Friday, October 31, 2008

John McCain will lose AZ. It's only a matter of time.

Kos, on the new R2K poll:
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 10/28-30. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)
McCain (R) 48
Obama (D) 47

Early voters (17 percent of sample)

McCain (R) 42
Obama (D) 54

Obama's putting new money into the state in the last 4 days of the race, and is forcing McCain to spend Monday (the day before Election Day) there instead of in Pennsylvania, a key tactical victory for Obama even if he doesn't win AZ. If Obama wins Arizona, however, there will lots of things to celebrate. Among them will be the potential realignment of the Mountain West-- a blue Arizona and Montana will mean Obama won the Rocky Mountain states 32 EVs to 12, the first time in modern history a Democrat has outperformed the Republicans there (Clinton tied it in '92). It's also heaping insult onto injury for McCain, and after his race-baiting campaign, he deserves every bit of it.

That's not the eye-popping news from this poll, however:
If the 2010 election for U.S. Senate were held today for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Janet Napolitano the Democrat and John McCain the Republican?
McCain (R) 45
Napolitano (D) 53

Janet Napolitano, the current governor, has an eye-popping 69-21 approval rating but will reach the end of her 2 term limit in 2010, just as John McCain comes up for re-election. McCain won't have it in him for a second tightly contested election in 2 years; he'll hang it up. This is the last stop for the Straight Talk Express.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lord Jesus, save me from your followers

From Wonkette:
Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”

In case you are failing to picture what it looks like when a bunch of Christians go pray at the site of the Wall St. bull, it looks a little something like this.

Irony is dead.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

IN-02: Puckett's gonna get smoked

Tribune/WSBT poll:
Donnelly (D-inc) 54
Puckett (R) 40

The Puckett "campaign's" reply:
The Puckett campaign says the gap is not insurmountable.

Heh. Good one.

the daughter of a slave votes for Barack Obama

Awesome. I'm sure there are perfectly legitimate reasons not to vote for Obama, but I'm glad I won't have to tell my grandkids that I tried to stand in the way of this (potentially) historic moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


an oldie but a goodie to take down a baddie

A brutally effective ad from last cycle is finally, finally being used against the vile Saxby Chambliss in Georgia:

Chambliss, you may remember, is the guy who beat former Senator Max Cleland by accusing him of being a coward and releasing an ad that slowly morphed Cleland's face into Osama bin Laden.

That would have been pretty low in itself, but Max Cleland gave both legs and an arm for his country in Vietnam.

Indiana politics: Rokita was part of Bush's 2000 election theft

Go figure. From TPM:
Yesterday we told you about an effort by Indiana's Republican secretary of state, Todd Rokita, to press federal and state authorities to prosecute ACORN for voter fraud. Rokita had said a review by his office of forms submitted by ACORN found "multiple criminal violations."

But it turns out that Rokita hardly has a reputation as a non-partisan public official. In October 2002, the South Bend Tribune reported (via nexis):

Working on his own time, [Rokita] also assisted George W. Bush's campaign during the infamous Florida election recount in 2000. Rokita is proud of that, especially because the U.S. Supreme Court cited Indiana election law when it decided the election in Bush's favor.

iPhone cutting into laptop use

Cyrus Farivar from Salon points out an interesting new development in the proliferation/evolution of smartphones: users get so much utility from them that they're leaving their laptops at home. From the Wall Street Journal:
These souped-up cousins of ordinary cellphones, with email and other Internet functions, have become much more powerful in the past year. So powerful, in fact, that they can handle nearly every computing chore that many business travelers need to do, from checking warehouse inventory levels to watching movies on airplanes. Best of all, users can do those tasks with a pocket-size gadget that weighs a few ounces, instead of a five-pound hunk of plastic that goes into a shoulder bag.

The result: Many travelers are now using smart phones the way they once used laptops -- and laptops the way they once used desktop computers. Mobile workers rely on their laptops to create PowerPoint presentations and do other heavy-duty computing. But then they leave the laptops in their offices, homes or hotel rooms and take their smart phones out into the world -- to client meetings, say, or factory visits.
...And it's clear that a sizable number of users already are starting to see their smart phone as a replacement for their laptop for at least some of their needs. In a survey of 460 iPhone users from March by Rubicon Consulting Inc., more than 28% of respondents strongly agreed and 29% mildly agreed when asked whether the iPhone was replacing their use of laptops.

I know there are at least 2 iPhone users who frequent this site and can comment on their experience. For my part, I've had a related, though very different experience as I rely entirely on a home assembled desktop. About a month ago, I decided to look around for some upgrades since my computer is about 2 1/2 years old now, and I was shocked at what I discovered: aside from RAM, PC desktop technology has hardly budged an inch. Nearly all of the components I bought as not-quite-top of the line in early 2006 are still upper-mid level quality, and several of them are still selling for the exact same price! Even most of the video games topping the sales lists are several years old, and one of them (World of Warcraft) is 4 years old, an eternity for, say, console games.

That was when I realized just how deeply laptops and smartphones are cutting into demand. It appears that the advantages desktops provide-- cheaper parts, more power, upgradability-- just aren't what people are looking for (or in the case of power, laptops are fast catching up). People don't need or want the savings of integrating their computing needs into one powerful device if it cuts into their portability, so they'd buy a laptop for their work and writing, a phone for their basic internet use, and a console for games, even if that means a huge rise in expenditures. Of course, if you're not a gamer or video editor, there's no need for a powerful computer, in which case desktops have only their slowly decreasing cost savings to offer you.

