage when questioned. Again, this is McCain and his snarly sidekick Palin. Not Obama.

The unspoken reality is just bad news for the Republicans: John McCain knows who Obama is but he does not like what he sees. However, a growing number of Americans now know who Obama is and they do like what they see.

So, essentially, we have a losing candidate with a well documented, nasty temper standing up in a crowd and screaming: "But you don't even know this guy!"

Again, this strategy might have worked earlier in the campaign. But another factor suggesting this strategy would have never worked for McCain is that, well, we don't really know McCain. And the more we do find out, the less appealing he becomes.

McCain ran for his party's nomination without having to reveal much about himself beyond an old narrative. "Vote for me-- I was a P.O.W. and am a Maverick." The GOP looked at Mitt Romney and Huckabee and Fred Thompson and thought... well... we better go with the war hero.

But besides the well worn heroics of the distant past--does John McCain have any significant legislative accomplishments after 26 years in Congress? (And you can't count campaign finance, because McCain now breaks the very finance laws he created.) What are the issues McCain is passionate about? What are his new policy ideas? Who the heck is John McCain?

But the most thrilling height of the hypocrisy of this approach arises when Winky Palin swings it around. Who the heck is this lady? She won't give serious interviews or answer questions from non-screened voters. Does she have a single non-energy issue she cares about? Who knows.

McCain can push this fear-based approach as hard as he wants. But it's a total concrete wall in terms of political strategy. It just reinforces the image people now have about John McCain, that he is erratic, angry and out of touch.

In fact, John McCain is so out of touch, he doesn't seem to know that this Obama guy, well, he's been running for the White House gig for quite a while now. And now America knows.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Teeny Tiny, Buck!

Little Bill O'Reilly totally made my Friday:

Have a great weekend.

Trojan Moose

In brief:

Sarah Palin is a cynical, paranoid impostor. She has proven no capacity for analytical thought, on any level. It is hilarious and also incredibly sad to watch anyone attempt to defend her inanity. All the compliments from the Right celebrate her performance. Even Peggy Noonan today lavished odd praise on Palin (a VP pick Noonan once called, off microphone, "cynical") but that praise was all about superficial traits and fuzzy narrative. Noonan unintentionally nailed it when she noted, "Palin [she] is not a person of thought but of action."

Well, exactly. Sarah Palin is an actress. She is a tourist.

Joe Biden is smart, tough and a gentleman. He demonstrated restraint and good judgment. He doesn't need an ounce of defending. He was pitch perfect. Barack Obama chose a great partner and counselor.

About Gwen Ifill: What do you call a moderator who does not insist the actual questions that have been asked be answered? Why even ask questions if they are ignored? Why not just let Palin stand there and host a PowerPoint presentation?

Finally: Why ask about civil unions in these debates, at all? They are being determined at the state level. Can we drop the farce of bringing up Gays in every debate, just to allow the Republicans to sputter mildly PC answers about "tolerance" and "contracts" between adults. What sublime arrogance. The posture of those who believe they are superior. Sarah Palin raises an unmarried, pregnant teenager and thinks she has the moral high ground on me. What a disgusting display. Keep your tolerance, sister. We all pay the same taxes; we should all have the same rights. Darn right.

Oh and after the classless way Palin completely ignored Biden's poignant discussion of his family tragedy, in conjunction with the entirety that is John McCain, might a suggest a new slogan for the false Mavericks: McCain-Palin: Shrill, Baby, Shrill

Update (10/6): Frank Rich noticed this non-class moment in this Sunday's NYT and wrote (well):

But the debate’s most telling passage arrived when Biden welled up in recounting his days as a single father after his first wife and one of his children were killed in a car crash. Palin’s perky response — she immediately started selling McCain as a “consummate maverick” again — was as emotionally disconnected as Michael Dukakis’s notoriously cerebral answer to the hypothetical 1988 debate question about his wife being “raped and murdered.” If, as some feel, Obama is cool, Palin is ice cold. She didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s devastating personal history.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flips and Fries

One of the greatest memories I have of St. Louis as a child is that the city had a McDonald's that floated on a mid-sized white and yellow showboat resting on the choppy Mississippi. It was larger than life and not something you would see everyday. In the shadow of the great Arch, there was a time when I honestly believed that boat was the true tourist destination by the River. Running down the hill and across the tiny footbridge to the boat it was a novelty only a child could love. My parents would follow along, obligingly place the happy meal in front of me and sit back. I would dig in.

But in the end, it was just a McDonald's. The burgers tasted the same and the fries were just as soggy.

And I learned I liked seeing the Arch more.

Governor Sarah Palin finds herself stuck in old St. Louis tonight. She is a novice politician with almost no experience in either thinking or speaking about national or international policy issues. Her recent soft media interviews have revealed a paranoid and easily flustered individual, a woman that appears to have no honest sense of self. We were told she had a fighting spirit. What we have witnessed is a dispiriting display of misguided fight.

