Saturday, November 8, 2008

A better country than the pundits thought

"For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included." -Frank Rich, writing in The New York Times

Rich also observes:
- More whites voted for Barack Obama than any Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.
- While holding Michigan and Pennsylvania, Obama also swung Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana (the last voting Democratic for only the second time since 1936)
- Seventy-eight percent of Jews voted for Obama, despite a smear effort aimed at labeling him soft on terror. Obama also took in 67 percent of the Latino vote.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama's acceptance speech

Available in .mp3 format for web streaming or download. A transcript is here.

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America..."

Full speech here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NBC calls for Obama

Story here.

ABC calls for Obama

Story here.

McCain concession speech

Word is that John McCain will be issuing his concession speech any minute.

Even the Gray Lady is giving Obama 207 electoral votes amassed, not counting the late-arriving West Coast.

Guilt By Association

As in previous elections, the Republican Party chose to wage this year's presidential campaign based on scare tactics instead of issues. Among them: that Obama was "palling around with terrorists" because he had once served on an education board with William Ayers, who had been a Weatherman in the late 1960's and early 1970's, when the radical group bombed government buildings to protest the Vietnam War (and has since become a respected educator and 1997 Chicago Citizen of the Year).

This was all a bit of a stretch. There was never much evidence that Obama knew Ayers very well. Furthermore, the Ayers of today, a college professor, is clearly a different man than the Ayers of four decades ago, when Obama was eight years old.

On Election Day, Ayers gave an interview with the New Yorker about being used in this smear campaign. Of note:

One night, Ayers recalled, he and Dohrn were watching Bill O’Reilly, who was going on about “discovering” Ayers’s 1974 manifesto, “Prairie Fire.” “I had to laugh,” Ayers said. “No one read it when it was first issued!” He said that he laughed, too, when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.”

Marijuana decriminalization leading in Massachusetts ballot measure

Results here.

New Mexico headed for Obama

ABC News calls New Mexico for Obama.

White Bread now toast

McCain and Palin have been declared toast.

NY Times gives Pennsylvania to Obama

The New York Times, more conservative in its projections, is now allotting Pennsylvania to Obama.

Slate calls the election for Obama

Online magazine Slate says Obama's projected victory in Ohio ensures he will be the next president.

Carry Me Ohio

Obama takes it, ABC is reporting.

Gawker says Obama is six electoral votes away from likely clinch

Given the likelihood that the west coast will support Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate need only take six more contested electoral votes to clinch the election, says Gawker. Gawker has already jumped the gun and put Iowa and West Virginia in the (presumed) Obama stack.

Slate agrees.

Update: CNN is projecting McCain will win in West Virginia.

Obama takes early lead in electoral count, battleground states still too close to call

Projections are now putting Obama ahead in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and all of the northeast. McCain is listed ahead in 10 states, including North Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.

Estimated tally at this stage (NBC news)...
Obama 175
McCain 76

Crucial states are all too close to call (though NBC and others are putting Pennsylvania in the Obama column).

Looking Back: Gawker's guide to the election in video

Clips can be found here.

Thousands gather in Grant Park

Images from Barack Obama's election night party in Chicago's Grant Park, where crowds have been gathering for hours.

Birmingham Polling Station

Voters lining up at a gym in Birmingham, one of the touchstones in the civil rights movement.

Hold tight on Virginia

Trapper John says don't get too stressed about Virginia, NoVa ballots are always late to come in.

Gawker says exit polls tighter than expected

Gawker reports that exit polls are tighter than expected, but Obama is maintaining a slight lead in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Virginia (down in North Carolina). Other news outlets have been reporting a wide Obama lead in Pennsylvania (which ABC and NBC have both called for Obama).

Bruce Springsteen in Cleveland

From Bruce Springsteen's call to arms last Sunday:

"I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and American reality. For many Americans who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no health care, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that dream and their reality has never been greater or more painful. I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and work. I believe he understands in his heart the cost of that distance in blood and suffering in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president he would work to bring that dream back to life, and into the lives of many of our fellow Americans, who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.... So I don't know about you, but I want my country back, I want my dream back, I want my America back. Now is the time to stand together with Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the millions of Americans that are hungry for a new day, roll up our sleeves and come on up for the rising."