I'm interested to hear that people are increasingly using their smartphones more than their laptops, though. We can already see the end of the road for the desktop computer: when laptop prices and power become comparable and consoles suck all the air out of the video game market. What effect will smartphones ultimately have on laptops, though? Will laptops keep getting smaller and smartphones bigger until the two merge? Will the transfer of information and your personal files/programs between the two become so seamless that you can drop your iPhone and sit down with your MacBook (or vice versa) picking up right where you left off without any active plugging in or file transferring on your part, as if your entire digital collection and all your actions exist in virtual space, and the two pieces of hardware are merely portals to it? Would people stop buying laptops if, say, Apple develops a little cloth foldout keyboard that you can use wirelessly with your iPhone?

home of anti-war congressmen and racist baseball teams

Going to Cleveland this weekend to see an interview and Q & A with Dennis Kucinich at the Ohio Theater. "But el ranchero," I'm sure you're asking, "I don't get it. Even if you were a huge fan of DK, which you really aren't, you don't live in his district. And why is the interview in a theater?" Well, when the interviewer is Eddie friggin' Izzard, you have an event on your hands!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Guest post: Closing arguments.

Obama's got a good sense of timing. He (along with David Axlerod) knows when to go positive, when to go negative, when to ignore stuff, and when to push back.

He's also got enough money and and a disciplined enough campaign to do all three simultaneously, while only shifting the elements of his campaign that he so chooses into the national spotlight at any given moment.

Obama's closing speech was good, but at this point in the campaign, I think it's worth revisiting this speech:

I hope that on inauguration day we get another taste of that one.


Guess who for?

The line, by the way, was almost out the door at the County-City building in downtown South Bend at 2pm on a Saturday. The woman at the desk said it had been that way the day before as well.

Texas at Texas Tech

Don't look now, but for perhaps the first time ever, the Longhorns are coming to Lubbock as a top 10 team only to face another top 10 team. The national championship is still out of reach for the Red Raiders, as they just don't have the talent, but there is an outside chance they could land a BCS bid for the first time in school history. The problem is that the Big 12 is particularly strong this year, including the stoutest Texas team since Vince Young was at the helm, and a second team ahead of Tech in the rankings (Oklahoma), with Oklahoma State nipping at the Red Raiders' heels.

And Tech faces all 3 in the next 3 weeks.

Tech can still land a bowl game if Texas goes to the National Championship (or, alternatively, if Texas loses and Oklahoma goes to the dance, but who wants to see the Sooners get another chance to embarrass the Big 12 in January?), but it becomes far less likely if Tech becomes the 3rd Big 12 team in the polls. It's highly unlikely that Tech is going to survive the next 3 weeks without taking at least one loss, and two losses this late in the season will end their BCS hopes. It's more than a little ominous to consider that Tech ended Oklahoma's title hopes at the end of last season, and the team at the end of Tech's gauntlet? Oklahoma, of course. In Norman. Payback would, indeed, be a b**ch.

It goes without saying, then, that Tech has to knock out Oklahoma St. (something they haven't done in several years), and then they have to split the difference with Texas and Oklahoma in a squeaker to minimize the decline in the polls. I'm not sure USC or Georgia could pull off such a feat, but here we are, demanding it of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Let's face it, kids, upsetting a serious contender is the price of admission to the BCS (if you're not Kansas, anyway). Tech has to prove it can play with the big dogs, and until then, the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl is the ceiling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guest Post: I voted Yesterday!

Early Voting in Texas baby!

This is the second time this cycle I've cast a ballot for Barak Obama, and I really hoped to get a cell-phone picture of the event, but alas Texas state law forbids that sort of thing and I needed my vote to count for the sake of the down-ballot people I'm supporting.

I didn't have to wait in line at all, but the registration lady said that they had a brisk Saturday morning with lines all the way out the door. All of the early voting states are setting records this cycle, and Texas is no exception.

There's kind of an interesting post-vote phenomenon going on around the Dallas area at least right now. I mentioned that I had voted (without mentioning who I voted for) to a couple of friends and even a couple of semi-strangers while at the Stars game. Almost by nature of the fact that I both had voted early and was proud of that fact, my audiences knew who I voted for. Now, this is probably predicated by the fact that the people I talked to had already voted themselves combined with the fact that my sample size was pretty small, but it was pretty refreshing nonetheless.

Texas won't swing to Obama. Noriega probably won't beat Cornyn (I've met both, and that's a flat out shame) but we may oust some more republicans from the state seats and from the other regins of power. People that voted Obama are proud of it. People voting McCain are really holding their noses right now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

trumpin' up stories the Aggie way

Only an Aggie. From Pittsburgh Channel 4 News:
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh police are still questioning a 20-year-old woman who said she was robbed and assaulted at an ATM in Bloomfield because of her political views.

Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, said she was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street just before 9 p.m. Wednesday when a man approached her and put a knife to her throat.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the robber took $60 from Todd, then became angry when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on the victim's car. The attacker then punched and kicked the victim, before using a dull knife to scratch the letter "B" into her face, Richard said.

"She further stated that the male actor approached her from the back again and hit her in the back of her head with an object, she doesn't know what the object was, causing her to fall to the ground where he continued to punch her and kick her and threaten to 'teach her a lesson' for being a McCain supporter," Richard said.

To clarify: College Station is where Texas A&M is.

What did the man look like? You guessed it: a big, black guy. Imagine that!

