Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Expands Lead . . . Republicans Get Downright Silly

The latest polls seem to show Obama expanding his lead, and while I was teaching when his 30-minute ad ran -- it appears to be getting popular support among some: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/29/poll.wednesday/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

Meanwhile the embarrasing McCain campaign just keeps getting worse . . .

1) Palin is bringing up old news about Obama's relationship with a pro-Palestinian professor, who she claims is a "PLO Spokesperson." (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/29/campaign.wrap/index.html?eref=rss_topstories) Even if Obama did support Palestinian legitimate claims about mistreatment from Israel, does that mean he is a radical? Certainly to some in the US, but Obama has made his position on Israel clear. By the way, there is talk of her running in 2012. Is anyone seriously considering her as President? I'm not sure she should be running a local McDonald's chain.

2) The infighting over Palin within the McCain camp this late in the election cycle, seems to indicate a recognition that they are going to lose. And even as Palin says she thinks they will win, she already appears to be setting herself up for 2012. One senior aid went as far as calling her a "whack job." http://www.politico.com/playbook/1008/playbook476.html

3) From the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/03/081103fa_fact_bruck. Chuck Hagel refused to endorse McCain, but his recent comments are even more damning. "In good conscience, I could not enthusiastically—honestly—go out and endorse him and support him when we so fundamentally disagree on the future course of our foreign policy and our role in the world," he said, then later added about Palin "I don't believe she's qualified to be President of the United States. The first judgment a potential President makes is who their running mate is—and I don't think John made a very good selection."

4) Daily Kos reports on the McCain healthcare plan and how it could negatively affect so many Americans: The Obama campaign] This morning, the McCain campaign's top economic policy advisor unleashed an October Surprise of straight talk when he finally admitted that the health insurance people currently get from their employer is 'way better' than the health care they would get if John McCain becomes President. ... Senator McCain has been trying to cover this up for months, but his advisor's brutal honesty today is certainly better late than never, and it should give every American pause about electing a candidate who has proposed such radical and dangerous changes to our health care system.

5) I was listening to conservative radio on my way home, and one caller actually compared Obama to Stalin. While Bob Grant disagreed, the socialist claims are getting downright absurd. Again, how are tax cuts for most of the population a "socialist" policy, particularly when the increase in taxes for the top 5% amount to returning to Clinton-level rates. He is certainly not supporting the top tax bracket of the late 70s (70%) or the 50s (90%). McCain has clearly and irrevocably shown himself to be even worse than Rove: use any strategy, lie and if that doesn't work lie some more.

6) The McCain campaign is airing an old ad that they know quite well is ridicuously misleading, taking Obama's words out of context to argue he claims Iran isn't dangerous. The ad and the truth (this disclaimer should come with every McCain ad: this ad might cause anal leakage because the makers of the ad are lying out of their asses) . . .

This afternoon, McCain re-released an ad first unveiled two months ago. The voiceover tells the viewer:
"Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to 'generate power' but threatening to eliminate Israel.
"Obama says Iran is a 'tiny' country, 'doesn't pose a serious threat.' Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't 'serious threats'?
"Obama -- dangerously unprepared to be president."
And here's what Obama actually said, back in May:
"Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, 'We're going to wipe you off the planet.' And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall."
(http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_10/015412.php)

7) Finally, from Indiana Secretary of State on Blacks and Democrats "Who's the Master and Who's the Slave?" Um, who's race baiting again?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on the "S" Word

This from an Amazon disscussion board (I'm quoting it verbatim, with thanks to MDS) . . .

Congressional Quarterly gave this a rare twice over, once for McCain and once for Palin. In both cases they explain that you've been lied to.
McCain: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/oct/27/playing-dirty-s-word
Palin: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/826/

Few serious policy makers - including McCain - consider progressive taxation socialist. In fact, on the Oct. 26, 2008 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, McCain stood by a comment he made in 2000 that "there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more" in taxes when you "reach a certain level of comfort." "You put into different, different categories of wealthier people paying, paying higher taxes into different brackets," McCain told host Tom Brokaw, as if to say progressive taxes are a no-brainer.Indeed, progressive taxation has been a cornerstone of American tax policy since the federal government first collected an income tax in 1863. It was based on the Tax Act of 1862, which President Abraham Lincoln signed, and which imposed a "duty of three per centum" on all income over $600, and five percent on income over $10,000.Obama's proposed top tax rate of 39.6 percent, (up from today's 36 percent) is considerably higher than that. But it's not particularly high in the context of modern times; as he pointed out to Wurzelbacher, it's about what top earners paid in the Clinton years. In 1987, the top tax rate was 38.5 percent. In 1944, it was 94 percent for the highest portions of high incomes.So no, Obama's tax increase on those making more than $250,000 would not represent a transformation of the U.S. system of government. His desire to "spread the wealth" through progressive taxation makes him no less a capitalist than McCain, or Lincoln. Palin's allegation that Obama wants to "experiment with socialism" seems designed less to inform than to inflame. That's Pants on Fire wrong.

