Friday, October 31, 2008

Quote of the Day for Halloween

"I was thinking about dressing up. And I really wanted to be scary. I thought I would dress up like George W. Bush. Then I realized: John McCain took that costume."

-- Hillary Clinton at a Kirtland, OH rally for Obama-Biden

Former Reagan Chief of Staff Is For Obama

And he has some choice words about Gov. Moosekiller.

Final Tennessee Early Voting Numbers

The final figures are up at the state web site. There were 1,550,939 Tennesseans who cast ballots during the early voting period that ended yesterday. That includes 190,705 from Davidson County. Those marks break the record set in 2004. Let's hope election day voting continues the trend on Tuesday.

The Daily Show Baracks

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Bet Mitch McConnell Just Loves It Too

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) apparently thinks it's great the GOP is out of power in the senior chamber. I'm glad we're in agreement. (Yes, I know what he's referring to - the way Senate rules are set up the minority does have clout, but it's still funny to have him say what he said today.) From Nashville Post (subscription required):

On the Senate, Frist said that it is really the minority leader of the U.S. Senate that sets the agenda.

"You don't want to be majority leader," Frist said, "it's a minority driven body."

Good Ratings for Obama Infomercial

Nielsen says 21.7 percent of households in the nation's top local TV markets watched Wednesday's program.

Joe the Plumber Stands Up John McCain

Now this is funny.

Don't Vote Alone

Choices

Robots Attack!

Obama in Sarasota Florida

Rearview Mirror

Something

A Democratic Response

Pollster Stan Greenberg has a response to the memo McCain pollster Bill McInturff sent out the other day. It begins this way:

Dear Bill,

I very much enjoyed your spirited note on the state of the race and Barack Obama’s “ballot position.” It reminds me how much I miss our times working together on the bipartisan polls for NPR and for many of our corporate clients. I miss in particular the banter before those meetings when your Republican colleagues fretted over their teenage children going off to Obama rallies.

To read the rest of this interesting letter click here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

American Stories, American Solutions

76 American Nobel Prize Winners Endorse Obama

(Click here to download of a copy of the full letter with the names of those who signed it.)

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

We have watched Senator Obama's approach to these issues with admiration. We especially applaud his emphasis in the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation's competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take -- through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research -- to meet the nation's and world's most urgent needs.

The Ugliness Continues

FiveThirtyEight.com has a report on a nasty encounter between several McCain-Palin supporters leaving a Miami rally and two Obama-Biden sign-wavers.

Some folks just need to chill out! It's okay if we disagree with each other politically. The day that stops being okay is the day this country is finished.

A Dry Affair

Barack Obama's election night gathering at Chicago's Grant Park will be without music or booze, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

If people want to dance in joy, they may have to hum to themselves: The application says there will be no live or amplified music — “spoken word only.’’

Hot dogs, pizza and hot chocolate will be sold; alcohol will not, according to the campaign.

McSame's Choice

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mudcat Saunders for Obama

The Closing Argument

Ted Stevens the Felon

Alaska Republican US Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of violating Senate ethics rules by a federal jury today. Will President Bush pardon him before he goes out of office? You betcha is my prediction. He'll probably cite Stevens' age (84) in doing so. Hopefully the good people of Alaska will turn him out on November 4; otherwise, it takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to expel him. Only 15 have been expelled since 1789, and most of those were kicked out for supporting the Confederacy (the only one that wasn't was Tennessee's own William Blount, who was expelled in 1797 for "anti-Spanish conspiracy and treason" according to the Senate web site). Perhaps he'll have the decency to resign as other disgraced senators not named Larry Craig have in the past, but I'm not sure he'll do that while appealing his conviction.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wassup? True Change

No on 8

Schoolhouse Rock for 2008 Voters



(FT: Post Politics)

The Ragin' Cajun' Goes Snap!

From Salon.com:

Democratic strategist James Carville, speaking Friday at a reporters' breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor:

"The reason Republicans are excited about Joe the Plumber is they're glad to have someone hanging around a toilet other than Larry Craig."

The State of American Conservatism Today

The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity--and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.

- E. J. Dionne

No More Wall Street First, Main Street Last

For Obama In Israel

Former Bush Press Secretary Backs Obama

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah to Arnie: Thanks for the Ringing Endorsement

Thank God I Voted Early or This Might Have Happened

Conservatives For Change



ConservativesForChange.com

I Hope Charlie Is Right

From Electoral-Vote.com:

Back in 2007, when practically every pundit saw Rudy Giuliani as the inevitable Republican nominee, political guru Charlie Cook said he (Cook) was more likely to win the Tour de France than the Republicans were to nominate a thrice-married, gay-friendly, Catholic New Yorker. Cook didn't win the Tour de France and Giuliani didn't win the nomination, so Cook gets a certain amount of credit. Now he says there are six factors pointing to an Obama win in two weeks:

1. No candidate this far back two weeks out has ever won.
2. Early voting is going strong and even if something big happens, those votes are already cast.
3. The Democrats have a 10% advantage in party registration; in 2004 it was even.
4. Obama is outspending McCain 4 to 1 in many states.
5. There is no evidence for the so-called Bradley effect in the past 15 years.
6. Obama is safe in all the Kerry states and ahead in half a dozen states Bush won.

