Friday, October 31, 2008

Silly seasons and idiot winds

Rashid Khalidi puts a name to what has become electoral politics in America.

"I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over."

The thing about wind is that it's seasonal, and always comes back.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Take Off Your Indian Braids

Watching McCain struggle in his home state of Arizona should be a warning to John Kyl, reliably one of the most conservative members of the Senate, that times are changing in the state. Kyl won re-election in 2006 by a relatively narrow margin of 54-46. The state has elected and re-elected a Democrat to the governorship, and kicked conservative gasbag congressman J.D. Hayworth to the curb in 2006. Barry Goldwater's home state isn't what it used to be, which means people like Kyl had better watch the extremism and partisanship. His lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is a heady 97%, which puts him "up" there with sober and moderate men like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn. Neither one of those men could get elected to office in anything but a deep red state; I don't see why Kyl should be able to in rapidly purpling AZ. Kyl is 66 now, will be 70 in 2012 when he's next up for re-election. Maybe he'll decide it isn't worth the effort to change, and walk away from whatever it is that keeps people coming back to Congress for more. It'll be interesting to watch his voting record in a new Congress, with a new president and, judging by recent history, in what amounts to a new state. And if I were a President Obama looking for someone on the other side of the aisle to pressure now and then, I'd see if Kyl, despite that 97% rating, was willing to play ball. He might just want to do a Strom Thurmond or Robert Byrd and keep at it until they have to wheel him away.

John Hood's "fist"

This almost defies description:

Only, in this passage Obama revealed precisely why he is vulnerable to such charges: he can't seem to tell the difference between a gift and a theft. There is nothing remotely socialistic or communistic about sharing. If you have a toy that someone else wants, you have three choices in a free society. You can offer to trade it for something you value that is owned by the other. You can give the toy freely, as a sign of friendship or compassion. Or you can choose to do neither.

Collectivism in all its forms is about taking away your choice. Whether you wish to or not, the government compels you to surrender the toy, which it then redistributes to someone that government officials deem to be a more worthy owner. It won't even be someone you could ever know, in most cases. That's what makes the political philosophy unjust (by stripping you of control over yourself and the fruits of your labor) as well as counterproductive (by failing to give the recipient sufficient incentive to learn and work hard so he can earn his own toys in the future).

Government is not charity. It is not persuasion, or cooperation, or sharing. Government is a fist, a shove, a gun. Obama either doesn't understand this, or doesn't want voters to understand it.

But the bolded part tells you all you need to know about the conservative view of government. It's a "fist." That "fist" can be used to beat the hell out of hapless third world countries, or it can be used to steal money from deserving citizens, and give it to the undeserving. Government can play no other role for the aptly named John Hoods of the world. Is it any wonder that a political party run on a world view like this is utterly inept at governing?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Just how ugly is the electoral map for McCain? He is favored right now to win 174 electoral votes. He needs 270. That means, obviously, he's 96 votes shy. FL, where he trails, would be 27 of them. 69 more. Let's say NC (15) and MO (11), both states where he is currently trailing, give up their flirtation with sanity and slouch back to the doddering arms of the GOP. 43 more. Ohio (20 EV), where he also trails, decides to forget about all that unemployment stuff, cling to its guns and religion some more, and vote for the old guy with the crazy-but-hot woman sidekick. We've winnowed it down to 23. Pennsylvania (21), which has voted for the Blue guy four times in a row, and where Obama is up about 10 points in the polls, decides it's boring, and votes Red for a not-change. 2 EV left. He could pick those up with NH (3), or NM (5), or hell, any state to get himself over the top -- as if his campaign could possibly be any more over the top.

If you were to crunch the numbers using polls and probability calculations, the odds of this happening are pretty remote, maybe 1/100, 1/120 or so from a quick eyeball of the data. It just won't happen. He needs an exogenous event -- something entirely outside the current calculations -- to shake things up. Obviously, if something happens that allows McCain to win PA, winning FL, and NC, and VA, etc won't be a problem. But he needs that event. Maybe Osama will lend a hand.

Just because

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prop 8

I'm asshole enough not to care all that much about Prop 8, but (gimme credit!) honest enough to admit it. In the grand scheme of things I don't care if gay people marry, it's their business. Probably, all things considered, the world would be a better place if they could, as the discrimination against them injects poisonous distortions into the discourse, making progress in other areas difficult, and then you have the plain morality of it: why not? Who does it really hurt? No one. So I'm for allowing it, but not passionately so. I imagine that's probably where a lot of people are. But the dishonesty of ads like these made me get out the checkbook:

These fuckheads have got to be put in their place so we can get on with the business of fixing this country. Sorry, religious kooks, two people wanting to get married isn't what's wrong with this country. And you're going to lose, anyway, if not now then in 10 or 15 years when all the bigoted old bastards die off. Stop wasting everyone's time and energy on pointless garbage -- we have problems to solve. Real problems.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Feeling the heat

Fox News has been getting a little attention lately, and with their side losing bad, after having been on the wrong side of every issue for years, and losing in the key 18-54 year old demographic to MSNBC, methinks they are getting a little squirrelly:

Burton wasn't great, wasn't bad, but the Fox lady (cue Hendrix) was strident and defensive, and had clearly lost her cool. She'd have been yelling, but she knows women can't get away with it -- for whatever reason, people get pissed off at women when they yell. The blonde Fox lady might also be annoyed by seeing Rachel Maddow going on TV and doing well based on substance and intellect, and not forced to hew to an odious party line. And she didn't even have the decency to dye her hair blonde first. It must hurt a lot of those Barbie girls, who know that many people view them as bimbos, however smart they might actually be, to see Maddow thumb her nose at the conventions that bind them, and still become a rising star.

I have to wonder if there won't be some changes in Fox's slant with a country run by Democrats when the conservative movement is so intellectually bankrupt it has just run an entire presidential year election based on name calling. And lost. With an aged viewership and changing demographics, with the next president openly expressing his contempt for them, the butt of late night jokes -- Fox is going to have to do some revamping or it will go where about half its viewers will in the next 15 years.

Die laughing

If Franken beats Coleman....