The Day in Pictures

Democracy in action. A cool slideshow.

McCain ahead in four southern states

Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Kentucky are all headed for the McCain pile, reports CNN.

Obama is the projected winner in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, according to CNN.

Strong performance for Obama in Indiana and Virgina, NBC reports

Exit polls show Obama with a lead among women and a tie among men in Indiana, NBC reports.

Exit polls show Obama with slight lead among both sexes in Virginia, and a sizable lead among younger voters (around 60 percent) and blacks (92 percent).

ABC calls New Hampshire, Pennsylvania for Obama

Obama completes a sweep of the northeast, says ABC News.

Drudge Report on snooze? Too early to tell...

Matthew Drudge seems to be slumbering, not much news popping up yet on the Drudge Report 2009 ®. Just overall tallies from ABC News and a few rile-up-the-Fox-crowd stories from earlier in the day. For some reason, the town crier doesn't seem too geared up for this Election Day...

Wikipedia election results

Wikipedia's election page can be found here. A New York Times story about the ongoing minute-by-minute changes triggered my interest, but I don't see much popping up on Wikipedia that's not already readily available elsewhere.

Prospects look dim for Dole in North Carolina

From DailyKos:
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell reports a senior GOP strategist is conceding defeat in the Dole-Hagan race, which means that for the first time in fifty years, a Dole or a Bush won't be in public office. The strategist also says the McCain campaign's projection that the electorate would mirror that of 2004 is totally off, saying that heavy African-American turnout is an "Obama Tsunami."

Early exit polls show Obama ahead in key states

Exit poll information released by Slate indicates Obama has a strong lead in Ohio, New Mexico, Virginia, Missouri, Florida and Pennsylvania. Slate warns that exit polls may not be a reliable indicator of the real thing.

Early news on Election Day

Barack Obama takes Dixville Notch, the first Democratic to win in the small early-voting New Hampshire town in 40 years.

The globe voices strong support for an Obama presidency. From the Times of London:

"Obamamania is at fever pitch across Europe, where his ratings regularly exceed 80 per cent... Urbane, intellectual and idealistic, Mr Obama “is the kind of American we love”, said Jack Lang, a Socialist and the long-serving Culture Minister of the late President Mitterrand. 'His is the America of jazz and Fitzgerald and Falconer and Kerouac and Kennedy'... The world’s hopes for the 2004 elections – 53 per cent for John Kerry, 3 per cent for George Bush – had precious little bearing on the outcome."

The world hopes for a "less arrogant America," reports the Associated Press.

Record numbers of voters are expected to hit the polls.

The AP reports:

"Lawsuits alleging voter suppression already had surfaced in Virginia, a hotly contested state. A judge refused late Monday to extend poll hours or add voting machines to black precincts in some areas. The NAACP, in a federal lawsuit, demanded those changes, saying minority neighborhoods would experience overwhelming turnout and there weren't enough electronic machines.

U.S. District Judge Richard Williams denied the motion for a preliminary injunction, but ordered election officials to publicize that people in line by 7 p.m., the polls' closing time, would be allowed to cast ballots.

Republican John McCain's campaign sued the Virginia electoral board hours before polls opened, trying to force the state to count late-arriving military ballots from overseas."

We Have a Lot of Work To Do

"We cannot afford to slow down or sit back... I ask you to believe."
-Barack Obama

Nailin' Paylin

One more reason to be glad Sarah Palin won't be a heartbeat away from the presidency... this prank call from Canadian radio duo The Masked Avengers (posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy) reveals Palin not only to be extremely gullible but also something of a superficial toad.

A written account of the telephone call can be found here.

