Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Between Sen. John McCain and his chosen running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, it's hard to tell who's the biggest liar.

Palin, oh so Bush-like, on what news sources she "reads":

Then there's her lie about her role as Governor protecting U.S. airspace from Russian flyovers, then there's a witness flipping against her once under oath in the Troopergate scandal.

But what about "Crash" McCain? Is he gamblin' that no one will have any videotape of him from just yesterday blaming Obama for the failure of the bailout bill when he lies about his supposed call to suspend fingerpointing?

And does he know he and his campaign is lying like bastards when they take a quote of Obama's out of context, completely flipping it around to pervert its original meaning in a political ad?

They're not the only bullshitters flacking for their ticket. There's Fox News taking an impromptu poll in a Pennsylvania diner, getting an almost unanimous Obama vote, and then baldly spinning it on the spot as "split":

Even the patrons are laughing in the background.

But maybe the most egregious is NBC's Tom Brokaw, who's moderating the second debate between Obama and McCain and taking the helm of Meet the Press post-Russert, even as he acts as NBC's personal liaison to the McCain campaign! And skewing the end of the Sunday morning segment to favor McCain -- by citing outdated polling data:

This is going to get uglier before it gets finished, and I'll reiterate the most important point no matter the poll numbers: Barack Obama is the underdog until November 5th -- win or lose.

Educate the vote.

Monday, September 29, 2008


It didn't have to happen this way. He didn't have to jam himself into the process last Thursday in a lurching attempt to distract attention from his now understood as horrific first "Presidential" decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate. He didn't have to act like he had the power to reschedule the first debate and then show up anyway. He didn't have to act like a contemptuous old man all throughout the debate.

But most of all, he didn't have to take credit for passing the $700,000,000,000 finance bailout bill this morning, several hours before it went down in flames on the House of Representatives floor.

With even North Carolina trending towards Obama, I shudder to think what party Johnny will try to crash next. In the meantime, the stock market crashes the largest point loss in history, a rather novelistic 777 points, something like Gamblin' John likes to roll 'em, and the Republican Party appears to be entirely leaderless.

To rephrase that, there is no single individual leading the Grand Old Party. President Bush may try to speak tomorrow (before the West Coast even wakes us), but no matter his address last week, he's a ghost, unable to control the flow of events, let alone communicate in a clear, credible and compelling fashion to America why this piece of legislation he seems to so desperately want is anything more than the largest transfer of public money to the privately wealthy. He's leaving the U.S. as many of us predicted he left Harkin Energy back when he was a "businessman" -- in financial collapse.

House Minority Leader John Boehner seems to be a semi-leader, any more or less than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Semi as in not really.

And in a system where each nominee assumes control of their party's hearts, minds, direction and apparatus, McCain is clearly flying without controls. He's casting blame on Obama in yet another attempt to distract from his distraction from the uber-distraction of choosing Palin. While claiming that this isn't the time to assign blame. Weird.

Meanwhile, y'course, Obama continues to be calm, centered, smart and rational while calling firmly for renewed action by our elected representatives.

The fact is that there were a lot of real reasons to vote against this hastily assembled bill, and hopefully there will be a more incremental solution, by proportion if still staggering in number, as Robert Reich predicts, hopefully with accuracy. There's even a chance (shudder!) that McCain could have seized victory from the jaws of defeat should a better bill be enacted and the stock and credit markets recover quickly enough, say by the election. But that's tough now that he put his foot in it this morning, seeming to glom credit, even as now he tries to distract away blame.

I'm not one for the hardcore Libertarian position of allowing total bankruptcy, as I've seen pictures and movies of the 1930's breadlines. I'd rather see an equity solution (oh, horrors, how socialiste!) where the taxpayers get the most brutal deal for the spoils, since we're being asked to take the risk.

In the short term, i.e. through the election, this may have been a bold stroke on the part of the Dems, to set up an adult solution nobody wanted to vote for just before their own re-election days and then let the President's party take the fall for not supporting the President's plan. For the rest of us it may mean no auto loans, massive job loss, inability to finance new businesses. For John McCain it may mean the end of his Presidential hopes.

And, most of all, for George W. Bush it means that he's the disastrous frontrunner for Worst President in the history of our Democratic Republic.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Coolest Hand

Paul Newman was the coolest leading man of his generation. He wasn't the historical gamechanger that Marlon Brando was, who preceded him by a few years, nor was he the counterculture hero embraced by the mainstream that Jack Nicholson became. In a certain sense he was a transitory figure, one of the last stars in the studio system, one of the first to achieve independence while remaining astride the box office, a naturalistic actor who didn't have to mumble, a politically and socially conscious actor who made it seem effortless to be so.

It's hard to imagine a world without Newman. He was of my father's generation and had that postwar modernism that looked forward with pleasure but still respected from whence he came. He made it seem like there was somebody sane out there to look up to, a lack of shame between what he did on the big screen and how he lived his life when he was off. By being a man of Westport, CT rather than Los Angeles, CA, he stayed one of us, if maybe having the best time of all of us. What else can you say about a man who took up auto racing at age 47 and ended up building a team?

He was having fun on the screen as well. In his two classic films co-starring Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, he was the brains to Redford's beauty, and the two of them basically invented the buddy film, albeit with more heft than most that followed. There was no couple you'd rather be with, and their interplay was a joy to watch over and over again. What made it work was the very smarts underpinning Newman's performances, that his characters knew their times were running short, making those moments together so much sweeter, and bonding us to Newman for not underestimating our intelligence. Highlights include the early contest for control of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang from the first film, and one of the best poker games ever put on film in the second.

The other two Newman pictures I recall most fondly are Cool Hand Luke and The Verdict. I discovered the former on one of the many Saturday nights when my parents went out and NBC Saturday Night at the Movies was my weekend education. Newman again reinvented the anti-hero, a 1960's symbol without any of the heavy-handed trappings that might date the character now. From the opening scene, the only one in a city and in freedom, a drunken Luke takes the heads off a sidewalk full of parking meters. The lights from the cops shine on him and he gives up that awesome shit-eating grin, and that's it, straight to life on the chain gang and "a failure to communicate." Newman's ability to capture Luke's embrace of the absurdity of his situation, his ability to rally his fellow prisoners by example as much as exhortation, and his shortfall in understanding the true gravity of the world in which he is trapped forged an enduring archetype, the man-child rebel who wouldn't hurt a flea, somehow it itself a threat to the Vietnam-era establishment.