Here's a guy with no political experience running in his first political campaign -- by rights he should be getting blown out. Fair enough, name recognition and money can go a long ways, not to mention a little luck, and Franken is a smart guy who will probably make a good senator. But look at the people we've had on the political stage lately: Arnold, Ventura, Franken. Obama has no experience, Palin -- it's the American Idolization of our politics.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


A little slow, but an awesome cast. Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney was amazing, and Thandie Newton as Condi Rice had me wanting to punch her in the mouth. I doubt the real Rice is that sycophantic and annoying. I also doubt Colin Powell was the standup guy he's portrayed as in the film. He's a master of office politics in real life, and such people never, never speak their mind in a hostile environment when their opinion is in the minority. They wait, issue perfunctory, CYA demurrals, and if they feel strongly about things (and professional office politicians seldom feel strongly about much of anything besides their own standing), work behind the scenes to get their way. It was the most jarring thing I saw in the film, in fact, and while it was probably intended to ennoble Powell, it had the opposite effect for me -- I kept thinking he was being a dumbass and setting himself up to be out-manoeuvred.

The lack of physical resemblance between the actors and their real life counterparts, and the recentness of the events being portrayed gave the entire film a dream-like quality to me, it was as if I was reliving, through the distortions of a dream, events that had actually happened. I don't know if this was intentional on Stone's part or not, but it was a clever thing if it was intentional. He certainly could have found actors who more closely resembled the originals had he wanted.

This is one of Stone's poorer efforts. He pulled too many punches, the pacing is slow, and Bush deserves harsher treatment than he gets in the film. The film is a character study of a man without much character, and as such ends up being no more interesting than the times the film portrays. Those were interesting times, but they aren't anymore -- we've moved on to other issues, other personalities, and the events covered in the film are all known, which makes things even more dull. The writing and acting spice it up some, but only some.

As I was watching it I thought the real, perfect film about Bush's presidency would be a comedy. The events themselves are all well known, so a straight documentary-style film (like this one) is bound to be dull. We're living the tragedy, so no point in making a film about it, too. But a comedy, now, that's where the opportunity lies. We're paying trillions for the slow motion fiasco that has been the past eight years, might as well get some laughs out of it. And the more effective scenes in W. are the comedic ones, when Scott Glenn is a little over the top as Rumsfeld, when Bush leads a walking party down the wrong path on his own ranch -- these made the film bearable. A lot more scenes like those and it would have been more than bearable.

I don't know if Dreyfuss was on screen long enough to get a supporting actor nod, but he really was astounding. Creepy and brooding and Machiavellian, but not in a heavy handed way. It was pulled off really well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Will Ayers

The thought strikes me that if Ayers really were a socialist commie pinko, he could strike the greatest blow for communism since the Russian Revolution by making a public statement that he and Obama are best friends, that they've been plotting the Revolution together for twenty years, that he really did write Obama's book, but that now that it comes down to it he can't follow through with the plan because he realizes he loves America too much to watch it destroyed, and besides, he's found Jesus now, and he knows Obama is a secret Muslim. That would throw the election to McCain, and after four more years of "sharpening contradictions" facilitated by disastrously inept Republican rule, the people of the United States would be begging for the socialist revolution, rather than Obama's mildly left version of centrism. By making this marginal figure so important, the conservatives have given Ayers that much power. Why doesn't he use it?

Words almost fail

Biden did well (his last answer was a polite "Fuck you" to someone who richly had it coming), but these people are out there and they aren't going to let a little thing like getting crushed in an election after having run the country in the ground stop them. This is only the beginning.

As the McCain campaign

continues to unravel, it underscores a point I tried to make throughout the primaries: it's difficult to maintain a facade of efficiency and control when you are losing and under fire. A losing campaign, like a losing sports team, is simply viewed in a different light -- people look for things to pick at. A frustrated communique that might be ignored if sent by a competitive campaign is released and ridiculed when sent by a losing one. Watch a baseball or football game, and notice how the announcers begin heaping praise on the winning team, and that's something like what you see going on with Obama-McCain now. That isn't a good thing -- politics isn't sports, and political commentary, because the stakes are so high, ought to be held to a higher standard. And in a sporting contest, unlike in politics, the announcers, whatever their enthusiasm or skill, can't influence the outcome.

Friday, October 24, 2008


See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

He deliberately plays down the glitz of Hollywood. Instead, he strips away the envy-inducing "glamor" of Hollywood, and you see a middle-aged bald guy with a paunch and nose hairs, talking from the gut, as it were. That Ron Howard is a pretty smart guy, no wonder his films are so good.

One thing I don't understand is why Hollywood in general and Barbra Streisand in particular are such easy targets for political ridicule. I'll take Hollywood's track record on issues over the years against the record of any other industry you can name, and Hollywood will come out ahead. Civil rights? Hollywood was ahead of the curve. Women's rights? Ahead of the curve. This war? Ahead of the curve. Bush's presidency? Ahead of the curve. It isn't a perfect record by any means (The black list comes immediately to mind), but overall Hollywood-style activism has a good track record, particularly compared to, oh, we'll say the sober folks in the financial industry. Or the energy industry. Or the arms industry.

And as for Streisand, the safest thing in the world for her to do would be to shut up about politics, keep selling records, going on tours, making mediocre films, and sucking up the money. Instead, she alienates lots of people by speaking up because she gives a shit about the direction the country is taking. Compare her to, we'll say Rush Limbaugh, who is paid tens of millions of dollars a year to make people angry, and the more outrageous, loud, and nasty he is, the more he's paid. One sacrifices for expressing her views, the other is rewarded handsomely for expressing his, but one (the wrong one) is considered a patriot and the other, not. It makes no sense at all. Agree with her or disagree with her, Streisand's courage and passion deserve respect, but she doesn't get it, gets the opposite, in fact, while Limbaugh's avarice, constant shit-stirring, and dishonesty deserve derision, but he not only doesn't get derided -- he gets respect, gets sitting presidents and presidential hopefuls to come on his show and treat him, this bigoted hypocrite, with deference. Maybe it's my perspective, but the world seems upside down.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The great schlep

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Silverman looks like a failed porn actress to me, but this has its moments. If I had Jewish, or any other, grandparents living in Florida, I might just schlep down there myself. If nothing else, I'd get out of the cold.