Amen. Progressive taxation is not socialist, it follows a long tradition of recognizing that the ideas of the "American Dream" and democracy itself depend on a vibrant public sphere and the participation of educated, informed citizens. Jefferson made this argument in our early years, Jacksonian Democrats agreed, as did the "Young Americans," Teddy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, LBJ and a host of others. It is time that we return to these more sensible views of American Democracy and forever scrap neoliberalism and its blind faith in markets and greed. If too much wealth accumulates in the power of too few, not only does democracy fail but the economy as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hate on the March Again . . .

Just out from the AP, two young white supremist males planned to go on a killing spree they hoped would end with the assassination of Obama. http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/10/27/obama.plot/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

In California, the hate mongers are again attempting to outlaw Gay marriage; a strategy that arguably helped Bush win in 2004: http://www.protectmarriage.com/

And in Colorado, one of the strictest abortion laws in the history of the country is on the ballot: http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2008/10/abortion-right-and-wrong-and-colorados.html. The bill, it is argued, could make it a crime to for example get in a car accident without a seat belt on and lose your fetus. Giving a fetus the same rights as a citizen from the moment of conception goes against even the Catholic Church and its stance from the middle ages.

The first incident clearly involves extreme hatred by young men (a not uncommon problem in America today), but the other two again show a Republican party attempting to limit the freedom of individuals. The tyranny of the majority is always a danger in a democracy, but the ongoing attempts to limit equality to gays and freedom over their own bodies to women get at the heart of the hypocrisy of the Republican party.

On a related note, a very interesting article in the New York Times yesterday details the changing narrative of the McCain campaign from one moment to the next. It appears to provide further evidence of the failure of leadership of McCain during this campaign; seriously undermining his argument on his experience and leadership in general. And I again have to say that the arguments about "socialism" and now "communism" are beyond absurd. The only move toward socialism I see are coming from the Bush administration and the bailout package. Giving tax cuts to the middle class and reinstituting a progressive tax system in America is simply not socialist. And this idea about "redistributing your money" in particular rings hollow, given that McCain is simply calling for more tax cuts for the top 5%, who are rarely at his rallies anyway.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Palin Pontifcates . . . Republicans Panic

An article today details the growing rift between Palin and McCain aides: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/25/palin.tension/index.html?eref=rss_topstories. The most troubling aspect of the story is the idea of some that Palin is looking out for herself and actually perceives herself as the future leader of the party. It's good news for Democrats, but has one of the two parties in this country gotten that desperate?

Some details from the story:
1) Palin has called robocalls "irritating"
2) Palin disagreed with the campaign decision to leave Michigan
3) Apparently, Palin is not good at "process questions," which I can only assume means questions without prefabricated responses . . .

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is "not good at process questions" and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

4) One McCain aide claimed ""She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else." Is this really someone we want a heartbeat away from the Presidency? Particularly when this sounds a lot like another "renegade" who has done quite a bit of damage in the past 8 years.
5) Regarding her limited press interactions since the Gibson and Couric fiascos:

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.
They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.
"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."

Um, do we really want a VP so unprepared for the presidency . . . or a president who makes such a poor choice in choosing someone that could very well take over for him; given that he would be the oldest entering president in history (Hitchens went so far as to claim McCain might be "senile" recently)

This is becoming the most embarassing and inept campaign in history, and one can only hope it leads to a major Democratic rout. The question then will be whether this could be the next step in a major political realignment, or a break in the continuing move of the country to the right? I believe an Obama victory and a positive push through the economic crisis could wake Americans up to their complicity in elite rule today.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Latest on the Polls . . .

Salon has a short article, that doubts the validity of the two polls that show the race closer. Interesting read:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/10/25/obamas_lead/print.html

Friday, October 24, 2008

AP Poll . . .

