Archive for August, 2008

The Daily Show writers can take the night off:

I once lived in Queens, and as such am expecting a contract from the Mets.

Who does Cindy remind you of?

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A friend of mine that shall go unnamed had, “is hoping that McCain’s VP choice won’t make the heads of feminists explode with confusion…that will be quite the cleanup effort” as his Facebook status yesterday. I was annoyed to say the least. I think it was the use to the word “feminist” in particular that got to me – Do people have such a low opinion of people who identify as feminist as to think we would be guiled by the militantly antichoice Palin simply by virtue of her womanhood?

Well the GOP thought so, which is exactly why she’s on the ticket. As Adam Serwer on TAPPED put it

The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her being a woman, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it’s equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard-right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. It’s not very different from running Alan Keyes against Barack Obama in 2004. The conservative media reaction has already engaged in paternalistic language, with FOX News reporting on television that “McCain broke the glass ceiling,” implying in fact, that the pick had nothing to do with Palin or her qualifications, but merely her gender. It’s fitting that the party positing affirmative action as a program that picks people exclusively based on race or gender rather than qualification should do something similar given an opportunity for political advancement.

It is also worth noting that Palin is a member of the Faux-Feminist organization Feminist for Life, an anti-choice organization that swaddles itself with the rhetoric of empowerment while all the while shaming women out of their rights. She’s on record as being against abortion even if her own daughter were raped. Fittingly, Palin is against universal healthcare.

When the women the GOP are trying to woo realize that this is simply pandering of the worst kind, Palin will perhaps become a liability.  Ann Friendmen put it aptly when she said: “After all, most of us understand that a woman candidate is not the same thing as a woman’s candidate.”  Then again, it’s very doubtful the media will run with this narrative when they have a god-fearing maverick beauty queen with a gun. Never mind that she has no clue what vice president even does.

Daily Kos has a great round up of other reasons Palin was an abysmal choice. After my panic yesterday, I feel much more secure that Obama will pull it out in the end. Yes we can; yes we will.

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Your morning Washington Post:

With VP Pick, McCain Reclaims Maverick Image

ANALYSIS | Choice of little-known Gov. Sarah Palin is a bold move to rally base and lure swing voters but could stymie effort to cast Obama as unready.

Dan Balz

Well fuck. me.

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 29 — John McCain‘s advisers predicted weeks ago that the presumptive Republican nominee would use his national convention week to try to recapture his image as a maverick reformer and shake up the presidential race. He did just that Friday with his surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

CNN did it too:

updated 18 minutes ago

Palin: Pioneer, maverick — and now game-changer

Hell, even PBS brought out “Palin has ‘Maverick’ Credentials Similar to McCain.”

Get ready for two months of mavericky goodness, which should allow her to get away with shit like this.  I mean it’s certainly not unprecedented now is it?

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Number of U.S. television viewers:

2008 American Idol finale: 30.6 million

2008 Oscars: 32 million

2008 Olympic opening ceremonies: 34.2 million

Barack Obama’s Democratic convention speech: 38.4 million.

…and here, converting the heathens, arrives your convention bounce.

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Palin has been my nightmare scenario for the longest. That’s not to say she doesn’t have significant, exploitable weaknesses. It’s just that she also has what the basketball scouts call “tremendous upside potential,” mainly in the PR department. With a wholesome family, nice looks and a folksy, heartland-ish style, she could be a killer. It won’t take much for the loquacious Biden to overplay his hand and look like he’s hitting a girl, while the right-brigades get to work setting expectations unconscionably low.

Besides, it’s not like the Republicans had a great backbench to pick from. Huckabee would’ve been a strong choice, but was apparently never even vetted. Bobby Jindal, fatty Limbaugh’s Reagan 2.0, could be top-ticket material in 2012 or 2016 so he wasn’t going anywhere yet. Ridge is pro-choice and mainly known for duct tape, while Lieberman can’t pull in Jews any more and Pawlenty is a non-entity like Rob Portman. Field Marshal Turkmenromney looks like a used car salesman, even if daddy’s carcass would’ve delivered Michigan.

I will say, seeing the immediate response has somewhat alleviated my worry about the impact of the Palin pick. Still though, she’s far and away the best of ’em tactically. Here’s a list of some variables to consider with Alaska’s Next Top Model:

The womyn thing. Peeling off a couple percent of the Clintonista dead-enders could be crucial in a close election. On the other hand, Palin’s total lack of experience, name-recognition or past relationship with McCain suggests pretty blatantly that this is a private-parts-pander. Hopefully, this is just demeaning enough to turn off at least as many people as it sways. The Governor is hard-right on abortion and NARAL is already rolling out the big guns. (Mireille will bring us a little more feminist analysis on Palin coming up soon.)

