Saturday, September 6, 2008

And They're Off!

- We're less than two months away from the finish line, the two campaigns have just shifted into third gear, and things are going to be tight, at least until the debates. Take a gander at this piece from today's New York Times to give yourself a good idea of the narratives we'll be seeing in the weeks ahead.

- Keep McCain visible. If there's anything to take away from the RNC, it's that Palin has not only become a lightning rod for the nation's attention, she is also serving as something of a smokescreen for McCain to hide behind. Which is not to say that the Dems should ignore Palin, just that they can't let the race simply come down to Obama v. Palin.

- Palin has proven she's not a meek little flower. She's dubbed herself a pitbull with lipstick, her nickname is Barracuda, and she's done nothing but mock the opposition while offering nothing substantive in return. She should be treated as an equal, and if the right then claims sexist treatment (as I'm sure they will), counter with "if Hillary could take it, so should you."

Currently, the Reps have scheduled her on what is, in essence, a book tour. Interviews with local TV stations all over the US, and nothing with the far-from-rabid pundits of the Sunday morning press shows. That has to stop, and as soon as it does, those same pundits can't be soft-balling questions to her.

- JJ and I may disagree over what exactly Salon's Glenn Greenwald is recommending in his recent essay, but I believe there's one thing we agree on: The Dems can't afford to not be aggressive.

- Where are Joan Walsh's "I'm concerned about Sarah Palin's pastor problem" essays? Palin also needs to be strung up on her church's gay conversion policy.

- Should the Enquirer's early reports that Palin had an affair with her husband's business partner be true, how to best exploit this information? My advice, simply let the press have a field day with it. (By the way, this essay provides the best explanation for why the Enquirer is being taken seriously on these issues these days.)

- I must confess that I get a little squeamish when Obama caters to the Center. I understand it's necessary, but does he really have to say that the Surge was an unmitigated success when we all know that's not truly the case? (Yes, he does, because there are plenty among the independents who'd see it as some sort of betrayal not to do so. Sigh.)

- All I ask is that O'Biden throws us the occasional bone with meat on it. Biden's statement earlier in the week saying that they might pursue criminal charges against Bush/Cheney is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Seeing as you're talking about it, though, it'd be nice if y'all would actually follow through.

Bush/Cheney have done plenty to deserve criminal charges. There's no need to even go further down that avenue.

- "Palin's more experienced than Obama." Please. Though I'd pay to see her in the South Side of Chicago, amidst pissed off union workers who've been screwed over by Reaganomics, trying to make that all work.

- Obama has run a smart, impressive, if imperfect, campaign thus far. Every time it seems like he's adrift at sea, he comes back with something impressive and redeeming.

I would love to see this trend continue well into November.

Friday, September 5, 2008


The Wilson sisters from Heart, a band I hate with a passion the same way I hate Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi, have earned my respect. They sent a cease-and-desist letter to the GOP telling them to stop using their song Barracuda. Good for you, girlfriends!

The Republicans went on and on about Palin being from a small town, "with small town values." What nobody in the media has pointed out is that it's not really a small town. It's a suburb. There's a big damn difference.

Read this article on Salon by Bill Maher. Short, funny and true.

Lots of big cheers went up when McCain mentioned building more nuclear reactors. How many of those people do you think would allow one to be built in their town?

Has anyone noticed just how decrepit-looking Ron Silver has become since he switched from being a Democrat to a Republican? Damn, it ruins your health too, not just your soul.

Bizarro World Soundbites

So during McCain's incredibly dull speech last night, which even from a partisan crowd got the most tepid response I've ever seen in a political speech, he bashed Obama about his health care plan. This is what Johnny Maverick (or "mavrick" as it was spelled by one of the genius delegates) said:

My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

First off, there is the myth that Obama is proposing a single-payer universal health care system like they have in Canada, France, Great Britain and everywhere else in the industrialized world. If only that were true, I would be out pounding the pavement 16 hours a day for his campaign instead of just planning on taking 45 seconds to give him my vote.

