Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pennsylvania GOP compares Obama to the Nazis

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From NYT's The Caucus:

A new e-mail making the rounds among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania this week falsely alleged that Mr. Obama "taught members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud," and equated a vote for Senator Barack Obama with the "tragic mistake" of their Jewish ancestors, who "ignored the warning signs in the 1930's and 1940's."

The ACORN smear is just false, just as the whole ACORN story is, well, a non-story, but what about the suggestion that voting for Obama would be like ignoring the Nazi threat? I may be stretching it a bit, but is that not like saying that a vote for Obama is sort of like a vote for the Nazis (or at least like not voting against them)? Is that not the rather sensitive button the e-mail was trying to press among Jewish voters?

Picking up on one of the central anti-Obama smears of the McCain-Palin campaign, the e-mail focuses on the old Obama-Ayers association, calling Ayers "a known terrorist" even though it's been decades since he committed acts of terrorism. As usual, the facts hardly matter. The key is to connect Obama to a terrorist, or in this case a former one, all nuance aside, and to imply that he is somehow, it matters not how, not just a close friend of said terrorist but an ally as well, a terrorist-by-association.

And so, it goes, a vote for Obama is a vote for terrorism. But then why bring up the Nazi period of the '30s and '40s? Apparently to suggest that terrorism, including the domestic terrorism of the '60s, is akin to Nazism. Which is just plain stupid. Ayers is and never was akin to al Qaeda, and al Qaeda, or more generally the terrorist threat facing the U.S. and much of the West today, is not akin to Nazism. Last time I checked, al Qaeda hadn't seized power in a major European state and wasn't conquering Europe by military force. This may come as a shock to the "with us or against us" ignoramuses of the right, but America's enemies, whether domestic or international, are not all the same.

Again, though, the truth matters not here. The Pennsylvania GOP was obviously hoping to scare up some votes among the state's Jewish population by connecting Obama to the Nazis.

And make no mistake about it, it was the Republican Party behind this e-mail, not some non- or vaguely affiliated organization. The state party has since "repudiated" it, but only after there'd been negative backlash, saying that "it had been released without their authorization and that they had fired the strategist who helped draft it, but it "had an unusually official provenance," having been "sponsored by the Pennsylvania Republican Party's 'Victory 2008' committee" and "signed by several prominent McCain supporters in the state."

Remember, the McCain campaign was pushing what turned out to be the ugly, race-baiting hoax to local media in the state. It should hardly come as a surprise that the state GOP is engaging in a similarly ugly campaign to smear Obama.

It may all be coming down to Pennsylvania for McCain. And it looks as though his Hail Mary fight is being waged from slimiest gutter of them all.

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Palin in Iowa

By Capt. Fogg

If you've taken Economics 101, you've heard of Adam Smith and the "invisible hand," the principle that causes markets to be self-regulating. It's usually considered to be at least a vertebrum in the backbone of conservative philosophy, but people (if we use the term loosely) like Sarah Palin apparently aren't aware of Smith or of principles of any kind, even if she can see a library from her window.

Adam Smith, whom some consider to be the father of capitalism, thought it fair, right, and proper that the wealthy should pay proportionately more in taxes than the less wealthy. By Sarah's dim light, however, the father of capitalism would be a socialist. In the crepuscular gloom of her perky little mind, any kind of tax is socialism: It's spreading the wealth around. Handing out government cheques as a stimulus isn't socialism, but to reduce taxes is the same as to increase taxes because it is socialism if it's taxes. Okay, so you're not from a small town and probably not a real American, so to make it perfectly clear, Obama's proposed tax cut for 95% of Americans is:

the philosophy of government taking more, which is a misuse of the power to tax.

Got that? Less is more and more is less and together it's socialism. Spreading $600 cheques around isn't socialism, because it's just giving (real) people back the money wealthier people paid in, but lowering taxes on nearly everybody is socialism because not only is it spreading money around, but a "massive tax increase":

It leads to government moving into the role of taking care of you, and government and politicians and, kind of moving in as the other half of your family to make decisions for you.

It's really impossible to make any sense of this gibberish, other than to infer from it that she's opposed to funding anything the government does, opposed to having the government do anything but pay for her husband's basketball tickets and her feloniously padded expense account -- opposed to government itself.

Who knows if it makes sense to her or to her audience or whether either of them care? It's a hate session. It would be less effective if it made sense. It's the kind of mockery that used to precede pogroms and purges and witch hunts and various slaughters of various innocents in the more primitive dream world Mad Sarah looks backward to as a guide. As pure chant-and-response shamanism, it seems to be as effective at eliciting shrill cries of "kill him" and "socialism" from the howling jackals as it is at scaring the hell out of anyone rational. Indeed, is anyone rational not terrified of allowing this simple-minded sociopath anywhere near Washington?