They Thought It Was a Football Game

Taken today at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH:


(via Salon.com)

Don't They Realize the Rest of Us Will Hear About These Statements?

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

"I couldn't agree with you more than the fact that western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most patriotic part of America."

- Sen. John McCain, quoted by the Washington Post, obviously visiting one of the "pro-America" places Gov. Sarah Palin talked about last week.

North Carolina

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Robin Hayes the Liar

First, US Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) denied that he said that "liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God." He actually said this soon after saying that Republicans should "make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean." Now that he's been confronted with audio that proves his denial was a lie, he's acting like he didn't mean it. Typical Republican politician. It's not the "liberal" media, stupid, but your own big mouth. Read all about it here.

Sarah's a Drag!

As if more evidence was needed. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll gives Barack Obama a 10-point edge and fingers Gov. Moosekiller as a possible culprit along with economic concerns:

Fifty-five percent of voters say Gov. Palin isn't qualified to be president if the need arises, up from 50% two weeks ago. And when given a list of possible concerns about Sen. McCain, voters were by far most likely to say they worry about Gov. Palin's qualification to be president.

The concern about Gov. Palin may also be reflected in the enthusiasm gap between the candidates, which appeared to be closing after the conventions but has widened again. Four in 10 McCain voters call him the "lesser of two evils"; 14% of Obama voters feel the same way. Twenty-six percent of McCain voters say they are excited about their vote; twice as many Obama voters feel excited.

UPDATE: The Pew Research Center poll has similar results.

Al Bundy For Obama

Erratic

Business As Usual For Sarah Palin

The AP is reporting that Sarah Palin made taxpayers foot the bill for some of her children's travel expenses even when they weren't invited to events:

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor's children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters — Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 — by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor's schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

Several other organizers said the children merely accompanied their mother and did not participate. The trips enabled Palin, whose main state office is in the capital of Juneau, to spend more time with her children.

More McTongue!

WSJ Throws Hissy Fit About Bernanke

The ultraconservatives at the Wall Street Journal are up in arms about Ben Bernanke warming to the Democrats' economic stimulus plan:

Ben Bernanke apparently wants four more years as Federal Reserve Chairman. At least that's a reasonable conclusion after Mr. Bernanke all but submitted his job application to Barack Obama yesterday by endorsing the Democratic version of fiscal "stimulus."

While the Fed chief said any stimulus should be "well targeted," even a general endorsement amounts to a political green light. Mr. Bernanke certainly knows that Mr. Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill are talking about some $300 billion in new "stimulus" spending, while President Bush and Republicans are resisting. And by saying any help should "limit longer-term effects" on the federal deficit, he had to know he was reinforcing Democratic opposition to permanent tax cuts.

Ken Adelman For Obama?!

The old saying that "politics makes strange bedfellows" never had truer meaning than the endorsement of Barack Obama by Ken Adelman. The self-described "con-con" has right-wing Republican credentials going back many years. From the New Yorker's George Packer:

Ken Adelman is a lifelong conservative Republican. Campaigned for Goldwater, was hired by Rumsfeld at the Office of Economic Opportunity under Nixon, was assistant to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld under Ford, served as Reagan’s director of arms control, and joined the Defense Policy Board for Rumsfeld’s second go-round at the Pentagon, in 2001. Adelman’s friendship with Rumsfeld, Cheney, and their wives goes back to the sixties, and he introduced Cheney to Paul Wolfowitz at a Washington brunch the day Reagan was sworn in.


In recent years, Adelman and his friends Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz fell out over his criticisms of the botching of the Iraq War. Still, he remains a bona-fide hawk (“not really a neo-con but a con-con”) who has never supported a Democrat for President in his life. Two weeks from now that’s going to change: Ken Adelman intends to vote for Barack Obama. He can hardly believe it himself.


Why is he voting for Obama? Temperament and judgment. For his explanation, click here for the rest of Packer's post.

Postscript: In a separate post Adelman had this to say about experience and the McCain campaign's scorched earth tactics:

The Republican handling of the war made me value “experience” far less. If Cheney, Rumsfeld & Powell are the epitome of experience, I’ll take the alternative. They’ve given experience a bad name.

Further thought: McCain’s campaign soured me a lot. His hiring of the Bush attack squad, South Carolina 2000, made me view this honorable man as heading a dishonorable effort. And that’s still the case. It’s pretty disgusting, what he’s doing...