But the real point of this is, who the hell in this country doesn't have a bureaucrat standing between them and their doctor? I just spent a whole day trying to find a pediatrician from the very narrow scope of a list that my wife's insurance company says are the only doctors I can use. I was also cut off from physical therapy for my back by the insurance people even though my doctor prescribed a longer program.

But John McCain doesn't have this problem. Do you know why?


That's why.

*Born into a Naval officer family, went to Naval Academy, became a Naval officer and then joined the Congress.

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Did You Enjoy The Show?

Of course, the other big problem with John McCain’s acceptance speech on Thursday is that it is loaded with so much crap. Once you start looking beyond the surface, and start thinking about what else we have been exposed to during the last week, you begin to realize that, as always, the Republicans are banking that most of the viewing audience is only tuning in on Thursday night, and will not be paying attention beyond that. Unfortunately, that’s a plan nearly guaranteed to work.

How do you reconcile McCain’s speech with Sarah Palin’s, for example? Hey, how about that 9/11 retrospective aired just before he spoke? And now they’re saying that Sarah Palin will not be giving interviews with the campaign press because the press has been so mean towards her. Really? I mean, really? Just how ludicrous is that? Can you imagine how loud the right wing noise machine would be if the Democrats decided to pull just one of the maneuvers the Reps have this week?

Just business as usual, my friends.

Which brings me to those things that brought me a little frisson of joy and fear during the last week of conventioneering: Things beyond the Republicans’ control.

Fear #1 – St. Paul PD’s arrest of Amy Goodman, journalist and face of the non-partisan Democracy Now. During a protest against the invasion of private homes and dissident detaining over the weekend (and we criticize Beijing for this stuff), the SPPD tear gassed and arrested around 250 people on Monday, including Goodman, who was simply observing the fracas. “She didn’t look like a non-participant,” said a cop as they were shoving her forward in cuffs.

Joy #1 – MSM’s roving cameras. I don’t have cable, which kept me from watching CSpan’s straightforward, no bullshit coverage of the convention. Saddled with the big three network’s news organizations, I ended up shuffling between ABC, CBS and NBC on consecutive nights.

If someone in the director’s booth wanted to show the RNC’s lack of diversity, then they have done a masterful job of doing so. I mean, it’s shocking the contrast between the two conventions on this matter. I started playing Count The Minorities again this week. For the record, here’s the tally:

Monday - DNQ (Convention called on account of politically convenient/inconvenient hurricane)
Tuesday – 1 (Black)
Wednesday – 2 (Black)
Thursday – 8 (4 Black, 2 Latino, 2 Asian)

Imagine, if you will, the glee with which I pointed out to myself “hey, it’s that same black dude with the POW cap! And look, the same black woman from a different angle!” while watching CBS on Wednesday. So, it was with some surprise to have seen the number of minorities quadrupled on Thursday on ABC.

Still though, eight notable exceptions in a room full of white? Pardon me while I change my pants.

More entertaining than spotting melanin, however, were ABC’s series of reaction shots on Thursday. Never have I gained so much hilarity from seeing someone yawn in the background behind McCain; or the equally hilarious slow zoom in on a delegate about to fall asleep in the middle of the excitement.

Joy #2 – Even more entertaining than that was the obvious discomfort felt in the room (or at least it read as discomfort on the screen) when the protestors made their presence known. Don’t know who the women in pink were, or what they were yelling about, but the vet in the “Iraq Veterans Against War” t-shirt, carrying the dual “You Can’t Win An Occupation”/”McCain Votes Against Vets” sign was effective and highly visible for the audience at home. Good job, guy.

Fear #2 – The Reps’ response to these protests? Chanting “USA! USA!” at top volume. Boos would have been more effective. Instead, that jingoistic fervor in the face of valid criticisms just sent chills of terror down my spine. Which, horrifyingly enough, is the effect they were likely going for.

I need to change pants again.

A Douchebag on a Barracuda

Look, I already knew John Carlson was a douche. I knew it when he was just a talk radio host, I knew it when he ran for Governor of Washington, I saw it first-hand when he did a live version of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” in downtown Seattle years ago. First time I ever heard him open his mouth, I thought, “That right there is a douchebag.” But, he had to go and prove it again with his defense, or perhaps aggrandizement is a better word, of Sarah Palin.

