Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another round of boos: Palin drops the puck in Philadelphia

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sarah Palin, abuser of power, was in Philly this evening ceremonially dropping the puck before the Flyers home opener against the Rangers. Ryan Cormier at Delaware Online (i.e., The News Journal):

So, how did Philadelphia Flyers fans greet Sarah Palin, who was on hand tonight for the ceremonial puck-drop?

Watching on Comcast, it seemed like there was an avalanche of boos when she walked out -- boos that were almost immediately drowned out by blaring, bombastic music.

There is no doubt in my mind that that the music was ordered up to help tamp down what could have been an even more embarrassing moment.

The clip below. It's hard to tell just how loud the music was, but it sounds as if it was intentionally turned up to drown out the boos. And Palin just seems completely oblivious to reality. As usual.

I realize that Philly sports fans are notorious for being, if I may put it euphemistically, ill-mannered, but it's pretty clear what they think of America's self-styled #1 hockey mom.

Cormier's colleague Adam Taylor was at the game and reports here: "At best, the reaction could be described as mixed." The booing started right away, but then "there was a competition among chanters."

Lynn Zinser of Slap Shot, the NYT's hockey blog, has more here:

The biggest problem: when Palin came out onto the Wachovia Center ice Saturday night -- greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd -- the two hockey players who had no choice but to appear with her in that photo op were turned into props in a political campaign. If Rangers center Scott Gomez [who's from Alaska] or Flyers center Mike Richards wanted to make some sort of political statement, that would be fine, but in this case, they were thrust into a situation not of their choosing. [Flyers owner Ed] Snider put them there with his ill-advised mixing of politics and sports.

Note here that the reaction isn't described as mixed. Palin was "greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd."

And, yes, I agree. There was no need to politicize the event like this, no need to force politics into hockey, no need to put the players, including Gomez and fellow Ranger and Alaska native Brandon Dubinsky, in a difficult and uncomfortable position.

And the effort to drown out the boos with "blaring, bombastic music" was simply ridiculous.

Can't handle the truth, Mr. Snider?

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Quote of the Day: John Lewis on the negativity of McCain-Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of America's greatest civil rights leaders:

As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse...

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

What McCain and Palin are doing -- creating and feeding off an "atmosphere of hate" -- reminds Lewis of what George Wallace did in '68.

Yes, it's that ugly.

For more, see BJ at Newshoggers and Joe Windish at TMV.

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There is only one John McCain

By Creature

"It was like going back in time to 2007 in New Hampshire when I used to watch John McCain get very, sort-of, aggressive questions about immigration and he would bat them down, he would tell the racist who asked about our open borders and the secret NAFTA highway that we are all god's children and that we had to respect one another. That McCain came back today and it was good to see him." -- Ana Marie Cox, wishing for one more ride on the tire swing

Dear Ms. Cox:

John McCain is a grown man with free will. He chose his campaign staff. He chose the divisive, despicable, dangerous path his campaign is on. Nobody forced it on him. So please stop telling me there is an "old" John McCain and a "new" John McCain. Fake denouncements notwithstanding, there is only John McCain. That John McCain chose to embrace all things Rove and America will pay the price for it.

Thank you.

Now, please excuse me while I try to convince the riot police to hold only the "new" Creature responsible for throwing that fire bomb into the crowd, not the "old" one.

-- Creature

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Reaction in Review (Oct. 10, 2008)

A Week's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By Mustang Bobby: "Abuse of power" -- Very good summary of "Troopergate" report that concludes, "Chickens, here's your roost."

By Libby Spencer: "True colors shining through" -- Libby's intrigued with a geek's invention of a way to deduce political leanings of writers included in Memeorandum.

By Carl: "Born in the USA?" -- Fine essay on the subject of freedom vs. a socialiast totalitarian state, [this] "will make the Great Depression look like a pcinic."

By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves: Other books Hugh Hewitt can write about the election" -- Duffy in his best form here; includes Hugh Hewitt Hijinks.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "And so it all comes down to Ayers . . ." -- Michael's sensitive exploration of the McCain campaign's new low, "meant to reinforce this either/or, us/them dichotomy."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Brooks on Palin: "A fatal cancer to the Republican Party" -- Stickings on Brooks opinions, past and present.


By Capt. Fogg: "That one" -- Fogg turn's McCain's dismissive phrase right back at him, with several clever "chapters and verse" about lie after lie. Positive comment.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Obama's ceiling" -- Fine analysis and round-up of current thinking in the blogosphere about whether Obama has "outstanding chances to win," though "bad things could happen."

By Creature: "It's his biography, stupid" -- Creature's insight, "I believe [Obama] put the race away. . . it was his weaving of his biography into the debate that really won the night."

By J. Thomas Duffy: "Debate Results . . . The Flintstones vs. The Jetsons Part II" -- An early witty and biting analysis ending with, "The loud collective sigh you may have heard . . . was the Rove Rats, resigning themselves, . . have to go and purchase a whole lot more kitchen sinks to toss at Obama."


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Volunteer this: Live-blogging the second Obama-McCain debate" -- Michael (even while "under the weather") mastered a dynamic and effective live-blogging format that integrated 21 real-time comments.