John Cleese on the Funniest Palin

An Iraq Veteran For Obama

Susan Eisenhower Quotes Her Grandfather

Obama Pals Around With Hippies?!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My, How Presidential You Look

Colin Powell Speaks to Reporters After "Meet the Press"

Powell and Running Out the Clock

From Time's Mark Halperin:

The decision is not only symbolic but, in terms of timing, one of great tactical importance. Powell is a brand unto himself in American politics, and clearly transcends the media's tendency to hype endorsements more than their actual importance to voters. However, the indisputable benefit that Powell brings Obama is that the former Secretary of State and general is sure to block out any chance McCain has of winning the next two or three days of news coverage, as the media swoons over the implications of the choice. It is simple political math: McCain has 15 days to close a substantial gap, and he will now lose at least one fifth of his total remaining time.

I Thought Picking Sarah Palin Did That

Newt Gingrich on Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama:

"What that just did in one sound bite...is it eliminated the experience argument."

The Right Stuff

Sean Braisted nails it in his reaction to the Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama:

As cross party endorsement after cross party endorsement shows, Obama has shown to have the intellect and temperament necessary to rule this country. Yes, McCain has served with some level of distinction for most of his life, but the Presidency is not an atta-boy for good deeds in the past. He's failed in the leadership tests of this campaign, he's failed to distinguish himself from a broken Republican party, and on November 4th, he'll fail to earn the faith and trust of the American people to lead them into the next four years.

MC Yogi: Vote For Hope

Meet the Press Colin Powell Segment

Colin Powell Says Yes We Can!

Tina's a Better Sarah Than Sarah

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wise Words From A Wise Man

From an AP story:

"We now have 19 days," Obama said. "We are now 19 days not from the end but from the beginning. The amount of work that is going to be involved for the next president is going to be extraordinary."

But, he said, for anyone getting cocky or giddy, "two words for you: New Hampshire. I've been in these positions before where we were favored and the press starts getting carried away, and we end up getting spanked." Obama won the Iowa caucuses, only to lose to Clinton in New Hampshire in the primary.

More of the McSame

Out of McSame's Own Mouth

A True Man For All Seasons


Ten years ago today Comer A. Donnell of Lebanon, TN passed away at the age of 89. The man I called "Granddaddy" was more than just a grandparent to me - he was a true "Man For All Seasons" whose integrity, humility and compassion were inspiring to family, friends and colleagues.

Those who knew him miss him very much. Perhaps they'll agree with me that a decade later our strongest feelings when thinking about him are grounded in gratitude. We're grateful because the blessing of knowing him was such a wonderful gift.

Our family mounted an Internet tribute site about him several years ago. If you'd like to know why those who knew him cherished him so much click here and I think you'll make that discovery through his life story and pictures.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sad End For McCain

"The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Senator McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me." - Barack Obama responding to John McCain's comments about William Ayers

It seems the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove playbook has no new chapter on how to handle a campaign when the Republican candidate is tanking in the race. Despite polling that indicates a majority of Americans are not responding as the McCain campaign would wish to negative attacks on Obama, McCain figured his strongest hand in tonight's Presidential debate was playing more of the same failed strategy.

Somehow it's appropriate - why should he change despite evidence that what he's been doing hasn't worked? McCain represents more of the same after eight years of alleged conservative rule by the GOP, and Americans know it no matter how hard the Arizona senator tries to run away from George W. Bush. He projected touching empathy about the economic plight of many Americans in one of his responses, but for most of the night it was attack, attack, attack.

It's sad that a war hero and former leader of the "Straight Talk Express" wants to have these final days as his electoral legacy. While both have the burning ambition to be President, it's McCain that sold his soul to get his party's nomination. The man who called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" and said that "Sooner or later people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future, or you're not ready to articulate it" is long gone.

Bob Schieffer decided to be less a moderator and more a fight instigator, which I think was unnecessary and more about trying to produce soundbites than reveal anything worthwhile to the public. Of course, Obama had called out McCain over Ayers recently, and I believe he was hoping to goad McCain into looking like a slightly unhinged snapping turtle. If so Obama got his wish.

McCain was clumsy in his attacks, including ACORN, with which he has also had dealings. The group is "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," McCain said. But what is that fraud and how is Obama specifically tied into this supposed great fraud? McCain didn't say. It was a poorly delivered attack that won't mean much to non-political junkies.

Then there were other low-lights, such as McCain referring to pro-choice stances as "pro-abortion." When you're trying to get more than right-wingers to vote for you, that language isn't much help. And pretending you don't have a judicial litmus test over Roe vs. Wade while saying that a jurist would essentially be unqualified for the Supreme Court if he or she approved of that decision is an obvious contradiction.