Sullivan's endorsement: Barack Obama will bring back rule of law and respect for human rights

A few of the more noteworthy points from Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Obama. Sullivan, a fiscal conservative, writes:

"Al Qaeda remains at large, and the very top leadership that planned and executed 9/11 is alive. They have reconstituted a base of sorts in Pakistan. They have scored several major propaganda victories - from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay to trapping most of the US military in an unending counter-insurgency in one country where al Qaeda was weak before 2002, Iraq. Islamist factions in Pakistan's government are horrifyingly close to nuclear technology. Iran has gained in power and influence in the Middle East and its ability to launch and use nuclear weapons is much greater than it was on 9/11...

It is a war where the American government has alienated - in some cases deeply - democratic allies whose police work and intelligence we desperately need... the crudeness with which military force has been deployed, the absence of strategy or even due diligence in the execution of the long war, and the massive public relations blunders which have led the United States to lose a propaganda war against a bunch of murderous, medieval loons are unforgivable...

It is now indisputable that the president and vice-president of the United States engineered a de facto coup against the constitution after 9/11, declaring themselves above any law, any treaty, and any basic moral norm in their misguided mission to rid the world of evil."

Full entry here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama 9,120 McCain 270 in The Economist's "global electoral college" survey

Economist has polled its readers and compiled "global electoral college" results based on the tabulations. If the election were global, Obama would get 9,120 electoral college votes, McCain only 270, based on reader tabulations. McCain led only a small number of troubled countries, including Iraq, Algeria, Sudan and Cuba.

Link is here.

McCain's health care plan would cost more, insure less

The New York Times analyzed the two candidates' health care plans in an editorial Oct. 27. It makes for a bit of a dry read until you get to the meatier second half of the piece.

McCain's plan:

"Mr. McCain correctly recognizes that there are disadvantages to linking insurance to jobs — as thousands of laid-off American workers already are discovering — and that there is an intrinsic inequity in the current tax code that favors those who have employer plans over those buying individual coverage.

The great danger is that Mr. McCain’s plan will fragment the sharing of risks and costs — the bedrock of any good insurance plan — by enticing young, healthy workers to bail out of their employers’ group policies to seek cheaper insurance on their own. Their older or less healthy colleagues would be left behind, which would drive up premiums at work. The rising costs could lead many companies to drop their health coverage entirely...

Some states require insurers to accept all applicants and provide specified standard benefits, and they limit the ability of companies to base premiums on health status. In the name of promoting competition, Mr. McCain’s plan would free companies from those terms. Anyone who lost insurance as a result would have to seek coverage through the high-risk pools."

Obama's plan:

Obama "would require all parents to get coverage for their children and expand Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. He would also require large and midsize companies to offer health insurance to their workers or pay into a kitty to subsidize coverage elsewhere... Mr. Obama says the government would provide subsidies to encourage small employers to offer coverage and to help low-income people buy insurance."


"The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that the McCain plan would lower the number of uninsured by a mere two million in 2018, out of a projected 67 million uninsured in that year. The Obama plan would cut the number by 34 million, the center says, but still leave nearly 33 million uninsured... Despite all the Republican warnings about high-spending Democrats, McCain’s plan could be a lot more expensive than Mr. Obama’s, at least in the early years, and possibly in the long term."

Full article here.

On a lighter note

Barack Obama and John McCain dance.

McCain advisor inserts foot in mouth

Washington Post:

"On CNN today, McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said workers who already receive health insurance from their employers would not take advantage of McCain's offer of a $5,000 tax credit to buy their own coverage.

'Why would they leave?' Holtz-Eakin asked. 'What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit.'

Obama's reply:

"'We were offered a stunning bit of straight talk -- an October surprise -- from his top economic adviser, who actually said that the health insurance people currently get from their employer is -- and I quote -- 'way better' than the health care they would get if John McCain becomes president,' Obama says in the speech. 'Now this is the point I've been making since Senator McCain unveiled his plan.

'It took until the last seven days of this election for his campaign to finally admit the truth. But hey, better late than never.'"