The Verdict, a highlight of Sidney Lumet's directing career as well, takes an opposite tack, telling a story of redemption as a washed-up, alcoholic, ambulance chasing lawyer gets changed by a case that leads him against the very Boston political machine that gave him his career in the first place. Lumet has written about Redford originally being cast in the role and the constant re-writings of David Mamet's original script due to Redford's discomfort in opening the movie as a drunk loser (maybe just a better understanding of his own screen strengths), which all went away when the role went to Newman. The movie builds to a remarkable jury summation scene, delivered in an unbroken take by Newman, and a top-notch open ending on the one dangling plot point -- a telephone ringing while Newman drinks black coffee, a changed man on the brink of a decision of forgiveness, something he himself needed so badly at the start of the film. And we're with him the entire way.

So while it's quite right to be sad that we're living in a world without Paul Newman anymore, there's plenty to celebrate about a long life lived well, with a strong marriage, enduring philanthropy, great performances and damned good salad dressing. The unique, ever-fresh personality of Paul Newman will endure in trove of great movie star roles (and a handful of solid directing efforts) that extends across six-count 'em-six decades, his Hole In the Wall camps for disabled kids, as well as grocery stores everywhere.

Like George Kennedy's Dragline says at the end of Cool Hand Luke:
"He was smiling... That's right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Hell, if they didn't know it 'fore, they could tell right then that they weren't a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. Hell, he's a natural-born world-shaker."
Amen, brother.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I desperately want to write about Paul Newman because he was the coolest movie star when I was a kid and maybe until today, but I hope to do so soon when I have my thoughts collected. But have to note his sad passing -- a great life, but one of the guys you always want around, and it sucks a little more to live in a world without him.

But, Presidential politics junkie that I've been ever since 1968 when my buddy from next door and I argued Humphrey vs. Nixon at the morning bus stop, I can't help but note the watershed it appears (and I believe will be proven on Election Day) happened last night, when John McCain was forced to be on a stage with Barack Obama and, in McCain's own terms for why he never wants to meet with an enemy like Iran, de facto legitimized him.

To put a scalpel to it, McCain created the opening for Obama to legitimize himself to maybe 30 million Americans who may have seen him rarely or never before and had all those lingering preconceptions about him being weightless, elitist, implicitly dangerous. Because if Obama hadn't performed as cleanly as he did, addressing the needs of the American Middle Class while seeming toe-to-toe knowledgeable about foreign affairs, it wouldn't have worked. If he had landed the so-called "knockout blow" to McCain, he would have been seen as an aggressor, opening the "angry black man" meme again.

Instead, when he landed a blow, it was a counterpunch -- most effectively in the bracelet exchange. And, as the theme of this debate was who does or doesn't understand the difference between strategy and tactics, Obama's strategy was fine, mainly because by attacking Obama with lies and aggressive condescension, McCain provided Barack with a target rich environment where he could effective use a scalpel, not a hatchet.

What makes this debate so much more of an epic showdown than most folks I've read or spoken with is that this was quite possibly the most extraordinary weeks you'll ever witness in Presidential politics. You had the collapse of the American investment banking system providing both backdrop and catalyst for the crumbling of the McCain Presidential campaign. Read Frank Rich for a tremendously valuable and searingly entertaining documentation of this past Wednesday, September 24th, the first act in a three-day drama that climaxed Friday night.

Essentially what happened is that the disastrous backstory choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, once the initial flush of gambler's high dissipated into negative approval ratings of the Alaska Governor, has congealed into a failed product, her inability to appear on national television in front of any but the most in-the-bag journalist (Hannity) without bleeding credibility like a hemophiliac in a knife fight.

This hits McCain like a ton of bricks so he goes all in. (This poker metaphor will work even better by Sunday night, as The New York Times article on McCain's gambling and relationship to the Indian and Vegas casinos gets finished being read.) He uses the bailout crisis as a way to grab the headlines away from her (Katie Couric interview) and, it appears, to pretend to suspend his campaign as a tactic to get the first debate suspended, with the dice roller's hope that he'll be able to get the VP debate scuttled and get her elected Vice President without once having to appear again outside of Dominionist fundraisers.

He goes to D.C. and -- this is the most interesting part of the Second Act -- gets humiliated by Obama (and his own lack of preparation) in front of the President, the leaders of the House and Senate, the House Republicans -- everyone in the conference room at the White House. He's supposed to stay for a photo op, but he leaves without speaking to anybody.

So on Friday night the ninety-minute climax turns on McCain's unwillingness to acknowledge his competitor, because he only thinks of him as a challenger and has been shamed by this challenger once this week already. In front of the biggest student council meeting of them all.

A reader identified as a "researcher on social cognition and behavior in primates" sent Josh Marshall the most telling analysis:
I think people really are missing the point about McCain's failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear--look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior--low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.
Pwned, to put it in videogamer terms.

So what next? Will Palin drop out and maybe Rudy step in? Is he the only guy with ego enough to think he would keep McCain from going down and get co-painted with loser colors? Is that why he and his wife just flew with the McCains?

Or is there going to be more tabloid-style distraction from Angry Johnny, i.e. the campaign paying godknowswhat money to Levi Johnston to force a Bristol Palin celebrity-style shotgun wedding before the election? Anything to capture as many news cycles as possible -- is that a strategy of flailing tactictry?

The polls on Monday morning will be telling, because if Obama did indeed turn the dial, adding maybe three more states as likely to vote for him, then McCain either knows he's lost and just lets it play out (which might be reflected by the GOP establishment not pressuring him to drop Palin from the ticket, just let her burn with him) or he makes another insane lurch.

I'd bet on the lurch.

Now, as to the next Obama/McCain debate, the Town Hall-style one that is again supposed to favor McCain, I'm betting you'll see Johnny forcing himself to make a lot of ungainly eye contact with Barack, maybe even use his name, maybe even seem natural or gracious for a moment. But I'm guessing it'll come across as a personality flip, which implies either inauthentic or crazy, while Obama will be the exact same person everybody met in the first debate. It'll be a bit like Al Gore too obviously shifting gears from one debate to another. And I expect Obama to pull some sort of ripcord in the final debate that calls back to some narrative he set up in the first debate.