By Mustang Bobby: "Losing it"
-- Good analysis of just why John McCain will lose the election in November.

By Dan Tobin: "Bloodsport"
-- another hilarious e-mail from Prexy 43 to Liberal Jerkwad, with this great (Bush) line, "If Johnny Mac threw half this kind of sewer at me in 2000, I'd probably be GM for the Houston Astros right now."


By Carol Gee: "On McCain Watch" -- Looking at what seems to currently be happening to candidate McCain

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Krazy Kristol and the Dominatrix: The neocon estraordinaire swoons before Sarah Palin" -- Michael dissects the Kristol NYT column re advice to Sarah Palin, "self-serving, self- aggrandizing tripe."

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Abuse of power

By Mustang Bobby

Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power as governor in the "Troopergate" incident.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A legislative committee investigating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found she unlawfully abused her authority in firing the state's public safety commissioner.

The investigative report concludes that a family grudge wasn't the sole reason for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan but says it likely was a contributing factor.

The Republican vice presidential nominee has been accused of firing a commissioner to settle a family dispute. Palin supporters have called the investigation politically motivated.

Chickens, here's your roost.

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Quote of the Day: Andrew Sullivan on the McCain-Palin mobs

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Andrew Sullivan, on the mob-crazed insanity bubbling over at McCain-Palin rallies and the enabling and encouraging of it by McCain and Palin themselves:

This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.

Terrifying... but true.

(John Dickerson has more on the mobs here, Jonathan Martin here. And make sure to check out John Cole's post "Beyond Ugly" here.)

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Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I used to think Connecticut was just the rectangular thing I had to drive through to get from New Jersey (where I used to live) to Boston (where I went to college), or vice versa. Sure, it has a lovely coastline, especially around Mystic (which did have some excellent pizza), and the Merritt Parkway is especially nice, but, beyond that, what? Hartford? Please. Maybe when they had the Whalers.

Well, allow me to heap some praise on the drive-through today.

The state Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 in support of same-sex marriage. Here's the Hartford Courant:

Citing the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the justices ruled that civil unions were discriminatory and that the state's "understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection."

"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," the majority wrote. "To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others."

Needless to say, opponents are already frothing. And their goal, of course, is to amend the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage altogether.

For now, though, The Constitution State, or at least its highest court, or at least a narrow majority of that court, has proven to be a bastion of liberal constitutionalism and individual liberty.

I haven't been back to Connecticut in many years. But my respect for it has increased immensely.

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Obama and Guy Fawkes were friends

By Capt. Fogg

Subject: 3 Men who brought down Wall Street

It appeared in this morning's e-mail.

Be sure to read the "where they are now"!!

Here is a quick look into 3 former Fannie Mae executives who have brought down Wall Street.

It continues with a long narrative about Franklin Raines, Tim Howard, and Jim Johnson; the first two of Fanny Mae and the last of Lehman Brothers. I won't go into the accusations; they aren't important and they aren't the point of this latest dropping from the great anus of the Republican Underground.

Where they're supposed to be now is what this is all about, and, no, they are not now all top advisers to Barack Obama, as this cynical screed screams. They don't work for him, but lobbyists for Wall Street do work for McCain. It's just another lie provided to flesh out the bizarre accusation made by John McCain that the Credit Crisis is all Obama's fault.

Doubtless someone will believe it because they want to have a reason to rant and rave and threaten and they want to distract from the fact that the party of George Bush had a hand in this, that the party of George Bush denied there was any weakness until hours before the Ship of State hit the iceburg.

Perhaps this one will show up in your in-box, too. Anyone who will send you this will send you others insisting that Obama and Trotsky went to school together and so Obama's a communist or that Obama sunk the Maine and two of our battleships at Pearl Harbor. Wait for it.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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True colors shining through

By Libby Spencer

I just ran across this post and frankly I don't understand the geekery here. Waxy has invented some new algorithum based on memeorandum links that rates the partisan nature of a blog's linkage. I don't want to download the program myself because my old computer is already really sluggish these days, but I'm really interested in figuring it out because my own blog The Impolitic and The Reaction are both on the list. I get the color code. That's pretty simple.

While most political blogs are extremely partisan, their biases aren't immediately obvious to outsiders like me. I wanted to see, at a glance, how conservative or liberal the blogs were without clicking through to every article. [...]

The colors don't necessarily represent each blogger's personal views or biases. It's a reflection of their linking activity. The algorithm looks at the stories that blogger's linked to before, relative to all other bloggers, and groups them accordingly. People that link to things that only conservatives find interesting will be classified as bright red, even if they are personally moderate or liberal, and vice-versa. The algorithm can't read minds, so don't be offended if you feel misrepresented. It's only looking at the data.

I don't understand the scoring at all. Maybe some tech savvy reader can tell me what our colors are and what the ranking means?

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Will McCain-Palin follow up Ayers with Wright?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I mentioned yesterday that, for McCain-Palin, it has now all come down to Ayers -- but that, with desperation deepening, it could be Wright again before too long.