(Cross-posted from the Swash Zone.)

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Palin's gas pains

By Mustang Bobby

One of Sarah Palin's big talking points has been that she's a reformer who knows how to get things done. Case in point has been the gas pipeline deal she says she's crafted for Alaska. But it turns out that not only has the pipeline not even been started yet, there were some sketchy dealings going on.

Beginning at the Republican National Convention in August, the McCain-Palin ticket has touted the pipeline as an example of how it would help America achieve energy independence.

"We're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever, to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets," Palin said during the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

Despite Palin's boast of a smart and fair bidding process, the AP found that her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited the winner, TransCanada Corp.

And contrary to the ballyhoo, there's no guarantee the pipeline will ever be built; at a minimum, any project is years away, as TransCanada must first overcome major financial and regulatory hurdles.

In interviews and a review of records, the AP found:

-- Instead of creating a process that would attract many potential builders, Palin slanted the terms away from an important group - the global energy giants that own the rights to the gas.

-- Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.

-- The leader of Palin's pipeline team had been a partner at a lobbying firm where she worked on behalf of a TransCanada subsidiary. Also, that woman's former business partner at the lobbying firm was TransCanada's lead private lobbyist on the pipeline deal, interacting with legislators in the weeks before the vote to grant TransCanada the contract. Plus, a former TransCanada executive served as an outside consultant to Palin's pipeline team.

-- Under a different set of rules four years earlier, TransCanada had offered to build the pipeline without a state subsidy; under Palin, the company could receive a maximum $500 million.

What was that she was saying about being such a reformer?

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John McCain's newest attack ad

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Quote of the Day: David Frum on McCain-Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In tomorrow's WaPo (but posted today), former Bush speechwriter David Frum argues that the Palinization of the McCain presidential run, while igniting the base, has badly backfired:

There are many ways to lose a presidential election. John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him.

The race is basically over: "The very same campaign strategy that has belatedly mobilized the Republican core has alienated and offended the great national middle, which was the only place where the 2008 election could have been won." And as McCain is losing, so are Republicans down the ballot.

And so, Frum recommends, "[w]e need a message change that frankly acknowledges that the Democrats are probably going to win the White House," a strategy that shifts the focus:

In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first.

Is that a good strategy? Maybe, but it may be too late regardless.

If the Republicans lose badly next month, up and down the ballot, it won't just be because of the Palinization of McCain, it will be because they are an extremist party that has been wrong about pretty much everything: Iraq, taxes, health care, social security, market (de)regulation, terrorism, etc. In embracing social conservative (on domestic policy), neoconservative (on foreign policy), and neo-liberal (on economic policy) positions, they have drifted further and further to the right while the rest of the country has, overall, been moving to the Democrats. The American people have had enough. The result could be a decisive Obama victory and significantly bigger majorities for the Democrats on both ends of Capitol Hill.

What Frum is doing is playing the blame game, and pointing a finger directly at the McCain campaign. But there is more than enough blame to go around, and Frum should look no further than his former boss. What he doesn't seem to understand, or doesn't want to admit, is that his entire party is about to reap what it has sown.

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Six degrees of suppuration

By Capt. Fogg

No, that's not a typo. Although it's fascinating to see how easy it is arbitrarily to relate one person to another and one person's principles to another person's totally unrelated opinions, it's disgusting to witness the misuse of that effect to slime, smear, slander and misrepresent without scruple.

The Gateway Pundit, for instance, a website that sas of this morning still blares the lurid and inflammatory but absolutely fake story about an Obama supporter beating and robbing a McCain supporter, is insisting on a very important "link" between Barack Obama, "Jew-hater" Rashid Khalidi, and "terrorist" Bill Ayers. A film clip exists, they say. The existence of a film clip is "confirmed," says the blog, a clip that shows Obama engaged in Jew-bashing at a dinner in Khalidi's honor in 2003.

It must be true, right? Obama must hate Jews if someone at that dinner read a poem criticizing Israel. Indeed, all the Israeli Jews must hate themselves if they oppose their government's policies -- and, of course, all Jews are Israelis, right?

Well, forgive me if I automatically discount the kind of blog post that is designed to be bantered back and forth between people trying hard to maintain a belief, the kind of post that insists a major newspaper is sitting on a scoop of monstrous proportions because they're "liberal."

"Khalidi and the Obamas were great friends in Chicago and often shared meals together." The quote oozes like pus from a chancre. "By the way, Khalidi was also best friends with Bill Ayers," continues the writer, suppurating like a bedsore.