I try not to dig into these stories, because in my experience bloggers end up way off the reservation when they try to go all "citizen journalist" on these stories, and end up making asses of themselves. "This smells fishy!" the blogger/gumshoe proclaims, generally reacting to their own cognitive dissonance, not to any actual inconsistencies in the story.

Judging from the rest of this particular story, however, it appears that the investigation has indeed hit a couple of glitches. She refused medical treatment despite claiming to have beaten, and now she's also added sexual assault to the charges. She's changed her story in a couple of different ways, first claiming she had a bumper sticker that set the guy off, then saying it was a campaign button. First she was conscious through the whole thing, but now she lost consciousness at one point.

All of these inconsistencies, however, I would normally shrug off. When people get rattled like this, their memory does funny things, and I don't know nearly enough about this story to be able to speculate on whether these gaps are plausible or whatever. Then I saw her picture. If you go to the link, you can see a video of the story, including a picture of this "B" that the big, nefarious black man carved into her face.

It's backwards. As in "obviously looked in a mirror and scratched a 'B' into her own cheek" backwards.

As of 2pm, she has officially admitted that she made up the whole thing.

Texas A&M: it's like the Harvard of the Southwest Texas Southeast Texas the Greater Bryan-College Station metropolitan area!

KY-Sen: the thief suing the victim

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — A bizarre sequence of events after a debate in the U.S. Senate race led Republicans to file a criminal complaint today against Democrat Bruce Lunsford for snapping up a GOP staffer’s digital recording device as he left the podium.

According to Republicans, the contents of the device — hours of recordings — had been deleted before it was returned.
Bergmann said the recorder had been left on Lunsford’s podium before the debate.
He said the Lunsford campaign suspects the Republicans were trying to record things that Lunsford said under his breath during the debate.

So to recap, the Republican candidate has a staffer slip a tape recorder under a notebook on the Democrat's podium to catch what he says under his breath. The Democrat finds the tape recorder, takes it, and erases what it recorded. The Republican, instead of apologizing or denying it, accuses the Democrat of stealing his tape recorder!

That Republican, by the way: Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader. These guys are class acts, eh?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


From Ben Smith:
Here's an early voting story from a medical student in Evansville, Ind.:
I squeaked in just before the 7pm deadline to find two very frustrated poll workers and a line of a couple dozen people, due to problems with the computerized voting system not accepting people's driver's licenses. It was taking about 7-10 minutes per person just to get the computer to accept them as valid and to print out their ballot, causing very long delays.

For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn't in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president.

McCain commercials, as shot by 3 famous directors

Hysterical and totally nonpartisan, so your McCain supporting friends/family can enjoy these, too:

I'm starting to believe

Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic lays out the McCain campaign's argument for how they're gonna win:
The Republican Party has built a presidential election machine that is tested and proven, the argument begins. Its voter database, Voter Vault, has 150 million potential Republican voters listed, each with dozens of psychographic datums appended.

The Party knows how to turn out Republican voters in red states. The Democratic Party has no record of turning out sporadic Democratic voters in presidential years in red states. It is not reasonable to assume, therefore, that Democrats can really turn out the voters they say they will, while Republicans have a record of turning out habitual Republican voters. How can Democrats build good and accurate voter lists in these red states?

Take Indiana: Gov. Mitch Daniels leads his Democratic opponent, Jill Long Thompson, by a healthy margin. Can you imagine Mitch Daniels voters choosing Obama?

Obama's in trouble in Pennsylvania. Why else is Ed Rendell begging Obama to return there?

In 2006, the Republican base was depressed after "Macaca" and Jim Webb still only barely managed a victory there.

The GOP will spend $70 million on GOTV in the next 13 days.

Obama isn't breaking 50% in Ohio and Florida. It's hard to imagine a big shift to him in the final ten days, when the mind is concentrated, when imponderables come into play.

Colorado is tough... but Pennsylvania is doable.

Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri will all revert to partisan form. Already, McCain's campaign has factored in census + 1 turnout for African Americans, and there are plausible scenarios under which McCain wins.

Several polls -- including McCain's internal polls -- show that some white male voters who broke away from McCain [ed note: but did not support Obama] are coming back to McCain's fold.

Oh, and all this talk of Barack Obama leading in the early vote? So did John Kerry.

Wow, this is weak. The McCain campaign just knows that Pennsylvania is doable, that Daniels voters won't vote for Obama, that states enduring huge demographic shifts will continue to vote exactly as they had before, that late deciders can't possibly vote for Obama. And if those obviously true conclusions prove not to be such, there's always the Republican supercomputers, which have a supersecret file containing roughly 30 million more Republican voters than the total number of people that voted for either president candidate in 2004. And they can read minds, too!

By the way, the last argument, the one about John Kerry winning the early vote? Demonstrably false: Bush won the early voters 60-40.

Does this feel like b.s. spun to keep from admitting they're screwed to anyone else?

Obama at his best

Richmond, VA, on "pro-America parts of the country" and "real Virginia:"

in Oregon, a s**ty October Suprise

Wow. From Matt Stoller at OpenLeft, on Republican Senator Gordon Smith:
I just got a Sierra Club press release with some very gross information about Gordon Smith's company, Smith Frozen Foods. Apparently, Smith Frozen Foods started storing partially treated sewage from the town of Weston into his company's wastewater pond in the 1980s, when Smith was directly controlling the company. That's fine, it's what companies do when they have lots of land and the ability to handle partially treated sewage. Here's what's not fine.
This water is then used to irrigate cropland, in violation of Department of Environmental Quality regulations. A mutual agreement between Smith and the [Department of Environmental Quality] indicates that this irrigation likely violated state regulations... On more than one occasion, Smith Frozen Foods, the company owned by Gordon Smith, has violated Oregon's laws against having coliform bacteria in their drinking water. The presence of coliform bacteria may indicate environmental contamination, fecal contamination or E. coli bacteria.