As the WSJ is reporting, however, despite all the negativity coming out of the McCain-Palin campaign, the Wright card may not be played after all:

Top McCain campaign officials are grappling with how far to go with negative attacks on Sen. Barack Obama in the final weeks of what is turning into a come-from-behind effort.

Sen. John McCain has allowed a series of increasingly harsh broadsides in new campaign ads and in speeches by his wife, Cindy, and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. But the Arizona Republican has rejected pleas from some advisers to launch attacks focusing on Sen. Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


But Sen. McCain vetoed proposals to attack the Illinois senator for his 20 years as a member of the church led by Rev. Wright, whose harsh comments about racism in America and other issues created problems for Sen. Obama during the Democratic primary contest. Sen. Obama publicly severed ties with Rev. Wright earlier this year.

Sen. McCain has said Rev. Wright is off limits.

That decision, and the worry that the campaign could open itself to accusations of racism, has kept Rev. Wright out of their strategy.

One McCain senior adviser said the difference between Mr. Ayers and Rev. Wright isn't race, it's religion. "It's not appropriate to attack someone's faith," he said.

Of course, some Republicans -- and no doubt some inside the McCain campaign -- are pushing for the smearfest to be expanded to Wright.

Lest one be tempted to praise McCain for his decision not to go there, however, Noam Scheiber delves deeper into what might actually be motivating the campaign: "I'd say it also has to do with Sarah Palin's dubious religious associations." Needless to say, if Wright is fair game, then so are the Wasilla Assembly of God, the Wasilla Bible Church, Thomas Muthee, and Palin's Pentecostalism generally. (Noam links to this interesting piece at Time, on Palin's possible Pentecostal problem, by his wife Amy Sullivan.)

Obviously, McCain doesn't want to go there, either.

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Born in the USA?

By Carl

You know, I was born and raised in a free country, not a socialist, totalitarian state:

WASHINGTON — Having tried without success to unlock frozen credit markets, the Treasury Department is considering taking ownership stakes in many United States banks to try to restore confidence in the financial system, according to government officials.

Treasury officials say the just-passed $700 billion bailout bill gives them the authority to inject cash directly into banks that request it. Such a move would quickly strengthen banks' balance sheets and, officials hope, persuade them to resume lending. In return, the law gives the Treasury the right to take ownership positions in banks, including healthy ones.

Effectively, this gives the US Federal government the right to dictate bank policy, decisions, and effectively makes the US Government a shareholder, directly dependent on the quarterly profit of these firms.

This is not freedom, folks. Banks will be obligated to conform not just to the regulations and laws the US Congress has passed, as overseen (however poorly) by the executive branch, but to the caprices and whims of whatever man sits in oversight, presumably Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary until January 20, 2009.

And who knows who, beyond that?

Now, that person may make good decisions, possibly. And he may influence better oversight and policy from the bank managers and boards themselves. But he also may make terrible decisions, terrible choices, and that alone makes this a really bad idea. After all, underpinning each and every bank in America, each and every investment bank in America, is the hard-earned money of the American worker. Those are your savings accounts that WaMu leveraged out to lend to mortgagers. Those are your checking accounts that Wachovia invested to earn themselves an extra few pennies in income.

And these were people who were supposed to be experts! Now turn this power over to someone with a political agenda.

Do you see where this might go? Imagine a bank in New York state that has lent money to build an abortion clinic, overseen by a McCain Treasury Secretary shoved down his throat like Sarah Palin was. Or a bank in Arkansas that's been forced by court order to lend money to minority clients for affordable housing, something guaranteed not to give the same return as a commercial property in Little Rock.

Suddenly, the government is not only in a position to dictate policy, but enforce it from inside, with little or no dissent. Imagine if in the 1950s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a credit card from a bank run by the government, the same government that tacitly allowed the states to determine segregation policies? Do you honestly think they would listen to a lone nutcase? Or would they yank that card, freeze hsi assets, and bring him to "justice"?

It gets worse, folks. Just the other day, there was talk that the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve might step in to buy commercial paper issued by companies like General Motors, or IBM, or Campbell's Soup. Now take those banking scenarios and extend them to buying food, clothing, shelter, or transportation.

And the bad news is capped off with the little notice but plaintive wail of individual states now unable to make good on their own bond issues, unable to make interest payments, unable to provide sufficient collateral for the funds they've borrowed, in danger of default.

Not only are they having trouble making good on these bonds, but they can't even refinance them because the credit markets are effectively closed until the bailout funds are made available, which may take months.

Careful readers of this blog will note that more than two years ago, I predicted the worst economic meltdown this nation, this world, has ever faced.