The Obama campaign, to its great credit, takes nothing for granted even in apparent advance and unleashes a video ad that's strikes at the heart of the Obama supporters lead vocalized fear: what it like on November 5th we all wake up to John McCain as the President Elect?

I can't say with total certainty that Barack Obama will win this crucial election. It's often said that a week can be a lifetime in politics, and this past week surely proved it. But I am certain about one thing, that if Barack Obama wins outright on November 4th and John McCain loses, Sarah Palin and family will suddenly find themselves with a lot fewer friends when they get back home to Alaska, because all those GOP/McCain campaign operatives who are forcing her Attorney General appointee to sue to scuttle the Troopergate investigation, who are keeping a lid on her fiefdom-type acts as Governor, who are keeping Levi Johnston from getting caught with another girl in public and Todd & Sarah out of jail will suddenly evaporate into Alaska Air.

If they do lose, and the drama's finally over, will McCain ever even call her again?

Friday, September 26, 2008


So after getting a panic call from a friend but having had to TiVo the debates due to fatherly duties, I was prepared to see Obama having wilted under McCain's aged superiority.

Instead I saw what has already become the story of the debate -- the George H.W. Bush glance at the watch, the Al Gore sigh. John McCain did not once make contact with Barack Obama during the debate.

Wow, for someone claiming bipartisan credentials, nice way to say, "Contempt."

When I was in London during college and heard then-President Jimmy Carter debating Ronald Reagan, it seemed clear that Carter had won. But the folks watching it on television knew differently. So ever since then I've been cautious about assigning win/loss based even on my own TV viewing. Al Gore won the first 2000 debate on points, but George Bush won it (and I hate to say this) on demeanor. The pundits gave it to Al Gore right after, but a day or so later, nope.

I've been saying for this past rise in the polls that while Obama may be surging, more people are looking for a reason to vote against Obama than are looking for a reason to vote against McCain. So while concerned Obama fans like my friend may fret that he didn't take any opportunity to deliver a single knockout blow, what they may be learning is that Mr. Long-Term Strategy actually did all he needed to do to keep his momentum rolling. He made everyone comfortable voting for him who might be persuaded.

Yes, you can...be President.

The proof:

According to CBS News / Knowledge Networks' poll of undecided voters:

40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.

68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision
about the economy. 41% think McCain would.

49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.

More here, including some really beautiful pics of Michelle Obama and the look of love between the two of them. Establishment pundit, Mark Halperin giving Obama the big A- over McCain B-, with Obama scoring lowest (per my friend) on "Offense: B" and trouncing on "Style". McCain anger management dissected on TPM. And Frank Luntz with another one of his patented voter panels:

McCain needed more than a tie to win -- this is Obama's John Kennedy moment, and no one can say he doesn't get foreign policy from this point forward. But it's the lingering McContempt meme that will really continue to bleed McCain, as it shows both anger and weakness, a kind of literalization of his unwillingness to meet with foreign powers with whom we disagree.

And after a few trips off the reservation, it's nice to see Joe Biden backing up the message so forcefully:

Which begs the question, where do you think was Sarah Palin tonight?

Guess we'll see her again next Thursday. But for tonight, sleep well, Obamaholics.


It's not just that McCain is lurching around from Hail Mary to Hail Mary, he lurched into DC to sit silently at the table like lurch on The Addams Family while the jittery House Republicans objected to the plan the Dems worked up with the President and when pressed offered their bizarro version, featuring suspending capital gains taxes and loosening regulation -- like a Vegas roller shooting for one more wild ride.

Per BAGnewsNotes, the problem is rooted in McCain's Gen. Jack D. Ripper-esque character flaw:

Speaking as a clinician now and not just a visual analyst, what McCain demonstrates time-and-again -- as the hallmark of his psychology -- is oppositional-defiant disorder. What McCain gets off on, also reflected in the expression above, is throwing over the status quo. (Although the disorder is primarily attributed to children and closely fits McCain's repeated, indulgent descriptions of his earlier acting out, his touchiness, anger and authority issues are all still very much in evidence.)

Without an appreciation for the psychopathology underlying this behavior, people tend to chalk up the swerve-after-swerve in McCain's career to independence of mind or this ridiculous "maverick" label. I say ridiculous because what we are seeing play out once more is not a constructive trait but an impulsive pathological reaction -- one which manifests itself in a pernicious and destructive way.

Are we living through John McCain's 6th plane crash? It's all very weird. Check out the photo from this NYTimes analysis:
Senator John McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end.

At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting...

...Mr. Obama might not have fared much better. He had come to Washington only reluctantly, opening himself to criticism by Republicans that he was putting his election bid ahead of the need to resolve the Wall Street crisis, and prompting concern among Democrats that his reaction to the events was simply too measured, considering the stakes.

Still, by nightfall, the day provided the younger and less experienced Mr. Obama an opportunity to, in effect, shift roles with Mr. McCain. For a moment, at least, it was Mr. Obama presenting himself as the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics.

“What I’ve found, and I think it was confirmed today, is that when you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, it’s not necessarily as helpful as it needs to be,” Mr. Obama told reporters Thursday evening. “Just because there is a lot of glare of the spotlight, there’s the potential for posturing or suspicions.”

Make no mistake about it -- the Republican Party is fractured right now:

Things grew so heated within the caucus, the Politico reported, that "some House Republicans are saying privately that they'd rather 'let the markets crash' than sign on to a massive bailout."

One GOP lawmaker, referring to his defiant colleagues, asked rhetorically: "For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?"

Of course they do. It's what they did that caused The (First?) Great Depression.

"At the end of the day, there's a lot of people thinking about how to rebuild this party," said GOP strategist Ed Rollins on CNN, "and do we want to rebuild it with John McCain, who's always kind of questionable on the basic facts of fiscal control, all the rest of it, immigration. And I think to a certain extent this 110, 115 members of this study group are saying, here's the time to draw the line in the sand."

"That's pretty scary stuff that they're thinking about party right now and not country, is that what you're saying?" responded host Anderson Cooper.

"I think they're, yes, they're thinking about themselves," said Rollins. "I think they don't think that the threat is as great as a lot of other people do."

Country first, baby.