And yet the weight of the potential presidency of her newfound best friend, Senator John McCain, rests heavily on Palin's shoulders tonight.

Only in America, my friends. Or only in the lower 48.

It is odd that a successful politician like McCain would take a risk like Palin. No matter how much he wants to be viewed as the Maverick, or wants to shake things up, there's way more than an element of insanity in the pick. Because with just a modicum of focus, any rational person would be able to sit down and look at Ms. Palin's history and quickly observe the basic reality of it all: Sarah Palin is the floating McDonald's.

The spectacle of her selection looked and sounded wildly interesting, at first. Everyone ran down the hill to see what it was all about. But after a moment, it was clearly the same product. Some are slower to admit the truth of that, and many never will. They like the gimmick. They don't see the harm. They're hopeless.

Palin's answers tonight will most definitely be warmed over talking points and political games engineered by the very awkward white men that have been running the Republican Party for years. The packaging will look, dare I say, prettier, but the ideas are the same. Only a child could continue to thrill at the superficial imagery of it all, once the ideas are known.

The Republicans surely thought, throughout the past year, that Barack Obama was the floating McDonald's. They derided the crowds and the excitement and the cash as mere childish excitement based on an image. But over the year it is evident Obama is not the flash on the water. Sorry Republican friends, but Obama is the Arch. He was new, he was unconventional. But he has worn well. He has taken hits and remained strong. He's become the institution. Obama's rise has always been based on more than just the surface.

After Gibson and Hannity and Couric, it is safe to assume it will take a minor miracle for Palin to show up tonight and demonstrate even a rudimentary level of mastery of her own person. It could happen. But in the end, even if the magic flip occurs, the mystery has already been dissolved. The showboat still serves up the same soggy grub.

Back to School

A Drudge Report headline for an AP article:

A definition from Blind sight: The ability of a blind person to sense the presence of a light source.

A definition from MSN Encarta: Blindsided: attack when vulnerable: to take somebody unawares suddenly, with detrimental results to that person.

As in, Matt Drudge's readers are often blindsided by improper grammar and misleading reporting.

UPDATE (1014am): I messaged Drudge and it has been changed: BLIND-SIDED: DID NOT INFORM COMMISSION ABOUT 'AGE OF OBAMA' BOOK...
Nerds unite.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Privacy Please

Forget the Supreme Court cases she can't think of-- Palin just unequivocally endorsed a Right to Privacy in the Constitution!

That is heresy for Conservatives!

Keep an eye out for the McCain camp "clarification" of the remark. Although I'm not sure how you clarify a flat out "Yes" in response to a very direct question.

Clearly, Palin has no idea what she is being asked or the consequences of her answers.

Clip to come.

Couric: Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

Palin: I do. Yeah, I do.

Couric: The cornerstone of Roe v. Wade.

Palin: I do. And I believe that individual states can best handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in an issue like that.

If a Debate Occurs in a Forest...

"Senator, I knew Old Leaning Oak Tree, and you are no Old Leaning Oak Tree."

That Ifill Book

Matt Drudge is making a whole bunch of hay about the recently revealed fact that VP debate moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS is releasing a book in January entitled, "Age of Obama".

I read the headline late last evening and thought the concept was a tad inappropriate for the circumstances, considering Gwen's role as moderator.

But guess what-- like most Drudge sludge, that is not the whole story.

First, the book is entitled, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama" and not "Age of Obama."

Second, Drudge quotes the publisher's notes to say the book sheds "new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign."

However, the full publisher's notes reveal the following:

"In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power. Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history."

So truly this book is not a love letter to Obama. It is a historical examination of politics and race and recent developments.

If you want to know why blogs and CW-loving websites are ignoring the "story" on Drudge, that is why. There is no story. The McCain camp wants a reason to pull Palin out of the debate.

They don't have one.

Pass the Strategery

Mike Murphy at Time brings up a point GOP operatives are making about McCain's recent Des Moines Register editorial board sideshow (clip below) a point I thought immediately when I heard McCain would be doing an economic round-table in Des Moines-- why the hell is McCain in Iowa right now?

There is almost one month left in this campaign. Why is John McCain in a state he has no chance of winning?

Argue that point all you wish, but for a man with diminishing days to make his case, it makes no sense to be traipsing around a Midwestern state that never liked you and never will.

The McCain's folks have no overarching political strategy. As Ana Marie Cox mentioned on Rachel Maddow last night, the McCain people don't play chess, they play checkers. It's all small bore. They want to win the news cycle. That's it. And maybe stoke the base.

After that, it's Hail Marys for everyone and nothing more. Insanity.