McCain snapped, snorted, rolled his eyes and interrupted Obama at various points tonight. McCain's handlers have done a poor job of reminding their boss that his body language matters in a televised debate and for third time he failed on that count.

Obama was smart to essentially pass on pillorying Sarah Palin, who's done a good enough job of that on her own. And he basically kept his cool during this debate as he did during the previous two.

Bottom line: this debate did not move the needle to McCain, no matter how much he and his supporters will try to spin it. As so many have already said, it's going to take an outside event of mammoth proportions to change this race. The tired Republican attack machine - personified by the sad, angry figure of McCain tonight - will not determine the outcome.

UPDATE: Snap polls by CNN and CBS say Obama made it three-for-three with another debate victory tonight. Whether he did or not, McCain certainly didn't get what he needed out of this final get-together.

Presidential Debate: Impact and Cost


The New York Times has a story about the impact hosting a Presidential debate can have:

Greg Pillon, the marketing and communications director for Belmont, said the publicity value of staging the debate was estimated as of Tuesday to be $21.6 million, according to the company it hired to track mentions of Belmont in the news media, News Power Online. There were 3,920 television mentions since the end of September, he said, and the university’s web site traffic had intensified.

The cost?

...the university still needed to solicit more donations to cover the roughly $3 million it spent on the event.

"We’re not quite there, but we will be," Robert Fisher, Belmont University’s president, said in an ebullient telephone interview this morning. "It’s the easiest money I’ve ever had to raise."

My Vote For Change

I was in line at the Belle Meade City Hall at 8 AM to cast my ballot as the first day of Tennessee's early voting dawned bright and clear. The line wasn't too long and moved quite quickly. In fact, the longest part of the process was reading the two Metro charter amendments on the ballot. I voted yes on both.

In what will surely be the most unsurprising statement I'll make on my blog I voted the straight Democratic ticket (Barack Obama, Bob Tuke, Jim Cooper and, in the case of my State House District, Gary Odom). It was exciting given the interest this election has generated, but I'm one of that dying breed that finds voting in EVERY election exciting because of the privilege we have in choosing our leaders.

Like virtually everyone else I expect Obama to win Davidson County and lose Tennessee. A majority of the folks in this relatively poor state will once again vote against their own economic self-interest, convinced that one day Republicans will make them rich too and that Democrats are traitors, terrorists, baby killers and devil worshipers. I've tried to tell some of them that we're really pretty nice once you get to know us, but it may take several years before they realize we don't have horns and cloven hooves.

I am not complacent about the momentum Obama apparently has but I agree with the conventional wisdom that he's primed to win the White House unless a whopper of an October surprise emerges. Obviously I'll gladly take being part of a national majority while I'm a minority voter in the Volunteer State.

UPDATE: Wow. Davidson County had its largest first-day Early Voting total ever (though for the record we've only been doing this since 1994).

Early Voting Begins Today in Tennessee!

Memphis' own Justin Timberlake gets a vocal makeover (courtesy Jessica Biel) as early voting begins today in Tennessee.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bye Bye Buckley

Christopher Buckley's gone from The National Review following his endorsement of Barack Obama:

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

It's The Economy, Stupid!

From the New York Times:

The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.

Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said that they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.

New Energy

What's Your Tax Cut?

Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe's Latest Strategy Update

Monday, October 13, 2008

Washington Post/ABC News: Obama Ahead In More Ways Than One

More happy news (well, if you've got my political persuasion):

The new Washington Post/ABC News national poll puts John McCain behind Barack Obama by 10 points -- his biggest deficit in the survey since the general election began in June.

But, that's not the worst news in the poll for McCain. A detailed look inside the poll shows just how toxic the national political environment has become for Republicans and suggests that McCain's attempts to deprecate Obama and portray him as a risky pick have, to date, backfired.

An Eerie Similarity

A Republican worried about an Arizona senator who "sounds a little irresponsible during a campaign," who talks about "total victory" and got nominated despite the fact that many of his party's base have long opposed him? "If you unite behind a man you don't believe in it's a lie," this Republican says about Barry Goldwater in a 1964 ad for Lyndon Johnson. The specifics he cites may have changed, but given some of the conservative columnists who've come out against McCain in recent days, this ad eerily sounds just as true in some places about John McCain.



Postscript: A friend sent me this post which also embeds the ad in this post. Part of his analysis sums up the modern Republican party nicely:

The poor man, such an icon of highly-educated, upper-income traditional Republicanism, so dismayed about the ideological radicals that seem to have taken over his party. He elaborately lights a cigarette. “I tell you, those people who got control of that convention..” - he looks at us, unnerved - “who are they?”