Ladies and gentlemen, a true e. coli conservative!

If true, this is quite the coup that the Sierra Club has just pulled. Smith had already fallen slightly behind Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley, but what do you think his chances are now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World of Pridecraft

Apparently, over the course of the last few years, one of the realms in World of Warcraft has become something of a safe haven for LGBT players. Here is an interview on the subject.

the New Dominion

arch pollster Larry Sabato thinks VA is likely to go for Obama this year. That's probably true, but his insistence that it will be closer than the polls is, in my mind, mere denial of the new reality. Virginia has been the primary beneficiary of a massive influx of young, upwardly mobile and socially liberal professionals to the DC area, causing a major demographic shift over the last 10 years. It's had 2 good Democratic governors and 1 really shitty Republican one since 2000. The best of those Democrats, Mark Warner, is running against that bad Republican for Senate and is cleaning his clock by over 20 points. VA has had a flood of new voter registrants, and they are overwhelmingly Democrats. Democrats have been gaining ground at every level of government there, including, again, 2 straight Democratic governors, a Senate seat in '06 (against a very popular incumbent and former governor, no less), and now the second Senate seat. These fact-free assertions about "people who know Virginia" aside, there is no evidence-based reason to suspect that polling in VA is off across the board.

Which is really, really bad news for McCain:

The better news for McCain: Jonathan Martin asserts in this same article that "there is no feasible path to the White House for McCain without Virginia." Also not true: John McCain could very possibly sweep the battleground states of NC, MT, ND (I can't believe I just listed those), CO, NV, WV, MO, FL, and OH, but lose lost causes NM, IA, and VA, and pick off New Hampshire. In such a scenario, McCain would squeeze into the Oval Office with 273 EVs. In fact, he could lose North Dakota and get exactly 270.

This is why I keep telling people that VA is not one of McCain's make-or-break states. It's a nice feather in our hat, but he can win without it. There are several others, however, that McCain cannot live without, such as perennial battlegrounds Ohio and Florida, as well as North Carolina (because Obama can't win NC without also taking VA). If McCain fails to sweep all three, you can pop the champagne, wait for the concession call, and start tracking the Senate races instead. There is no hope.

now it's official

The biggest drag on the McCain campaign: not Bush, not Iraq, not taxes. From TPM, on the new NBC/Wall St. Journal poll:
Respondents were read a list of things and were asked to pick the two that most concern them about McCain. Thirty-four percent named Palin, versus only 23% for the runner-up, which was that it seems likely he'd continue Bush's policies.

That would seem to suggest that Palin may have become a greater liability for McCain than Bush.

Separately, the poll's toplines show Obama with an expanded lead of 10 points over McCain among registered voters, 52%-42%.

I believe this is the part where the media starts referring to her as "polarizing."

I've been saying it for a while now: by the time this thing is over, John McCain will seriously regret this decision.

local politics: South Bend water deregulation referendum

In an odd way, national politics is a simpler organism than its local counterpart. It's predictable: you can be (relatively) confident that in any given issue the Democrats will want X and the Republicans Y. Deregulation is a great example: despite a handful of apostates on either side (and, as usual, more Democratic ones than Republican), you can bet that the Democrats will oppose and the Republicans support any given attempt at deregulation. Budgeting is another area, as the US Congress generally only deals in broad strokes, far removed from the nitty gritty of funding matters, and is free to dig as deep a deficit as they want, so the Congress tends to wax doctrinaire when it comes to fiscal matters. This is a luxury local politicians just can't afford.

Hence we come to an odd situation in South Bend, where there is a referendum on this November's ballot to deregulate the waterworks, and our very Democratic mayor, Steve Luecke, is actively supporting it. Before we collectively cry "Turncoat!," "corporate sellout!," or "Bush Dog Democrat!," let's hear what he has to say. From a document the mayor has been passing out:
This is a brief synopsis of why I believe South Bend Water Works should come out from under Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) oversight. When the administration proposes a rate increase for our water customers, we hire outside professional engineering and accounting firms with utility rate making expertise and experience to review capital and operating costs, to look at the existing rate structure and determine what is needed to meet current and long-term needs. After this information is compiled, we present a proposed rate to the Common Council. These locally elected officials review the studies we have prepared, hold a public hearing and vote on the rate increase. For our wastewater utility, that is the final step. Once the new rates are approved they can be implemented. For our Water Works we must then present the same case to the IURC that we presented to the Council. This is a costly step that adds months or years to the approval process. What it doesn’t add is value for our customers.

Our average case before the IURC costs $150,000 (for consultants, lawyers and rate experts). Our last case cost over $600,000! It took three years to conclude - and the IURC ultimately approved the very rates that we had proposed. With the last four rate cases we have spent over $1 million for the IURC review. That’s $1 million that could have been spent for new wells, improved filtration, main extensions, connecting new customers or our leak insurance program. The IURC did not change our rates from what the Council had approved. Where is the added value?