Poll: McCain and Obama about even in Arizona

It isn't just the formerly read states of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado and Montana where McCain is having a trouble. A recent poll shows Barack Obama pulling into a dead heat with McCain in McCain's own home state of Arizona.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday Night Live: The closest Sarah Palin has been to a press conference since being nominated

Last night on Saturday Night Live...

Tina Fey mocks Sarah Palin's failure to hold a press conference during her campaign while Palin watches from backstage.

"I just don't think that was a realistic depiction of the way my press conferences would have gone," Palin jokes afterward. Then she looks uncomfortable and stares at her shoes as Alec Baldwin calls her "that horrible woman." Just another election year comedy.

Later on the show, Palin waves her hands in the air as Amy Poehler does a Sarah Palin rap during "Weekend Update."

"We just chill but when I see oil it's drill, baby, drill."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hello Wasilla

If you can't do the story first, do it better.

New York Magazine has come out with one of the most interesting and exhausting survey's of Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla. The piece also includes stellar photography from Eamon Mac Mahon.

On Palin's newfound celebrity status:
"But there’s never been a year like this, not since Charlie Chaplin ate his shoe during the Gold Rush, at least. How often does a nearly unknown former mayor of a nowhere town like Wasilla (pop. 9,780)—suddenly, surreally, a potential single unsteady type-A heartbeat away from the same job once held by George Washington—get more than 70 million people to tune in to watch her on TV? It wasn’t Biden’s hair-plugs they wanted to see. In the most phantasmagorical election in decades, Sarah Palin was the star, breaking through the bubba barrier to become the most ferociously tabloid candidate in the history of the republic."

On Alaskan oil wealth:
"Things have been so flush that Palin was able to add $1,200 to everyone’s PFD check. That is the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend, the yearly payment from the vast publicly owned account holding the state’s oil revenues. For Alaskans, an exceedingly high percentage of whom work for the government they demand get off their backs, the deal is good. Everyone who meets the residence requirement gets a PFD check, which means should you be a Russian immigrant with, say, thirteen children, this year you would have garnered $3,269 (with Palin’s extra $1,200) per family member, or something like $50,000 simply for living here... as chief executive of a semi-socialist petrochemical-rich state, Sarah Palin has a lot in common with those twin bogeymen Hugo Ch├ívez and the hated Ahmadinejad, may the Lord consign him to hydrocarbon fires of hell."

On Wasilla's progression from small town to strip mall:
"You ride inspired through the mountains and hay flats outside Palmer, then there you are: in Wasilla, where the Parks Highway is lined with almost every fast-food franchise and big-box store known to man. Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr., Arby’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, Mickey D’s—they’re all here, neon etched against the foothills, this awesome array of American corporate cuisine, right beside Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Fred Meyer."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Man with history of paranoid fantasies is behind whisper campaign on Obama's religion

No real surprise here. It turns out that the individual responsible for first spreading the rumors that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim is creepy guy with a long history of lawsuits, political eccentricity anti-Semitic remarks.

Andy Martin is generally credited starting the 'secret Muslim' allegation in a posting on four years ago (the right-wing paranoia hub blasting Swift Boat garbage in the last election). Martin fits in with the Free Republic's general tenor, a kind of Fox-like "We Report (Wrongly), You Decide."

Indeed, Fox News itself has been reporting some of Martin's false information without questioning it: "[A] documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government"[NYT]

From a New York Time's profile on Martin:

"He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of 'moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.'

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000."

For the record, here is Obama's actual background: "Mr. Obama was raised mostly by his white mother, an atheist, and his grandparents, who were Protestant, in Hawaii. He hardly knew his father, a Kenyan from a Muslim family who variously considered himself atheist or agnostic, Mr. Obama wrote. For a few childhood years, Mr. Obama lived in Indonesia with a stepfather he described as loosely following a liberal Islam."

While in Indonesia, Obama attended a Catholic school and a public school. Today he is a practicing Christian.