I underestimated the threat. This will make the Great Depression look like a picnic.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Top Ten Cloves: Other books Hugh Hewitt can write about election

By J. Thomas Duffy


10. From McCain To Eternity
Palin blows it, says she thought McCain was shot down at Pearl Harbor

9. Gone With The Wasilla
McCain Legal Team pulls out after defeat, leaves Palin to fight ethics charges

8. A Tale of Two Wives
McCain's first wife shows up on campaign trail and Palin brutally attacks her... YouTube goes viral, kiss election goodbye

7. Palin Shrugged
Post-race surveys show interview flubs cost McCain

6. The Palins of Wrath
Palin, and husband Todd, refuse to concede after landslide defeat

5. Wuthering Mavericks
Bickering between McCain and Palin on who is a bigger Maverick costs votes

4. Palin and Prejudice
Using the "N" word at late-day rally causes loss for the ticket

3. Catch-72
Open mic two days before election catches Palin calling McCain "The Old Dude"

2. The Palin and The Fury
Palin scorches the party in losing run

1. McCain Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Total McCain meltdown leaves Palin flying solo on Election Day drubbing


Bonus Hugh Hewitt Hijinks

Atrios: How Sarah Palin Won The Election

Christopher Orr: Dewey Defeats Truman!

Leon Neyfakh: Hugh Hewitt's How Sarah Palin Won the Election ... and Saved America Does Not As Yet Have a Publisher

She's Not A Hockey Mom with Lipstick ... She's Emily Litella!

Don't Wink At Me, Sarah Palin

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Sarah Palin, the AIP, and the extremist fringe

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So McCain and Palin want to smear Obama with guilt by association over his non-relationship with Bill Ayers, eh?

Well, perhaps more attention ought to be paid to Palin's long and ongoing relationship with the extremist Alaska Independence Party (AIP) and its leaders. And perhaps Palin ought to be asked why she has associated -- and rather closely (she was a card-carrying member of the AIP) -- with extremists who not only support secession from the U.S. but who have "[forged] alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats," who are "[affiliated] with neo-Confederate organizations," and who are pro-gun, anti-government, militia-supporting nuts.

Specifically, as Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert show in a fantastic piece at Salon that is an absolute must-read, Palin's rise to prominence, both in Wasilla and Juneau, was facilitated in large part by two prominent right-wingers, Mark Chryson (a former AIP chairman) and Steve Stoll (a John Birth Society activist). "Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin's campaign [for mayor of Wasilla] financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory." And the support has been mutual, with Palin actively seeking to advance their agenda.

Read the entire piece. Here's a key passage:

"With Sarah as a mayor," said Chryson, "there were a number of times when I just showed up at City Hall and said, 'Hey, Sarah, we need help.' I think there was only one time when I wasn't able to talk to her and that was because she was in a meeting."

Chryson says the door remains open now that Palin is governor. (Palin's office did not respond to Salon's request for an interview.) While Palin has been more circumspect in her dealings with groups like the AIP as she has risen through the political ranks, she has stayed in touch.

When Palin ran for governor in 2006, marketing herself as a fresh-faced reformer determined to crush the GOP's ossified power structure, she made certain to appear at the AIP's state convention. To burnish her maverick image, she also tapped one-time AIP member and born-again Republican Walter Hickel as her campaign co-chair. Hickel barnstormed the state for Palin, hailing her support for an "all-Alaska" liquefied gas pipeline, a project first promoted in 2002 by an AIP gubernatorial candidate named Nels Anderson. When Palin delivered her victory speech on election night, Hickel stood beaming by her side. "I made her governor," he boasted afterward. Two years later, Hickel has endorsed Palin's bid for vice president.

Just months before Palin burst onto the national stage as McCain's vice-presidential nominee, she delivered a videotaped address to the AIP's annual convention. Her message was scrupulously free of secessionist rhetoric, but complementary nonetheless. "I share your party's vision of upholding the Constitution of our great state," Palin told the assembly of AIP delegates. "My administration remains focused on reining in government growth so individual liberty can expand. I know you agree with that... Keep up the good work and God bless you."

So... are the gloves really off? If McCain and Palin want to wallow in the gutter with Ayers-related smears, with outright lies meant to tarnish Obama's character, should we not then bring up, say, the Keating Five scandal and, well, much of what we've learned about Palin, including her very real association with the AIP?

Should we not counter their lies with the truth?

Because, as I have said many, many times:


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The McCain-Palin Mob

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In case you missed it -- and it's been making the rounds the past couple of days -- here's a rather revealing clip of the McCain-Palin mob in Strongsville, Ohio.

As Tim Russo of blogger interrupted puts it: "I've been doing blog video for a while, and presidential rallies a lot longer. And this is the most strange, ignorant, uninformed, angry, up-to-no-good, and gullible group of people I've ever seen at a political rally. Ever."

And they're the McCain-Palin base.

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The cowardice of John McCain

By Michael J.W. Stickings

John Cole puts it well:

John McCain is not man enough to own his shit. John McCain will not openly confront Obama with his smears and lies and innuendo. John McCain will not come out and talk about Ayers, he has to be asked. That is why he goes to places like Fox News, so he can be asked. What a coincidence.

John McCain is a coward.

John McCain would rather hide behind his wife and Sarah Palin than say it himself.

He would rather produce 2 minute ads that his campaign will never pay to air anywhere, and hope that the tire-swinging media will bring up the topic so he doesn’t have to do it himself.

John McCain just wants to throw shit out there, and "raise questions" about Obama, and hope his supporters connect the dots, because he is too much of a coward to directly push this toxic stew. He would rather hide behind right-wing bloggers, surrogates, and scummy websites staffed with wingnut welfare recipients like the NRO and the Weekly Standard.