It's tempting to correct the flawed grammar and very tempting to note that the entire diatribe hinges upon the crapulous credibility of the writer, but I really don't care about who Obama knows, about whom may have said what at some dinner he attended, and I'm certainly not going to inflate this pastiche of fragments to the level of "confirmation" of anything but the desperate need to demonize the Democrat in order to disguise the failure of the Republican. It's the kind of need that prompts a writer to make a jeweled elephant out of a fake police report made by a mentally deranged young woman, painting it up like a cheap whore, decked out with gems of outrage, smug condemnations of the perfidy of Democrats in general and stepping in its own excrement.

That the people who write for this blog really care about whether someone hates Jews is remarkable, but then, of course, Obama, by associating with Jew haters, partying with Jew haters, eating dinner with Jew haters, is also part of a great conspiracy against the U.S. and everything this country holds dear -- why should I disbelieve? It's all "confirmed"!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Fruit flies, the ignoramus, and the party of darkness

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Believe it or not, Sarah Palin gave a "policy" speech yesterday in support of (and in support of full government funding of) the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In her speech, Palin stressed that "the most valuable thing of all is information" and that "[e]arly identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference." However, she also criticized certain "pet projects," such as fruit-fly research, that are funded through earmarks and that, according to her, are utterly pointless:

Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.

No, she kids us not. In her view, such research is a joke and, needless to say, shouldn't be funded. It's all a big waste, government largesse at its worst.

But is she right about the research? No. I'll let an expert, PZ Myers of Pharyngula, explain -- brilliantly, I might add:

I am appalled.

This idiot woman, this blind, shortsighted ignoramus, this pretentious clod, mocks basic research and the international research community. You damn well better believe that there is research going on in animal models — what does she expect, that scientists should mutagenize human mothers and chop up baby brains for this work? — and countries like France and Germany and England and Canada and China and India and others are all respected participants in these efforts.

Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies, and these are animals that are particularly amenable to experimentation. Molecular genetics has revealed that humans share key molecules, the basic developmental toolkit, with all other animals, thanks to our shared evolutionary heritage (something else the wackaloon from Wasilla denies), and that we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important.

This is where the Republican party has ended up: supporting an ignorant buffoon who believes in the End Times and speaking in tongues while deriding some of the best and most successful strategies for scientific research. In this next election, we've got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice.

What can I add to that? Myers is exactly right. The Republican Party has become -- and has been for some time -- the party of darkness, an anti-Enlightenment party beholden to a base of theocratic Christian fundamentalism, a party that has positioned itself in opposition to science.

However unpopular generally, Sarah Palin has become, to many, the mascot and cheerleader of this movement, a leader of the darkest wing of her party.

In ridiculing the very scientific research that would support her "policy," she was just being a good Republican.

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"That night in Toronto..."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

One of the best concerts I've ever been to was The Tragically Hip at Massey Hall in Toronto. Front row, right up against the stage. It was awesome. Before they came out, the crowd burst into "O Canada," and then into a chant of "Go Leafs Go." The Habs fan in me recoiled from the Toronto homerism, but the sentiment was genuine. There is perhaps no more Canadian band than the Hip.

If you're Canadian, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, you may never have heard of them, as they've never really broken through into the American and international markets. But if you like no-nonsense rock -- with smart, thoughtful lyrics -- check them out on iTunes, or wherever you buy your music. An excellent "best of" was released in 2005: Yer Favourites. It's a good place to start.

Here's the video for "Bobcaygeon," from one of the Hip's best albums, Phantom Power (1998):

And here's the video for perhaps their finest song, "Nautical Disaster," from Day for Night:

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The Reaction in Review (Oct. 24, 2008)

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "And the endorsements just keep rolling in for Obama"
-- Michael enumerates the large number of recent prominent Republican endorsements; also Charles Fried, Charlie Krauthammer & William Weld.


By Mustang Bobby: "It's just a game"
Bobby nails the McCain campaign's lack of seriousness: ". . . apparently no one in the GOP or the McCain campaign takes into consideration that the voters have moved on beyond the conventions and the campaign trail to wonder what it would be like if John McCain and Sarah Palin actually win the election and she is sworn in as vice president to a man who has the actuarial statistics of a ripe banana."

By Carol Gee: "What is the deal? A Middle East round-up" -- A look at the current standoff between Iraq and the U.S. over the proposed new Status of Forces Agreement.


By J. Thomas Duffy: "Yusef the Plumber" -- Duffy's closing line regarding McCain is a winner, "After all, it is the debunked Maverick who repeatedly boasts that it is he, and only he, who has the super-secret, No-Girls-Allowed-Treehouse, special decoder ring, Odd Fellows handshake plans to find and capture Osama bin Laden."

By Dan Tobin: "A sucka-punch is when you punch a sucka!" --
The Prez in e-mailing Dan again, this one is hilarious and spot-on describing how to fight; it's just like being there!