Out of the woodwork

If only we'd elected Steve Forbes. As I read this piece I was waiting to see the part where sugar plums would have come out of Forbes' ass, planted themselves, and then sprouted into money trees. These are dangerous times, when dangerous, crazy people will be listened to by slightly less dangerous, scared people. Or in the case of the Republicans, dangerous, cynical and crazy people will be listened to by dangerous, foolish, and angry people.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If I were a Dem strategist...

For this to be a truly realigning election, Obama has to win by >8 points, and the Dems have to keep control of Congress beyond 2014, and the Dems have to enact some substantial legislation -- universal healthcare is the standard there. Anything less and it's just the liberal movement playing extended defense. The odds are fair for the first one, difficult to calculate for the second, and entirely dependent on Obama's unproven ability to push an agenda for the third. I give it about a 1:4 shot overall.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Changing Time

I feel sorry for Tumulty after reading this thread. She seems like a decent person working in a corrupt and shrinking business. However, I don't see how anyone loses much if 10 reporters are going around all typing out the same narrative instead of 20 -- except the 10 reporters who are out of a job. From the public's perspective the situation remains the same, and that's what matters. Maybe if all those extra reporters had actually behaved like something other than herd animals, maybe if they had actually behaved like journalists and stimulated an informed public discussion, instead of churning out page after page of bland, colleague-approved bullshit, more of them would still have jobs.

Brand new bag.

Take away the Republicans' politics of resentment, of small town, "Real America" "us" VS. big city not-America "them" and you don't have a lot left. They might even have to start running campaigns on issues, issues that both real Americans and fake Americans care about. We might be seeing a new world opening up. How sad that it takes a comic to drag this out into plain view. I can think of no greater indictment of punditry than to point out Stewart and Colbert have been more substantive as "pundits" than any real pundits out there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

$600 million

That's at least how much money Obama will have spent by the time this is all over (I think the actual figure will be over 700 million, but the point will remain). Compared to the bank bailout it's a near-pittance, compared to every other campaign in history it's a staggering sum. On the bright side, it's unlikely one person would spend that kind of money out of their own pocket trying to become president, so you could say the whole thing is democracy in action. On the dark side, holy shit, but that's a lot of money to be spent on shitty ads and the mediocre consultants who make them, an endless number of polls and focus groups, busing hack journalists around so they can write the exact same stories as all the other hack journalists write, donuts and junk food to feed hordes of volunteers (and what's the dollar value of those volunteers? How many millions more would all that free labor add to the $600,000,000 price tag?).

I've been watching this stuff since 2000, so I know how thrilled people are to be able to donate money to their candidate, but there has to be a better way. We are giving politicians huge sums of money so they can, in essence, assault the nation with around-the-clock, transmedia bullshit and lies. Obama will understandably be reluctant to reform a system that has been so kind to him, and promises to be at least as kind in the future. But I'd like to see a hard cap placed on spending, of both candidates and political parties, as well as politically-related activities by lobbying groups. Between the costs of campaigning and the effects of lobbyists, the system is drowning in money. It's working out well for the Democrats -- this year -- but it won't always. Put an end to it while you can, because there's no way the Republicans will when their turn comes.

The future brought to you today

It'll be at least four years of crying like this. The question is if the media people play along, perhaps not in the immediate future, but in a few years and beyond that. My own sense is that they were massively tilted towards Obama (against Hillary) in the primaries, but essentially fair during the general, so for the Reps to complain now ... well, it makes sense, but only from a cynical perspective.

One reason the Republicans are crying so hard, besides the fact that they're getting their asses kicked, is that this sort of character slime has always worked for them in the past. From Swiftboat to "invented the internet" to Whitewater, the media have spent the past 16 years running after whatever bone the Reps throw. Now that they aren't running so hard, the Reps are outraged by the unfairness of it all. Media behavior, like reality, has a liberal bias when it doesn't conform to Republican expectations.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saudi Peace Plan

When the Saudis first floated it, it was described as a "non-starter"; now it warrants serious consideration:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders are seriously considering a dormant Saudi plan offering a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world in exchange for lands captured during the 1967 war, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday.

Barak said it may be time to pursue an overall peace deal for the region since individual negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians have made little progress.

Barak said he has discussed the Saudi plan with Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni, who is in the process of forming a new Israeli government, and that Israel is considering a response.

Saudi Arabia first proposed the peace initiative in 2002, offering pan-Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from Arab lands captured in 1967 — the West Bank, Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The 22-member Arab League endorsed the plan last year.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Israel | United Nations | Palestinians | Iran | Jewish | West Bank | Lebanon | Gaza Strip | Hamas | Syria | Jerusalem | Hezbollah | Saeb Erekat | Labor Party | Nobel | Arab League | Army Radio | Golan Heights | Shimon Peres | pan-Arab | Ehud Olmert | Saudi King Abdullah | Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Israel has said the plan is a good basis for discussion, but expressed some reservations.

"There is definitely room to introduce a comprehensive Israeli plan to counter the Saudi plan that would be the basis for a discussion on overall regional peace," Barak told Israel's Army Radio.

He noted the "deep, joint interest" with moderate Arab leaders in containing Iran's nuclear ambitions and limiting the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

While Israel's outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has welcomed the Saudi plan, he and other leaders want to keep small parts of the territories captured in 1967. Israel also objects to language that appears to endorse a large-scale return of Palestinian refugees to lands inside Israel. Israel says a massive influx of Palestinians would destroy the country's Jewish character.

Israel's ceremonial president, Shimon Peres, proposed putting Israel's various peace talks on one track last month at the United Nations, calling on Saudi King Abdullah to "further his initiative." He has since been pushing the idea in meeting with Israeli, Arab and Western officials, his office said.

While Peres has no formal role in Israeli foreign policy, he is a Nobel peace laureate and well respected in the international community.

In Sunday's interview, Barak said he was in full agreement with Peres.

"I had the impression that there is indeed an openness to explore any path, including this one," he said of his talks with Livni.

Barak, who leads the Labor Party, is expected to play a senior role in the next administration.

Livni's office refused to comment on her talks with Barak.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat noted that pursuing the Saudi peace initiative did not necessarily undermine the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians and he encouraged Israel to pursue this track.

"I think Israel should have done this since 2002. It is the most strategic initiative that came from the Arab world since 1948," he said. "I urge them to revisit this initiative and to go with it because it will shorten the way to peace."