Oh, and a reminder of McCain's role in the last great banking scandal:

To paraphrase Paris Hilton, "See you at the debate, bitch!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


With his numbers nosediving in polls from The Wall Street Journal to even Fox News, with news of McCain getting $5,000 make-up treatments, with Laura Bush agreeing that Sarah Palin has zero foreign policy experience, and with Palin herself tanking in an interview with Katie Couric:

...what's a hero to do? Meltdown.

From Reuters:
Republican White House hopeful John McCain threw the campaign into turmoil on Wednesday by calling for a delay in the first presidential debate to try to forge a Wall Street rescue plan -- a surprise move promptly rejected by Democrat Barack Obama

The political stunner came as some polls showed McCain falling behind Obama in their race for the November 4 election. Republicans and the White House welcomed McCain's move as a needed appeal for both parties to work together, while Democrats suspected a publicity stunt.
Y'think? Why the hell is McCain scared to be seen on the same stage as Obama -- unless he's somehow stacked the deck. And why are they trying to push off the Vice Presidential debate between Biden and, gulp, cratering Sarah Palin? Could it be...panic?

McCain's appeal is a cynical move based on a genuine economic crisis. Not the economic crisis in Washington. The financial crisis is in McCain's campaign. McCain has only $85 million to play with. Even though the RNC is skirting the fringes of election law and subsidizing McCain's ad campaign, McCain is still at a disastrous financial disadvantage. Obama plans to spend $40 million in Florida alone.

Every day McCain can shave from the remaining forty odd days left in the campaign via "suspending" his campaign makes his financial disadvantage less significant. Con the media into giving him free airtime to cover his "surprising announcement?" Good. Bully Obama into pulling ads? Even better.

The fact is that previous debates have been held while a crisis was happening and each candidate could walk and chew gum at the same time. Per Obama:
"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess," said Obama. "Part of the president's job is to deal with more than one thing at once."
And while McCain pretended he couldn't get back to Obama when Barack approached him about doing a bipartisan statement, he was actually meeting with mega-wealthy ex-Clinton supporter Lady Lynn Forester de Rothchild. You know, "Country First."

Harold Meyerson nails what's really going on here, and it is appalling:

Slipping in the polls? Concerned that Americans may be paying more attention to the declining economy -- and even supporting economic regulation again -- than to your own stellar leadership abilities?

What's a Republican presidential nominee to do?

If you're named John McCain, the answer became apparent yesterday afternoon -- make the solution to the economic crisis all about yourself. Suspend your campaign. Pull out of tomorrow's debate -- a trivial exercise merely allowing Americans to judge the two candidates side by side. Change the terms of the nation's economic discussion from the course we should take, and the defects of the laissez-faire model that got us here, to the indispensability of John McCain, leader of leaders.

Meanwhile, those doing the real work and late hours all this week to craft a deal like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tell McCain to stay away. Rep. Barney Frank goes further:

"All of sudden, now that we are on the verge of making a deal, John McCain here drops himself in to help us make a deal, Frank said.

He expressed fear that McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona who has spent much of the year away from the Capitol campaigning, could end up slowing down work on the bill.

The Massachusetts Democrat noted that a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday will be interrupted for a "photo op" at the White House with congressional Democrats and Republicans as well as Bush.

"We're trying to rescue the economy, not the McCain campaign," Frank said.

Aside from the fact that "Ole Miss" has been preparing for this debate for ages and that cancellation by McCain would cause yet another financial crisis, losing them several million dollars, there's the psycho nature of the whole ploy, per Michael Tomasky:

Think about the kind of mind that's required to even think up something like this. I could never think up something like this. Most average people, of whatever political persuasion, could never do it. Some pundits are talking about desperation and Hail Mary passes and so on, but that doesn't really begin to describe the deviousness at work here.

This is like a man who gets caught cheating on his wife and then, with his back against the wall and with confrontation looming, goes out and intentionally wrecks the car, contriving to break a few ribs and get rushed to the hospital, all to delay the inevitable conflict and in the cynical knowledge that, in front of the doctors and until the wounds are bound, the wife will be forced to offer sympathy. Males are messed up creatures, but believe me, only a rather small percentage of us is really capable of thinking this connivingly.

I mean, which one of these two is shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and which one would you trust in a Presidential crisis:

Clue: It's the one who took questions.

(And, more ominously, who's left eye isn't twitching like something medical is going wrong inside.)

But the most brutal commentator of all today was none other than David Letterman, stood up by McCain supposedly so the Senator could jet back to D.C. (where he's missed more votes this year than any other Senator) and solve the crisis, but was revealed to be in studio with Katie Couric, possibly to try and drown out the Palin interview. And it looks like Letterman is not a guy you want to stand up:

Ouch, ouch, ouch. For the whole show. Relentless. So McCain is down in the 4th Quarter and, for a multitude of reasons, calls for a time out.

Matthew Yglesias recalls what happens when you try a stunt like that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Is John McCain's campaign going to be buried in enough bad news to sink it?

After trying to smear Obama on the Freddie Mac/Fanny Mae mortgage crisis, it turns out that it is actually his Campaign Manager, Rick Davis, who's on their lobbying payroll:
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a remark by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

As my son likes to say, that's gotta hurt!

Kinda negates the McCain campaign's lambasting of The New York Times just a day ago. Seems they can't stand being called liars. After all, this is politics, right? Maybe they were brought up to believe it was okay to lie, even better to win the lie count contest.

But the incoming fire from the Obama campaign might be enough to keep McCain knocked back on his heels. There's not only Obama taking it to him on the economy, but also faster out of the gate on Iran's Ahmadinejad's latest anti-Semitic remarks while also urging McCain to join him in supporting a bipartisan bill, as well as (being a little to demogogic for my tastes) slamming McCain for his fleet of cars:

In response to all this (and more on Palin below) McCain seems to be dummying up all around, earning the new sobriquet, "No-Talk Express":

He's doing the same thing his campaign has mandated for running mate Sarah Palin. She's being shielded from the press in every way possible, even while arranging bullshit photo ops with world leaders (aw, her very first!), earning more ire from journalists:

The McCain-Palin campaign tried to prevent reporters and television producers from viewing the vice presidential nominee's meetings with world leaders during the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.

The campaign had planned to allow a “pool” camera and producer -- serving as representatives for all five television networks -- as well as wire and newspaper reporters into of most of Palin's meetings. But, at the last minute, the campaign informed the press corps that only cameras – without reporters or producers accompanying them – would be permitted.