By Carl: "I am a real American" -- Carl's passionate piece speaks for so many of us against the three Republican women (Palin, Pfotenhauer and Bachman) who declared class war on Americans this week.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Biggest. Lead. Yet." --
Michael takes a good look at Obama's current lead in several polls, as well as Palin's falling ratings.


By Dan Tobin: "John McCain's robot army"--
A bit of great writing in Dan's e-mails from Bush: "But all punctuational betrayals aside, I'm proud of Mac for shaking up his campaign and letting the robots run the show."

By Carl: "Can I get an "Amen," brothers and sisters?"
Another very informative post, this time on bringing back the broadcast "fairness doctrine."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Sarah Palin's college daze" --
This post is an interesting under-reported side of the Palin story, the Sarah you never knew.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Ken Adelman, conservative Republican for Obama" -- Michael's good post clarifies this latest in a series of breaks with the party by well-known Republicans.
By Capt. Fogg: "Insane McCain" -- Fogg bravely wades into the unfortunate hornet's nest that is racism raised by this presidential election, and, magically, up popped 14 comments (Fogg's the best at besting trolls).
By Mustang Bobby: "Kristol's cry for help" -- Bobby's well-thought post takes apart the fallacy of Kristol's weird ideas regarding public reaction following the attacks of 9/11 and now the economic crisis.
By Carol Gee: "On Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama for President" -- This post explored General Powell's endorsement given on Meet the Press; lively discussion in the thread of 21 comments.

Special bonus series: Various days, various authors -- ". . . of the day":

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Yet another Republican for Obama: Charles Fried

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Don't expect the likes of Krazy Bill Kristol or Charles Krauthammer, or even David Brooks, to switch allegiance anytime soon, or ever, but the list of Republicans -- and fairly high-profile ones -- coming out for Obama is getting longer and longer:

Now it's distinguished conservative intellectual Charles Fried, solicitor general during Reagan's second term and currently a law professor at Harvard -- oh, and until just recently a member of the McCain campaign.

Cass Sunstein at The Plank:

This week, Fried announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot. In his letter to Trevor Potter, the General Counsel to the McCain-Palin campaign, he asked that his name be removed from the several campaign-related committees on which he serves. In that letter, he said that chief among the reasons for his decision "is the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."

As with Weld's endorsement, Fried's announcement won't change many minds or otherwise make much of a difference, but it's yet another sign both of Obama's incredible appeal and of a Republican Party in collapse.

(Hey, at least Bush voted for McCain. Woo-hoo!)

Jason Zengerle wonders who the next "Obamacon" might be: Michael Brown? Tom Kean? George Pataki? Gordon Smith? (Jason picks Pataki.)

I doubt it'll be a prominent current office-holder. Maybe another of Bush I's foreign policy team? How about Brent Scowcroft? (Has he endorsed yet?)

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Headline of the Day (Republican self-destruction edition)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From the Politico:

I'll go make the popcorn.


McCain blames Bush, the RNC blames the McCain campaign (and vice versa), the McCain people are blaming each other, and so on.

Meanwhile, morale in the McCain campaign has "plummeted." Some "senior McCain aides" are already sending out their resumes to the private sector, "a breach of custom for even the worst-off campaigns."

Good times.

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McCain volunteer made up ugly, race-baiting hoax

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So you know that ugly, Fox/Drudge-whipped up story of the young female McCain volunteer who was allegedly mugged and mutilated (with a 'B' cut into her face) by a black man at a Pittsburgh-area ATM?

Well -- surprise, surprise -- it's a hoax.

The woman, Ashley Todd, made it all up. (And now faces charges.)


Which should mean, according to FOX News VP John Moody, that "McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

But this is an exaggeration. McCain's quest may be over -- but not because of its race-baiting and not because of this one ugly hoax.

Moody alternative scenario it itself rather ugly. He suggests that, if true, the incident would have prompted "some voters" to "revisit their support" for Obama. Why? Because of the actions of a deranged psychopath?


So McCain's quest may not be over because of this, but does it hurt him? Yes. Because it's an ugly distraction -- and because, as Steve Benen explains:

I seriously doubt that the McCain campaign was involved in planning this hoax, but I've heard that the campaign was pushing this story to reporters rather aggressively last night, and Fox News and Drudge have been covering it with great enthusiasm (and without much skepticism).

In other words, the McCain campaign and its allies believed it was true, or wanted badly to believe it was true, and so were pushing it to score political points.

If you want ugly, there you go.


UPDATE 1: Chait writes, "I don't think the actions of one sick volunteer say anything at all about John McCain or his campaign. They do, however, tell us a lot about right-wing yellow journalists, from Drudge on down, who manipulated primitive racial-sexual fears for partisan gain."