The global financial crisis is probably hitting the Israelis hard -- the U.S. can't keep propping their occupation up forever. The increased influence of Iran, and knowledge that they can't do much about it, is also pushing them to actions that were unthinkable a few years ago. They either find a way to make a just and lasting peace, one that would be acceptable to their neighbors on its own merits, or they will cease to exist as a nation eventually.

Not so amusingly enough, one of the goals of the Iraq adventure was to allow Israel to dictate "peace" entirely on its own terms, with Iraq, then Syria, then Iran battered into subservient submission. It was a stupid, immoral war from the start, but it might yet end up paying dividends -- just not to the actual shareholders of the war.


The only real value of endorsements is that they can, under certain circumstances, influence the Washington press corps. I've never once talked to a voter who made their decision directly based on an endorsement, not an endorsement by a newspaper, not an endorsement by an individual. Powell's endorsement of Obama is essentially meaningless except it gives the chattering classes something to chatter about.


To my mind, the more a consummate Washington insider like Colin Powell describes Obama as "transformational," the less likely it is that he actually is transformational. These folks have been made rich and famous by the system as it is, and the last thing they want is to see that system changed. Their real complaint about Bush, in fact, is that, through arrant incompetence, he's set up conditions whereby average people might, themselves, "endorse" a truly transformational figure by voting for him. If Obama were that guy, there is no way Powell, or the Post, or any other establishment voice, would be endorsing him. They want someone who will take us back to 2000, when people were content like sheep, when the established order wasn't shaking, when their position (with its money and influence) was secure, when the word "transformation" could only have negative connotations, because who would want to change something that worked so well? This was a status quo that ensured Colin Powell's children got soft jobs in government, followed by softer jobs on boards of directors, ensured that Luke Russert would follow in the lucrative footsteps of Tim. Transforming those circumstances they want no part of, and to judge by the number and kind of endorsements Obama is getting, they feel confident he won't be doing it. And yet those very circumstances led us to where we are.

Powell does nail a lot of the tactical stuff:

But the problems we have go further than McCain's sleazy campaign.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Smoke and fire.

Sarah Palin is not an anomaly:

These guys have lived in an incestuous, consequence-free environment for so long that they no longer have the ability to self-edit. Something between 25 and 30% of the population lives so far removed from reality that they believe this stuff; given a random population distribution, some of them end up clumped together in large enough groups that people like Bachmann and Palin and a few others actually get elected to high office, and the Republican Party itself has become so bloated with conceit that it can't see the danger of trotting these people out before the rest of the country.

It's too bad the corrective cycle is so short nowadays. A hundred years ago a political party as fucked up as the Republicans wouldn't be able to untangle itself for a couple of decades, as happened to the Dems during the time of Bryan, for example. I suspect the Republicans will stop insulting the people's intelligence with empty-headed dumbasses like Palin and Bachmann real quick this time around.

Real medicine

We ain't out of the woods yet, but we're moving away from the center, I think. Unfortunately, we've so lost our way that first we have to get out of the finance woods, and then find the road to income. And there's always the possibility of taking a wrong turn. But I get the sense people aren't even terrified any more, just sick of this shit. Exhaustion is 10X better than terror -- when you're exhausted, you don't have the energy to do anything stupid.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Great Brown Hope

Bobby Jindal on the move with the wingnuts:

Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor widely seen as a Republican rising star, will keynote a high-profile Christian conservative fundraising dinner next month in Iowa, his office confirms.

Jindal will speak at the Iowa Family Policy Center's “Celebrating the Family” banquet in suburban Des Moines on November 22nd, according to his spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers. While in the state, he also may to go to Cedar Rapids to see some of those areas impacted by the summer floods. Jindal, of course, has led his state's recovery from Katrina since being elected in 2007.

It will be Jindal's first visit to Iowa, Sellers said.

The trip is a reminder that, even with a presidential election looming, caucus politics is never far away in the Hawkeye State.

The Christian conservative organization is led by Chuck Hurley, a well-known activist who first backed Sam Brownback before switching over to Mike Huckabee in this year's GOP nomination battle.

Their flyer touting Jindal's speech features quotes from conservative luminaries. "The next Ronald Reagan," says Rush Limbaugh.

Jindal, 37, got some vice-presidential buzz this year and spent a well-documented Memorial Day weekend at the McCain ranch near Sedona along with other prominent GOP elected officials and potential future rivals.

He has won praise from a range of Republican figures from McCain's top advisers to Limbaugh to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Though never thought to be in the serious running to be McCain's running mate, he has emerged as frequent surrogate this year, doing Sunday morning shows on the Arizona senator's behalf and spending last Saturday at the LSU-Florida game in Gainesville making the pitch for the nominee.

He already has credentials with the moneycons (Limbaugh and Norquist), and he's working hard to build them with the theocons. All Republicans are neocons until proven otherwise, so he's covered there. He's young, so he can run away from Bush-brand conservatism and call himself a "new kind of Republican." That there is really only one kind of Republican who could possibly win their primary -- a Bush-McCain type -- will get lost in the glitz. Assuming the economy is straightened out by then, 2012 will be too early for him, but he'll only be 45 in 2016, younger than Obama is now. Anything can happen in eight years, but this guy is dangerous -- anyone who can win the support of the irrational conservative base and a general election is. He could fashion a Giuliani-like campaign around the "Miracle of New Orleans", and in eight years be running around the country chanting "Change change change." That we've already seen the conservative kind of "change," and didn't like it much, will have been forgotten.

In 2016, Biden would be 73 -- older than McCain is now...


Four years after Swiftboat,

Drum says this:

Conventional pundit wisdom seems to accept that a vigorous attack shows strength. But that's not true. Think of all the genuinely strong people you've known in your life. What sets them apart is that they stay calm when other people are attacking. McCain doesn't seem to get this, and neither do the conservatives who were insisting that McCain needed to haul out the heavy artillery tonight. Obama does.

The fact is, "strength" is what the media creatures say it is. Today, Obama is "calm" and it's "strength," four years ago Kerry was "calm" and it was weakness, and passivity, and poor campaigning, and how could anyone who wouldn't stand up for themselves stand up for the country?

