Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Lollipop and Some Sunshine

I just need a little feel good Bits and Pieces.

A Non-Fiction Camelot

"Elect Barack Obama. That way, we get the gift of seeing two people having an easeful friendship with each other. We get as a role model two people who communicate with each other as equals and stand beside each other as true partners. If we elect Barack Obama we are electing a new possibility in our relationship lives as a nation: respect, affection and authenticity. Michelle and Barack speak clearly and openly. You know she won't bullshit you or embarrass you by playing the demure little wife. We're ready to see that kind of relationship, and we hope you are, too. The question is: are we as a nation ready to end our national addiction to duplicity, phony adoration and Stepford wifedom in the White House?"

I really do like their relationship and I think that it is high time that America have some of that reality to hang our hats on. Wouldn't it be nice to watch how a self-confident, self-assured man interacts with and Loves a self-confident, self-assured and powerful woman? It is a role-model relationship that I think America would benefit from. It makes me smile.

Debate poll internals.

"The CBS poll of undecideds has more confirmatory detail. Obama went from a +18 on "understanding your needs and problems" before the debate to a +56 (!) afterward. And he went from a -9 on "prepared to be president" to a +21."

Wow. Those are amazing numbers. No wonder the McCain camp is spinning his 'win' so substantially. I actually heard one of their surrogates claim that "McCain was the professor and Obama was the student." Heh. McCain the professor?! (I thought being a professor was a bad thing?) This made me smile too.

Read more!

Stewart/Colbert '12

(I just can't shut up . . )

After the 2006 Correspondents' Dinner [in which Colbert gave a scathing satirical speech about Bush with the President right in front of him, earning some hardcore Beltway backlash], Jon said, ''You touched it. You got close enough to touch it, and it got on you.'' Then more than a year passed, and I got kicked off the ballot in South Carolina during my brief presidential run. I had actually been on the phone with people in South Carolina, telling me I was gonna be fine. People were on the phone lying to me. And I called Jon and said, ''I touched it...again.'' That was disappointing. I thought I could put myself all the way in it and not feel it, but I did. I realized, ''I understand, maybe, why people end up not being so good.'' Because they get lied to a lot.
What does it say when the court jesters are the only ones speaking the truth? If nominated, both Jon and Stephen would have to kill themselves before they were elected out of shame.

Read more!

Dean of the Iowa Political Press Corps, My Pimply Ass

Yepsen: With decisive words, McCain keeps a step ahead of Obama

. . The Arizona senator was cool, informed and forceful in Friday's first presidential debate of the general election campaign.

. . Obama did little to assure voters that he is experienced enough to handle foreign and defense policy. That was his No. 1 task Friday night, and he failed.

Instead, he was often his old meandering self, unable to state a quick, forceful position. Polls taken in the coming days should show McCain holding on to his trump card in the race - the view that he's better equipped to be commander in chief.

. . The crabby, grumbling, hotheaded McCain was nowhere to be seen. Instead, we saw a calm, seasoned potential president. If you looked at your television and squinted slightly, you could better picture him addressing the country during a time of national crisis than Obama. Obama was often left to flash his smile and shake his head at McCain.

Jeebus. Fucking. McDougall.

Can this reporter be anymore nakedly trollish, racist, and oblivious?? Did he even see the same debate we did? And can I get what brain-bending compound he's on?>

I've long accused Yepsen of being a pro-business provocateur for the Register, but this is some sort of new high, low or off-the-tracks example.

Read more!

Another Liberal Passes On

I'd love to attribute it to John McCain's performance last night, but that's a horrible joke to make. Shame on me.

Paul Newman has passed away from cancer.

Read more!

President Bartlet Would Kick Their Ass

"Sure, I'm a fictional character who's words are scripted by one of the most gifted writers in Hollywood who is a top-notch progressive, but this ain't economics or rocket science, folks."