John McCain had 90 minutes to bring this stuff up to Obama, to his face, and passed.

John McCain is a coward.

(A nasty, brutish, desperate coward.)

And so does Josh Marshall, whom John quotes:

McCain's moral cowardice has been one of the subtexts of this campaign ever since he wound up the nomination and turned his attention to Barack Obama. But I did not realize it would reveal itself in such a physical dimension.

The tell came this week as McCain unearthed the Ayers story which, for whatever its merits, was fully aired months ago and has no clear relation to the particulars of October other than McCain's collapsing poll numbers. He's on it. Palin's on it. He's releasing slashing new TV ads like this one. Both of them are ginning their crowds up into spiraling gyres of right-wing delirium...

Read both of these very fine posts.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

"I do think you have to talk to enemies."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So, who said that? Obama, right? I mean, he's the one who thinks the U.S. should engage in direct talks with its enemies, such as the leaders of Iran, perhaps even without preconditions. (And, of course, McCain opposes such talks.)

But no.

It was actually McCain's hero, Gen. David Petraeus, the man who can do no wrong.

Petraeus gave a talk yesterday at The Heritage Foundation, and he said this in response to a question specifically about the disagreement between Obama and McCain that came up again in Tuesday's night's debate.

As Greg Sargent notes, it wasn't "a perfect endorsement of Obama's views," and Petraeus stressed that he wasn't "trying to get into the middle of domestic politics," that he wanted to avoid such "minefields," but, still, he "more or less picked the Obama argument."

Make sure to read Greg's post for the full context. Here's the clip:

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Bloggers on torture -- an index

By Carol Gee

What led to today's post on torture? I was going through one of my favorite's folder at my terrific feed aggregator, Bloglines, and realized that I had saved many on torture. Andrew Sullivan's posts, the ones on torture he had written long ago, brought tears come to my eyes as I read the titles. For whatever reason I could not discard them as outdated. This is still raw unfinished business for many of us. Andrew Sullivan writes for The Here is his "Daily Dish" on the subject of torture:

  1. "We Do Not Torture" Update - 6/6/08
  2. Talking Torture - 5/22/08
  3. The Vice-President For Torture - 5/17/08
  4. Self-Waterboarding: An Experiment - 12/23/07
  5. The Freedom To Torture - 12/14/07

This great surfing tool, Bloglines, has a number of handy features, including the (save as unread) feature that led to this post. It also offers very easy subscription to what seems like an unlimited number of different feed sources, folders for various categories of feeds, a story clipper, a blog, and a capacity to search for posts or stories. For example, the words "torture detainees" is a search term that today produced 25,200 posts on the subject.

Like anything else, Bloglines has limitations. Any feed's folder will only hold 200 new entry headlines. When I want to read the full story I just click on the headline. After I have scanned that set of feed headlines, they all go away except those where I have checked the "save" box. So the feeds "fill up" with old stories unless I get back to them and un-check those in which I am no longer interested. I checked several other favorites folders and found that more torture posts had been saved. There were only a couple of recent ones by the writers to whom I regularly turn. The first one today was from Glenn Greenwald at on torture:

  1. Porn producer invokes the Bush/Yoo defense -- unsuccessfully - 10/5/08
  2. Supreme Court restores habeas corpus, strikes down key part of Military Commissions Act - 6/12/08
  3. CNN, the Pentagon's "military analyst program" and Gitmo - 5/9/08
  4. John McCain and Bush's torture powers - 4/27/08

Juan Cole at Informed Comment, as well as Dandelion Salad, carried the other new story about Condoleezza Rice. Professor Cole is one of the most knowledgeable writers on the Middle East and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a regular writer on the subject of torture:

  1. Rice and torture - 10/01/08
  2. The Great Torture Scandal - 6/18/08
  3. Bush Team Pushed Torture behind Myers' Back - 4/21/08

Dandelion Salad's stories on torture I saved were quite numerous, perhaps because the site has a lot of contributors interested in national security, etc. The writers are also good about naming names:

  1. Top White House Offiicials Discussed and Approved Torture, Rice Admits - 10/2/08
  2. Held Hostage For Six Years In Gitmo, Sami El Haj Tells His Story - 8/2/08
  3. Confirmation of Detainee Murders (Wilkerson; Nadler) - 6/19/08
  4. John Yoo, Totalitarian by Paul Craig Rogerts - 6/19/08
  5. Maj. Gen. Taquba Accuses Bush Admin of War Crimes - 6/19/08
  6. Bush Admin Post-Constitutional Order: "It was real 'Manchurian Candidate' stuff" - 6/19/08
  7. American Psychological Association Supports Bush Regime "Interrogations" - 5/28/08
  8. CIA Documents on Torture: Treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas - 5/27/08

Think Progress' posts on torture were concentrated in April of this year, when the issue was making a lot of news. I recommend TP as a regular stop for any news junkie:

