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."

Results:

"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 freerepublic.com 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.