The five television networks protested, threatening not to shoot video of the meeting at all unless an editorial presence was allowed into the meeting...

..One aide (possibly from Karzai’s entourage) repeatedly said “No writers” and tried to block the CNN producer from entering the room during the Karzai meeting, according to a pool report, but a senior Palin aide allowed the producer to enter...

...Members of the press were in the room for a total of 29 seconds during the Karzai meeting, according to the pool report....

...She has not held a press conference since being chosen by McCain four weeks ago, and has not done the traditional local interviews when traveling into media markets.

On Sunday, Palin stopped at an Orlando ice cream shop but reporters were not told of the event so an editorial representative was not sent. Several days earlier, press aides were surprised that a pool reporter asked questions about the economic situation during a stop at a deli in Cleveland.

She can't handle the truth. And there's ample reason why -- it's prosecutable:

The reason Gov. Palin has abandoned her truth and transparent, open and honest aura with her foolish and obvious coverup and trail of lies is simple. Troopergate is not about trying to get her ex-brother-in-law, trooper Mike Wooten, fired. It's not even about the firing of her Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Troopergate is about something the public has not yet picked up on...

...The real damage to Palin from Troopergate comes with an injury claim involving trooper Wooten when he hurt his back while in the line of duty.

Independent investigator Steve Branchflower testified recently he believes someone in the governor's office tried to block Wooten's workers' compensation injury benefits.

Harbor Adjustment Services, the company hired by the state to process, evaluate and decide on workers' benefit claims, had great financial incentive in bowing to pressure from the governor to deny Wooten's injury claim...

...But Branchflower says an employee with Harbor Adjustment Services contradicts the owner and has testified the governor's office did apply pressure to deny Wooten his benefits...

...Dianne Kiesel, a state employee with the Department of Administration, tells me former Palin chief of staff Mike Tibbles instructed her to walk Wooten's personnel file over to the governor's office.

And there is the governor's aide, Frank Bailey, caught on tape admitting he has information that came from Wooten's workers' comp file.

The very file that includes pictures, taken by none other than Todd Palin, of Wooten riding a snowmachine trying to prove the trooper was not injured.

Here's why this is all so damaging to the governor. It's one thing to try to get a trooper fired because you believe he is a danger to the public. But using your considerable power as governor to block the benefits of a former family member you have a long-running dispute with moves this scandal into a new realm.

Vindictive Sarah even had her husband go shoot some "evidence." How Mayberry is that?

She's still stacking the deck, pretending now that she'll cooperate in the probe. But the reality is:

Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature's investigation into her alleged abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire.

The fix is is in, baby! But hasn't the GOP learned anything yet about getting nailed worse later for the cover-up?

Andrew Sullivan's been doing the yeoman's job of cataloguing Palin's lies and is up to a solid, fact-checked twelve. And there's still 41 more days until the election for her to run up the count.

Nice executive decision, Johnny.

I hope it keeps you busy.

Monday, September 22, 2008


All you need to know:

Besides the remarkable unanimity, I think Sam Donaldson opens up the most potentially damaging hidden point, that McCain's age is addressable as an issue in regard to his inability to find a consistent voice. It's something Obama seems to do to his more traditionally rhetorical political opponents, witness Hillary's shifts even as she self-consciously took us through "finding her voice." The problem an ingrained D.C.-type politician has with using his or her traditional voice against Obama is that it is by nature a media feeder, a kind of meta-rhetoric designed to win news cycles, while Obama's just telling the truth. So that "experienced" politician has to find a way to be truthful all the time with their voice, which isn't as easy as it sounds.

So for McCain to try and find his consistently truthful voice right after his 72nd birthday is by nature a difficult task. At 47, some change is understandable. Even finding your footing as a female politician age 60 after years of working for your husband's ambitions, that's not entirely impossible to imagine. But Donaldson is right -- if McCain's voice is flailing around in a single day when he's supposed to be the experienced, battle-tested guy...

Well, with the election 42 days away, how much more time does he expect us to give him?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailout Battlelines

So the $700,000,000,000 tab being sent to Congress by Treasury Secretary Paulson and George W. Bush calls for, surprise surprise, no oversight:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejects the lack of oversight:
"We will not simply hand over a $700 billion blank check to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome. Democrats will act responsibly to insulate Main Street from Wall Street."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins Pelosi (yep, he must hate that headline).

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), once again, actually lays down lines in the sand:
First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.

Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.

Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.

Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.

Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.

Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.

And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.

More details on the principles on his website, from Sunday in Charlotte, NC:

If you're a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) better, here you go.

This is what's called an inflection point, and it's crucial that our representative leaders don't blow it. This is the moment of leverage and it won't come back if Paulson's plan is passed as is. Let history be the teacher: Bush and Cheney gave away half of our U.S. Treasury to private bigwigs with the Iraq War.

Don't let them use this crisis to finish the job.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I like this.

If she has to have a cult of personality, I'm pleased she's putting it to such good use. "Hillary Sent Me" allows her supporters to vote for and even work for Obama's election while retaining their sense of Hillary identification.

I mean, can you imagine "Mitt Sent Me"?

Friday, September 19, 2008


This must have been the most exhausting week in politics of the year...if not for America, at least for John McCain.

He's seen his stature drop due to his ill conceived running mate pick -- she has effectively boxed him out. BAGnewsNotes is the link, and compares his obvious discomfort with his chosen self-damnation to this photo of McCain with politicians with whom he actually enjoyed tooling around.

His running mate also bring more baggage than just husband, children and imminent teen-mom grandchild -- she's forcing his campaign to work up fresh, failing lies daily with her to cover her burgeoning scandal back home.

And the economic scandal that has us all "a little panicked," as Barack Obama now credibly refers to McCain is a boulder he can't outrun, not when he has his name on pieces coming out like this:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
Ah, the secret of great comedy.


Thursday, September 18, 2008


Has John McCain lost whatever precarious control he might have once held over his campaign?

Is he even at the top of the ticket anymore:

Wow, a Palin-McCain Administration. That was quick!