  1. Feith:"We Took an Extremely Strong Pro-Geneva Convention Position In the Pentagon" - 4/24/08
  2. Thomas Breaks Press's 14 day Silence on Bush's Torture Approval, Chided Colleagues: 'Where is Everybody?' - 4/23/08
  3. Ashcroft Compares Waterboarding to Being 'Interviewed by Jon Stewart' - 4/22/08
  4. Addington, Gonzales Witnessed Gitmo Interrogations in 2002; Approved of 'Whatever Need to be Done' - 4/21/08
  5. NYT’s Lichtblau: Bush Torture Program And CIA Tape Destruction 'Could Lead To Criminal Action' - 4/17/08
  6. McCain Takes Bold Stance On Torture: ‘We Cannot Ever Torture Any American' - 4/14/08

My regular contributor (this link is on the subject of torture) is "betmo"*:

  1. From the Dissident Voice (May 2008) "FBI compiled war crimes dossier on prisoner abuse and torture"

To conclude, my favorites' folders are now more lean because the posts are now indexed under "torture," one of our nation's many items of unfinished business. The Bush administration, I am sure, is happy that the issue is no longer front and center as it was earlier in the year. The purpose of this post is to make sure that it does not go away, not so long as it still fills me with so much anger and sadness for our country.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Obama goes prime time

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter:

Barack Obama has purchased a half-hour of airtime on CBS, sources confirm.

The Obama campaign will air a half-hour primetime special on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m.

Sources say the Obama camp is also in talks with NBC and Fox. NBC is said to be very near a deal.

Obviously, Obama has the money to do this, and, as Hibberd notes, Perot did this in 1992, drawing fairly large audiences for two half-hour prime-time appearances.

There is some risk involved -- he'll no doubt be accused of cockiness by his envious opponents -- but, to me, it's a strong move, a sign of his, and his campaign's, immense and justifiable confidence. Given the healthy state of his finances, he is certainly not doing this at the expense of targeted advertising in key battleground states like Ohio and Florida. As long as he can advertise effectively, then, why not take the opportunity to present himself to voters at the end of this long campaign? He will be able to reinforce his message of hope and change, to present again his compelling personal story, to address the economy, which will no doubt continue to be the leading issue, to stress his judgement and leadership abilities, and to remind us all that he is indeed ready, more than ready, for prime time...

And for the White House.

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Obama holds steady in Gallup tracking poll

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Some of the other national polls show a somewhat closer race, but, according to Gallup, Obama continues to hold an 11-point lead over McCain, 52-41 -- the same numbers as in the previous tracking poll. The poll was conducted from October 6-8 and therefore includes one day of interviews after Tuesday's debate.

And here's some post-debate polling from Gallup and USA Today:

While 53% of the 735 people surveyed said their opinions of Obama had not changed, 34% said they thought more favorably of him and 12% viewed him less favorably. All 735 said they had watched the debate.

The reactions to McCain were almost mirror opposites: 54% said their opinions about him had not changed, 33% felt less favorable and 12% felt more favorable.

The poll also shows that among those surveyed, 56% thought Obama did the "better job" at the debate, to 23% who said that about McCain. Fifteen percent said the candidates' performances were "equal."

In other words, it was a decisive win for Obama. But can his numbers get any better as a result?

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And so it all comes down to Ayers...

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As I have mentioned here already -- and it is hardly a radical obsrvation -- the McCain-Palin campaign is trying to shift the race away from the issues, and specifically the economy, and towards "character" and "values," an all-too-common Republican strategy.

More specifically, what they want is for the race to be sort of culture war in microcosm:

-- On one side are McCain the war hero POW and Palin the gun-slinging hockey mom. This is the real America, the Heartland, and McCain and Pallin are the outsiders and reformists fighting for the people against Washington, New York, and Hollywood.

-- On the other side are Obama the the dangerous, uppity black guy with the imposing black wife and the Muslim middle name who hangs out with terrorists and Biden the consummate Washington insider. This is the America of the coastal elites, the un-America, the anti-America, Obama as the fear-inducing "Other," Biden as a symbol of a corrupt democratic establishment.

The question McCain and Palin are raising at their mob-crazed rallies (see here and here, for example) -- "Who is the real Barack Obama" (Biden is largely ignored) -- is meant to reinforce this either/or, us/them dichotomy, to change the narrative of the race, to get the media talking not about the issues, not about substance, but about the alleged threat that Obama poses to America.

Just as in 1988, when Lee Atwater and the Republicans turned Dukakis into a swarthy dark foreigner of dubious patriotism and trustworthiness, the McCain-Palin campaign is out to fearmonger voters against Obama. The race card can only be played suggestively, of course, but there has been no shortage of patriotism-impugning, and, of course, there are other ways to portray Obama as a dangerous "Other."

The race card was played blatantly, if still suggestively, during the Rev. Wright flare-up during the primaries, and it will likely flare up again over the next few weeks. It is guilt by association -- Obama is guilty for having associated with Wright -- but the attack involves both race and patriotism: Obama was a member of this crazy black church and was close to this crazy black pastor who hates America.

For now, though -- it has been going on since last weekend when Palin brought it up as a line of attack and, from what I can tell, has been picking up substantially since then -- McCain and Palin are focusing mostly on Obama's guilt by association with William Ayers, the one-time Weatherman and "domestic terrorist."