Personally, I believe one's religion matters a lot less than the way you practice it. If Christianity ensured highly skilled candidates, a born-again George W. Bush would be one of the best presidents in history. Instead, he has embarked on costly crusade-like wars, sanctioned torture and illegal surveillance, run up the deficit to the hilt, and generally ignored the health care needs of average Americans.

Obama happens to be a Christian, but he certainly doesn't need to be in order to be qualified for the presidency. He is the best candidate because he is the one best prepared, both intellectually and ideologically, to lead America through its current malaise and back on the upward arc of great nationhood. That is the reason I plan on voting for him.

Wired Scorecard: John McCain is a bust when it comes to telecom choice

"The United States is becoming a tortoise in a world of hares. One of the world’s most Wired nations a decade ago, we now lag behind most of our peers. In France, broadband access is half the price and four times as fast. The main cause for the debacle is a lack of competition in telecommunications. Most communities have, at best, one cable choice and one DSL choice... McCain has consistently been on the wrong side of this issue."

The full Wired Scorecard can be found here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Driving the country into a hole isn't patriotic

Thomas Friedman on Sarah Palin and patriotism:

“Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?"

On Palin and energy policy:

"... At least the king of Saudi Arabia, in advocating 'drill baby drill,' is serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it."

Full column here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama health care plan could protect insurance for 32 million more Americans than McCain plan: report

Reuters reports:

"An analysis of the two starkly different approaches to reforming the U.S. health care system offered by John McCain and Barack Obama suggests Obama's plan has the best chance of making health care more affordable, accessible, efficient and higher in quality.

The report, released on Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, sized up the presidential candidates' plans for dealing with a health care system which has left nearly 46 million people uninsured and many more underinsured...

According to the report, Democrat Obama's plan would cover 34 million of the nation's projected 67 million uninsured people in 10 years, compared with just 2 million covered under Republican John McCain's plan."

Full story here.

Palin's enterprising academic career

From "Sarah Palin's College Daze: Why did she attend five different colleges?" in Slate:

""Why couldn't she name a single newspaper or magazine that she read on a regular basis before being tapped for the national ticket? ...

[W]hy couldn't Palin name a single Supreme Court decision apart from Roe v. Wade?

Tangible evidence of whatever data populate Palin's cranium is hard to find.""

Track her educational path here.

The New Yorker endorses Barack Obama

The New Yorker outlined a lengthy endorsement of Barack Obama in its current issue. Here is an excerpt:

"The incumbent Administration has distinguished itself for the ages. The Presidency of George W. Bush is the worst since Reconstruction, so there is no mystery about why the Republican Party—which has held dominion over the executive branch of the federal government for the past eight years and the legislative branch for most of that time—has little desire to defend its record, domestic or foreign. The only speaker at the Convention in St. Paul who uttered more than a sentence or two in support of the President was his wife, Laura. Meanwhile, the nominee, John McCain, played the part of a vaudeville illusionist, asking to be regarded as an apostle of change after years of embracing the essentials of the Bush agenda with ever-increasing ardor...

Next year’s federal budget is projected to run a half-trillion-dollar deficit, a precipitous fall from the seven-hundred-billion-dollar surplus that was projected when Bill Clinton left office. Private-sector job creation has been a sixth of what it was under President Clinton. Five million people have fallen into poverty. The number of Americans without health insurance has grown by seven million, while average premiums have nearly doubled...

The indirect costs, both of the war in particular and of the Administration’s unilateralist approach to foreign policy in general, have also been immense. The torture of prisoners, authorized at the highest level, has been an ethical and a public-diplomacy catastrophe...

On almost every issue, McCain and the Democratic Party’s nominee, Barack Obama, speak the generalized language of 'reform,' but only Obama has provided a convincing, rational, and fully developed vision...

At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama."

Freedom fighting in the Palin universe

"In her closing remarks at the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, Ms. Palin referred earnestly, if loosely, to a quote from Ronald Reagan. He had warned that if Americans weren’t vigilant in protecting their freedom, they would find themselves spending their 'sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.'