Well, some have already covered the infamous poll (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081022/ap_on_el_pr/ap_poll_presidential_race/print;_ylt=Ap_Grnc1XPrQKXWcInnqE7th24cA), but I thought I would add my voice of outrage to the poll. Essentially the AP ran a poll that included 44% white, evangelical Christians. Yes, that's right, 44%. They then report that the race is getting closer while waiting several paragraphs to admit that other polls show huge leads for Obama and even this poll is being misreported. This is the sort of reporting that has longed cause major consternation among liberals and the public in general.

Lest us forget that at the same time the New York Times and Washington Post were essentially supporting the party line of Republicans regarding the war, more progressive publications like Salon, the Nation and Slate were already seriously questioning the strength of the evidence for Weapons of Mass Destruction. And this was supported by widespread questions throughout Europe and among those actually doing the inspection. And the media didn't change their mind until after the war started, with an disingenuous mea culpa that was way too late.

The issue appears to be the need for serious media reform. The media used to be considered the "fourth estate" of government and actually actively lived up to that role. In recent years, they seem to be more interested in their own interests -- of keeping audiences engaged through spectacle and scandal coverage and of undermining real critique based on their own corporate interests. Marginal groups on the internet and a few non-profits have pushed the media to have more accountability, but only the public can ensure that they return to more critical, substantive coverage and sufficient local coverage. Those movements have succeeded in the past and it appears to be time for another popular movement for change. Let's hope its in the offing . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top Five Reasons Obama Supporters Shouldn't Rest Easy

Moveon.org asked bloggers to post this message. While I have some reservations, here it is . . .

1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.
2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.
3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.
4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!
5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.
If you agree that we shouldn't rest easy, please sign up to volunteer at your local Obama office by clicking here: http://pol.moveon.org/obama/office.html?source=blog&id=14534-4783301-gHBhzgx&t=1

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Real American?

Republicans are in trouble, so go back to the old stock answer. We are more like you (Palin pick; socialist, Joe the Plumber, "real American"). Palin just apoligized for the "more American" reference in her last speech: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/21/palin.sitroom/index.html?eref=rss_topstories. Congressman Robin Hayes was also caught saying "liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God." (http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2008/10/21/liberals_americans/index.html?source=rss&aim=/politics/war_room). This is how Bush and Reagan won, acting like average Americans while they were anything but. Will it work again?

The more important question is who are "real Americans." Real Americans do not blindly pledge their allegiance to the flag. Real Americans don't blindly follow leaders who don't hold themselves accountable. Real Americans believe in democracy and equality of opportunity. Real Americans are elites, the middle class and the poor. They are Republicans and Democrats. They recognize that this country was born of those who feared too much democracy and those who feared too little. Today the Republicans support those who fear too much democracy while pretending to be populists simply by fighting elites (read liberals who read, drink latte, think the superrich are underming the country and democracy and care about people). At the same time, they continue to support elite interests, even as those same interests have led the country to our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Is ignorance and blind allegiance really what America is about? Is fear of the other implicitly a positive attribute? Can people who will suffer under a Republican presidency continue to fall prey to these false calls? I guess we'll know in a couple of weeks . . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hannity and Bloomberg (True Believers)!

I was listening to Hannity on the way home today. One must admire him for his resolve and the myopia that seems to cloud every thought he has. With Limbaugh there is a recognition that he is an entertainer, but with Hannity there seems to be an almost blind faith that everything he stands for is absolute truth, as if ordained by God. His discourse on the election would be laughable if it did not so closely align with McCain's desperate grab for the presidency. Obama is a terrorism, a socialist, a proponent of welfare and redistribution and Biden the most arrogant man in history (ever look in the mirror my friend?) What has been sad the past two weeks is how much McCain is aping his every word -- a renegade who is more doctrinaire at this point than even Bush ("compassionate conservatism").