Sure, Fox and Drudge and some in the conservative blogosphere (thankfully, there were doubters like Malkin -- even Morrissey bought into it) deserve a lot of blame for this, as for so much else. But what if Benen is right and the McCain campaign was pushing the story as well? If that's true, then the actions of a sick volunteer do say something, a massive something, about McCain and his campaign.


UPDATE 2: Well, it looks like Benen was right. The McCain campaign was pushing the story. Greg Sargent reports: "John McCain's Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established -- and even told reporters outright that the 'B' carved into the victim's cheek stood for 'Barack,' according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions."

Disgusting. (But just what you'd expect from the McCain campaign.)

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Nice work if you can get it

By Mustang Bobby

From The Caucus:

Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staff member. It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records.

To quote Reese Watson (Hal Holbrook) on Designing Women, "Nobody's that ugly."

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Krauthammer vents, Weld backs Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Does anyone care that Charlie Krauthammer will be voting for McCain?

Oh, no, he's not one of those "wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years," as if that's the only reason so many of them are lining up behind Obama, he's the courageous, trend-bucking conservative who sees things as they really are: it's Obama who's gone negative, not McCain, and, yes, it's McCain who is "the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate," who "not only has the best instincts but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory." (Actually, McCain's an angry, impetuous, stubborn man who has embraced a radical, militant neoconservative -- i.e., Krauthammer's -- worldview.)

What a waste of time. (Why have I wasted my time on it?) It's such an over-the-top endorsement of McCain, with all the usual anti-Obama smears. He means it seriously, of course, but it reads like a parody.

There's a reason many Republicans and conservatives, including Colin Powell and Ken Adelman, are supporting Obama. A Republican newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, made the case for Obama extremely well. Needless to say, and as per usual, Krauthammer finds himself screaming into his own partisan void.


Meanwhile, back in reality, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, a generally moderate Republican, is endorsing Obama:

Senator Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world. We need a president who will lead based on our common values and Senator Obama demonstrates an ability to unite and inspire. Throughout this campaign I've watched his steady leadership through trying times and I'm confident he is the best candidate to move our country forward.

As far as endorsements go, this one doesn't mean all that much, or at least won't affect the race much, but it's yet another sign both of Obama's incredible appeal and of a Republican Party in collapse.

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Bush endorses McCain-Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In case you missed it -- and I did, given that I was watching the World Series last night -- here's Bush's much-anticipated formal endorsement of McCain and Palin:

That's some seriously funny, seriously relevant, straight-out-of-the-news stuff from SNL. And as much as I like Will Farrell in the role of Dubya, it's Tina Fey who steals the skit once again.

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Quote of the Day: McCain on the Palin spending spree

By Michael J.W. Stickings

She needed clothes at the time,

he said yesterday in Florida.

Sure, they'll be "donated to charity," or so he claimed, but it's still not clear why a small-town hockey mom who's been relentlessly touting her (phony) all-American bona fides needs $150K in clothes and accessories from some of the country's highest-end stores. And it's not like she paid for them herself. McCain may buy his own suits, but it was the RNC that picked up Palin's tab.

Not that I care what she wears out on the campaign trail, mind you, it's just that she's been portraying herself as a regular gal from the "real" America, one who claims to speaks for the people against the anti-American elites who supposedly dismiss them.

But while there's undeniably a lot of ignorant, anti-intellectual Wasilla in her, that most of all, she clearly longs for the bright lights of the big city and the showy fashion of Saks and Neiman Marcus. She's like the backwards hick who so badly wants to be accepted, to belong, to make it, and to make sure everyone knows she's made it, and just ends up trying too hard and looking like a parody.

It's quite pathetic, actually. Whatever she once was, whatever she may be at her core, Sarah Palin is now just a massive fraud.

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Bloodbath in the House?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Republicans themselves seem to think it's possible:

An internal document circulating among House Republicans warns of an impending congressional bloodbath, listing 58 Republican-held House seats being at risk, and 11 already considered as good as gone. As many as 34 GOP-held seats are in serious jeopardy of swinging to Democrats, the assessment shows.

What with the Senate also looking good for the Dems, and with Obama well ahead in the polls, I'm really, really, really trying to keep my quite rational exuberance under control.

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And the endorsements just keep rolling in for Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For example, from The New York Times, which provides a useful issue-by-issue endorsement: "This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities."

And also from former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan: "From the very beginning I have said I am going to support the candidate that has the best chance for changing the way Washington works and getting things done and I will be voting for Barack Obama and clapping." (And, you know, there was the big deal about his book a while back, the insider account of Bush and the Iraq War. I still think that was overblown. McClellan have have come around some, but he's still a gooey Republican-lite. It's one thing to want things done. What exactly does he want done, though?)

Actually, Obama is doing quite well with the Bush "coalition" generally. And he's way, way ahead with Jewish voters.