What Ms. Palin didn’t say was that the menace to freedom that Reagan was talking about was Medicare. As the historian Robert Dallek has pointed out, Reagan 'saw Medicare as the advance wave of socialism, which would ‘invade every area of freedom in this country.’"

- Bob Herbert

Obama favors timed withdrawal out of Iraq, putting more forces in Afghanistan

From the New York Times:

Mr. Obama, who noted that General Petraeus wanted “maximum flexibility” in setting withdrawal schedules, said he “pushed back” when he met with the commander in July by making the case for sending more forces to Afghanistan, which the Democratic candidate views as the main battleground against terrorists...

At the heart of the dispute is Mr. Obama’s 16-month schedule for withdrawing American combat brigades, a timetable that is about twice as fast as that provided for in a draft American and Iraqi accord...

In January, Mr. McCain told a questioner at a town-hall-style meeting in New Hampshire that it would not matter if American troops were in Iraq for 50 or even 100 years if the country was stable and the American military was not suffering casualties, drawing an analogy with American deployments in postwar Japan or South Korea, two societies that seem far removed from the tumultuous Middle East.

McCain looks for a distraction

James Fallows:

"Just beyond that, the real economic and social problems that come when large numbers of people lose their jobs, their businesses, their investments, their homes, and even larger numbers become fearful about what might happen to them. And then, when we get a minute to think, profound global energy and environmental challenges, security concerns that range from loose nukes to terrorist organizations, plus a couple of ongoing wars and ever-rising medical costs. Just as starters. The United States is still incredibly rich, powerful, and productive. But the current situation is no joke, for America or the world.

In these circumstances, and with a presidential election four weeks away, is it conceivable that candidates will waste time arguing whether one of them has been in the same room with a guy who had been a violent extremist at a time before most of today's U.S. citizens were even born?"

Apparently, yes.

Sarah Palin in 30 Seconds

Via Youtube.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Presidential Debate, Sen. John McCain vs. Sen. Barack Obama

A transcript and video of the first presidential debate can be found here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

National Review column: Sarah Palin is "Out Of Her League"

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker provides a blistering assessment of Sarah Palin for National Review. This quote pretty much sums up the article: "[Gov. Palin] repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there... If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

Why did Wasilla make rape victims pay for their own forensic exams while Palin was mayor?

This from Dorothy Samuels in the New York Times:

"When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the small town began billing sexual-assault victims for the cost of rape kits and forensic exams....

[T]he main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults.

That’s why when Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, drafted the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, he included provisions to make states ineligible for federal grant money if they charged rape victims for exams and the kits containing the medical supplies needed to conduct them. (Senator John McCain, Ms. Palin’s running mate, voted against Mr. Biden’s initiative, and his name has not been among the long list of co-sponsors each time the act has been renewed.)

That’s also why, when news of Wasilla’s practice of billing rape victims got around, Alaska’s State Legislature approved a bill in 2000 to stop it."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Needless hassle on a California ballot application

I was filling out my absentee ballot application for California and I came across this curiosity: You must fill out on the application form the date the application form is due. To make clear to voters this is an essential aspect of the application, the cut-out form includes a notice right above it stating: "You must enter the date and type of the election, as well as the last day the application must be received by the election official" (emphasis added). Can anyone tell me why this last piece of information is essential on the application? Is there any reason for having it other than disenfranchising and/or irritating voters?

The California Secretary of State website does not list the due date in any obvious location. It does applications are due seven days before Election Day, but this still leaves applicants scrambling for their calendars to try and figure out which date in October this turns out to be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Missing Introduction: What Should Have Been Said At The Republican National Convention

All apologies for latching on to this story late, but this one is a gem. From the New York Observer, a "Black Comic Introduces John McCain":

"This conference so white, Helen Mirren tried to snort it!


Where the baby daddy at? Where he at?

(crowd noise)

You knocked her up, man? That’s cool. That’s cool.


