Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Feature, Not A Bug

For Republicans anyway:
A HISTORIC TICKET.... Now that Sarah Palin has been found to have abused her powers, violated state ethics, and lied about it, I did a little digging and found an interesting historical footnote.

The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election.

McCain, of course, was admonished by Senate Ethics Committee "for exercising 'poor judgment' for intervening" with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, as part of the infamous Keating Five scandal.

And now McCain's running mate has also been found to have violated state ethics laws and abused the powers of her office, as part of the "Troopergate" scandal.

The nation has had 102 major-party tickets covering 51 presidential elections over more than two centuries. And we've never had a ticket in which both candidates on the same ticket were responsible for ethics violations before a national election. McCain/Palin is the first.

It makes the whole "reform" pitch a little more difficult, doesn't it?

It's Happening, People, In Real Time

Recently, I've abandoned my safe, cautiously optimistic stance for the riskier full-throated glee in re: the election. I've suspected since February that Obama would win this thing and—given the type of year it is—possibly in a landslide. Well, possibility gives way to probability with each passing day. Here are the latest causes for cheer:

• Obama pops above 50 in Florida.
• His Ohio numbers look good, too. 
• McCain's playing defense West Virginia.West Virginia!
• Purple state senators are distancing themselves from him.
Troopergate report findings and all of the other Bible Spice problems. (Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish has been at the forefront of taking Palin on and his Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin series of posts are not to be missed. He's up to at least 17 documentable falsehoods.)
• Xenophobic, guilt-by-association attacks are failing.
• National poll averages from Pollster, 538, and RealClearPolitics (a rightward leaning site)

It's true anything can happen and dynamics change relatively quickly in politics. But sometimes trends are too entrenched to be turned around quickly and all of the momentum is with Obama and down-ticket Democrats this year. It may still end up being a close race, but it's shaping up to be a rout.

Update: McCain's on defense in other Red states, as well. 
Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain is circling the wagons.

The Republican presidential candidate, with few prospects in Democratic-leaning states, is struggling to hold on to the states George W. Bush won in 2004.

Results of McCain's Kitchen Sink Strategy

About the same as when Clinton tried it…

h/t: Daily Dish

Flash: Pope Catholic, Bears Shit In Woods, Sky Blue!

PALIN FOUND TO HAVE ABUSED POWERS IN TROOPERGATE SCANDAL.... A bipartisan legislative panel investigating Sarah Palin's Troopergate scandal voted unanimously this evening to release a report documenting its findings. Lo and behold, Palin was found to have abused the powers of her office and, despite her claims otherwise, fired the state public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, in because he refused to fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer lady.

Full report here (pdf).


"My Dogs greeting me after returning from 14 months in Iraq"

Could Never Happen Here

The time has come to ask: What might happen to our country if we elect a black Muslim terrorist president?
Dave and Hilzoy have noted some concerns on the part of our friends on the Right that Barack Obama may not actually be what he appears to be -- a centrist Democrat with the most mild of reformist impulses -- but rather a secret radical Manchurian monkey boy, who has spent decades hiding all of his actual beliefs and allegiances, in order to better destroy our very way of life.

This is an interesting theory, which it seems to me they are far too quick to dismiss as barking paranoia, of the classic American style. In the alternative, I'd like to suggest what some might consider a worst-case scenario for an Obama administration -- but one that will seem all too plausible to anyone who is familiar with the ideology and techniques of the Left.

Predictions: Within a few months of Obama's election, a couple of major U.S. cities will be the sites of a huge terrorist attack that kills thousands of Americans. The Obama administration will use this as an excuse for violating our civil liberties on an unprecedented scale, by setting up Gulag-style detention centers, where people will be held for years without any access to the legal system. Some of these people will be, I predict, actually tortured, as we all know the Left is completely dedicated to the idea that the ends justify the means, and that it has no respect for The Rule of Law.…
Read the whole thing. It's spot on. And sad.

"If He Needs More Experience, I Could Give It To Him"


Friday, October 10, 2008

A Dangerous Game

I have to say that, while I probably shouldn't be, I'm actually surprised by how virulent the rage and violent the language has become at McCain and Palin rallies over the past week. I knew it would get ugly, as it always does, but this, this is new—it's becoming dangerous. 