Its a case of unattainable expectations, watching the first few seasons of The West Wing on DVD.

My wife and I listened to the first half of the deabte, on economics, in the car. Neither candidate is a debater, although Obama has a slight edge in pushing coherent and logical points. He was calm and professional, but Obama's debating skills aren't very hot. At best, he's only a C level rhetorician. McCain however sounds as though he's been trained to debate by someone using Pavlovian techniques - rewards for barking out conservative sound bytes and electrodes when he wanders off. The net result was only a slight attempt to string together quotes and points of common rhetoric with some commonality.

The visual debate was very Nixon-Kennedy. McCain looked old, beady-eyed, angry, & ill-mannered; Obama looked New Presidential, took initiative in being gracious, and looked like he was there for something positive.

Carter, Reagan, LBJ, & Nixon could have beaten Obama. If your joy is great verbal dialog, you would have turned the TV off last night and gone to bed crying for the republic.

Independents however, ate Obama's performance up. Most swung for Obama by the end of the night, even though Democrats and liberals widely criticized Obama for not picking up on obvious attacks against McCain. But that's part of the illiberal double standard of the modern American - they later excuse aggressive conservatives and rhetoric while excoriating attack ads and negative campaigns, particularly from Democrats. Annony at the Home Base hit it exactly: "The independents reacted positively to talk of cooperation, diplomacy, bipartisanship, compliments of the other candidate, etc. They reacted negatively when either candidate put down the other. . . very, very clearly the Independents LIKED that Obama was deferential, respectful, and agreed with McCain when appropriate." This played big with my Republican-favoring independent parents.

Appealing to independents has been Obama's schitck from when he started to run for the Illinois Senate, and independents want to hear this baloney claiming bipartisanship and respect. We on the left want to see our candidates smack the right around like it deserves.

I highly recommend Chez this morning, even though he's stuck on the, "Obama should have left McCain in little bloody chunks all over the stage" meme.
But the glass-half-empty viewpoint -- and have you figured out by now where I fall? -- is that it was Obama who faced a doddering, erratic, panicked opponent who's not only completely out of touch with the problems of modern America but who spent the past two weeks making questionable judgment call after questionable judgment call, and yet he didn't completely mop the floor with him.

Barack Obama had ample opportunity last night to leave John McCain in the dust, and yet for whatever reason he didn't do it. He's smarter than McCain, more eloquent than McCain, and infinitely more personable than McCain; in my mind this should've been a blowout. But then maybe I'm being too harsh -- expecting too much from what's traditionally a very staid affair.

My biggest complaint -- and I can't help but feel that this is a pretty subjective view -- is that Obama allowed McCain to get away with far too much: He let McCain claim that he was naive and "didn't understand" over and over without hitting back hard; he never bothered to bring up the elephant in the room -- McCain's bizarre political stunt that may have contributed to the collapse of the bailout negotiations in Washington and almost killed the debate itself; and, worst of all, he kept agreeing with McCain, saying "Well, John's right about..." Even if you believe it, for God's sake don't begin every other answer by verifying it. You issue a statement like that maybe once just to show that you're magnanimous; you don't say it several times and leave yourself open to a cleverly edited ad that the other guy can throw on the air by morning. ("Even Barack Obama knows that John McCain is right!")
And so we come back to the illiberal double standard - independents suck the gooey sugary creme filling when Democrats admit commonality with their opponents, but the same independents excuse later Republican aggressive, and sometimes factually challenged, advertising claims that the Democrats agree with them. This crap is a major reason why the Democratic Party has it's American exceptionalism and war on, just slightly less than the Republican.

I initially criticized the Obama campaign last year for it's willingness to appeal to independents and the current frames in modern American political rhetoric. It's not a real change to American politics. Obama doesn't challenge the status quo in framing issues - it is factions and opinion shapers outside the Democratic Party making minor changes in the electorate. American exceptionalism and militarization is still the rule. Coinciding with Obama's drive up the political ladder have been the deep failures of Republican policies finally occurring to the marjority of the electorate. Right guy, right place, right time.