Bloomberg also appears to be a similar true believer, though his belief is simply and wholly in himself as an almost God like figure, who can trump the will of the people because he knows better than the rest of us. The most troubling aspect of his ploy to undermine democracy itself would be a little less troubling if he wasn't using people who benefit from their decision (the city council) to do his bidding. Why not add a referendum to this election or one in the Spring? Because he could lose that? And what of the election? Using $80 million of his own money should ensure that reelection be a foregone conclusion. But is this democracy? And if not, what does it say about American politics today?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Republican Breaks for Obama

And this one is big . . . Colin Powell. Given the differences on the Iraq War and McCain's claims on terrorism, the choice by Powell to go with Obama seems to undermine one of McCain's strengths. I'm sure some Republicans must be surprised by this turn and pretty pissed off:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081019/ts_nm/us_usa_politics/print;_ylt=Ap_Grnc1XPrQKXWcInnqE7tg.3QA

Of course, McCain now claims he is the true "champion of the middle class." How you might ask?
McCain casts himself as middle-class guardian based on "Joe the Plumber," who ironically admitted that he would actually have his taxes cut by the Obama plan. But in American politics, inconvenient truths like that just don't matte. He was ushered on to Mike Huckabee's show last night and continues to be trumpeted by McCain as a symbol of Obama's "class warfare." The answer to that charge should be: a little class warfare is exactly what we need in this country right now . . .

Evoking "Joe the Plumber" near his hometown in this pivotal state, Republican John McCain on Sunday cast himself as the guardian of middle-class workers and small-business owners who fuel the economy.
"If I'm elected president, I won't raise taxes on small businesses, as Sen. (Barack) Obama proposes, and force them to cut jobs," McCain said of his Democratic opponent during a rally at the convention center. "I will keep small business taxes where they are, help them keep their costs low and let them spend their earnings to create more jobs, not send to Washington."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081019/ap_on_el_pr/mccain/print


On a lighter note: http://gawker.com/5065216/the-definitive-john-mccain-crazy+face-gallery.

And as a cultural critic, I have to wonder if anyone is upset that "Americas Game" is being shown on TBS: which those without cable or the most basic form would be unable to watch it . . .

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Terrorist, Socialist, Not One of Us . . . Take Your Pick

The night of the debate, David Brooks suggested that John McCain stop the negative campaigning and restore his image. Fox News, with the exception of "real believers" like Hannity and O'Reilly, seemed to realize the hopelessness of their man's victory. And Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. came out for Obama. So would McCain get back to running a clean campaign? What do you think?

Robo Calls on Ayers (BS 1): http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081018/ap_on_el_pr/mccain_robo_calls/print

ACORN Controversy (BS 2):
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081018/ap_on_el_ge/fraud_or_foolishness

Socialist (BS 3):
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/18/campaign.wrap/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

The "socialist" tag might be the most absurd, but at the same time the best reason not to vote for McCain. We have the largest income gap between rich and poor of any industrialized country in the world (and it has been growing dramatically under Bush). We have the lowest life expectancy, highest infant mortality rates, least amount of leisure time, among the worst public education system, highest childhood poverty rates, largest percentage of uninsured and a superrich class that few dictatorships could dream of. But raising their taxes to more equitably allocate the benefits of society is socialism? We are in an economic crisis very close to the depression and yet we need to freeze government spending and provide more tax cuts for the rich? Are you serious? Only in America could a discourse this ridiculous have any currency (pun intended). It's hard to believe the same people that accepted government intervention after 911 could so quickly fall for this ploy. Then again, we did elect Bush two times (or one if you count voter fraud). I won't be happy until the moment McCain concedes the election; which given his behavior lately might be 2012 even if he loses in a landslide.


P.S. I am still amused by McCain's claim that he wouldn't have gone dirty if Obama had accepted his call for an endless series of town hall meetings (McCain's presumptive strength). What happened to a civil debate? McCain realized he couldn't win it. So like every Republican since Nixon, he decided to turn ugly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Final Thoughts

Not only the "liberal media" seemed to think Obama won the debate. Even Fox News and George Will admit that they're not sure what McCain stands for and they Obama wins the debate because McCain didn't do enough to really overcome the Bush-clone charges. If you actually listened to his policy prescriptions, the very good line about "if you wanted to run against George Bush, you should have run four years ago" rings hollow. McCain is offering more of the same and I just don't think enough people want that for him to win. Obama has the lead, more money, a stronger base and the advantage of being a democrat during a financial crisis. We might be on the precipice of a historic election that could change race relations and the Republican party for years to come. Will Obama change the democratic party? That's less than a month from becoming the question of the next four years.

The Debate

1) We started with the traditional "class warfare" arguments that use "Joe the Plumber" to stand in for large corporations and the super rich in the country. A similar argument, you might remember, was used by Bush and Republicans under the rubric of the "small farmers" that couldn't leave money to their children. The truth was that many of the richest Americans were willing to pay the "death tax" and that the farmers that had over a million dollars in savings are really the agribusiness groups that have supplanted the small farmers that once made up this country. The lie that taxes for 95% percent of the people is "class warfare," or "socialism" as many conservative radio hosts and TV hosts have charged, is a lie. Can this discourse really work when so many working class and middle class people are hurting?