He, like many Republicans, wants to characterize her as the scourge of liberal voters. And his main argument seems to be that she is “a successful, attractive, working class, conservative feminist.” The link is Carlson’s, and interestingly connects to a Wikipedia (great source there, John – you start essays with “Webster’s defines…” or the updated “A Google search of…” too?) definition of feminism that nowhere mentions conservative feminism, quite probably because it doesn’t exist. Feminism is and always has been a progressive movement; methinks Carlson and his ilk believe they can slap “feminist” on anyone who carries a double X chromosome, but self-interest and feminine gender do not a feminist make.

It’s much like “Pro-life feminist.” Oh, sure, because feminism is all about disempowering women from making choices. I think I recall bell hooks, when she spoke at Syracuse University lo those many years ago, saying, “Settle down, ladies. Choices are for men and white folks and those others smart enough to make the right ones, not you abortion-happy bimbos.”

And this is just the start. Carlson fills his entire article with Republican’s favorite tactic of “definition through assertion.” This has to be my favorite, coupled as it is with other great tactic of the Right: reassertion with the implication of the disingenuousness of dissent: “Some have even criticized her for choosing to have her Down syndrome baby rather than aborting it (admit it, you've heard it).”

Frankly, I’ve heard nothing of the sort, not anywhere. Never have I heard a mother criticized for bringing a baby with birth defects to term (except, I’ll admit, the eugenics-obsessed mother of a grade school friend who was convinced the education of, as she said, “a bunch of little retards” was taking resources away from the education of her own admittedly gifted children). But, Carlson and others will continue to assert this, and twist any commentary of Palin’s family in general to fit the preconception, ignoring completely the fact that choosing to carry such a baby to term is only noble because it is a choice. And they will continue to just plain call you a liar if you disagree.

Carlson, y’see, isn’t interested in furthering the discourse. He, like much of the Right’s pundit class, enjoys hearing the sound of his own voice, even or maybe especially when it is being repetitive.

He'll repeat over and over that she fought Alaska's famous pork politics, ignoring that she was for it before she was against it (morphing from supporter to critic of the "bridge to nowhere" when it was politically advantageous). He'll try to conflate her experience as a small-town mayor with Obama's as a community organizer, regardless of which has actually meant more to the political history of this country. And he'll claim again and again that she's just another of the God-fearin', animal-killin', bigass-family-havin' American's that make up the majority of the country in spite of the fact a minority of people self-identify as such. And he'll be but one of a chorus of bloviating windbags.

It’s a sign of what to expect from the coming months, and also what has to be dismantled. I’m a big fan of FAIR because they do such a good job of identifying specious arguments and reasoning in the media. I’m sure they’d have a field day with Carlson were he not beneath national notice.
But, we can’t let bullshit contributions to the political discourse like Carlson’s go unaddressed. We have to point out their contradictions and hypocrisy as often as possible. We have to call bullshit. Loudly. And we have to throw it back in the face of their assertions and reassertions.

So when a douchebag like John Carlson takes this quote from Palin:

"When the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — when that happens, what exactly is our opponent's plan?"

And responds with this: “In Sarah Palin's world, and in John McCain's, talk is cheap; people would rather support results than rhetoric.”

We have to point out, as tiresome as it can be, that Palin’s quote has nothing to do with results, is only cloudy rhetoric, and that simply asserting the opposite is intellectually lazy and dull.

And we can’t let it win.

Sarah Palin: the liberal voter's worst nightmare

A Damn Shame

Perhaps Karl Rove's greatest sin to the world of politics was in using the Swift Boat approach with John McCain in 2000. By weaseling W onto the national ticket, he and his party screwed McCain over and thus robbed him of his last realistic chance to win the White House (I am paranoid about this populace enough to give him odds on winning this time around).

I think that John McCain, the 2000 McCain, had a decent shot at beating Gore, without having to steal that election. And had he lost, his odds of winning this time through would improve even more.