Well, forty years later we can answer his question: they are the men who will take over your party. Who will drive your likes out as RINOs, and will remake the Republican Party in their own image. First Nixon will come back, and embrace the Southern bigots who abandoned the Democrats. Then Reagan will wither against the Evil Empire and usher in an era of big-lending voodoo economics. Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan will become credible primary candidates. Finally, your party will swear allegiance to the faux-ranching, warmongering, born-again conservative populist George Bush Junior, as it feeds on a diet of televised shoutfests and talk radio shows which ridicule everyone who sounds remotely like you. And when Bush fails, the know-nothings that will by then dominate the grassroots of your party will place their last hopes on a know-nothing novice Governor from Alaska, while ranting about the Democratic candidate as a “traitor” or a “terrorist”, shouting “treason!” and “kill him!”

That’s who they are.

Hitchens for Obama?!

When one of the biggest cheerleaders for Bush's misbegotten war in Iraq says it's time for Obama, you know the bandwagon is getting heavy:

Last week's so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendos and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendos and slanders for him.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pick Your President Contest

<p><strong>><a href='http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/'>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election and enter to win a $500 prize.</p>

Note: This is my "wish list" map. I will of course be happy with any combination that gets Obama to 270.

A Republican For Obama at GOP Birthplace

All McSame Has Left

Saturday, October 11, 2008

TIME on Sarah's Governance: "Shockingly Amateurish"

Time Magazine's analysis of the Troopergate report is pretty damning to Sarah Palin's executive abilities:

Did Governor Sarah Palin abuse the power of her office in trying to get her former brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten, fired? Yes.

Was the refusal to fire Mike Wooten the reason Palin fired Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan? Not exclusively, and it was within her rights as the states' chief executive to fire him for just about any reason, even without cause.

Those answers were expected, given that most of the best pieces of evidence have been part of the public record for months. The result is not a mortal wound to Palin, nor does it put her at much risk of being forced to leave the ticket her presence succeeded in energizing.

But the Branchflower report still makes for good reading, if only because it convincingly answers a question nobody had even thought to ask: Is the Palin administration shockingly amateurish? Yes, it is. Disturbingly so.

Alaska? Sarah, You Don't Know the Half of It

A fellow Alaskan tears Gov. Mooseburger to shreds:

Like many Alaskans, I resent Palin’s claims that she speaks for all of us, and cringe when she tosses off her stump speech line, “Well, up in Alaska, we….” Not only did I not vote for her, she represents the antithesis of the Alaska I love. As mayor, she helped shape Wasilla into the chaotic, poorly planned strip mall that it is; as governor, she’s promoted that same headlong drive toward development and despoilment on a grand scale, while paying lip service to her love of the place.

As for that frontierswoman shtick, take another look at that hairpiece-augmented beehive and those stiletto heels. Coming from a college-educated family, living in a half-million-dollar view home, basking in a net worth of $1.25 million, and having owned 40-some registered motorized vehicles in the past two decades (including 17 snowmobiles and a plane) hardly qualifies Palin and her clan as the quintessential Joe Six-Pack family unit — though the adulation from that quarter shows the Palins must be fulfilling some sort of role-model fantasy.

Palin can claim to know Alaska; the fact is, she’s seen only a minuscule fraction of it — and that doesn’t include Little Diomede Island, the one place in Alaska where you actually can see Russia. So she can ride an ATV and shoot guns. Set her down in the bush on her own and I bet we’d discover she’s about as adept at butchering a moose and building a fire at 40 below zero as she is at discussing Supreme Court decisions. And that mountain-woman act is only the tip of a hollow iceberg.

Character? Let The Other Guys Worry About That

Yeah, "character counts" - unless you're a Republican like Gov. Sarah "Abuse of Power" Palin. Then it's okay to do something wrong.

I can hear Republicans now: "But there are Democrats who've done this too." That's right, although as my grandmother used to say, "Two wrongs don't make one right." Others will say, "Oh, it's a partisan witch hunt." Well, there were Alaskan Republicans involved in getting this matter investigated too, so maybe you should call it a "bipartisan witch hunt." Of course, if Hillary Clinton had been a governor and done this, I bet "witch hunt" is NOT the description they would have used.

Not that Democrats have never been hypocrites (our party leadership will support the unnecessary, costly Iraq war too until it becomes unpopular and then pretend it has been standing up to George W. Bush on the matter). But the Republicans have been culture war-leading hypocrites about such "character" matters for years (it's bad for Bill Clinton to attempt covering up an extra-marital affair while President but okay for Newt Gingrich to do so while Speaker of the House).

The bottom line is that if a Democrat had done this Fox News and every wingnut blogger from Charleston to Fairbanks would've been calling for that Democrat's head. Watch as they again rationalize and defend Gov. Mooseburger's actions because she's one of their own.

Friday, October 10, 2008

And Now, Before Our Feature Begins

McCain Communicating By Carrier Pigeon

I Don't Know You Anymore

Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken doesn't recognize the John McCain he's known before:

"He is not the McCain I endorsed," said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.