It's a good thing us liberals already know everything, because we aren't very good at learning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Touch of Evil

No, not the Welles classic,, but Blind Spot , the strangest, and one of the most gripping, documentaries I've ever seen. It's 90 minutes of an old woman talking -- that's it. But what words. She was Hitler's secretary, right up until his suicide, and while nothing she says is really new, seeing her calmly talking about that period, knowing she saw it, lived it, makes the whole thing riveting. And you can tell she's spent a lifetime thinking about it, analyzing it, letting the experience grow within her before she harvests the truth -- or at least, the truth she wants to harvest. She must have been extraordinarily strong, simpleminded, or oblivious to have been that close to the moral void and not been sucked in herself -- if, indeed, she wasn't.

McCain is looking loathsome in debate.

And his former pals in the media won't be helping him out. There isn't a fork in the world with tines long enough to stick in him.

A conservative I can like

After reading about the whole Maddow-Frum thing, I read through some of Frum's stuff on The Corner, and found him to be much better than your garden variety wingnut. He really did seem to be attempting civility, at least in the posts of his I read, and he seemed about as intellectually honest as a politically-minded person can be. So I tend to take him at his word that he really is unhappy with the general tone of our discourse, and God knows, there's plenty to be unhappy about. That being said,

1) You can't expect to go on someone's show and attack it and not expect a fight. Whatever his intentions, if he didn't want a fight, he should have chosen his words with more care. Since he's smart enough to know that, I can only assume he wanted a fight.

2) I don't watch, don't even own, a TV myself -- the only thing I know about these shows is when I watch what they post on the web. I haven't seen any of Maddow's work except a few interviews she did (which I liked), but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say probably Frum is right about the tone of her program. He has to be, because that's what viewers demand. Viewers want sarcasm, want anger, want to see their political foes belittled and laughed at. That's the nature of the beast, and complaining about it is rather like complaining about the politicians we, in our democracy, put in power: everyone does it, but in the end the only people to blame is ourselves. Which brings up ...

3) By far the worst, sarcastic, demeaning belittlers along these lines have been the people on Frum's own side. Limbaugh has made hundreds of millions over the years doing it, the radio dial is full of it, so are the TV screens, the op-ed pages: it's everywhere, and has been for years. Has Frum ever complained about it before, when the vitriol has come almost entirely from his side? I'm going to go out on a limb again here and say no, he hasn't.

4) Maddow didn't do the best job of handling the dispute. Pointing out that she isn't calling for anyone's murder or some such doesn't deal with Frum's main point.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bigfoot grows

The only real liberal mainstream pundit out there with any balls wins a Nobel. I frankly wonder how much politics played a role in this. If I were a European looking at the frightful wasteland that has become of America's discourse, I'd be doing anything in my power to raise the visibility of the few sane, honest contributors to that discourse I could. This isn't to disparage Krugman's economic work, the merits of which I'm not qualified to judge. But I suspect when all is said and done it will be Krugman's work as a pundit that will leave its most lasting mark on our country. At least, I hope so.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The reports of its death...


That’s typical Bill Kristol — not only chronically wrong about everything, but far worse, completely incapable of acknowledging mistakes. He just suppresses them, pretends they don’t exist, and in that regard is the perfect face for the right-wing movement that is dying a painful, harsh and profoundly well-deserved death in front of everyone’s eyes.

I don't know about this. They still have their wingnut welfare and their fatcat sugardaddies who fund it, still have their Fox News, still have their base, their talk radio message machine. Will all these things just go away with an Obama win? They are going to get thumped in a month, will probably be contrite for awhile, but they didn't become the arrogant, disdainful, crazy party they are by accident, and the forces that made them that way are still out there. To put it another way, how can the Republicans become a more moderate, cooperative party when they have almost no moderate, cooperative people left?

They are entirely discredited -- for now. Independent voters don't like them -- for now. The stranglehold they've had on the discourse for 15 years is relaxing -- for now. But to say their movement is dead assumes the current state of affairs will be an enduring one, and the one lesson everyone should have learned over the past four years is that circumstances change, sometimes rapidly. Moreover, the Republican movement, in its current form, traces back 50-odd years, when the extreme anti-communists and the anti-intellectuals of the 50s reacted against the Wallace and Stevenson Democrats and started moving to the R side. They endured after Goldwater's crushing defeat in '64, watched helplessly as moderates like Nixon took over their party, lived through Reagan's primary defeat in '76, lived through eight years of the hated Bill Clinton. Why should one electoral defeat, no matter how big, destroy a movement that has shown that kind of resilience?

I don't know exactly what these guys are going to do in the future. Some of their most extreme members will be forced underground for awhile -- we won't be seeing another Sarah Palin on a national ticket for quite some time. But people should keep in mind that Bush ran as a moderate in 2000, not as the ideologue he governed as: the overt extremism we've seen on the Rep side over the past four years was an aberration, not the norm -- but the core of the movement remained intact, and drove the Republican Party even behind the mask of moderation. Why shouldn't they be able to pull that off again?

Right now, they are all trying to save their own asses, and as a result of that things look like they are falling apart. But there are powerful forces that push these guys towards unity, and those forces don't show any signs of dissipating in the face of one loss. Assuming Obama and the Dems do a good job of governing in the coming years, this could be a tough eight year stretch for the conservative movement. But it's made it through tough years before, and always come back even stronger. And then there's the possibility that Obama and the Dems fail.

Where Have You Gone, Bobby Jindal?

With McCain-Palin going down in flames, and Palin herself thoroughly discredited, the right has found a new object of hero worship already, and his name is Bobby Jindal:

In the end, I couldn’t do it. My California ballot arrived in the mail today, and I opened it fully intending to vote for John McCain. I filled out the state propositions first — yes on 8, no on everything proposing a new bond or new spending — then the local offices, straight Republican excepting Kevin Johnson for (nonpartisan) Sacramento mayor. Finally, the vote for President of the United States: an academic exercise in California, where Barack Obama will surely win by a crushing margin. But good citizenship demands voting as if it matters. Do I believe in John McCain? Not as much as I used to. Do I believe in Sarah Palin? Despite my early enthusiasm for her, now not at all. Do I believe in the national Republican Party? Not in the slightest — even though I see no meaningful alternative to it. So, my choice for President in 2008, scrawled in my ballot as an act of futile protest, is Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. If nothing else, I am confident this is the first of several votes I will cast for him in years to come.