The problem is that this is not a recipe for real change - Bill Clinton may have been a Democrat, but his administration managed to do little to nothing in terms of changing the American electorate. There's no drive to act boldly and change the debate.

Read more!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - Liberal Version

From a viral letter that's going around:

It was just before John McCain's last run at the presidential nomination in 2000 that my husband and I vacationed in Turtle Island in Fiji with John McCain, Cindy, and their children, including Bridget (their adopted Bangladeshi child).
It was not our intention, but it was our misfortune to be in close quarters with John McCain for almost a week, since Turtle Island has a small number of bungalows and their focus on communal meals force all vacationers who are there at the same time to get to know each other intimately.
He arrived at our first group meal and started reading quotes from a pile of William Faulkner books with a forest of Post-Its sticking out of them. As an English Literature major myself, my first thought was "if he likes this so much, why hasn't he memorized any of this yet?" I soon realized that McCain actually thought we had come on vacation to be a volunteer audience for his "readings" which then became a regular part of each meal. Out of politeness, none of the vacationers initially protested at this intrusion into their blissful holiday, but people's buttons definitely got pushed as the readings continued day after day.
More follows, but you can go find it yourselves, 'cause I'm not going to post the rest of this rancid piece of filth. Because it's probably not true.

For one thing - it has two different authors connected to it. My wife, who found it first in the comments at TAPPED has Mary-Kay Gamel a Professor of Classics, Comparative Literature, and Theater Arts at Cowell College, UC-Santa Cruz.

But, according to Counterpunch (Google cached), and many other left-leaning websites, the author is Anasuya Dubey, she is a clinical psychologist in California.

No one can seem to get Ms. Dubey or Ms. Gamel on the record.
The current McCain story in question originated with a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist named Anasuya Dubey, who is alleged to be the daughter of a former Indian Consul in San Francisco. I've tried to reach Dubey to no avail (she is said to be "private") but an e-mail chain has revealed a few things.
Unfortunately, Jeff Wells, whom I quote here, later slimes the 'author' with a mildly racist accusation himself. Dipshit - he doesn't believe the story, but then takes the authorship at face value? The supposed authors are being smeared as much as John McCain is.

Folks, this has the greasy, oily fingerprints of social engineering, particularly as a viral story. The only thing its missing is animated GIFs of angels & promises that you'll have good luck after you mail it to 10 more people. John McCain may have sold out his straight talk and maverick independence, and has certainly shown poor judgment in this camapign, but we don't do ourselves any favors peddling this kind of bullshit that we regularly accuse the GOP and its minions of.

Read more!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"There is great chaos under heaven, and the situation is excellent."

- Chairman Mao

I feel like the last week - and the last few days especially - have been exhausting. Full of alarming and bewildering events, hysterically funny belly laughs, and great opportunity. I'm ready for the election if only to stop the roller coaster.

Slate tried very hard to be The Onion this afternoon, but their fail was pretty lackluster.
Slate predicts McCain's next 10 Hail Mary stunts.
1. Returns to Vietnam and jails himself.
2. Offers the post of "vice vice president" to Warren Buffett.
3. Challenges Obama to suspend campaign so they both can go and personally drill for oil offshore.
4. Learns to use computer.
5. Does bombing run over Taliban-controlled tribal areas of Pakistan.
6. Offers to forgo salary, sell one house.
7. Sex-change operation.
8. Suspends campaign until Nov. 4, offers to start being president right now.
9. Sells Alaska to Russia for $700 billion.
10. Pledges to serve only one term. OK, half a term.
Buffet is no friend of the GOP right now, but you bet your sweet butt McCain would nominate the best closest chump he could find with financial experience to Proposed Treasury Secretary or 'Special Advisor' tomorrow if he could. And while John doesn't have the attack codes, he's got a friend who does. And in an election where his running mate is more popular with his base than he is, he might do a one-term pledge in order to guarantee their turn out.