All in the family. They call her husband the “first dude” of Alaska. She has a son in Iraq and one with Down’s Syndrome. The Palins are straight from heartland central casting, with five kids named “Bristol,” “Piper,” “Track,” “Trig” and “Willow.” Governor Palin is a plainspoken hockey mom, which makes her light years better for public consumption than another wrinkly old white man.

Reaffirming the narrative. Someone on CNN just used the term “bit of a maverick.” Well fuck. me. This, more than anything, is why I’m afraid of the Palin pick. The press loves McCain. The shine is coming off a bit, but there’s only eight weeks left to undo eight years of unfiltered adulation. In Governor Palin’s first speech Friday, she claimed to have stood up to lobbyists, “challenged the status quo,” and appointed Democrats to her administration, as well as trashing the “bridge to nowhere.” In terms of messaging, Palin is the best the GOP could have done to both counter Obama with their own hope/change/ponies while re-enforcing the maverick myth.

But is Palin into bondage? That should score this site some cheap hits. Really though, it’s just a reacharound to the Quayle question. (Yes, that link is both explanatory and safe for work.) Some of the regulars on Daily Kos today drew the comparison, which belies a dangerous underappreciation of the gullibility of Americans. See, people tend to forget that Quayle won. George Bush the Elder’s choice of Thunder Dan was both a sop to both the right-wing base and an effort to make the ticket less geriatric. But despite the debate thrashing, and all the late-night humor, Bush and Quayle never relinquished their convention bounce. Just because someone is inexperienced, ineloquent and a world-historical risk on the heartbeat test doesn’t mean they won’t carry forty states. Underestimate at your own risk.

So those are the things that scare me. In terms of her liabilities, Palin had literally met the candidate one time before today; “hasn’t really focused much” on the war in Iraq; and basically doesn’t have a position on it. Barack Obama may have less foreign policy experience than his Veep, but he’s been in the Senate for four years and sits on both the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees. Also, the simple fact that he’s been running for President for eighteen months (!) means briefings briefings briefings in addition to his Senate portfolio. Compared with this, Palin spent two terms as a City Councilwoman and then six years more as Mayor of a town of 6,000 people. This is not a credible running mate for a man who, as Mireille likes to put it, “is older than the zip code.” At best, they get on stage together and he looks like her father; at worst, “I’m Chris Hansen and I’m with Dateline NBC.”  (PS someone forward her a job description plz.)

If you want more reasons to laugh at this pick, Andrew Sullivan appears / to / be / collecting / them. In short, it’s a double or nothing pick. Palin strengthens McCain’s mavericky home-spun bullshitter image and fits neatly into his “Country First” campaign slogan. On the other hand, she really wasn’t vetted well and one Republican strategist colorfully compared the pick to “playing poker blind.”

So then, to answer the Lenin question. Attacking Palin is extremely risky. She’s folksy and attractive, so going right at her even on policy matters is a losing proposition. Best to respond by kindly and carefully ignoring her. Palin adds zero substance to the ticket, and John McCain is looking like a larger target after both the housing gaffe and the truly pitch-perfect Democratic convention. Pound the hell out of McCain, let Palin shake some hands, pray on a very long-shot that she gets impeached back home, and keep on keepin’ on.

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All I have to say is that between Palin, Biden and my girl Gwen Ifill October 2nd is going to be really, really interesting.

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Presented without comment:

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John Kerry was a revelation on Wednesday. Forceful as a nor’easter, he came out and just hammered the crap out of his Senate colleague John McCain. Here’s the video, and here’s an excerpt contrasting “Senator McCain” with “candidate McCain:”

“…I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about “being for it before you’re against it!”

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what’s more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same “Rove” tactics and the same “Rove” staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year. Not this time…”

Watch the video, because the crowd effect makes it much stronger. It got even better when the man derided for “looking French,” the man whose Purple Hearts became the butt of frat-boy pranks, turned his sights on the issue of patriotism:

“…The McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again and again. And they know they will lose on the issues. So, the candidate who once promised a “contest of ideas,” now has nothing left but personal attacks. How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn’t put America first…

…This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don’t decide who loves this country. You don’t decide who is a patriot. You don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t.

Why Democrats always get religion after the fact is anybody’s guess. They run tepid, centrist campaigns, avoiding confrontation, minimizing partisanship, and trying to win with appeals to technocratic competence and some stolen percentage of a poll-identified “swing demographic.” Then they lose, go away a few days, grow the loser beard, and come back spitting hot fire. Better late than never.

(…and some Katrina karma…)

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(Not in the order they went.)

-A lot of good things are being said about Hillary the other night.  I will admit I didn’t care for it the first time, but on second viewing she made a better impression. She certainly had the ratings (26 million says Neilson,) and conservative columnist John Fund called it “the best speech of her career.” And, as Mireille noted, they handled the rollcall just fine.