Two points: 1) He doesn't "believe" in McCain so much anymore because McCain is going to lose, and these guys hate losers; and 2) Kevin Johnson has the potential to be a political force. He's earnest, bright, competitive, good looking, has a great life story -- he has a lot of things going for him. Nobody seems to care about the sexual stuff in his past. He'll almost certainly end up running for governor eventually, and if he keeps the religious aspects of his personality in the shadows, he has a chance to win. After that, well, if Sarah Palin can...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Placebo III

Watching Bush on TV today, and the reactions to him, told me the Paulson+ plan is doomed. Nobody has confidence in anything Bush touches, Paulson can't sell this (he isn't Petraeus wearing a uniform with a bunch of ribbons and medals and using cool jargon -- uncool jargon, yes, cool jargon, no), and the plan depends on the public and the markets "buying" the notion that things are sound. Nobody is buying that. They are going to have to grind this out now, nationalize a big part of banking, and slowly rebuild confidence in the system. I think getting Obama in there would be a step forward -- people seem to trust, for whatever reason, Obama's ability to "handle the economy." Bush burned through that trust a long time ago, spending it on Iraq and Petraeus and Swift Boats and flag lapel pins and his carefully crafted image as a country bumpkin, and whatever else he blew his "political capital" on. Alas, that political capital isn't the only kind he's good at blowing.

There was a moment, I think, when this could have worked, when the image of both parties coming together to sell a politically unpopular piece of legislation might have convinced people Washington was capable of real leadership. But the first vote failed, and that moment, like Bush's "political capital", was squandered. And here we are.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The best apologizer in the business

The nastier and greater the garbage McCain stirs up now, the more dramatic and heartwarming will be his inevitable, tearful mea culpa to the press corps when he loses. I suspect they'll take him back in the fold, after a little rough stuff to "teach him a lesson." It'll be the gazzilionth time they've played this game, so everyone knows their role fluently now.

But there is no excuse for this, and no apology will make up for it:

And yes, McCain is responsible for this -- those people are half baked loons, but McCain doesn't have to play to them. It comes from his campaign, he's deliberately, knowingly stirring it up, and he has to know that the purpose of it isn't even to win the campaign, but rather, to wound an Obama presidency, make it harder for him to govern, this at a time when we need an effectively functioning government as much as we have at any time in history.

I have no idea why McCain is doing this. Maybe he feels spite towards Obama for taking away McCain's rightful prize, maybe he thinks he can, at 76 years old, run in 2012 -- who knows. But it's disgusting, it's incredibly harmful to everyone -- even those demented dittoheads, and it's absolutely the last way to put "country first."

"I'll be working until I'm 70 now."

"Fuck. I can't believe this. I have been putting money in my 401k since 1998, and I have about a thousand dollars more in there than when I started."

Twenty five minutes later, after a scintillating discussion about vote fraud, San Francisco liberals, and taxes:

"It's all Nancy Pelosi's fault. That stupid bitch."

I don't like bigfooting discussions like those, and besides, they are fascinating to watch (I imagine it's almost like being a fly on the wall in a loony bin), but this was way, way out there. One of the most vociferous participants, and the most extreme Pelosi hater, was the same guy who was talking yesterday about needing someone new in the White House to end the economic crisis. How one brain can hold so many conflicting and self-contradicting notions is a mystery unsolvable, I am sure, by the finest minds in science let alone my own. But I'd sure like to know how they do it. I had, and have, more than a sneaking suspicion that had not I, a black man, been there, Obama's name would have come up, and some of the things said about him would have been at least on a par with calling Pelosi a stupid bitch.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Poorer, but wiser -- maybe.

"We aren't going to see this economy turn around until the election is over and somebody new is in there." This from a two-time Bush voter who believes Democrats want to eliminate the military and make pacifism the guiding principle of American foreign policy. And no, that isn't an exaggeration of this person's attitude.

It's difficult to get across the change that's come over the less committed wingnuts recently. A couple of months ago they were simply demoralized by the thought that the horrible "Democrat Party" would win the election; I'm sensing now that now they aren't interested in the rah rah side of electioneering any longer, but rather, are dismayed at the direction the economy is moving in and want someone -- anyone -- to make the pain stop. They've been slapped in the face -- hard -- by the horned hand of economic reality, and they are groggily coming to their senses.

Watching this, I'm becoming -- very -- cautiously optimistic that the insanity that has gripped our national discourse since 1992 will abate, that people who used to believe things that were absurd on their face because it was entertaining will permanently realize that some forms of entertainment come at too high a price,and they don't want to pay it any more. It's fun to grin along with the notion of Al Gore claiming he invented the internet, but not so fun to live for eight years under the "leadership" of a bumbling incompetent, fun to laugh along with Rush and the gang at other people, not so fun to realize the joke was on you all along, but you just didn't get it. I suppose the old adage about being "poorer but wiser" applies here; unfortunately their lack of wisdom has made a whole lot of us poorer, and some of us have lost a lot more than money.

The Jimmy Carter Effect

Barring some really bad governing, or really bad breaks, Obama is going to go down in history as an outstanding president. Every president in modern history who has followed a failed presidency and/or who has inherited a rugged set of challenges from his predecessor has except Nixon, who was on his way until he was derailed by Watergate. Looking at events, Obama has enjoyed an astonishing run of breaks, from the press corps winning his primary fight against Hillary for him to the economy collapsing just when his race against McCain was getting tough. And now he goes to office with multiple messes to clean up, and the hard work of convincing the public tough action needs to be taken is done for him. As a result, he's going to have an enormous mandate for change, putting things like an improved healthcare system, which should pay political dividends for the Democrats and real dividends for the country for many years, within his reach.

Just as Reagan got credit for the work Carter started on the economy by appointing Volcker, Obama is going to get credit for the work that was started under Bush. Bush deserves no credit for this, as it's his mess caused by the philosophy he cheered and whored for, and besides, I feel pretty certain that an Obama administration would have done a better job of cleaning things up than the job Bush's people have begun. And I don't mean to imply that Obama is a no-talent bum, because he clearly is talented and able. It's just that, looking at all the breaks that have gone Obama's way, I can't help but think of that old Rod Stewart song about some guys having all the luck.

That was fast.

Back to panic mode.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Question 1: Edge McCain. Obama recites stump speech talking points. McCain answers with concrete plan. Haven't heard him talking about buying mortgages up before.