In reality, there is hardly anything to the Obama-Ayers relationship. Ayers is now a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, specializing in education reform and social justice. (He is no longer a "terrorist.") He have Obama have met, they have served on boards together, sat on panels together, and Ayers once hosted a small event for Obama. And they were neighbours. But that's about it. As the New York Times put it the other day, "the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'"

(What more should Obama have done? Should he have avoided all contact with Ayers? Should have avoided all contact with anyone who has ever done anything wrong?)

The truth isn't stopping McCain and Palin from attacking Obama over Ayers, however, and nor is McCain's own past: Consider, for example, that McCain has very publicly forgiven the Vietnamese, that he was deeply involved in the Keating Five scandal, and that he has surely, over the course of his long career, been in contact with, and hence associated with, unsavoury individuals who were still doing unsavoury things (note, in contrast, that Ayers is not now a Weatherman and that Obama did not know him when he was).

Today, as McCain-backer Ed Morrissey notes, "Team McCain has a new ad out this morning called 'Ayers', a comprehensive attack on Obama on his relationship with... Ayers." "This ad demonstrates that McCain has no intention of nibbling around the edges on Ayers. He will go after Obama with everything he has on this subject." (For more on the ad, see the Politico.)

And why? Because this is part of the culture war, with Obama linked to a (former) domestic terrorist, and hence to anti-American activities. In associating Obama with Ayers, McCain and Palin are trying to make the case, and they are making it rather explicitly these days, that Obama is himself an apologist for those activities, for domestic terrorism, and hence is not just guilty by association but actually a terrorist by association. (As Jim Hacker says to Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Prime Minister, he once had drinks at the Soviet Embassy, but that doesn't make him a communist.) This reinforces the McCain-Palin characterization (and character assassination) of Obama as the "Other," not just one who is dangerous but one who actively and vehemently hates America.

Will it work? I suspect not, or at least not much. The Ayers story has already played out, more or less. It was an "issue" during the primaries, but there wasn't anything to it then and there isn't anything to it now. The difference is that McCain and Palin are now emphasizing it above all else, and for that reason alone it will gain some traction in the media and perhaps even with some voters (as many just weren't paying attention during the primaries, when it first broke).

But it's also a sign of desperation in the McCain-Palin campaign. McCain and Palin are going after Obama with everything they have on Ayers not just because it fits their desired narrative but because they don't have anything else left. They keep talking up McCain's experience and alleged expertise ("I know," he kept repeating the other night during the debate) and their outsider-reformer credentials, but, thus far, nothing has stuck. The Palin bubble has burst, McCain's post-RNC surge has collapsed, and, on the issues that matter to voters, like the economy, it is clear that Obama has the advantage.

And so, predictably enough, McCain and Palin have gone negative, and ever more negative. It is Ayers now, but it may be Wright again soon enough.

Anything to smear Obama -- damn the truth. That's what the McCain-Palin campaign has become.

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From bailing out to buying in

By Creature

This is the bailout plan we've been waiting for. From the NYT:

Having tried without success to unlock frozen credit markets, the Treasury Department is considering taking ownership stakes in many United States banks to try to restore confidence in the financial system, according to government officials.

Treasury officials say the just-passed $700 billion bailout bill gives them the authority to inject cash directly into banks that request it. Such a move would quickly strengthen banks’ balance sheets and, officials hope, persuade them to resume lending. In return, the law gives the Treasury the right to take ownership positions in banks, including healthy ones.

I don't know much, but from all I've read this is the path we should have been considering from the start. It's good to see the Treasury, now that it has the billions it asked for, acting as their European counterparts have in trying to get a handle on this crisis. For the unhinged Right it's socialism; for the rest of us, with actual brains, it's sound policy.

For more reaction, see Meme.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Brooks on Palin: "A fatal cancer to the Republican Party"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Far be it from me, your humble blogger, to disagree with the great David Brooks, distinguished New York Times columnist and leading conservative intellectual.

On Monday, at an event celebrating the redesign of The Atlantic magazine, Brooks said this, among other things:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Whether or not conservative ideas are worth learning about, or lead to anything other than misery and mayhem, isn't the point, at least not at the moment. Rather, the point is that Brooks is right about Palin (and Bush).

He is also right about Obama, whose intellectualism and keen "social perception" he praised.

We'll have to wait to see if he's right with his prediction that Obama will win the election by nine points.


Alright, alright, your humble blogger has indeed taken it upon himself to disagree with Brooks in the past -- and rather frequently at that.

For example -- in part a critique of a horrendously bad Brooks column on Palin's debate performance last week, her so-called "rebound."

Which is the real Brooks? The one who called her "a fatal cancer" at an Atlantic event or the one who, in the far more high-profile pages of the Times, called her "the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington"?

David Brooks, you see, often plays the populist, mocking the coastal elites, the Bobos, the bohemian bourgeois, while celebrating the new everyman, Patio Man, and his wife, Realtor Mom, and the Sprawl People of Exurbia. Brooks may think of himself as a man of ideas, an intellectual conservative, and he may sometimes be, but he is also very much in, of, and about the "populist tradition" he so scorns. If anything, he often puts his intellectualism, his celebrated ideas, in the service of anti-intellectualism.