McCain: "He's so crazy, it just might work!"

Switching gears, I think someone's asked me to ditch it already, but I'm really beginning to tire of the divided post format since it's; 1) mandatory on all posts, 2) almost none of us use it. I'm not mad or disappointed, just being realistic. And it wasn't a big coding fix to implement.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sleight of Hand

I've seen this pop-up a few other places, but one of benefits for delaying Friday's debate is that they push it to the VP Debate's time and date. And then the VP thing moves further away, and maybe disappears completly.

Causus belli? As Penn and Teller quite beautifully illustrate, sleight of hand has to either be deliberately choreographed and practiced or the practitioner has to be a virtuso of it's spontaneous use. Has the McCain campaign (or for that matter, even the Obama campaign) convinced you of it's ability to misdirect us skillfully and regularly? Can they pull lit cigarettes from our ears convincingly?

So I consider it doubtful, but once some McCain staffer noticed postponing might also displace the VP debate & make it go away, I'm sure the idea to postpone really did begin to glow like a Godsend.

Update: Chez works up 855 words more.
By announcing the temporary suspension of his campaign, John McCain hopes to lure Barack Obama into a kind of trap that only the most craven and cynical of political operatives could dream up. He truly believes that he's concocted his own little Kobayashi Maru scenario whereby Obama, no matter his move, can't win: If he agrees to McCain's ludicrous suggestion that both sides call a truce until the economic bailout bill is negotiated -- which would include postponing Friday night's debate -- McCain can claim victory; if he refuses to relent and continues to campaign even as his opponent doesn't, McCain can point to it as an example of Obama putting his own interests above those of his country. McCain once again can wrap himself in the big banner of "Country First."

It's a Hail Mary pass like nothing we've seen in American politics in, well, perhaps ever.

Read more!

Holy Crap Coyote - Terrifying

Yesterday, Coyote posted this in a thread over at TLC.

I finally read it this morning.

Good gawd.

I am not at all well versed in military issues and I do not really understand the law when it comes to these kinds of things. However, my limited understanding is enough to scare the crap out of me when I read an article like that. So, I have some questions.

1. Isn't it against the law to turn the military against the people?

2. When Bush attempted to destroy posse comitatus, didn't the Congress restore it within a few months?

3. Aren't these types of missions what the National Guard are supposed to be used for?

4. Doesn't this take control away from the Governors of the states and give it to the President and the Pentagon?

5. Do the Governors know about this "new policy" and what do they say about it?

6. Isn't it curious that it begins October 1st? My guess is that it is being put in place so that those unruly Democrats don't get too out of line when they are attempting to vote November 4th (attmpting to vote, or demanding that their franchise not be denied.) And, even more likely, that the unruly Democrats don't raise too much hell, taking to the streets, when this election is again stolen from us.

This will also come in handy when the economic meltdown hits and many, many Americans are left homeless. When the rabble take to the streets and demand that the top 5%, secure in their gated communities, give us some food and shelter - the marines can shut those demonstations down too.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

We are in for a strange ride, people. A very strange ride.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things to Come?

CEO murdered by sacked workers. No, not in the United States, but in India.

Wow... if that don't send a chill up CEO's spines everywhere.

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who sacked them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, a manufacturer of car parts that has its headquarters in Italy, died of severe head wounds on Monday after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said. The incident, in Greater Noida, followed a long-running dispute between the factory’s management and workers demanding better pay and permanent contracts.

Sign of the times?

Read more!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Important PSA

Check your voter registration. Now. Even if you checked it last week.

Confirm your registration to vote.

The Republicans are working hard to disenfranchise Democratic voters.