For more newspaper endorsements, see here.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's just a game

By Mustang Bobby

John McCain and his crew still think that Sarah Palin was a great choice for vice president in spite of polling that indicates she's the biggest drag on the ticket.

Where the selection of Palin was once seen as an asset, a majority of voters now say McCain's vice presidential pick reflects poorly on the decisions he would make as president, according to the Post-ABC News poll. Overall, 52 percent of likely voters said they are less confident in McCain's judgment because his of surprise selection of Palin; 38 percent are more confident because of it. That represents a marked reversal from the initially positive reaction to the pick.


Saul Anuzis, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said Palin remains a popular figure, particularly with conservatives in his state. "She has still been a net plus for us," he said.

But he conceded that the national party spending $150,000 on clothes for her was a "dumb political decision" that was not likely to play well among many of his hardscrabble voters. "You're talking to a guy who wears Lands' End shirts," Anuzis said. "I don't even know how you would spend $150,000 on clothes. You can get a pretty darn good men's suit for $300 to $500."

Mike DuHaime, McCain's national political director, called Palin's addition the ticket "a shot of adrenaline to our entire base, and not just our conservative base," adding: "She can appeal to conservative Democrats, to working women, and she can certainly rally Republican voters."

But the problem with that is that apparently no one in the GOP or the McCain campaign takes into consideration that the voters have moved on beyond the conventions and the campaign trail to wonder what it would be like if John McCain and Sarah Palin actually win the election and she is sworn in as vice president to a man who has the actuarial statistics of a ripe banana. On November 5, voters turn back into citizens who have to think about things like the economy, the education of their children, their health care, and the rest of the little things that make up their lives. You know; the future.

But that doesn't seem to matter to the Republicans; all they really seem to care about is winning the election and staying in power. As if the last eight years of heedlessness haven't taught them anything -- and there is no indication that they have -- they go on with their shameless bamboozlement and 1950s retro campaigning of fear, loathing and divisiveness. And win or lose, there is no evidence whatsoever that they will have learned anything at all from the lessons of of this election. Why should they? It's all a game to them anyway, and everything they've done so far indicates that they have given no more thought as to how they'd run the country after November ...except to start getting ready for 2012.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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What is the deal? A Middle East round-up

By Carol Gee

U.S. forces in Iraq handed over control of another province Thursday. Babil, south of Baghdad, is the twelfth transfer of 18 provinces), Aljazeera reports. Further:

Babil had been the forefront of sectarian violence, including a suicide attack in Hilla, the provincial capital, in March 2007 that left more than 100 Shia pilgrims dead.

. . . Baghdad, Diyala, Salaheddin, Ninawa, Kirkuk and Wasit remain under US control.

Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, according to a (10/21/08) Yahoo! News story, said the United States is reluctant# to alter the Iraq troop draft. To quote:

Washington does not want to alter a draft security pact with Iraq, despite demands for change from Baghdad where the document failed to win support from Iraqi political leaders, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday.

. . . Objections by Iraqi political leaders appeared to be about details rather than the broad thrust of the pact, which is intended to replace the U.N. mandate that expires December 31.

. . . Some Iraqi politicians have expressed reservations over details such as the mechanism for trying of U.S. troops. Only Kurdish groups have so far given the text full support. . . among those voicing doubts in recent days was Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has yet to speak about the pact in public. . . followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- strongly oppose the pact, as does the leadership of mainly Shi'ite Iran, which has influence among Iraqi Shi'ites.

. . . Gates said renewing the U.N. mandate was a less attractive option than the SOFA. It would require a vote by the U.N. Security Council that could draw a veto from Russia.

. . . Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, a member of a Kurdish group that backs the draft, said the pact was unlikely to pass before the U.S. presidential election on November 4.

Wednesday, The Iraqi cabinet "shot down the draft security agreement," according to Juan Cole at Informed Comment. Without cabinet approval, it will, of course not be submitted to Parliament. Pressure from Iran is having a marked effect, says Professor Cole. To quote:

By the time a draft agreement was circulated last week (text courtesy Raed Jarrar), the US military had found itself confined to bases by next June and constrained to leave by 2011; civilian contractors were open to prosecution in Iraqi courts; and off-duty US troops who commit crimes might also find themselves before a qadi or Muslim court judge. There was no mention of long-term bases.

. . . McCain opposes a withdrawal timeline of the sort that Bush has just agreed to.

. . . In all likelihood, Iraq will go to the UN Security Council for a one-year renewal of the Multinational Forces Mandate. But the Iraqi politicians and people are voting, by their reluctance to acquiesce in the Bush/ al-Maliki plan for a SOFA, for something (with regard to the timetable for withdrawal) much closer to Obama's plan.