I believe that the IURC plays an important public review role for private utilities. However, it is an unneeded level of bureaucracy when the rates are already reviewed and approved by elected officials. If the City Council feels that they don’t have sufficient expertise to review these rates, we have offered to pay for an independent review by a separate accounting company with utility rate making expertise that the Council selects to evaluate the proposal. Their charge would be to recommend the lowest rates possible to accomplish the needed work to ensure adequate quantity of safe quality drinking water for community needs. This would be far less expensive – and considerably faster – than the IURC review. If I believed that the IURC added value for South Bend customers, I would not have proposed this referendum. But I don’t believe we are getting our money’s worth.

Furthermore, our Water Works currently applies a 20% surcharge to customers outside the city limits. The IURC has indicated that they may no longer approve such a surcharge even though we have presented studies which support an even larger one. . If the IURC denies the surcharge in the future, South Bend customers will have to pay higher rates to make up the difference. I don’t think that is fair.

Almost ninety per cent of Indiana communities have opted out from IURC oversight. It appears that they are satisfied with their local elected officials setting their rates because none of these communities has chosen to opt back in to the IURC process. Not one! Lafayette, IN and other communities are also seeking to opt out this year. I believe they are making the right choice. It is also the right choice for South Bend. Please vote YES on the municipal utility referendum.

Obviously, being a Democrat, given a choice I prefer more regulation over less, and I would especially like to know if this extra layer of oversight was intentionally added at some point in the past, and if so, why. Many states have deregulated in the last 15 years only to discover the hard way that those regulations were put there for a reason. Nevertheless, the mayor makes a compelling case here: the city just doesn't have the money to be ponying up for superfluous services right now. Furthermore, the water works is a public entity, not a profit-driven private enterprise, so if there's an angle for them in deregulating, I don't see it. I tend to trust Mayor Luecke; he's run an honest administration and has done a pretty good job with a lot of difficult choices, so if he says this is the way to go, I'm inclined to believe him.

I'll be voting Yes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

it can't be

I absolutely cannot believe that God loves us this much. SurveyUSA, the most reliable pollster in the biz, on the Kentucky Senate race between Senate Minority Leader and serial filibuster-meister Mitch McConnell and Democrat Bruce Lunsford:
McConnell (R): 48
Lunsford (D): 48

That's not far from the other polls of this race.

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain's endgame strategy

In the third debate, John McCain peppered his answers with old bromides like "redistribution of wealth" and "socialism" and, in a turn that most people considered damaging to his chances with the women vote, went on a brief tirade about abortion, gesturing scare quotes as he sarcastically intoned "health of the mother." When asked about the racist and eliminationist comments being spouted by his supporters in recent rallies, he defended his supporters vigorously, calling them patriotic Americans, not making even the slightest concession that things have gotten a little out of hand.

Sarah Palin commits another apparent gaffe a couple of days later, referring to North Carolina as one of "the pro-America areas of this great nation."

Then, two days after that, McCain himself makes the same mistake in Virginia, saying that, even though he's behind in the state as a whole, he's winning in "real Virginia."

And then today, McCain takes a racially charge turn for the worst, deriding Obama's tax plan as "welfare."

Yet despite all these supposed "gaffes," McCain has actually gained ground in the last 5 days, gaining from -12 to -4 in the indy vote and gaining 6 points among Republicans in the Research 2000/Daily Kos poll.

Can you see what's going on here?

It looks to me like the Hate Talk Express has decided to try to win the way Bush did it in '04: focus like a laser on conservatives. Return to the hard right rhetoric of the primary, rile them up, scare the hell out of them, and send them to the polls in the highest numbers you can. Use fear and hate to close the enthusiasm gap, rely on the high turnout rate of key conservative demographics and hope that once again blacks, young people, and women-- Obama's strongest demographics-- don't show up in high enough numbers to make up the difference. A judicious sprinkling of voter suppression efforts should be just enough to tip the scales.

There is obviously a case to be made that this tactic won't be enough. For one, Democrats have registered millions more new voters than the Republicans, so there may be too few conservatives put him over the top. Also, at the moment the enthusiasm gap is still much wider than it was in '04. Then there's the issue of Obama's wicked ground game and huge money advantage. McCain's tactic could backfire in a way that Bush's didn't; for instance, there's a chance that his "real VA" remark could boost turnout among Obama voters and leaners in Virginia incensed at the slight (say what you will about W, but he would never have made that mistake). There's the economy. There's Sarah Palin, whose potentially proximity to the presidency scares the bejeesus out of a lot of people.

And, of course, there's Barack's superior strategizing. Powell's endorsement was rolled out at the best possible moment to blunt McCain's case to conservatives, and he's been far more effective than any Democrat I've ever seen at working the media. McCain, on the other hand, can't even keep his own operatives from hyping a Powell endorsement before people leave work for the weekend.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"side effects may include..."

One of Obama's better moments.

David Brooks goes way, way off message

What the hell is going on?

the HBO presidential debate

In celebration of receiving the first disk of "The Wire: Season 3" today:

Was There Too Much Sex And Profanity In The HBO Presidential Debate?

the transformation is complete

And thus John McCain became what he most despised. From TPM:
We've obtained yet another McCain campaign robocall, and this one levels perhaps the nastiest charge yet: It claims that Barack Obama callously denied newborns needed medical attention by opposing a measure to force doctors to preserve their lives when they survive botched abortions.

The call, which was sent in by a North Carolina reader, labels Obama "extreme" and to the left of Hillary, and charges Obama doesn't "share our values."
So let's take stock. We now have documented four McCain/RNC robocalls, some known to be running in multiple states:

* One that questions Obama's patriotism by saying he put "Hollywood above America" during the financial crisis.