Look, Republicans have always had these tendencies. The language they've used and the policies they've supported have always been divisive and harmful (at least in my lifetime). For a generation, the party's corporate wing has courted and slept with the religious wing nuts to their gain and country's detriment. Limbaugh, Hannity, et. al have been around for decades encouraging the troglodytism which helped feed such a relationship. But the party leaders themselves have usually couched their terrible ideas in coded language. They've usually put a sheen on their destructiveness and kept the passions of their less-hinged members somewhat dampened.

To see such blatant and brazen courting of violent passions as we've seen from the Republicans' rallies lately coming from the national campaign is a little surprising and very unnerving. I suppose we should all be thankful that they've stripped the artifice away and are just going full-bore ahead as the ugly nativist/xenophobic types they are. 

But it's a dangerous game McCain and Palin are playing. Thinking conservatives are abandoning the campaign by the hour, but the hard core, angry, white, white-hot base of their party is scared and prone to violence. Assassinations and political unrest don't happen in a vacuum and M-P, in their unwillingness to confront their angry throngs, are abetting the creation of an violent atmosphere. 


But, hey, I'm a lib, why take my word for it? Here's an open letter, posted in full, to McCain from a lifelong Republican and former supporter:
McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred
By Frank Schaeffer October 10, 2008
John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, "Kill him!" At one of your rallies, someone called out, "Terrorist!" Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee - an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.


John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.

You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.

John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.

Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.

John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever.

We will hold you responsible.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back." 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, John

As a palette-cleanser from the past several posts, and in honor of John Lennon's birthday. He'd have been 68 this year.

Thanks, John.

"He's Got The Bloodlines"

The wha?!? Woo, it's getting hot out there and McCranky and Bible Spice are doing their dead-level best to whip their short bus-riding base into a xenophobic frenzy (not that they needed much encouragement). Have a peek:


Sidewalk to Nowhere

Mad…As a Hatter

Don't know about you guys but I'm filled with White Pride.

Do You Know Who I Am?!?

The Penguin gets cranky...
Writing for the Daily Beast, Michael Kinsley relays a disturbing story about John McCain from Jeff Dearth, former publisher of the New Republic, when Dearth and McCain attended a magazine industry conference at a casino hotel in Puerto Rico in 2005:
Apparently there is some kind of rule or tradition in craps that everyone's hands are supposed to be above the table when the dice are about to be thrown. McCain--"very likely distracted by one of the many people who approached him that evening," Jeff says charitably--apparently was violating this rule. A small middle-aged woman at the table, apparently a "regular," reached out and pulled McCain's arm away. I'll let Jeff take over the story:

"McCain immediately turned to the woman and said between clenched teeth: 'DON'T TOUCH ME.' The woman started to explain...McCain interrupted her: 'DON'T TOUCH ME,' he repeated viciously. The woman again tried to explain. 'DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO?' McCain continued, his voice rising and his hands now raised in the 'bring it on' position. He was red-faced. By this time all the action at the table had stopped. I was completely shocked. McCain had totally lost it, and in the space of about ten seconds. 'Sir, you must be courteous to the other players at the table,' the pit boss said to McCain. "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? ASK ANYBODY AROUND HERE WHO I AM."

This being Puerto Rico, the pit boss might not have known McCain. But the senator continued in full fury--"DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"--and crisis was avoided only when Jeff offered to change places and stand between McCain and the woman who had touched his arm.
Read Kinsley's full piece here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Funny Michigan News

From Politico:
Michigan mess
The fractious Michigan Republicans may not be doing McCain-Palin any favors by keeping the story that he's abandoned the state alive. They're now petitioning for a Palin visit.

The Democrats have answered with a petition to bring Tina Fey to Michigan.

A Knuckledragger Surge

Looks like the California anti-marriage equality proposition's (Prop 8) campaign has reversed momentum and is gaining ground. Click here for more info on the No on Prop 8 campaign. Click here to contribute. It'll be a sad day indeed, if homophobes can win in California.

"My Fellow Prisoners"

Josh at Talking Points Memo has an interesting catch from a recent McCain stump speech:

Take and double take:
Late Update: For what it's worth, my own hunch is that McCain's just gotten so in the habit of peppering his speeches with gratuitous POW references that it's hard to keep the two things separate.