. . . Obama, in contrast, welcomed the al-Maliki government's called for a withdrawal timetable:

Thursday, Professor Cole continues with another post. To quote:

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh reacted sharply on Wednesday to comments of US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen last Tuesday that Iraqis did not have much time to pass the agreement and might not understand the full consequences of failure to do so. Dabbagh said, "It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way."

. . . One way or another, As of Jan. 1, US troops will not be able to act at will in Iraq but rather will have to get assent from Iraqi authorities for campaigns.

In conclusion, a suicide car bomber in Baghdad narrowly missed killing the Minister of Labor. At least 11 other lives were lost in the car bomb violence.

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are betmo* and Jon#.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Obama up big in latest polls

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Polls released just this morning show Obama with solid leads in some key battleground states, prompting Nate Silver to remark that they "present a view of what the world might look like if [he] wins in a landslide":

The Big Ten polls have Obama ahead by double digits in ten Midwestern states: he leads by 10 in Indiana, 11 in Pennsylvania, 12 in Ohio, 13 in Wisconsin and Iowa, 19 in Minnesota, 22 in Michigan, and 29 in Illinois.

Quinnipiac has Obama ahead by 14 points in Ohio, 13 points in Pennsylvania, and 5 points in Florida.

These may be outliers, but they may also add up to a "best-case scenario." The final results will likely be closer, but Obama could win those states by significant margins and could pull off a landslide victory overall.

Either way, what's pretty clear is that McCain's Pennsylvania-or-bust strategy (or, rather, desperate Hail Mary play) is looking more and more like a sure-fire failure.

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A new beginning

By Carl

Barack Obama has taken a couple of days from campaigning to attend to family matters. We here at The Reaction offer our prayers and hopes for Granny Obama's swift recovery.

As I stood in the shower with little to do except rinse, I pondered American history, and it occured to me that we have reached yet another crossroads for our nation.

It seems to happen every three generations or so, roughly every hundred years, and I'm not sure that it's a coincidence that it happens near the turn of a century.

Events in this decade will echo until the next century, in other words. The pattern is pretty immistakable: an attack on the American economy, followed by a blunderous decision to go to war, followed by a mad scramble to rectify the troubles we've created, followed by a mid-century conflagration the likes of which we hope never to see again.

A brief look back: In 1807, the American frigate Chesapeake was boarded with nary a fight by sailors from the British warship Leopard, on the pretext of searching for deserters. Four were found, only one of which was actually British: three Americans, two black and one white, were also seized.

Ironically, the event itself turned out fairly well for the Americans: only the British sailor was actually tried and hung, while the Americans were eventually returned to America, and Britain offered to pay reparations for damages to Chesapeake

However, this incident did force the passage of the Embargo Actof 1807, which led directly to the War of 1812. The Embargo Act was a pretty dumb idea (conceived by arguably one of the smartest men in history, Thomas Jefferson). America had tried to remain neutral in the French-English conflicts then brewing, and had this act not been passed, likely could have avoided the War of 1812 altogether.

That war saw Americans attacked directly in their own homeland, something that would not happen again until September 11, 2001.

The war begat the era of expansionism, the Monroe Doctrine (buhbye Native Americans), manifest destiny, and an overall sense of hubris and domination on the part of all American citizens, which culminated of course in the Civil War, one of the most humbling experiences any nation can confront.

Skip ahead a few decades to the 1900s, and the Great Panic of 1907. This is an interesting crossroads in history, because some much of what we know today of the Federal Government -- The Federal Reserve, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal income tax -- finds its roots in this crisis.

In a nutshell, the United States nearly went bankrupt because of the greed of two men: Otto Heinze and Charles Morse, who cornered the market first in ice, and then attempted to corner the market in copper by forcing his brother Augustus to abandon his company.

The mechanics of the scheme are complex (altho it does involve short selling, which is an underpinning of the current crisis), and suffice it to say, Otto failed. Miserably. Instead of driving the price of Auggie's company up, it dropped precipitously.

Otto Heinze's brokerage collapsed under the weight of its debts, money borrowed to finance this sceheme using shares of the copper company as collateral.

Worse, many banks that owned stock in the copper company as collateral also collapsed, the flip side of these transactions, as the price dropped.

Banks affiliated with those banks, so-called correspondent banks, like Mercantile Bank of New York, began to suffer under the weight of the outstanding loans they had made to the banks that held these worthless shares as collateral.

Sounding familiar? Like banks that owned the derivatives of worthless mortgages that weighed on the books of the banks that lent the money to shareholders today?

There was a run on Mercantile, which led to a run on all the money center banks, and banks were running out of money. Banks were reluctant to lend to other banks so that those banks could lend to customers, and as a result, the stock markets collapsed.

Boy, this really DOES sound familiar!