* One that says that Obama and Dems "aren't who you think they are" and claims they merely "say" they want to keep us safe.

* One that attaches him to "domestic terrorist Bill Ayers," whose group "killed Americans."

* And, now, the above, which dishonestly paints him as indifferent to the lives of babies.

At what point do you think John McCain will finally look in the mirror and see George W. Bush, ca. 2000?

don't trust him

There's a rumor flying around that Colin Powell is going to endorse Barack Obama on Press the Meat this Sunday. From Politico:
The general’s camp is being coy about what he might or might not say on Sunday. But some McCain advisers suspect, without being sure, that Powell will endorse Obama.

“It’s going to make a lot of news, and certainly be personally embarrassing for McCain," a McCain official said. "It comes at a time when we need momentum, and it would create momentum against us.”

McCain officials are actively talking to the press and saying they think he'll endorse Obama? Maybe I've become too obsessed with strategy. Maybe my opinion of Colin Powell's independence and judgment have sunk too far below the truth. Maybe I'm giving the McCain too much credit. In any case, I find it very difficult to believe, not one week after Powell testified to the sterling word of honor of Ted Stevens, that he would then go on MTP and endorse Barack and that McCain's own officials would be the ones to make a story out of it on the preceding Friday.

If this story turns out to be true, John McCain is running the worst, most undisciplined campaign in history.

UPDATE (SUNDAY NIGHT): My mistake. Apparently McCain is, in fact, running the worst, most undisciplined campaign in history:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the camera is a cruel mistress

This image has made my day.

it worked

Remember the trap I was talking about yesterday?

Here's a screen cap of indy voters' reactions to McCain leveling the Ayers charge:

And here's the response afterwards:

Harold Meyerson at the Washington Post:
Now we know why Obama’s aides were goading McCain earlier this week to raise the Bill Ayres issue in the debate. They wanted to play McCain’s rage against Obama’s measured, judicious, statesmanlike, even a bit boring presidentiality. And McCain obliged them big time.

There's something else about McCain's answers in these debates that I noticed on a visceral level watching the replays, something that reminded me of the debates I've had that left me thinking less of the other person, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Andrew Sullivan provides the assist:
At no point have we seen a grace note from McCain. When dealing with the negativism of the campaign, it would not have killed him to seem genuinely horrified at calls for violence rather than offended that anyone dare criticize him or some of his supporters. Or to wish Obama well. It's this lack of generosity of spirit that he lacks and that people want in a president. Obama still manages to say when he agrees with or admires McCain. In this whole dynamic, Obama seems more secure, more self-controlled, more mature.

The ability (or lack thereof) to make concessions in a debate can actually say a lot about a person. It conveys the "generosity of spirit" that Sully is talking about, impressing upon the other person that you're really listening to them, that you're trying to be objective about the issue and not just advocating for your side. It also shows that you're big enough to admit when the other side has a point and not to take their opposition personally. And, frankly, in these debates it separates the men from the boys, the master debaters who are thinking on both the macro and micro level, from the jokers who don't bother with things like "focusing on a theme" or "working the crowd," thinking you win debates by scoring the most points.

As much as I hate the tactic of arguing by analogy (especially sports analogies), a poker analogy is irresistible here because it's just so damn apt: it's like Obama and McCain are at a poker table, and McCain is the aggressive novice trying to win every hand. Meanwhile, Barack often folds when his cards aren't as good, and wins the big pots by baiting McCain into overplaying his hand.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

CBS snap poll: Obama won by 20%

I read one poll analyst who said: "we're getting into dead girl or live boy territory here."

Jim Poniewozik from TIME:
Um, Sen. McCain, women don't like it when you put "health of the mother" in air quotes.

Oy, that one might smart in the morning.


I said a couple of days ago that I thought Barack's sudden and uncharacteristic "John McCain doesn't have the cajones to say these Ayers attacks to my face" line sounds like a trap. He pretty clearly wants McCain to bring up Ayers, and by appealing to John McCain's impulsiveness and machismo ("you callin' me yella'?") both personally and via surrogates, he's basically forced McCain to launch the attack at the debate or risk damaging his manly military reputation.

Well, looks like the baiting worked. John McCain has pledged to bring up Ayers at the debate.

Did I mention that John McCain was a POW?

Obama's motives for the trap here could be simple. Perhaps this is a contest of polling, whereby McCain's pollsters believe the attacks damage Obama while Obama's pollsters have come to believe (with the aid of recent polling) that the attacks actually backfire on McCain, raising his negatives while barely denting Obama's positives. McCain's losing position virtually guarantees that he'll have to go on the attack anyway, and the more he does it, the more likely he is to turn off independents and leaners who tend to be repelled by this stuff, as Mike Madden at Salon says. Also, others have noted that the candidate who goes hard negative in the debate usually loses it (Bentson being a notable exception). This seems like an imminently reasonable explanation, almost certainly the correct one. Such a strategy would be especially productive if Williams doesn't ask about it and McCain is perceived to have brought Ayers up unasked in the debate.

But on the other hand, you just have to marvel sometimes at Obama's luck, the serendipity of the news cycle. Amazing the stories that seem to fall out of the sky on the day of a major debate.