2) The attack dog is out, as might have been expected. What might not have been expected is how much contempt he is showing for Obama. The smirk that President Bush so famously uses appears to have been coopted by McCain. Will this work? The one thing I notice, is that Obama is getting a little annoyed and that might not play well with the public. Some of this may related to a latent racism that goes back to old “uppity negro” discourses. McCain’s behavior seems to be in this mode. And he keeps interrupting Obama, which famously hurt Gore against Bush.

3) Obama just showed a great ability to bring out the “8 more years” discourse that should resonate with a lot of people, arguing McCain has sided with Bush on tax, energy and spending policy. McCain did not really answer that question. His consistent use of the “8 failed years of policy” is a brilliant, though obvious, ploy to tie McCain to Bush and McCain has really done little to differentiate himself from Bush (or Reagan) or the failed policies of the past.

4) Good job to Bob Shaeffer for asking the question about the negative tenor of the campaigns and whether they were willing to say these things to each others face. McCain’s answer follows Republican strategy – don’t really answer the question and turn it around and blame it on Obama. Obama’s answer was perfect from my perspective, welcoming a more positive campaign and claiming that 100% of his ads are negative. Also, I like his answer that not having as many debates as McCain wants naturally leads to negative ads is true and the public thinks McCain is more negative by a two to one percentage. On Lewis, good answer by Obama as well – what Lewis said is largely true. Again McCain looks like a petulant child and an elitist who has no respect for his opponent. The question actually allowed Obama to return to his message of a new politics and culture and fighting against the cynicism that dominates McCain’s campaign. McCain, of course, follows his campaign attacking Obama for Ayers and Acorn.

5) Shaeffer just threw Obama a softball. The VP pick is a big issue here and I can’t wait to hear what McCain says . . . “Palin is role model to women . . . a reformer . . . cut size of government . . . . faced down oil companies . . . reform true and true . . . a breath of fresh air . . . Autism.” It’s a sad answer. “She has united our party and people all across the country.” Schaeffer: “Is she qualified to be President?” Obama stepped around the answer effectively, and talked about autism costing increased money (“across the board” spending cuts). Then McCain attacks Biden and actually says he’s only qualified in some areas, and how his foreign policy is often mistaken. Then McCain “Obama’s answer is always ‘we need to spend more’ . . . what about accountability and oversight.”

6) On energy policy “extreme environmentalist.” Give me a break!!!! I find Obama weak on this point – ethanol, nuclear power and off shore drilling. McCain is playing his own attack dog and I wonder if it will work outside his base . . . “I admire so much Obama’s eloquence.” This is so mocking, it’s unbelievable. McCain “I am a free trader.” McCain sounds more and more like a conservative commentator tonight (Hannity) and is acting a lot like Bill O’Reilly (a bully who clearly hates Obama and doesn’t seem to respect him at all. Obama is clever in my mind in talking about human rights and unions (a clear call to union, working class folks). And who the hell is McCain looking at? I think his famous temper is coming to the fore here. Obama wants to “restrict trade an raise taxes” and then McCain compares him to Hoover. Obama seems much more respectable, but not in the weak way we saw with Kerry four years ago.

7) This “Joe the Plumber” metaphor is silly and plays to the conservative base. I know I’m being biased, but again I have to say Obama wins on healthcare. His approach is to scare us about a “single payer” plan compared to Canada and England and about “increased bureaucracy.” Then again he returns to redistribution, essentially calling him a socialist. Then “big government” charges. Here gain we see major misstatements from McCain supporting Christopher Hitchens charge yesterday (see below) about McCain having some serious mental issues.

8) Roe vs. Wade: McCain talks about a litmus test until challenged, then moves to talking about being a federalists. McCain wins a point here for voting for more liberal judges, while Obama voted against the two latest nominees – even though I agree with Obama’s vote. Obama then gets to make the point that the next president will probably decide the fate of Roe vs. Wade (helping conservatives on the wedge issue, but making a nice call to women to think about this choice within the context of the election). Hard to say who wins on this point – in the past conservatives, but who knows this year.