Question 2: McCain seems on his game. Warren Buffet as SecTres: fat chance, but nice bipartisan pander. Meg Whitman -- women's vote. Obama's answer -- stump speech. He's looking like the attacker -- why? McCain is suckering him some by being the nice guy, Obama not adjusting. Tiny edge McCain.

Question 3: McCain: "Obama's cronies and friends." Not good. Al GSE's fault (where's regulation? Thought he was all about regulation?). Out and out allegations of corruption from Dems. So much for bipartisanship. Obama: Explaining things well. "I have to correct Senator McCain (not surprisingly)". Big edge Obama. (Stupid C-span feed breaking up, can't hear everything).

Question 4: Obama hits history. Is he starting to sound too attacky? A little bit to my ears, at least. Back to stump speech. Doesn't answer question all that well. Opening for McCain. McCain not annoying like Palin is -- none of that "maverick" bullshit. McCain on attack now. He's doing well. He's flipping on drilling. If he knows how to fix economy, why hasn't he done it in 30-odd years in Congress? McCain now promising everything to everyone. 700 billion in hands of terrorist organizations?? WTF? Obama: stump speech. He's clearly running out the clock. Probably not a bad plan at this point, but boring. C-span breaking up again. Is he calling for line item veto? Back on the attack. They both seem a like they're squabbling.

Question 5: (Good question). McCain empathetic. I've done this and that. Earmarks again. Not answering question. Spending freeze except for military -- nonsense. Obama: Stump speech. He's hitting his stride. McCain promising everything to everyone again.

Question 6: C=span entirely cut out for 15 minutes

McCain sounds better, more reasonable. You can see why the press people like him -- he's charming when it suits his purposes. Obama sounding too animated.

Pandering to Israel blah blah blah. Obama does better job of ducking the question. McCain winning, but both men look good, better than the VP candidates. Final question used by Obama to go over his biography and more stump speech. McCain answers question, plus goes over his biography.

McCain impressive, Obama not so much. If the polls say Obama wins, it's halo effect from the economy. No way he won this thing, unless McCain spoke in tongues during Cspan outage.*

Michelle Obama looking hot in red dress. She's going to make a helluva First Lady.

*Polls say Obama won. Big. Something going on here I don't get.

Placebo II

Things are loosening up. Started yesterday, despite the Dow collapse, but really seeing movement today. It's still early, but my sense is the worst is over. I don't know if it's the bailout, or people are just tired of living in fear. Rather hope it's the first, as the fear can easily come back once people catch their mental breaths, as it were. Once they've decided the bailout is working, even though it hasn't been implemented yet, there's little chance of going back.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A hop, skip, and a jump.

OK, a hop.

From This:

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- "Okay, so Florida, you know that you're going to have to hang onto your hats," Sarah Palin told a rally of a few thousand here this morning, "because from now until Election Day it may get kind of rough."

You betcha. And the person dishing out the roughest stuff at the moment is Sarah Palin.

"I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day," she said.

"Booooo!" replied the crowd.

"I knew you guys would react that way, okay," she continued. "So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago."

It was time to revive the allegation, made over the weekend, that Obama "pals around" with terrorists, in this case Bill Ayers, late of the Weather Underground. Many independent observers say Palin's allegations are a stretch; Obama served on a Chicago charitable board with Ayers, now an education professor, and has condemned his past activities.

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin went on to say that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago." Here, Palin began to connect the dots. "These are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes -- remember that's what Joe Biden had said. "And" -- she paused and sighed -- "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America, as the greatest force for good in the world. I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as 'imperfect enough' to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country."

"Boooo!" said the audience.

To this:

A nationalistic movement marked by distinct feelings of persecution and an extreme, "us against them" mentality? Check. Always on the lookout for a scapegoat? Check (they've so far blamed blacks and Hispanics for the economic crisis, for example, but there's always someone, from the generic "elites" to the "feminazis" to the NYT, which Palin dredges up here). Mindless leader worship? Check (They've even found their leader, Palin, for now, although they'll find another if she won't do). We are also heading into an economic slump; such periods are ripe for demagoguery, and these people were easily demagogued even when the economy was the strongest in history.

Will things work out that way? I don't know. I'll even venture out on a limb and say the odds are against it. But I also don't know how anyone could look at this and not be concerned. It isn't about the election, isn't about McCain or even Palin, who are just cynical opportunists trying to ride a wave. It's about the attitude of a small but growing chunk of the American population.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Obama's ads finally getting better

And he isn't ducking and cringing. He's running a competent campaign, at last. In the ad he mentions "children's vaccines and mammograms." I wish he'd had this kind of focus all along, but I give him credit for learning and adapting. Not even one month to go....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The simplifying beauty of a supply and demand curve

Krugman did it. The relevant graphs are on slides seven and eight. If Krugman would pull those out, simplify them some, explain them a little bit, then replace the relatively arcane "financial multiplier" with GDP points, a lot fewer people would start out their posts with "I don't know anything about this stuff, but...." I also suspect the number of people who believe this is a manufactured crisis would go down by quite a bit as well. Somehow seeing something in graphic form sinks in for some people in a way that reading it or seeing it in tabular format does not.

You gotta wonder

How long can rural white people keep voting Republican? After reading his Wikipedia entry, it looks like Stanley is one of those oldschool, Roosevelt-Truman Democrats, but there should be lots more of them, especially after the past eight years.

(h/t Kathy G. The music clips she posted were also good, despite my own musical tastes leaning -- just a tad -- closer to Otis Redding than The Oak Ridge Boys.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The pivot begins


Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a "second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self- definition -- do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.

It's got nothing to do with the economy, or the Iraq War, it's all about Obama and McCain's failed Hail Mary passes. The Bush policy decisions -- and their outcomes -- that forced McCain into those desperation moves aren't discussed, and won't be by Krauthammer or anyone like him, because they supported those policies, and a discussion of those policies' merits can only reach one conclusion. So we get McCain's bad campaigning (would he be any further behind if he hadn't "suspended" his campaign?), and a compliment of Obama's temperament and intelligence -- anything but policy. And as the good ship Straighttalk sinks under the waves, we'll get more stuff like this, until the right starts their counterattack, when Obama's "temperament and intelligence" will almost certainly be found wanting. The sad thing is that many on the motivated left will agree with this sort of thing, and come to believe that they won this year, not because they support better, more deserving policies than the Republicans, but because Obama is such a wonderful candidate. Dems should be smarter than that, smarter than the Republicans were when they turned the past eight years into a Bush fetish party. It didn't work for them, and it won't work for the Dems. Obama will win because the Republicans did an awful job of governing; if the Dems want to keep on winning they will do a good job of governing. That means keeping their policies -- which most Americans agree with -- at the center of the discussion at all times, not Barack Obama.