"I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues."

Milliken, a lifelong Republican, is among some past leaders from the party's moderate wing voicing reservations and, in some cases, opposition to McCain's candidacy.

Bond Returns

Quantum of Solace opens October 31 in the UK and November 14 in the USA.

Belmont Meets SNL

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some Pie and a Possible Conversion

"I can take four more weeks of John McCain's attacks but America can't take four more years of John McCain/George Bush lookalike Republican policies."
- Barack Obama, Portsmouth OH, October 9, 2008


Negative Attacks

Tested and Found Wanting

No Surprise To Me

Ingrid Jackson of Nashville, one of the questioners in Tuesday's Presidential debate, had this to say to The Tennessean regarding a point I raised in my post-debate post:


She said Obama's personal touch, staying after the debate for photos and autographs, made an impression on many of the participants, while McCain's leaving almost immediately after it was over also left an impression.


"I talked to several people," she said. "We all pretty much had the same opinion. We were all disappointed (McCain) left."

No Surprise Here

From an AP story detailing Barack Obama's advertising dollars advantage over John McCain:

With national and state polls showing him building a broader lead over McCain, Obama has switched to a more positive pitch. Last week, only 34 percent of his ads attacked McCain directly while virtually all of McCain’s ads attacked Obama, according to a study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

National Sacrifices

A Republican Senator's Wife

Ethics

North Carolina Mills

What One Hand Giveth ...

Apparently Not Everyone Enjoyed Their Stay

Wow, the Music City and Belmont University got no love from Sean Quinn in a post on FiveThirtyEight.com:

By the way, a special shout out for an absolutely horrible experience on the campus of Belmont University. I'm not sure I've ever been to a less welcoming place. We hated this campus and the staff here so much that we left to watch the debate at a pizza joint. I don't like to regret things, but it would be hard to overstate how terrible a day this has been, and how crappy every interaction we had in Tennessee was. It was a terrible decision to leave Indiana and come down here. That had to be said for the record.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Attacks Disappointing, Humor Lame


A CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters and CNN's quick poll said most thought Barack Obama won tonight's debate with John McCain.

McCain did better on domestic issues this time than he did in the first debate, but Obama held his own there. McCain's foreign policy answers, particularly his "victory with honor" reply, weren't particularly effective for a guy who is always touting his credentials on such matters. I don't think McCain ended with a clear advantage in this encounter, so a win for Obama or a draw that's as good as a win for him is probably a reasonable assessment.

In pure debating terms, though, I was disappointed in all the attacks each made when they were asked about various issues. If I could speak to them, I think I'd say, "Ultimately, I don't think we want to know what you're against as much as we want to know what you're for. I think you can highlight the differences you have without resorting to the darts both of you threw at each other for much of the evening. And please, guys, stop trying to crack jokes because neither of you are very good at making or delivering them."

One thing I found interesting watching C-Span after the debate was that McCain couldn't get out of there fast enough when it was over. He departed about two minutes after the debate ended according to the clock C-Span ran in the lower right-hand corner of their transmission. Obama and his wife Michelle were there for over 20 minutes afterward. Both had functions to go to I'm sure, but apparently McCain couldn't take being around the "common man" Gallup questioners for too long. It wasn't a town-hall debate, but I saw the same thing in person 16 years ago when George H.W. Bush left quickly following the St. Louis debate while Bill Clinton hung around to meet people, listen to them, answer questions, give autographs and take pictures as Obama did.

Real Issues for Real People

A Real Healthcare Plan

And Now For a Pre-Debate Musical Interlude

TENNESSEE WALTZ

My Wife's McCain Sighting

My wife saw John McCain earlier today as he was leaving the Marriott. She reported that some folks were irritated that they were momentarily barred by police from proceeding on foot or by car as McCain and his entourage got into their motorcade and departed. I feel like she does - what is their problem? It's an honor to have this debate here, and it's silly to be put out because you had to stop briefly to let a presidential candidate move from one place to another. We've had several presidential visits to Nashville over the years where similar situations occurred. I don't think it's asking much of our so-called "Southern hospitality" to just smile and wave as the motorcade goes by.

The Subject

CNN Truth Squad: Keating Film "True"

McCain 2008, Meet McCain 2000

"Sooner or later people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future, or you're not ready to articulate it."

- John McCain in 2000, bearing no resemblance to the desperate hypocritical political hack he is today

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fat Women In Trailers!

Another of the great numbers from Doyle and Debbie. They're still playing at Nashville's Station Inn - go see them!

McCain-Keating Economics

That Bailout/Rescue Vote Is Really Working

Stocks plunged again this morning.

Unlike A Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone has a new article on John McSame, er, McCain.

His Judgment's Worse Now

The Los Angeles Times has a story about John McCain's naval aviation career that makes for interesting reading. Given his choice of running mate, his campaign "suspension" and other decisions I think his judgment's worse now.