9) On education, as an educator, I fundamentally disagree with McCain’s plan. Choice and competition is not the answer to a public good like education where I believe corporations and the economic interest have far too large a say in what happens in schools (essentially sorting and training without anrey broader program for personal and social development, and an undervaluing of too many children in America today) – and has shown very mixed results. He also argues against “throwing money at schools.” This fundamentally misunderstands the funding differentials that dominate in America today and the disadvantages that minorities and the poor have in public schools today.

Overall, McCain calls himself a maverick, and is essentially running as a traditional Republican at this point who is closer to Ronald Reagan and Sean Hannity than he is to the renegade he claims to be. This follows from his campaign team, who are a bunch of lobbyists that have little interest in actual reform to government. Obama does sound more like a populist and an FDR democrat, but at this moment I wonder if this will not resonate with the people. I think we are probably ripe for this message and the polls support that thesis. McCain calls for change in his conclusion, but where is it? Obama closes with a call to his strength – tying McCain to Bush and talking about the economic crisis and his call for real change, through sacrifice, service and compromise. This has been a better debate, but I really think Obama wins (debating better than I have ever seen him before).

Hitchens Comes Out

One of the interesting post-mortems on the 2004 election was the revelation that Kerry did in fact appear to be a flip-flopper within his own campaign. While the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were unearthed as anything but, the truth was that Kerry wasn't sure who to listen to among the competing voices in his campaign and had a hard time making important decisions on strategy and issues. Christopher Hitchens has just written a piece for Slate.com reinforcing a point that has been in the back of my mind -- that McCain does not seem well-equipped for the rigors of a Presidency at this point in his career:

"Last week's so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience." (http://www.slate.com/default.aspx?id=2202163)

Hitchens has been a major disappointment to progressives since 911, when he became an adamant and unapologetic supporter of the Iraq War and, to some extent, conservative doctrine in America. Here I think he unearths a truth that few are talking about. McCain's not just running a bad, dirty campaign -- it seems to indicate a lack of judgment that comes on top of serious concerns about his age and long history of erratic and irrational behavior (including an infamous temper that is not well-suited to the presidency). Lest us forget what happened the last time we had a President who had lost it? Iran-Contra . . .

On a related note, I happened to listen to Sean Hannity today on the way home. The ways conservatives alter the truth would be laughable if it didn't resonate so strongly with their base. He actually argued that Obama ads are the ones that are lying, that the press should be paying more attention to this baseless charges about Ayers and provide more scrutiny of his relationship to Wright -- even as he never mentions the lobbyists that populate McCain's campaign or their relationship to the financial crisis. As if the financial crisis wasn't happening, he then went on to laud capitalism and free markets and said that the tax cuts Obama was offering were a new "welfare" program. This was followed by the tired old deification of Reagan and absurd calls for a return to his failed neoliberal/neoconservative policies including what sounds a lot like the very supply-side economics McCain can't seem to escape, and that most of the architects of the approach discredited themselves in the early 90s. How does this bs go unchallenged? Because it is easy to sequester oneself from the truth in these safe spaces of myth and lies that sound good unless one does the careful, and apparently painful work, of actually thinking. Could we be nearing the end of this absurdity?

Monday, October 13, 2008

New York Times Says It May Be Over

Looking at historic trends, the NYT asks whether McCain can makeup the growing deficits in the polls that show a potential landslide in the making:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/us/politics/13caucus.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print

I hope democrats don't take this too seriously and fail to show up at the polls. Um, remember 2000 in Florida, where the early call might have given the election to Bush and the last eight years to the rest of us? This sort of coverage is understandable, but is it responsible? Hard to say, but I would rather hear more about what the candidates are going to do and less about their friends and historical precidents and daily polls.

By the way, the Washington Post's latest polls do tend to support the assessment of the New York Times: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/12/AR2008101202333_pf.html. One positive that could come out of this election if Obama wins is a serious challenge to the idea that negativity alone can win elections. Could 2012 be the campaign McCain promised this time? Well, a boy can dream . . .

GOP Gets Desperate . . . and, of course, Ugly

The Virigina GOP Chairman, Jeffrey Frederick, has taken the campaign to a new low that, well, reminds this writer of Bush and the Iraq War. Apparently as he sent staff out to drum up votes in this surprisingly close state, he told them to focus on the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary” (http://donklephant.com/2008/10/12/virginia-gop-chairman-compares-obama-to-osama/). This stupidity just reinforces the truth about Republicans that we will see come out in the final weeks of the campaign:

- They are willing to win at any cost
- Fear and hatred are their two favorite emotions
- If they can't win on the issues, subterfugre and lying are best
- It's ok to be anti-democratic and try to suppress the vote, particularly if those who don't vote are poor or minorities
- Ignorance is their greatest ally.