And so on. In 1912, as a result of this crisis, President Woodrow Wilson established the Federal Reserve, thus ceding the printing and issuance of American currency to a quasi-private enterprise composed of many of the large money center bankers (the precise list of board members is unknown).

Wilson's trade policies were at the center of America's entry into World War I. He was a free trader, lowering tariffs wherever possible and trying to remain strictly neutral in the European conflict, using the central bank to keep money flowing freely.

Both Germany, by attacking American shipping including the Lusitania, and England, by embargoing Germany, tested American neutrality. Wilson managed to avoid going to war on either side, of course, until his second term when Germany tried to recruit Mexico as an ally.

And World War I begat American global influence with the Fourteen Points, the League Of Nations and our participation in the Treaty of Versailles, which begat World War II and so on...

And then there was September 11. Which begat the Bush attacks on American governance and oversight, filling the Federal government with the hubris that the markets could police themselves while we attempted to engage in a dual homeland security/ego-driven war policy overseas.

Which begat our current financial pickle.

History comforts us with the knowledge that somehow, things work out for the short term better, and that it doesn't particularly matter whether the President in office is particularly intelligent, like Jefferson, or particularly principled, like Wilson. Somehow, things work out.

That's not the most comforting thought imaginable, but what's past is prologue and it is a new hope for us all.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Funniest Republican of the Day: Sarah Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

People: Do you think you're intellectual?

Palin: Yehhh-sss.

Now that's freakin' hilarious. (Even if, or perhaps precisely because, she wasn't trying to be funny.)

You can read the full interview here.


Bonus funny:

McCain on Imus yesterday: "I think she's the most qualified of anyone recently who has run for vice president to tell you the truth."

Hmmm. More qualified than Gore, Kemp, and Cheney? Even more qualified than McCain's best pal Lieberman?

Stop it, my sides are splitting.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Sarah Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, it could be wacko Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who recently called Obama anti-American (and his views "against America") and said there was anti-American sentiment in Congress, and who has been abandoned by her own party, so crazy is she, but let's go with Palin, the predictable choice, once again.

In an interview with chief theocrat James Dobson, posted yesterday, Palin said this:

I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.

Um... right. I suspect the best thing for America would be for Palin to go back to Wasilla right after the election -- hopefully a disastrous loss for her and McCain -- and never be heard from again. But I'm sure that's too much to ask. For now, alas, she's still around, spouting ignorance, nonsense, and extremism.

For example, she stressed that she's "hardcore pro-life," that she supports the GOP's extremist platform, and that she prays for God's "intercession" on election day.

Someone should ask Palin why she's palling around with child-beating bigots.

(Oh, right, because she's a crazy Republican fringe-dweller.)

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Ugliest Republican of the Day: Rudy Giuliani

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For robocalling on behalf of McCain-Palin:

Hi, this is Rudy Giuliani, and I'm calling for John McCain and the Republican National Committee because you need to know that Barack Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences for sex offenders, drug dealers, and murderers.

That's right, kids, it's 1988 all over again, and that foreign-looking liberal wants to let liberal judges release all that scum onto your streets and into your homes.

This is despicable fearmongering, of course, and yet more vilification of Obama as the dangerous, untrustworthy Other.

Who better to spread the slime than a fascist thug like Giuliani?


As the National Association of Police Organizations responded:

This is one of the most dishonest attacks yet from an increasingly dishonest, dishonorable campaign. It is a fact that Senator McCain voted against putting more police on the street, outlawing cop killer bullets, voted against Justice Department grants that would help local police keep our nation's neighborhoods safe and he even voted against the Violence Against Women Act, while Senator Obama voted to crack down on crime, target gangs, put rapists away and was endorsed by the National Association of Police Organizations. It's clear that Senator McCain and his agents would rather distort facts and scare people than talk about his disastrous public safety and economic policies that offer no change from the last eight years.

Right on.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yusef the Plumber

By J. Thomas Duffy

Hmmm ...

Perhaps Mommy Moose (dressed to the nines, of course) had best double-check on who's pallin' around with whom ...

Al-Qaida-linked Web site backs McCain as president

Al-Qaida supporters suggested in a Web site message this week they would welcome a pre-election terror attack on the U.S. as a way to usher in a McCain presidency.

The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

On Al-Qaeda Web Sites, Joy Over U.S. Crisis, Support for McCain


You’re The One For Me


And, it wasn't so long ago ...

Lieberman: Hamas Endorsement Shows "Difference" With McCain

John McCain Flip-Flopped on Hamas to Smear Obama

Strange, though, the Al Qaeda would endorse the Stumblin' Bumblin' Fly Boy.

After all, it is the debunked Maverick who repeatedly boasts that it is he, and only he, who has the super-secret, No-Girls-Allowed-Treehouse, special decoder ring, Odd Fellows handshake plans to find and capture Osama bin Laden.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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