Maybe he should turn it all over to her, since she's rapidly becoming more headache than he signed on for with his split-second vetting process. Her husband has now joined her in stonewalling investigators in her Troopergate scandal. Today's lie-of-the-day revelation is that while she may have cut her mayoral salary when first taking office, it ended up higher still than the original level, not to mention her unilateral $50,000 office redecoration. And then there's her in a speech today proposing the very same federal transparency law that Barack Obama already co-sponsored and got passed in the Senate. You know, that guy she and McCain say has "zero" legislative accomplishment.

In fact, the McCain campaign's idea of control here is to call up Alaskan truth-telling investigative reporters to try and intimidate them into shutting up!

What else if OOC (Out Of Control) for McCain? Besides the whole rain in Spain fiasco noted yesterday, today he went medieval on the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, former GOP Congressman Chris Cox, which isn't exactly something a President can do, even if it were to somehow magically solve the collapse created by decades of GOP led financial deregulation. A statement like that is technically called, in campaign terms, "flailing."

None of the events this past week make Johnny's Social Security privatization stance appear like a smart idea, either:

Then there's his fellow Republicans. Karl Rove using terms like "angry" and "hothead" to describe the nominee, true GOP maverick Chuck Hagel calling out Palin as not ready, and another true GOP maverick, Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, endorsing Barack Obama. No control over elements of his own party.

And what is to be made of the latest smears against Obama? The Republican Jewish Coalition, in a large paid print ad, is pretending some sort of connection between Pat Buchanan and Obama, in a transparent and dishonest attempt to scare elderly Jews away from voting for him. Meanwhile the McCain campaign itself has once again injected race in to the race, getting called out by Time's Karen Tumulty for their barely disguised race-baiting ad: "Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman."

If that's McCain exerting control, it looks even worse.

And on the other side of the campaign, there's Obama working a target-rich environment, running an ad highlighting McCain economic advisers Carly Fiorina and Phil Gramm, and openly ridiculing McCain's flip-flops with comparisons to Saturday Night Live sketches and getting laughs saying that McCain can't decide if he's Barry Goldwater or...wait for it...Dennis Kucinich.

Right now the crowds are laughing along with Barack, and in politics the ridicule stage is always the beginning of the end. Witness Stephen Colbert at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner, when the room wasn't laughing but by the end of the week everyone else in America was -- at Bush. It was the turning point.

This is the piercing of the McCain teflon. The press corps is finally abandoning him, and while an international incident or an above-expectations first debate performance (the one on foreign affairs, McCain's supposed strength) might turn things around for Johnny. Maybe Obama falters, maybe McCain crates a strong enough diversion.

But follow the laughter. If you hear enough of it, in big enough crowds, public enough places or by the commentators themselves against Sarah Palin or her running mate, it'll be all over.

Like with this guy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Is John McCain flip-flopping or confused?

On regulation of the financial markets and institutions, he was anti-regulatory until, I believe, yesterday. ABC News calls him out on it. At the same time, today, he seemed to confuse Spain with some Latin American country with which we maybe don't have perfect relations. In the Spanish language papers, he's coming across short of an international incident, just rather...loco.

Good news for John, however -- he did, indeed, gain a Hillary Clinton supporter, and one who says she's for him because, ""I don't like him. I feel like he is an elitist."

Damn, she must have credibility then, right?

If only she weren't, and I kid you not, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, wife of Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild of the prominent Rothschild banking family of England, with whom she splits their time between New York City and a British country estate:

Ah, just the kind of crossover support Sir John McCain doesn't need. Might even make him nostalgic for Carly Fiorina.

This week has been the turning point in the Presidential campaign, and McCain has been completely blindsided. Why bother asking what's McCain's plan for the economy -- he doesn't even have a plan to win the election, which the Obama campaign is laying theirs out in public, via email today to supporters, David Plouffe being transparent and, I think, convincing:

I mean, $39 million to seriously contest Florida. If that isn't a gauntlet thrown down before the McCain campaign, what is?

Back to the turning point -- it's in the polls, including a new poll showing Obama ahead in traditionally red Indiana. But the big trend polls are the lead flipping on Gallup Daily, Obama 47% vs. McCain 45%, and in the CBS News poll. In that one, last week it was McCain 46% Obama 44%, tonight it's Obama 48% McCain 43%.

Here's my prediction: barring Obama having an Edwards-level scandal, I don't think it's going to matter what slime they try to throw at him, these numbers will never be this tight again. If anything, the Obama campaign, steeped in Internet enterprise culture, knows that it's a winner-take-all world now, and mindshare is everything.

Without Palin I'd have given McCain a 38% floor, absolute rock bottom. With Palin I think it could be 42%, still giving Obama room enough for a landslide.

The semiotics of the campaigns are interesting now. Obama comes across cool, even-handed but firm and willing to duke. His produced ads are efficient and clear, his email blasts focused and just frequent enough. I expect them to accelerate as we close in on election day, but he's showing excellent taste throughout both new and traditional media. The only other big video element of his campaign is the raw, man-with-a-camera clips from his stump speeches daily, sometimes a zinger like this:

McCain's semiotics are, however, all over the place. He's for this one day, he's against it the next in a different, jarring setting. His banking crisis ad is a mishmash of fear evoking imagery, unfortunately for McCain having him in a black-box netherspace, as if giving us his word on the economy from an undisclosed sci-fi bunker:

And he falls back onto biography at the end, the biggest mistake any Presidential candidate can make. It's vision we vote for, even ersatz if the other side has zero. Kerry lost on biography. McCain also acts like he's somehow "Best Manager," a big traditional loser for Dems (Mondale/Dukakis/Gore) which is rather ridiculous when today's claim is that he was Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. On one hand, he once again misstates, this time its jurisdiction. But the other reason this is a loser for him is so much more obvious.

It's like raising your hand when the teacher asks who set off the fire alarm, and there's the identifying ink from the security system all over it.

Are you trying to get nailed?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


John McCain started the day by losing his temper through gritted teeth and coming off, well, like what he often calls "a little jerk":

Damn, I may not even have to wait for minute 45 of that first debate on 9/26 for him to snap.