And where would modern conservatism be without (intellectualized) anti-intellectualism?

Where would it be -- both the conservative movement and the Republican Party -- without the anti-intellectual populists like Bush and Palin on one side and their intellectual advocates like Brooks on the other, the two sides inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing?

It may be a long way from Brooks's D.C.-area home to Crawford and Wasilla, but they're all in it together, the politicians and the pundits, the intellectuals and the anti-intellectuals, no matter how ardently Brooks may wish to distance himself from it -- and them -- when it is convenient to do so.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mental mayhem: McCain refers to Americans as "my fellow prisoners"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is just bizarre -- and perhaps a glimpse into the messed up mind of McCain. At a rally in Pennsylvania today, McCain referred to his fellow Americans as "my fellow prisoners." Jed Lewison has the clip (note that Palin, who may or may not be paying attention, so enraptured is she by her own smug arrogance, isn't phased at all by it):

There really isn't much to say. McCain may seriously be losing it, as Josh Marshall suggests.

Melissa McEwan: "In all seriousness, I've genuinely never had doubts about his mental acuity until now. But that's Reaganesque in a way he doesn't intend -- the kind of mistake that's not easily attributable to exhaustion or the usual word aphasia that comes quite naturally with aging, where one might be tempted to stick in a sorta-not-quite-right word at a public event just because the right one is out of reach. It's…alarming."

Indeed it is.

Matt Stoller: "And today we find out that McCain is taking a supplement that is also used for Alzheimer's and dementia while saying 'my fellow prisoners' instead of 'my fellow Americans'. And then there's the question of anger and mental stability."

Kyle Moore: "Everyone makes mistakes, but that specific mistake is simply too pregnant with coincidence for the average person to ignore. Given that McCain’s reputation for temperament is already at risk, this isn't going to help him any."

Is it not time to talk seriously about McCain's health, both mental and physical?

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That one

By Capt. Fogg

I can't count the times that I used to ask teachers questions that were answered by "go look it up!" Of course, that required fussing around in a library, sometimes for hours I had better uses for, but today we have it easy. We have the internet. Where is the excuse for accepting anything some politician says when he's trashing another politician? What is the excuse for spreading unexamined lies? Of course, the excuse is that we don't want to hear things that disturb our opinions; but in a democracy, that's a dereliction of duty, that's desertion.

Why else would the John and Sarah show still be flinging the shit at Obama like two monkeys in the zoo? They know they can say anything and enough people will believe it. They know all about Goebbels and the big lie, the oft repeated lie. It's all too easy in the 21st century to find out that the turd about Obama voting for tax increases 94 times is a willful deception. But they're still flinging that one.

Did McCain sponsor a bill for Fanny Mae reform? Hell no, but he's still slinging that one. He's still blaming Obama for the deregulation and lack of oversight that are the core of Republican philosophy.

Did McCain, as Obama told us, really intervene on behalf of campaign contributor and convicted felon Charles Keating who cost us all over three billion dollars? Hell yes, he did! Why does he insist he didn't? Why is he still telling that one?

And why is McDesperate still telling us that that one "says our troops in Afghanistan are 'just air-raiding villages and killing civilians'" when anyone can check and find out that one is not true?

And why does Jivin' John still promote his insurance tax credit for health care as a better deal when Obama says someone might have to spend twice the benefit just to break even? Obama is right, says CNN, so why is McCain still telling us that one?

McTricky is still out there telling us Obama would have health care taken over by the feds. It's not hard to establish that that one isn't true either. The American people won't like that? McCain likes it, of course, at least for himself.

And then there's the biggie: Slimy Sarah is telling people right now that Obama is palling around with terrorists. That, being an accusation of high treason, should have been carefully checked out and perhaps she did in her own barely literate way, but of course it's a lie. It's the kind of lie that gives us a window into the empty, vicious soul she claims is saved.

I could go on and on: the claims that Obama's campaign is being financed by Pakistani Muslims, that he is a Muslim, that he wasn't born in the US, that his biography tells us he's a Muslim. Things the dumbest of us could see through if they had the will. It's endless, it's relentless, it's vicious. It's a cesspool of lies.

McCain's jackals are telling us that Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the family is an Iranian who advises them on conducting Jihad in the US. She isn't. She's an American born of American parents of European origin in Shiraz where her father was running a charity hospital for children. That one is a lie of criminal proportions. That one is slander. That one is pure malicious evil.

And what does McCain's trophy wife say about her husband running the dirtiest campaign in a century? She accuses Obama. Lies are clean, the truth is dirty, and I'm starting to wish I could really believe in a hell for such loathsome creeps to fall into.

I won't go on. I don't have the stomach for any more of this most egregious campaign of lies in American history. When I listen to Palin, giggling in front of her barking dogs; when I hear John wheedling and whining about how he can do this and that -- I need to take a shower. I need to forget I belong in this country where such things go unchallenged, where people don't bother to take time to look it up, to check, to do their duty as a citizen -- just because it's so much fun to be a laughing idiot, a chuckling bigot, a damned liar, and a Republican.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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