Last Day To Register

The voter registration deadline is today in many states including Tennessee. Use this tool to register, request an absentee ballot or find your polling location for November 4. And remember that early voting begins October 15 (a week from this Wednesday) in the Volunteer State.

McCain Still Has That Keating Feeling

Friday, October 3, 2008

Real Common Sense

Joe Conason has it:

As Biden showed quite convincingly when he spoke about his modest background and his continuing connection with Main Street, perceptive, intelligent discourse is in no way identical with elitism. Palin's phony populism is as insulting to working- and middle-class Americans as it is to American women. Why are basic diction and intellectual coherence presumed to be out of reach for "real people"?

His full article is here.

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart


(Via Daily Kos)

No Big Wall Street Bounce

No big stock bounce today after the bailout was approved by the House and signed by President Bush.

Job Killing? GOP Has Done That

McCain's Health Tax

Bailout Bill Passes House

The so-called Emergency Economic Stabilazation Act of 2008 has passed the US House 263-171. 172 Democrats and 91 Republicans joined to pass the bill. Republican Zach Wamp changed his vote from Monday's tally in the Tennessee delegation:

YES
Cooper, Cohen, Gorden, Tanner, Wamp

NO
Blackburn, Lincoln Davis, David Davis, Duncan


I guess that confirms Lincoln Davis is running for Governor in 2010 on the Democratic side (though that's basically been known for some time).

I hope this bill works. I still don't believe this will get us out of what we've gotten into but it's done so let's hope it does what we've been told it will do.

A Genuine VP Candidate

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Than Weddings And Funerals

A great deal has changed since Harry Truman declared that the job description of the Vice President boiled down to attending weddings and funerals. Recent Veeps have been more directly involved in decisions made at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Their constitutional role may basically be that of US Senate presiding officer, but their practical participation in presidential administrations has grown considerably since Truman's time.

That's why tonight's debate and her statements to the news media in recent weeks paint a clear picture of Sarah Palin as someone we should not entrust with the nation's second-highest office. Yes, her folksy charm, complete with a host of colloquial terms, was in evidence tonight (though someone might want to help her with the pronunciation of the word "nuclear"). She made sure to get her prepared talking points in - even when she seemed to be less a person and more a machine in the way she delivered them.

Her "I'm going to talk straight to the American people" ploy was ridiculous - in such a debate she already is. I know politicians are good at answering questions with a prepared answer that has nothing to do with the question, but why did she think she shouldn't have to answer some questions put to her in the debate? If she's as ready to serve us nationally as her supporters say she is then questions from reporters and political adversaries shouldn't bother her in the least.

I know that Republicans are going to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket no matter what happened tonight just like this Democrat is going to vote for Obama-Biden. I will never claim that my ticket is perfect or that I agree with everything they've said, done or plan to do. But when I watch Joe Biden, despite moments such as his "chief commander" remark tonight and his recent "FDR was on TV in 1929" goof, I see and hear someone who actually knows the ins and outs of the subjects a holder of high national office should know.

We'll need a Vice President to aid our Commander-in-Chief with heavy lifting on foreign policy, energy independence, the economy and other issues. Why should we should elect someone who thinks "Drill, baby, drill" is a great response to our energy woes? That would be a down-the-road drop-in-the-bucket in terms of handling our consumption demands. Why should we support someone who thinks a reasonable plan for getting out of a monumentally costly Iraq conflict is waving the white flag and hurting the troops (she got her troop numbers wrong by the way despite her notes)? It's become apparent in recent years that most Americans want us out of there, including many in Palin's political party. And though my brief 1980s stay in the US Army was in peacetime, I'm confident that troops aren't hurt by getting to come home, including Sarah's and Joe's soldier offspring.

It's laughable that she would conclude Obama and Biden are caught in the past. She and the Forever Warrior are trying to sell us the same snake oil Republicans have poured down our throats through several years of borrow-and-spend, take-care-of-our-rich-buddies, lie-to-get-us-into-war, say-one-thing-and-do-another governance. And sadly for this nation the GOP doesn't even have the decency to give us a Veep pick worthy of the 21st Century, or even most of the 20th Century. It's about more than weddings and funerals now.

UPDATE: A CNN poll of viewers gives the nod to Biden by a 51%-36% margin. The most telling statistic? 84 percent of the people polled said Palin exceeded their expectations in the debate. Considering the fact that Republican pundits did their best to put those expectations as low as possible, that's not surprising. I think she would have gotten that number for not tripping on the carpet as she made her way onstage with the bar set so low by her supporters.

We Interrupt Our Election 2008 Coverage ...