You know that word ‘abstinence’—you know that mean ‘no fucking,’ right?


I guess they didn’t make that clear at the seminar."

A highly recommended read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On health care: Obama to increase coverage, McCain to increase taxes

Does anyone remember that there are actual issues at stake in this election? Looking at recent media coverage, the answer isn't clear. One of the biggest looming issues will be the ongoing health care crisis.

Several scholars (including one advising Obama's campaign) have written an article for the Wall Street Journal outlining the differences between the two candidates' health care plans. This article is well worth reading.

Of significance:

"The Obama plan would give individuals and small firms the option of joining large insurance pools. With large patient pools, a few people incurring high medical costs will not topple the entire system, so insurers would no longer need to waste time, money and resources weeding out the healthy from the sick, and businesses and individuals would no longer have to subject themselves to that costly and stressful process."

By way of contrast:

"Sen. McCain, who constantly repeats his no-new-taxes promise on the campaign trail, proposes a big tax hike as the solution to our health-care crisis. His plan would raise taxes on workers who receive health benefits, with the idea of encouraging their employers to drop coverage. A study conducted by University of Michigan economist Tom Buchmueller and colleagues published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that the McCain tax hike will lead employers to drop coverage for over 20 million Americans."

Full column here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Private Vendettas

Of all the stories that have circulated in the press lately about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, perhaps the most frightening ones are related to her actual conduct in office. From contemplated book-banning to obsessive secrecy... is this really a woman we want a heartbeat away from the American presidency? Here's some of the latest from the New York Times:

"So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency..."

Also: "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.

Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process."

Palin lied about visits to Iraq and Ireland

From Andrew Sullivan:

I cannot quite keep count at this point of the bald-faced lies that the McCain-Palin campaign has been telling to a pliant, pathetic, useless excuse for an American press corps. But here's the latest. We were all told by the McCain-Palin campaign that Sarah Palin had visited Iraq earlier this year:

Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

This was another simple lie. Not a distortion, a lie.

Sullivan's full blog post is here.

Report: Palin never abandoned Nowhere Project

From Pro Publica:

I "told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,'" [Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin] said in her speech accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination. "If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves."

But Gov. Palin’s administration acknowledges that it is still pursuing a project that would link Ketchikan to its airport -- with the help of as much as $73 million in federal funds earmarked by Congress for the original project.

"What the media isn't reporting is that the project isn't dead," Roger Wetherell, spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Transportation, said.

Full story here.

As Jeremy Villano put it, "This is just fantastic. Gov. Palin's Alaskan administration is STILL pursuing funds for the Bridge to Nowhere. The same project she initially supported, denied supporting it, got called out for lying, denied the lying, and is now still trying to get funds."

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quote of the Day: 'John Bush' is his own man

"Because John Bush, umm, John McCain is his own man." -Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor and and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Speaking out of both sides of their arse

Top-of-the-line news archivists at The Daily Show have tracked down a series of video clips showing conservatives like Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly flip-flopping on issues like executive experience and teen pregnancy... a highly entertaining tape.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McCain's oil-addicted candidacy

"With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil."
-Thomas Friedman in the New York Times

Friedman continues:

"Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

David Broder gives us the lowdown on Improv Night at the GOP:

"The trash cartons in every passageway in the Xcel Energy Center here bore the injunction 'Recycle Only,' so it was natural enough that the organizers of the Republican National Convention -- forced to improvise their program because of the hurricane that cost them opening night -- did just that. They decided to treat the delegates and a national television audience to speeches by three of the most familiar and weather-beaten figures in American politics -- recycled into roles they had never been asked to take on."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Associated Press article takes exception with McCain's claims about Obama's experience

The Associated Press has published a list of factual inaccuracies in John McCain's contention that Sarah Palin is as experienced in public service as Barack Obama.

Among the deceptions listed by the AP: Palin was a government official while Obama was a community organizer.

Actual truth: Palin was in college and working as a local sport announcer while Obama was leading a church-based community group.