Latter Update: Longtime TPM Reader GG says I'm being too kind: "If a Dem had made that statement (my fellow prisoners) and in that context, the repubs would loudly proclaim the man mad as a hatter and unfit for the presidency. And judging from other recent actions, he may very well be unfit and it would not be a service to the country to gloss it over."

Who Sarah's Been Palin Around With

Turnabout being fair play and all, I thought this is worth airing:

She's Not Going Back

Gore's 2000 campaign manager, Donna Brazile, tells it how it is.

The McCain-Palin Base

Makes you proud, dudn't it?

h/t: Daily Dish

Another Post-Debate Thought

President Obama. President Barack Obama. 

Get used to saying it, my friends™. Savor it. Roll it around on the tongue. Imagine Bill-O and Hannity cringing every time they hear it. Because this thing is over.*

™ Trademarked phrases registered to John McCain.
* With the ass-covering caveat that anything can happen, of course, like That One™ drinking the blood from a freshly sacrificed baby for instance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Breaking News!

I've decided to support a new candidate this election:

Post-Debate Thoughts

Don't have the energy for real analysis, so just some random thoughts and observations. 

I like these town hall debates. The format is just far more interesting than standing at lecturns. So naturally, I think this was a much better debate than last month's. Both candidates held their own. No knockout punchs, no campaign killing gaffes. 

I think Obama was much better in this format than at the last debate. He strode around the hall confidently and was at ease talking to the questioners. His answers were generally more coherent than McCain's and he tied them back to the everyman more frequently and fluidly than McCain. 

Also, Obama had a physical advantage, however unfair that may be. He has a much smoother and more confident gait. He's taller. McCain moved in strange staccato motions. He wheezed at times. Sounded old. 

Funny, it seems as though they traded far more shots than at the last debate. I had one eye on CNN's live debate dial tracker and early on the dials went way down whenever either of them invoked the other's name to attack them. Yet it also seems like it was more substantive debate. They more or less answered the questions and clashed over the issues and their records. 

McCain had several awkward moments, though they were almost strangely endearing. He made some of his usual lame jokes, though not nearly as many (or as bad) as last month. At one point, apropos of nothing, he told Brokaw that he wasn't on his list for Treasury Secretary. At another, he claims he knows how to "get bin Laden"; doesn't clue us in. Worst awkward moment: he points to Obama and calls him "that one". That line was just odd and slightly creepy, especially given the violent tone of McCain and Palin rallies lately.

Obama had a few awkward moments himself, but also had some strong moments. He nailed McCain on the "bomb, Iran" thing. Had a great line with "Yeah, I don't understand why we attacked a country that had nothing to do with 9/11." Wants to crush al Qaeda and go after bin Laden. 

On health care: McCain says health care is a responsibility; Obama says it's a right. 

About those dial tracks: Independents tracked with Democrats more often, and liked Obama more than McCain. This is a good thing. That said, all I learned was that partisans are predictable and independents are fickle. Oh, and the sun rises in the east.

On style and substance, I give Obama the win on this one. I bet the polls agree. 

That One

How McCain refers to Obama at one point about half way through. Weird. 

Okay, So I Lied.

We're twenty minutes in and McCain sounds winded. He keeps gasping on inhales in between sentences. Will this be a subconscious indicator of age and ill health and damage his chances?

No Debate Live-Blog

Will not be live-blogging tonight. Be back after the debate for analysis. 

It's about to start. Enjoy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Train In Vain

Speaking of Bible Spice…

The Spice Of Life

John Cole of Balloon Juice has been one of my favorite conservative bloggers for years now.

And like many intellectually honest conservatives, he has publicly chronicled his rapid and complete disillusionment with Republican Party after finally awakening to the fact (obvious to liberals for years) that their party had been taken over by theocratic radicals and anti-democratic charlatans. (Despite being a self-described conservative and having little love for Democrats, he's actually pretty socially liberal.) He cheers for a large and nasty defeat for his former party and has even registered as a Democrat so he could vote for Obama in the primaries. 

All of which is a long way of introducing the guy responsible for the best political neologism of the election cycle, his nick name—brilliant for its concision in getting right to the heart of the matter—for McCain's intellectual giant of a running mate: 

Bible Spice.