My husband was purged. He had voted in the most recent Primary - last month. He checked his registration and it was not there. He has re-registered and raised a significant amount of hell. First week of October (NEXT WEEK) is the end of the ability to register for the November election (in most places, check the registration deadline in your area, some places allow for day of registration but that is rare.)

Please confirm that you have not yet been purged. They are working hard to do it.

As quickly as we are registering voters, they are purging them. Especially anywhere that there are tight races or where the presidential race will be tight.

Please confirm that your registration is current.

Read more!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do We Really Trust bu$h To Have Carte Blanche... Again?

Why don't I trust the bu$h administration on their rush to rescue our financial giants? Could it be that we were blindly hurried into the Patriot Act... or was it the fast moving attack on Iraq... hell, it's really both. And both have been huge blunders. The bu$h administration has a record of screwing the pooch on way too many items over the years... and we are supposed to just let him have Carte Blanche?
More after selections of the N.Y. Times article.

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed a vast bailout of financial institutions in the United States, requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in distressed mortgage-related assets from the private firms.

The proposal, not quite three pages long, was stunning for its stark simplicity. It would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. And it would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt.

“This is a big package, because it was a big problem,” President Bush said Saturday at a White House news conference...

Some Congressional Republicans warned Democrats not to overreach...

The administration’s plan would allow the Treasury to hire staff members and engage outside firms to help manage its purchases. And officials said that the administration envisioned enlisting several outside firms to help run the effort to buy up mortgage-related assets...

You have got to be kidding me right? "...unfettered authority...?" Like Cheney? Like Rummy? Like "Gonzo"? Like "heck of a job" Brownie? Sorry, I've been down this road before... you're incompetent bu$h and so is your staff. If Paulson was so great why has the problem gotten so huge?

bu$h telling me it's a "big problem" does not ease my fears or bode well with me... I don't trust the man. A man I call "King Midas in Reverse!" I can sense a real rip off of the American people here, name one thing he has successfully done for U.S. citizens. Or better yet, reel off all the things bu$h and his cronies have benefitted from when they expedite policy at the expense of the American public.

"Some Congressional Republicans warned Democrats not to overreach..." WTF? Who the fuck are they to tell our Democratic congressional leaders "not to overreach..." I hope they "overreach" and finally protect the electorate from bu$hco.

"...the administration envisioned enlisting several outside firms to help run the effort to buy up mortgage-related assets..." This sounds like outsourcing of jobs and special contracts to me, ala Iraq. How much will this cost? Who will be doing the work? The same schmoes who were working on Wall St. and got us into this mess?

In conclusion, I don't trust a fucking thing bu$h proposes, especially when he is trying to ramrod a plan down the American public's throat. We've been screwed too many times before.

Of course I'm no economist, but Paul Krugman is and he agrees with me: No Deal.

I hate to say this, but looking at the plan as leaked, I have to say no deal. Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets...

Here’s the thing: historically, financial system rescues have involved seizing the troubled institutions and guaranteeing their debts; only after that did the government try to repackage and sell their assets. The feds took over S&Ls first, protecting their depositors, then transferred their bad assets to the RTC. The Swedes took over troubled banks, again protecting their depositors, before transferring their assets to their equivalent institutions.

The Treasury plan, by contrast, looks like an attempt to restore confidence in the financial system — that is, convince creditors of troubled institutions that everything’s OK — simply by buying assets off these institutions. This will only work if the prices Treasury pays are much higher than current market prices; that, in turn, can only be true either if this is mainly a liquidity problem — which seems doubtful — or if Treasury is going to be paying a huge premium, in effect throwing taxpayers’ money at the financial world.

And there’s no quid pro quo here — nothing that gives taxpayers a stake in the upside, nothing that ensures that the money is used to stabilize the system rather than reward the undeserving.

I hope I’m wrong about this. But let me say it again: Treasury needs to explain why this is supposed to work — not try to panic Congress into giving it a blank check. Otherwise, no deal.

Read more!