On the other hand, don't question the increasingly questionable race-baiting of the McCain-Palin ticket or you will be the recipient of McCain's wrath . . .

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/13/mccain.interview/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Representative John Lewis of Georgia has called attention to the ways in which McCain has increasingly used absurd charges (because Obama knows Bill Ayers, he supports terrorists) to focus attention on racist tendencies among some of his constituency. By mentioning George Wallace, Lewis might have been drawing an unfair comparison, but there appears to be a palpable anger among McCain crowds that is turning increasingly ugly (and generally racist).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cynicism Reigns Supreme

I've talked a lot on this blog about the underlying cynicism of the McCain campaign. Unfortunately, it appears as if cynicism is rampant across the board. McCain has nothing to run on, so he's been running an almost exclusively negative campaign: fear this unknown guy Obama, who is "not like us" (read Black), has dangerous friends (read is a terrorist in wait) and is a "tax and spend" democrat (read, playing on tired old cliches that have worked for Republicans for years). On the other hand, I really feel as if there is an underlying cynicism in the Obama camp as well. They have told us very little about what Obama is really going to do. He is for off-shore drilling, nuclear power, ethanol production, etc. and has said little lately about what he really means by change. He's essentially saying I'm better than McCain (true) and have to be better than Bush (obviously true). But what does he really stand for? I can't say. Yes he is cutting taxes on most Americans and raising taxes on the rich and corporations. These are good things. But overall, is he calling for more regulation? Will be push for campaign finance reform and really challenge the crisis of lobbying today? How quickly will he get us out of Iraq? Will he help Israel and Palestine move toward peace or continue the hard line support that makes that possiblity unlikely.

And now he is getting ugly. Yes Palin might have tried to get her ex-brother in law fired, but if he really was threatening his wife's life -- should this be the focus of the campaign. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/troopergate_report_finds_palin.php I do think it's a problem, but I am hearing less and less of the positive message that originally emboldened me to support him. He can probably win with this careful strategy and effective negative ads, but will this set the stage for his Presidency, or will he remember those early promises. A part of me remembers eight years ago when incantations of "compassionate conservatism" rang hollow in my ears (before the election, of course) . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCainomania

We are seeing the true stripes of Republicans yet again. Financial crisis, skyrocketing oil prices, the decline of America both politically and economically and growing poverty and hardship for average Americans. The GOP answer: hatred and lies. McCain on the campaign trail these days . . .

"Senator Obama has a clear radical, far-left, pro-abortion record," McCain said after being asked about the issue.
The answer prompted a shower of boos from the crowd members. They booed again when he mentioned William Ayers, who bombed U.S. facilities to protest the Vietnam War as part of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground. They booed again at the mention of Rep. Barney Frank, a liberal from Massachusetts.
McCain spends most of his time at his rallies and town hall meetings lambasting his rival, often calling him a "co-conspirator" with congressional Democrats in what he argues are the seeds of the financial crisis at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"Will you assure us," one woman asked, "that, as president, you will take immediate action to investigate, prosecute and name the names of the people actually responsible?"
"I will," McCain answered.
"The same people that are now claiming credit for this rescue are the same ones that were willing co-conspirators in causing this problem that it is," he said, raising his voice to be heard over the crowd. "You know their names. You will know more of their names."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/09/AR2008100903169_pf.html

The real issue is that capitalism is in crisis. The idea of free markets and limited government has proved distastrous to the poor and middle class here and abroad. Keynesianism has again reared its "ugly" head; reminding us that capitalism without limits served only the power elites. We need a sensible progressive tax policy, more oversight and government intervention to limit the power of real elites and the monied class to undermine the common good and a reckoning on how to accomplish real equality of opportunity in this country (including major educational reform).

McCain stands for tired old ideas that have long proved ineffective for the average American (or global citizen for that matter). Tax cuts, less regulation, shrinking government and supply-side, trickle down economics. Is he serious? He is so out of touch, it's hard to imagine anyone respecting this guy anymore. What's left when the world is falling apart and you stand at the fulcrum of the crisis, offering policies that have incited the decline? Fearmongering and empty patriotism are your only refuge. The currency of these tactics (or are they strategies; damn Obama and I can't keep those two straight) has worn off for Bush -- I think they will only take McCain to a sound defeat.