... To bring you this video clip of the Alicia Keys/Jack White musical collaboration for the upcoming James Bond film Quantum of Solace scheduled to open in the US on November 14:

Right = Rage + Self-Pity

Glenn Greenwald calls out the Republican Right for its "religion of rage and self-pity" as its electoral problems mount:

They have run the country for the entire decade. For the last 14 years, they've controlled the House for all but 20 months. They spent substantial parts of the last eight years in control of all branches of government simultaneously. They've won 7 out of the last 10 presidential elections. The country's largest and richest corporations -- including the ones owning the most powerful media outlets -- pour money into their party and perceive, correctly, that their interests are served by the Right's agenda.

But still -- they can't get a fair shake; everything is deeply oppressive to them; it's all so unfair. As they've ruled the country, it's been driven into the ground on every level. The President they revered and endlessly glorified is the most unpopular in modern American history. They've ushered in disastrous wars, virtual economic panic, state-sanctioned torture and astonishing debt. Their leaders have been exposed as bloated, corrupted criminals and hypocrites. Their current candidate chose as his Vice President someone who can barely string together a complete sentence or opine on the simplest of matters, and himself acknowledges that he's been joined at the hip with the failed Bush Presidency on virtually all key issues.

But still -- they're about to lose not because of anything they did, but because the corporate-owned Media hates them and is distorting their message; because they're being persecuted for their religion (which more than 75% of Americans share); because they are just weak, kind, good little Davids being hopelessly crushed by the Goliath forces arrayed in a confederacy against them. That they belong to virtually every majority group and wield most power makes no impact on any of that. This kind of self-centered, self-victimizing, self-pitying worldview provides great psychological comfort and a release from any responsibility for one's actions, and so they are highly motivated never to give it up. To the contrary, they'll cling to it -- are clinging to it -- even more desperately as their failures and rejection by the public become more vividly apparent.

Right to Privacy: Palin Vs McCain

Salon.com has a post in its War Room section that points up the apparent divide between Sarah Palin and John McCain over the issue of a constitutionally implied right to privacy:

When Katie Couric asked her whether "there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution," Sarah Palin gave the wrong answer. She said yes.

Now, depending on your point of view, that might be the right answer in a legal sense. But it was definitely the wrong answer politically. Social conservatives don't believe the Constitution protects a right to privacy, and Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark case in which the Supreme Court decided that it does, is one of the right's favorite examples of an "activist" decision. Moreover, John McCain, Palin's own running mate, appears to believe that Griswold was a bad decision and that there is no such right in the Constitution.

It's not easy to find out what McCain's position on Griswold is. And it's smart of him and his campaign to avoid any definitive statements either way. He's got to walk a pretty fine line on the issue: To appease his base, which has concerns about his record on social issues and judicial nominations, he has to at least hint that he's not a Griswold fan. On the other hand, he risks turning off independents with such a position. Opposing Roe v. Wade is one thing, but Griswold -- which, as Couric correctly pointed out, is the key precedent for Roe -- is something altogether different, and much riskier politically.

But in 1987, before he was running for president, he could afford to be less cautious. And in a floor statement he made supporting the controversial and ultimately unsuccessful nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, McCain made his feelings on the issue plain.

For the remarks he made in 1987 click here to read the full post.

Color By Numbers

The American Promise

A quote for the ages

I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system — one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it.

- Author and NY Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman, Sept. 30 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Senate Passes Revamped Bailout Bill

The US Senate has passed the bailout bill - pardon me, the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" - 74-25 (Ted Kennedy was absent because of his health) tonight with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John McCain all voting yes. Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker also voted for the measure. What opposition there was came primarily from Senators in tight reelection races like North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole.

To get the bill through the Senate so convincingly and hopefully persuade reluctant US House members to give their nod by Friday the bill was altered somewhat from the one that failed on Monday (the following comes from CQ Politics):

The Senate bill adds a provision that would expand, through 2009, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protection for bank accounts. The bill would temporarily increase insurance coverage to $250,000 per account, up from $100,000. That is designed to help small businesses and community banks in particular.

In a bid to lure House Republicans who voted against the bailout earlier this week, the Senate also added its proposal (HR 6049) to extend expiring tax provisions. The tax measure would stop the alternative minimum tax (AMT) from reaching into the pockets of millions more Americans; expand existing tax breaks for renewable energy, and renew the research and development credit for businesses.

House Republicans prefer the Senate version of the “extenders” measure, which is only partially offset with revenue raisers. House Democrats have been trying to pass extenders legislation with full offsets for all but disaster tax relief and the AMT patch.

I still have misgivings about the rush to give private financial firms a large public fiduciary assist. The bill now before Congress is much better than the blank check President Bush and Secretary Paulson initially wanted, though. I hope if it does pass the House that it helps individuals and small businesses as we're being assured it will by its supporters. Otherwise, we will have done little more than reward bad business practices while placing another long-term financial burden on the middle class.