-Governor Warner was terrible. I have to agree with Pat Buchanan on this one (!) – All that post-partisan talk is fine for governing but not for getting elected. For four days, expect the GOP to slander Barack Hussein Osama (oops!) while trashing elitist liberals, limousine liberals, latte-drinking liberals, effete liberals, coastal liberals, Ivy League liberals, I can go on but you get the point. At the same time, Republicans have controlled the White House for the last 7 years, the House for 6 of those and the Senate for 4, and finally scored a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. So yes, it does matter whether an idea comes from right or left. Yes, it does matter whether you call someone a Democrat or a Republican. As cute as it may be to govern by consensus in Virginia, it amounts to unilateral disarmament in a national campaign. Warner certainly didn’t help his 2012 credentials with his combination of Yaaaay hard-working Americans, non-partisan pablum, and weird Olympic-themed China-baiting. Bad on Warner, though I’m sure he’ll make a fine, technocratic Senator.

-Bill, well, here’s the beginning of Bill’s transcript as published in the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly:

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen…


Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. You all sit down. We’ve got to get on with the show here. Come on.


Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here tonight.


Sit down.


Thank you. Thank you very much.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


I am honored to be here tonight. Please, stop.

AUDIENCE: Bill! Bill! Bill!

CLINTON: Please stop. Sit down. Sit down. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Bill! Bill! Bill!

CLINTON: Please sit. Please sit.

You know, I — I love this, and I thank you, but we have important work to do tonight. I am here first to support Barack Obama.


And, second — and, second, I’m here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden…


Bill was the Big Dog last night. We progressives may dislike Penn, McAuliffe, government by focus group, the DLCers, a track record of burn-it-down campaigning, you name a problem and the Dean/Pelosi wing of the party has it with Bill. But man can he preach it. “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.”  That’s the best of Bubba.

-Beau Biden, Captain Beau Biden, made the first of what promise to be many appearances on the national stage. Introducing his father, Biden delivered populism (“…turns down some fancy cocktail party in Washington so he won’t miss my daughter Natalie’s birthday party”), pathos (his mother’s death,) and policy (from the Violence Against Women Act to the Balkans.) For a six minute introductory speech, it was pitch perfect.  Right-winger Michael Barone called him “genuine and moving.” Beau Biden is your Democratic front-runner for 2028, you heard it here first.

-Joe followed with a substantially negative speech. It was time for someone to attack, and that’s Biden’s strong suit. He opened with the expected complements of his Senate colleague, and then proceeded the stick the knife in. Full transcript and video here. Shorter version: John McCain is a friend of mine; John McCain is wrong about everything.

-A note then on Brian Schweitzer, the bolo-tied teddy bear. Schweitzer went on before Hillary on Tuesday, a choice designed to maximize his exposure to a national audience. Following the tepid Mark Warner, the Democratic Governor of Montana grabbed the crowd with his High School pep rally enthusiasm. Schweitzer focused on energy issues, dropping rhymes like “coal gasification with carbon sequestration.” David Sirota collected the approving reviews:

“The Los Angeles Times said Schweitzer “was the surprise hit of the party’s national convention” garnering “rave reviews for [the] rousing speech.” Newsweek called him the “highlight” of the night. And the Denver Post reported that CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin declared “Schweitzer the night’s real winner, the Barack Obama of ’08, for his impassioned speech.”

(Video here.)  Schweitzer’s Montana is 58%-29% “right-track,” and with approval ratings consistently hovering around 70% his November re-election is a lock. Schweitzer support for gun rights leads moderates to claim him, but his ideology is old-school populist left — complete with tent-revival style:

Before nearly any professional politician had done so, for instance, Schweitzer organized the first bus trips to Canada to help seniors purchase lower-priced prescription drugs. Invited to Washington for a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser, Schweitzer stood up at the event, broke Washington’s unspoken protocol, and ripped into drug industry lobbyists, many of whom were in the room. While Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.) immediately tried to apologize to the crowd, Schweitzer’s rant became the stuff of legends back in Montana.

(Sirota has the rest here.) Schweitzer is pro-choice, strong on energy issues, a winner on civil liberties, an epic winner on civil liberties, and wants his National Guard back. There’s a reason I tossed his name at people for Vice President, and the cats over at Fivethirtyeight had similar things to say.

So Obama tonight, no pressure. And please, please, his campaign people can’t be this stupid, can they? (You’ll also get President Gore for the price of admission.)

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Iphones are oddly idiosyncratic with its quick-type autocorrect. It will change any form of fuck (fucking, fucked) to duck (ducking, duck). It also will change furries to furrows.

Most interesting of all, it changes anything with an O B M and A together to Obama. That’s right, iphones already have Obama on their spell check.

I’m pretty ok with that.

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