If someone has "first rate temperament and intelligence," doesn't it make sense that they would make good decisions regarding policy and so on? I mean, what else is there? Temperament, intelligence, and experience are the underpinnings of judgment, and if Obama has the first two, and is rapidly acquiring the third, he would seem to be pretty much ideal, wouldn't he? But when the time comes Krauthammer will have no problem at all pivoting again.


I don't know what to say here. You've been following this all along, and only now are starting to get it? It doesn't bother me that people don't understand this; there are lots of things I don't understand. What bothers me is that, despite the most extreme degree of ignorance possible, these same people see nothing wrong with throwing their opinions around on these subjects. Krugman's "Slap-in-the-face," the repeated statements that the debt was undervalued at current market prices -- they read this stuff, obviously didn't understand what it meant, and then went out and started typing anyway. And other people took them seriously. And all of them consider themselves smart, some kind of elite. I don't see how this is any different than wingnuts talking about subjects they don't bother to educate themselves on beyond listening to whatever Rush tells them. At least they did listen.

If the Republicans were smart

they'd make sure any bailout bill passed now was as good as it could possibly be. If Obama comes into office in January with an economy that is plainly falling apart, he will have a mandate like no president since FDR. They ought to be working their asses off right now to avoid that, but they are too beholden to know-nothingism, probably too demoralized, to think in any way beyond the immediate and the tactical. In the long run, good governance(like keeping the economy from going over a cliff) should be good politics, too, but the Republicans have no idea what good governance is during the best of times, which these aren't, and what was good tactical politics even two years ago, "White flag of surrender," for example, isn't good anymore. These guys are done for.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The more I think about Biden's performance,

the worse it seems. Palin with her smarmy shit about "looking back," and Biden's stupid "past is prologue" reply. Nobody who isn't already voting for the Democrats knows what that means. What's wrong with saying, "If I was running with John McCain, who votes with Bush 90% of the time, I wouldn't want to talk about the past, either." Palin was prepared to win, Biden was prepared not to offend, or do much of anything -- it was obvious no one on his prep team had come up with anything for this obvious move on Palin's part. That's an Obama thing, probably -- it's been the story of his campaign. With the economy where it is, Obama's weak, inoffensive campaigning has been enough, but it isn't good campaigning, and it wouldn't win in any year but this one. Palin, with her scripted, smarmy perkiness and "God bless 'ems" and shameless pandering to "small town values" deserved to be destroyed, and the know-nothing mentality she represents along with her. Instead, Biden went out and stumbled through poorly prepared talking points for 90 minutes. The Republicans are still ahead of the Democrats when it comes to campaigning, and that matters, and it will matter in the future.

Polls disagree with me. One of those times I like being wrong.

Debate prediction

Palin sticks to perky nothings, makes one or two gaffes, but they are expected by now and so forgiven, Biden demonstrates knowledge and competence and is declared "the winner" by the press, and then everyone forgets about it. For Palin to go out and shine at this stage of the game requires a lot more juice than she has, and I don't think the Republicans can feed her with enough clever zingers to win over even our excuse for a press corps. But I'm going to watch it, anyway, because although I find Palin's voice, accent, and person annoying, the opportunity to see her fall flat on her face, real time, shouldn't be passed up. Even if the odds are against it happening.

After the first question, take it all back. Ifill horrid, unable to follow up. Palin scripted, Biden no better. Hideous.

They are both unlikeable. Biden needs to wipe the shit eating grin off his face. Neither is answering the questions, and Ifill is too hapless to take control.

"White flag of surrender" Tin ear of Palin.

Biden sighs! OMG!

Biden talks too much. Palin says too little.

Palin is "winning" on style, but she doesn't look like someone ready to lead, or like she ever will be that person. This isn't the debate the Reps needed.

Palin finished well. Biden was weak throughout. People are going to re-assess Palin, if the media does. People are still going to forget this in a few days. Good for Palin, irrelevant for everything else, and in four years Palin's flavor will be out of style.


Overheard at the supermarket: "So do you think we'll have a depression, or will they pass that bill?"

If people are imbuing the bailout with that kind of power, it has a better chance of succeeding than I thought. On the downside, if people think it's the bill or a depression, things are mildly worse than I thought.

How would the old cowboys try to get a stampeding herd back under control when the thundering hooves of the herd drowned out all other sound? I suppose they wouldn't have tried, they'd just wait the whole thing out and then round the herd back up when the stampede had played itself out, hoping that there were no cliffs nearby.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hit them with your rhythm stick

This crisis has been out in the open for weeks now, and people still don't get it to judge by the comments in this post. You can't make someone learn what they refuse to learn, what they don't understand, or don't want to understand, is in their best interests to learn. They refuse to accept Krugman's word for it (usually, if Krugman or one of their other heroes told them the sun was shining at midnight they wouldn't go outside without sunglasses on), the evidence of the failures of 7 major financial institutions in two months -- nothing sinks in. They've got Bush Hatred Disorder, which gives them, we'll call it "intellectual armor". This plan was hatched under Bush's watch, therefore they are against it. Reasons come later. Maybe (who needs reasons, after all?).

Magic wand

He'll fix it all, see, partisanship, the economy, Iraq, problems in the Middle East, by just saying he wants it done. Policies aren't needed, hard realities don't exist, neither does "pain;" there's just the benevolent wishes of John McCain. All you have to do is vote for him. He's a genie and the genie's master, all in one curmudgeonly package.

I've disliked the man for years because I can't see or hear him without thinking of ten straight years of media worship and Maverick McStraighttalkism, but as this campaign goes on, the dislike is becoming visceral. And I have no doubt he would be a disaster in the White House. Cautious and respectful at first, but eventually his innate arrogance and lack of discipline would break out, and the shit he's gotten himself into his whole life would become the shit he gets the country into.