By the way, McCain is one of the few people around who seems to think we will "win" in Iraq. Most others acknowledge that improving conditions certainly do not add up to "victory" in the traditional sense. Terrorism and Al Queda have rebuilt their operations, Osama (no relation to Obama for those who are confused) is still alive and America has lost much of its international standing. A matter of fact, one could ask the crass question of whether McCain has ever been on the winning side of any war. It's in poor taste, but isn't everything McCain has stood for these past several months in this vein?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Debate

Quick thought now, and then more tomorrow:

McCain likes to talk about Obama's naivety, and how he "just doesn't understand." The truth is while Obama did not lay out any groundbreaking policies to deal with the crisis, McCain continues to speak as if supply side/trickle down economics is the answer. History has told us this is exactly the wrong response. Tax cuts for the rich and a small teaser for the rest of us? Is that really how to solve this problem. McCain also trumpeted his role in the bailout, while reality appears to indicate he called for more tax cuts for corporations and more lax regulation. Is he for real?

The truth is we need another new deal -- a program of government intervention to save us from the greedy leaders of business who made hundreds of millions of dollars while destroying not only the U.S. economy, but the world at large. The testimony by the Lehman Brothers CEO yesterday indicates the depths of the decadence and irresponsibility that reigned supreme on the cusps of the crisis. We need more government regulation, a more equitable allocation of the costs and benefits of the economy and methods to ensure that the middle class does not fall into debt and poverty in the coming years. That will not be accomplished by more tax cuts for the rich and continued ignoring of the reality of capitalism today. We do need change, and even as Obama thrusts himself closer and closer to a middle that has moved right for 40 years, he still offers the only opportunity to change the country for the better. McCain should run his campaign on the platform "4 more years; of the failed policies of the past 28)!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Examples abound . . .

John Dickerson, Slate's Chief Political Correspondent . . .

http://www.slate.com/default.aspx?id=2201336

The Nature of Politics Today

Biden wins a debate, but Palin is considered the winner by some because she didn't make any huge mistakes. Bush could barely complete a sentence, but the press felt bad for him, or liked him, or was trying to protect themselves from the absurd charge of a "liberal media" and thus helped him win two elections. McCain has been running one of the dirtiest, most dishonest campaigns in history, but while the media has certainly challenged him -- they continue to give him a pass on a lot of those lies.

Lowered expectations. That seems to be the general tenor of politics today. No grand expectations. No belief in the possibility of a politician that is honest and has the will to actually change government. Little coverage of the real issues in the country at a given time. Instead we get horse race coverage, discussion of the aesthetics and affective state of candidates and a fog of politics that ignores the popular will of the people and their stake in the political process.

Underlying all of this is a deep cynicism that seems to have followed Watergate and the Vietnam era, a distinct distrust of politicians, while celebrating the pageantry of the process. In the end, the people are left to consider who to vote for without really knowing what they stand for and what they will do in office. Even if Obama wins, I wonder if we can break through this media spectacle society and actually address the fundamental issue today: equitably distributing the benefits and risks of a market economy and finding ways to challenge the accumulation of wealth and privilege for a shrinking proportion of our population. This includes seriously improving education, regulating the market and the excesses of government the Bush Administration has accumulated and more fundamentally questioning how the richest economy in the world fails to provide a reasonable quality of life for so many of its citizens. The unspoken phrase in politics today that really should be debated is "livable wages."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Plessy Who?

The following excerpt from the recent Katie Curic interview . . .

COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions [than Roe v. Wade] do you disagree with?PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are--those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know--going through the history of America, there would be others but--
COURIC: Can you think of any?
PALIN: Well, I could think of--of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

Has she ever heard of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Dred Scott Decision, Bush v. Gore, the Japanese Internment camps decisions or dozens of other embarrassing choices by the Supreme Court over the years? The more I hear about Palin, the more I think two things -- average American, check (unlike Bush). Able to serve as president, no way!! McCain has really dispelled any remaining doubt that this choice, his decision on the bailout, his constant lying and deception, his lack of basic understanding of economics and even foreign affairs and his infamous temper really makes him unfit to lead. The truth is he could be worse than Bush, given the size of his ego and his clearly demonstrated temperment for winning at any cost.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008