William F. Buckley's crazy conservative son endorses Obama

An oldie that I forgot to mention at the time. Wow.

the consequences of Sarah Palin's rhetoric

You had to figure it would happen eventually. From Philadelphia's local FOX affiliate:
PHILADELPHIA -- There was a scare Tuesday at the South Philadelphia campaign headquarters of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

The office at 15th and Christian streets was filled with volunteers around 5 p.m. when one of them brought in the mail and opened a letter that had a note and a powdery substance on it that immediately set off alarms.
Fortunately, the substance found in the letter was harmless and nobody was hurt. But the incident is still under investigation as a threat, Fox 29's Sharon Crowley reported.

This is the kind of thing we have all been afraid of ever since Barack became a viable candidate in January, and that we've been especially dreading since the McCain campaign started doing the full hatemonger a couple of weeks ago. McCain may have finally started telling his supporters to cool down (though only after being thorough rebuked by the media for fanning the flames), but his VP candidate is still at it, as are the supporters at her rallies, with nary a peep from ol' Grandaddy Warbucks. Today's and yesterday's Palin gigs came complete with shouts of "Obama bin Laden" and "kill him!," while we also learned yesterday that Sarah Palin quoted a man who openly advocated the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in her convention speech. The Hate Talk Express has now inspired what we can only call "nonlethal terrorism." How long 'til the next step?

the best ad of the cycle

You are not prepared to tackle the feared Village People lobby, Roger Wicker. YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!


James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, on Sarah Palin's foreign policy as gleaned from her talking points:
"It is absolutist and Manichean. There is good ("us") and evil ("them"). "We" stand for democracy and the "spirit of freedom that is found in every human heart". Since the clash between good and evil is both desirable and inevitable, "our" role is to bring "our values" to a waiting world and defeat evil. And in this conflict, "our" victory is preordained. Compromise with evil is unthinkable and so traditional forms of diplomacy are to be rejected as a sign of weakness and surrender. (In this worldview, diplomacy means working with those who agree with us, not finding ways to bridge differences with those with whom we disagree.)

Is there anyone on the planet more dangerous than the person who believes their military victory is preordained? Is there any force more destructive than the worldview described above?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

my ascent to SUPERSTARDOM!

This lowly corner of cyberspace is getting a little more traffic the last few weeks, most likely because of the election. I poked around a bit to see if we're getting publicity, and I found that we were quoted in The Progressive. Apparently this happened 3 years ago, and I missed the party.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sarah Palin quoted man who called for Bobby Kennedy's assassination

And she did so in her big RNC speech. No kidding. From Frank Rich's NYT column today:
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”

And thus the McCain campaign's use of projection as a rhetorical tactic descends into farce as Sarah Palin favorably quotes an advocate of domestic terrorism.

Bill O'Reilly's head explodes

Paul Krugman wins the Nobel Prize in Economics a year after Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize. This is all mere prelude, however, to Bill's future aneurysm: the first time he has to refer to his arch-nemesis as "Senator" Al Franken.

sustainable living: when it comes to shoes, it's Simple

This was one of my favorite brands of skate shoes when I was young and "like really, really unique, ya know?," but they have since then reinvented themselves as the environmentally friendly shoe par excellence. The "Barneys" in the commercial were my shoe of choice. Sap now has some of the newer sneakers and swears by them.

We should publicize the few good companies we find, right? Plus, I could win a free pair for posting this.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sarah Palin: still exploiting her children for political gain

She is so disgusting. Sarah Palin got invited to the Flyers' season opener against the Rangers, and came up with a great idea to keep from getting booed to death: she could hide behind her 7-year-old daughter, Piper! From ugh, FOX News:
Sarah Palin has become known as “The Most Famous Hockey Mom in America” for her constant referral to herself on the stump as “just a hockey mom.” This evening, she met that title head on by dropping the first puck of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey season in their opener with the New York Rangers.

A carpet was laid down and Palin, dressed in a beige trench, walked on to the ice joined by her daughters Willow and Piper. The GOP Vice-Presidential nominee said at an earlier fundraiser that she would stop some of the booing from the rowdy Philadelphia fans by putting her seven year old daughter, Piper in a Flyers jersey. She said, “How dare they boo Piper!”

Here's the reaction she got:

FOX News calls that "mixed."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Barack the bullfighter

Does anyone else get the feeling that the "John McCain won't say it to Obama's face" argument coming out of several quarters is a coordinated attack from the Obama campaign? And do any of you get the feeling that they're setting a trap, appealing to McCain's inner belligerent, "honor"-obsessed narcissist to get him to level the Ayers charge on national TV? Do you think this means that they've polled it and found that people would be turned off, especially if countered with a classic Obaman "he's trying to distract us from the real issues" parry, or has the Obama campaign devised a special retort that they're saving for prime time?

Chicago: the cutting edge of public transportation

This is the coolest idea ever. I love Chicago.

Obama vs. Osama

A scary, and very plausible, thought via fivethirtyeight, probably the best polling analysis site on the intarwebs.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rolling Stone on John McCain

A longie but a goodie. It's a detailed and pretty brutal re-examination of McCain's biography, essentially portraying him as a reckless, ill-tempered carpetbagger with a Napoleonic complex and mild-to-moderate daddy issues.

It's pretty sobering to hear that no fewer than 3 Republican Senators are on the record stating that John McCain's temper is so unstable that it should disqualify him for the presidency. One of them says that the idea of John McCain becoming president "sends a cold chill down my spine." Wow.

Monday, October 06, 2008

the evolution of John McCain's health care program

Now with Medicare and Medicaid cuts! That'll help people pay for medical costs!