Meanwhile, his so-called economic advisor, the loser-CEO who only raised HP's value by leaving, Carly Fiorina, hit a double today, first saying that Sarah Palin was unfit to head a major corporation, then taking the self-correction opportunity to extend that cogent analysis to the top of the ticket as well:

By knocking herself off the air -- or, as a McCain spokesperson put it, will be "disappeared" like a government enemy in Pinochet's Argentina, canceling further TV appearances this week -- she has knock another leg of McCain teetering stool of viable campaign spokespeople:
"Carly will now disappear," this source said. "Senator McCain was furious." Asked to define "disappear," this source said, adding that she would be off TV for a while – but remain at the Republican National Committee and keep her role as head of the party’s joint fundraising committee with the McCain campaign.
Fiorina was the only ubiquitous woman beside the increasingly icky Sarah Palin to boot.

All Obama has to do is play McCain's own quotes in his ads:

The fact is that no matter what he flip-flops, McCain is losing the confidence of the American public that he can handle the economy by the day, i.e. by 4 points over the past 24 hours. Between his lies and those of his chosen running mate, along with her stonewalling of the Troopergate investigation which can now only fester and his loss of control over his own temper as metaphor for losing control over Fiorina and his campaign, the only question is whether it is all enough to send his polling numbers into Bush-like freefall.

Meanwhile, not only does such an authority as Warren Buffett believe that Obama could run a business, here's how the Dem candidates are looking out there, starting with "Riding the Rails with Amtrak Joe" in The New York Times:

The train arrived in Wilmington at 3:16 p.m. Amtrak Joe walked the platform, shaking hands with cops and Amtrak workers.

At one point, he reached into an open door for one last hand-shake with another Amtrak employee and the automatic doors nearly closed on his arms. “You’re like family,” Biden said, pulling his arm away.

And the top of the ticket -- as the financial meltdown reinforces his longtime message, he's on fire:

A helluva lot less gloomy that the other side, even as he tells the truth.

He saw it coming. What more needs to be said?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Meme Takes Root: McLiar

Here's a great new website. After all, John McCain lies so regularly now, you need a Wiki just to keep track.

We'll see if it spreads nationwide as it should, if it reaches voters and turns polls, working hand-in-hand with the GOP deregulation-fest financial meltdown. But even Fox News is calling out McCain for lying.

And how about the once-Master himself:

It's so bad that someone in the McCain camp pulled the plug on this interview:

Yep, they're starting to run scared. Even McCain is forced to admit his own lies:
Did Barack Obama really call Sarah Palin a pig, as a John McCain ad leads people to believe? "No," McCain said Monday. The Republican presidential nominee defended the ad anyway, saying Obama "chooses his words very carefully."
Whine, whine, whine, John
ny "Doubletalk" McCain. Obama's new ad makes it plain that all the news sources agree -- McCain's honor and integrity are things of the past:

Don't just believe the ad, read U.S. News and World Report, for heaven's sake. Read Richard Cohen (of all people!) in the Washington Post, who admits in Monday's column that he was once in the tank for McCain:
McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains -- his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that's all -- but just as honorably. No more, though.
I'll date the moment that McCain set his demise in motion as the final night of the Democratic National Convention when Obama's powerfully executed four day event climaxed with his blockbuster speech, making John McCain flinch enough to cynically pick Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. The emperor has no clothes because the empress was a short-term sucker move and all but the die-hard can see it now, thanks to Charlie Gibson and her own unblinking egomania.

As for McPalin, not only does the Earmark Queen of Alaska lie about her $453 million in earmarks, not only is she refusing (through the McCain campaign spokespeople!) to cooperate with the investigation of her Troopergate lies, not only does she continue to lie again today about her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere, not only does she lie about how much energy Alaska contributes to the U.S., but even her skin tone is a lie -- she had a tanning bed installed in the Governor's Mansion!

Like the candidate says, if you believe anything that you hear from McCain and his chosen successor, I've got a bridge to sell you...:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two More Down

It looks like Merrill Lynch is being saved by Bank of America, although there will be massive layoffs to be sure. The short story tells you everything you need to know about how few wealthy individuals control the economic fates of this country:
“A hundred guys flew this firm into a mountain,” said a broker who works for Merrill in California and asked to remain anonymous because he did not have permission to speak with reporters. “It’s really sad. Now we’re going to be a bank like every one else.”
Sorry they'll just be a bank, as if there's something wrong with that, but over at Lehman Brothers it's worse. In fact, this 158 year-old company, formed by three brothers in Montgomery, Alabama to act as a brokerage house for buyers and sellers of cotton, is just going bankrupt.

What does this mean for the average investor? If you own shares of Lehman, it probably means they're worthless. As Lehman primarily served institutions rather than reg'lar folks like you and me, it may not hit the residents of Main Street in their homes, but it sure as hell will play havoc with the capital markets, including start-up type funds, the kind that help America stay ahead in the 21st Century global order.

Oh, and insurance giant AIG (American International Group) is close to doomsday as well, seeking $40 billion in bridge loans from the Federal Reserve.

And if you aren't nervous yet, there's another load of high-flying investors preparing to crash more firms in order to make themselves wealthier still:
In May, David Einhorn, one of the most vocal short sellers on Wall Street, made no secret he was betting against Lehman Brothers. Now, some investors are afraid that fund managers like him will take advantage of the climate of fear stirred up by the troubles of Lehman to single out other weak financial firms whose declining share prices would bring them rich rewards.
Are we looking at a run on the banks? Is Monday, September 15th, going to turn out to be another Black Monday? Or, worse, like this Black Monday?

I'll leave it to my more finance-knowledgeable readers to fill us in, if they like. But the bottom line has to be that this huge crash, just like the 1987 crash precipitated by the Reagan-era market deregulation, has to be laid at the feet of the Republican Party and all fellow travelers on the road of deregulation.

Folks, we just socialized the mortgage system in this country a week ago today. After having allowed all kinds of high-risk home borrowing in order to give Pyrrhic boost to the economy (no thanks, Alan Greenspan) and permitted these unsafe mortgages to be used as financial instruments for trading and gambling, with all kinds of "derivatives" that scant laypeople could ever understand, after deregulating the walls between banks, brokerages, insurance companies and more in order to "create wealth" for the wealthy, isn't it clear that unfettered markets lead to unmitigated catastrophe?

If America elects as President a self-admitted economic moron like John McCain with sclerotic notions, cronies who contributed wholeheartedly to this disaster (Phil Gramm) and no economic plan he can even speak of (other than a bullshit rallying cry against "earmarks!"), then America will get what it deserves.