Krugman goes to town on McCain's plan as well, and Atrios calls it "pretty much The Worst Fucking Idea Since Invading Iraq." Hard to disagree.

But the important question is what that one guy Obama served on a charity board with was doing when Obama was in elementary school.

take notice, John Kerry, here's how the master does it


goldfish memories

For the second time this campaign, I'm starting to hear/read an awful lot of people getting complacent that Obama will hammer McCain on election day. This comes right as McCain unveils a massively negative campaign like the one that severely lowered Obama's number a couple of months ago, and the one that lauched Hillary's comeback a couple of months before that.

Supposedly this time we're going to see something different: a strong negative retort from Team Obama along Keating 5 lines. Hopefully this at least shows that Obama and the Democrats have learned an important lesson from '04 and from earlier this year: if the opposition successfully makes the election about you, you lose. The message from here on out should be: John McCain is the wrong guy to fix the economy.

In any case, despite how everything appears at the moment, I for one fully expect this race to tighten as McCain's incessant hammering dampens support for Obama.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

"academic freedom"

Conservatives hate Affirmative Action, except when they don't:
All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Biden fakes out Cokie Roberts

Hilarious. Cokie is easily one of the most vapid commentators in news today. Plus, apparently, she's vain enough to assume that, when the 26 year veteran of the Senate Armed Forces Committee uses a term for Bosnians she's unfamiliar with, it must be because he screwed up and not because he may just know a little more about Bosnia than she does.

the results of the debate: pretty simple, actually

Pundits seem to be having trouble understanding a pretty simple reason for how Sarah Palin could beat expectations and still lose: the expectation was that she would lose so badly that she would humiliate herself. She simply lost convincingly, rather than embarrassingly.

An example from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
In this debate, Biden clearly had a better grasp of the issues. Palin skillfully sidestepped questions she didn’t want to answer from moderator Gwen Ifill and, in so doing, did manage to sidestep that media filter she talked about.

As a voter, I don't care how well she sidesteps questions she can't answer. What concerns me is that she can't answer them, but Biden can.

website shows whether you're registered to vote

What a great idea from the Obama campaign. It will tell you in a couple of seconds whether (and where) you're registered to vote.

Rolls have been purged in a number of places, so it's not a bad idea to check and make sure you're set.

Advice for all future debate moderators

Why even bother coming up with questions? From now now, just turn to each candidate and say: "Governor, 2 minutes. Go."

On a more serious note, did anyone else find Palin's brazen assertion that she would pay little attention to Gwen Ifill's questions at the beginning of the debate, and her consistent follow-through on that assertion, surprisingly disrespectful? I mean, I realize that one of the McCain campaign's tactics (and a baffling one, at that) is to demonize and sneer at "the media," but don't we still expect Republicans to, I dunno, at least pay lip service to the rules?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

the Couric interview: yes, there's more. And then, no more.

I have to agree with Josh: it's pretty clear that she has no idea what the right to privacy is as it relates to Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Not being able to name any Supreme Court she disagrees with is the best part of this clip, of course (really? couldn't even pull out the ol' tried and true Dred Scott decision?), but both of those botches reveal the same ignorance. She just doesn't know anything about American judicial history other than "Roe v. Wade granted a constitutional right to abortion." Once she muffed the second question, there was no point in Couric asking her what she thinks of the decisions that would tell us more about Palin's ideology, like Griswold v. Connecticut or, for that matter, the Hamdi or Hamdan decisions. Palin is so helpless on this topic that it would've looked like Couric was bullying her.

Looking back on the historically awful decision to let Palin go to bat in the majors, the Crazy Train is, ahem, shifting its strategy. From CNN:
SEDONA, Arizona (CNN) – Sarah Palin's interview Tuesday with conservative talker Hugh Hewitt gave the vice presidential candidate a chance to showcase elements of her life story and demonstrate some of the folksiness that's been central to her political success.

It's exactly the kind of interview that voters can expect to see from the governor in the coming weeks, according to a Palin adviser, who recognized that there is hunger in Republican circles and among the public at large to see a less-scripted, more authentic candidate. That means more comfortable settings like conservative talk radio, and fewer opportunities for Palin to stumble, as was the case with a pair of high-profile network interviews with ABC and CBS.

As an email I got today joked, she's a turtle on a fencepost: "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, and she doesn't know what to do while she's up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with".

Conservatives have finally gotten their wish: a candidate who really is just an average Joe, someone they can have a beer with. Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

librarians to the rescue!

How did I never hear about this? According to a journal article I just read (Moody, Kim, "Covert Censorship in Libraries: A Discussion Paper," Australian Library Journal 54), Michael Moore's Stupid White Men was originally set to be released on September 11, 2001. Needless to say, the publisher (Harper Collins) asked to postpone the release even though the books had already been printed, and Moore agreed. When Moore contacted them some time later to see when the book would be distributed, Harper Collins demanded they be allowed to redact parts of the book, such as the criticisms of George W. Bush. When he refused, they said they would pulp the books.

Thankfully, the ALA pressured Harper Collins to release the book, which they eventually did.


This Couric interview is like a goldmine of epic fail. A bottomless abyss of stupid. I keep plumbing the depths, digging down further than I'm comfortable with, only to find... more fail.

If it were a movie, I'm pretty sure it would be Plan 9 from Outer Space: so jaw-droppingly terrible, such a spectacular failure, that watching it first evokes surprise, then derisive laughter, then a feeling of pity and embarrassment for all those involved (Katie herself aside, of course, who will benefit immeasurably from this trainwreck).