A vote for Obama, and I pray it won't have to come to this, may very well turn out to be a vote for our next FDR.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Next-Gen George Bush

This weekend the evidence is in: Sarah Palin is just as much of a deceitful, crony-mongering, power-hungry narcissist as our current President.

It turns out she lied about visiting Iraq, and she's still lying about her support for the Bridge to Nowhere, tonight in Nevada:

Palin has come under fire in recent days for misleadingly saying she told Congress “thanks but no thanks,” refusing an earmark for a bridge to a sparsely inhabited island in her home state. Independent groups and media fact-checkers have said Palin advocated for the federal earmark before opposing it, only ended after Congress had essentially killed it, and kept the $223 million for the appropriation after the project was killed.

Palin had cut the refrain from her speech during her three-day visit to Alaska. But she came back to it today, citing it as an example of earmark reform she and McCain would push for in the White House.

Hired unqualified old friends to state jobs as Governor and ran the office as her personal fiefdom:

But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents “haters” — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

And it's all about her and her trail of bad blood (WaPo):

"Sarah always did and still does surround herself with people she gets along well with," she said. "They protect her, and that's what she needs. She has surrounded herself with people who would not allow others to disagree with Sarah. Either you were in favor of everything Sarah was doing or had a black mark by your name."

There's more from The New York Times, and decide for yourself how disturbing it is:
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.


Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.

“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”


In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.

Your attorney, Mr. Showers told Ms. Palin, is costing me lots of money.


Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban for the mayor’s use — employees sarcastically called it the mayor-mobile.


But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”


During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.

Many politicians say they typically learn of her initiatives — and vetoes — from news releases.

Mayors across the state, from the larger cities to tiny municipalities along the southeastern fiords, are even more frustrated. Often, their letters go unanswered and their pleas ignored, records and interviews show.


At an Alaska Municipal League gathering in Juneau in January, mayors across the political spectrum swapped stories of the governor’s remoteness. How many of you, someone asked, have tried to meet with her? Every hand went up, recalled Mayor Fred Shields of Haines Borough. And how many met with her? Just a few hands rose. Ms. Palin soon walked in, delivered a few remarks and left for an anti-abortion rally.

The administration’s e-mail correspondence reveals a siege-like atmosphere. Top aides keep score, demean enemies and gloat over successes. Even some who helped engineer her rise have felt her wrath.

Dan Fagan, a prominent conservative radio host and longtime friend of Ms. Palin, urged his listeners to vote for her in 2006. But when he took her to task for raising taxes on oil companies, he said, he found himself branded a “hater.”

It is part of a pattern, Mr. Fagan said, in which Ms. Palin characterizes critics as “bad people who are anti-Alaska.”

Any of this sound familiar?

She just younger.

Which means she'll be around longer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

John McCain's Bucket List

I can't take credit for this -- I was speaking with a friend today with libertarian tendencies who would have been alright with McCain until he chose Palin and revealed himself as more interested in winning than anything else -- including, as Obama pointed out today, his own integrity. If you saw McCain getting some actual grilling by Barbara Walters and the women on The View, you'll find yourself nodding in agreement:
Today on "The View," John McCain defended his campaign's latest ad campaign, which has been debunked repeatedly as both false and sleazy. In running the sleaziest campaign since South Carolina in 2000 and standing by completely debunked lies on national television, it's clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election.
Since he laid out zero plans for the economy, zero vision for the nation, and no actual foreign policy doctrine at the Republican National Convention; since he now lies every day, admits to being divorced from reality, flipflops on major defense sinkholes, supports huge pork-laden legislation while claiming to be against earmarks, has hired a long-time oil company lobbyist and ex-Nixon employee to handle his transition team (should he win), has Republican operatives working to disenfranchise voters and can't seem to hold his own in interviews with local television reporters...one has to ask, why the hell does he want to be President?

My buddy had the answer: getting "President of the United States" on his resume is the #1 item on John McCain's Bucket List.

You know, like the movie, all that stuff you're supposed to write down and then do before you "kick the bucket."

We're all victims-in-wating of what John McCain has admitted himself is purely driven by his own outsized ego:
"I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I'd had the ambition for a long time."
A lot of us who thought more of John McCain when he ran in 2000, before he was bitch-slapped by the man he came to embrace for what one hopes were purely political reasons, have been saying that McCain has changed, that the McCain who's pandering so whole-heartedly now is not the same man he was back then.

Well, maybe he is. Only now it's even more urgent for him, and somehow he's trying to con this entire country into filling the checkbox on the top of his personal bucket list...even if it means that once he's kicked it, he's left us with President Sarah Palin.

And he infers that Obama is unpatriotic?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just as Incompetent -- or Worse

If John McCain's campaign is lying about Barack Obama at every turn:

...doesn't that make John McCain himself a liar?

If his campaign is sending out mailers deliberately misinforming potential Obama supporters in a critical state:
About one-third of the absentee ballot applications received at the Hamilton County Board of Elections have been ruled invalid because Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign printed a version of the form with an extra, unneeded box on it.
...doesn't that make the John McCain an enemy of American democracy?

If his Vice Presidential running-mate is completely oblivious of the most important and disastrous foreign policy doctrine of the past eight years:

...doesn't that make John McCain a fool for having chosen her?

If she also thinks we may need to start a war with Russia without thinking if it's in the best interest of our own country:

When asked by Gibson if under the NATO treaty, the U.S. would have to go to war if Russia again invaded Georgia, Palin responded: "Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.

"And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable," she told ABC News' Charles Gibson in an exclusive interview.

...doesn't that make him a dangerous fool for having chosen her?

If John McCain is somehow not responsible for all these key aspects of his Presidential campaign, doesn't that say that he is just not in control of his campaign, meaning that he is grossly incompetent for the office he seeks? I mean, how will he somehow be more in control when he's got the full breadth of Presidential responsibilities to contend with for four full years, if he is not in control of his own campaign?

Doesn't all this essentially disqualify him from office, no matter how many years he spent in a POW camp? Doesn't all this (and more) make electing him a danger to America?

Even (thinking) conservatives are getting scared.

How's this for a new GOP campaign slogan:

Vote McCain-Palin
For Four More Years of Lies
Covering Up Nation-Threatening Incompetence and Criminality
At the Highest Level of Government.

Okay, a little wordy, but it might be the first time in a long time that John McCain and his campaign had told the truth.