I saw bits and pieces of that McCain at the RNC on Thursday. His speech wasn't electric, it was a bit dry in a lot of places, but, in essence, it was the quintessential Baby Boomer appeal to the center, and as such, it wasn't half bad.

I respected his critiques of the Republican party, how the Reps have lost America's trust, even if I didn't buy them whole hog. Mostly because he couched those criticisms behind the traditional right wing bugaboos about letting "Washington change" the Republicans. Fact of the matter is that the Reps have been barreling down this course since the 70s, bolstered by Reagan's electability and likeability with the majority of the US populace.

And that was the primary fault with McCain's speech (with "noun, verb, POW" a close second): He made the same promises that the right has been making for three decades now, and looking at the results those promises have yielded, well, it just won't wash.

How long have we been hearing about the supposed miracle of charter schools? How long have we been hearing that by giving private industry the moon it would create new innovations and jobs that would stay here? How long have we heard that keeping taxes low for the private industry will help our economy?

There's just too much evidence we would have to ignore in order to buy that stuff again. It simply won't cut it.

Should the things that I hope happen in November come to fruition, McCain will be remembered as the candidate that brought his party down to earth. After all the Reps have put us through in the last 30 years, maybe that ain't such a bad thing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Would You Please Let It Go?

I only want to put up one quick post about the McCain speech tonight, it is late and I'm too tired (the time at the end of the posts for this blog is in Pacific time, where the other two authors are, but I'm on the east coast) to go into full rant mode at all the dumb crap he said tonight.

I just want to say that I am so sick and tired of being forced to fight the Baby Boomers' battles from 40 years ago. Would you please just go away? We've been bored with you ass-holes for twenty years now. You didn't change the world nearly as much as you think you did.

How many sovereign nations have we interfered with for no reason since Vietnam? How much bigger has the gap gotten between the rich and the poor? How much smaller have those polar ice caps gotten since the Summer of Love? Yea, see what I'm sayin'?

And now we've got McCain (technically not a Baby Boomer I suppose) bringing all of this crap back up for yet another election cycle. Why the hell have the last five presidential elections been about the Vietnam War?

I think 80% of tonight's convention speeches were about McCain spending 5-1/2 years in a box being tortured.

Dear Senator McCain: I DON'T CARE.

Look, I'm sure it was horrible going through what you went through and nobody should have to deal with such a horrific experience, even if you had been dropping bombs on innocent civilians.

Torture is an evil act and I would love to see it disappear from this earth. But you having gone through that experience 40 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with this election and your credibility as a candidate or even as a human being.

But the way you bring it up every time you get asked a difficult question, even about something as unrelated as the housing crisis, does say a lot about your credibility and character.

Or lack thereof.

Speaking of Douchebags

A fucking jerk
All the stripbars
Does not work

-- Le Tigre, "My Metrocard"; airing just two of the list of grievances against "America's Mayor"

Egads, just how much of the Republican National Convention to get into? Wednesday night alone provided so many near aneurysms...I'll give you some links to look into later on, but I wanted to put some focus on this little gambit by Rudy Giuliani:

"How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be Vice President? How dare they do that? When did they ever ask a man that question? When?"

Uhm...Who are "they," in this instance? Democrats? Where? Show me a democrat saying Palin is unfit to be VP because of her children. No, not those guys. The Liberal Media? Give us one example. No, nothing there.

In fact, they can't really produce a single example that's not someone on the fringes mouthing off about Palin...Though I heard rumor that someone like Maureen Dowd (right-wing pundit) did attack her from this standpoint, but until I find concrete proof, I can only say it's a rumor.

So, let's turn Rudy's "they" into a historical "they." Let's see, who would have the gall to question another politician's leadership ability by using her gender and parental role in a family?

Republicans, that's who, and with this, Rudy just adds to the already long list of hypocrisy on display during this week's convention. The one person who is actually the least experienced of the four is mocking those with more experience. The woman who is running on the premise that she takes on the "good ol' boys" network is extolling those virtues to the party pretty much comprised of nothing but "good ol' boys." And Giuliani, not exactly known for his progressive feminist agenda, is damning the generally sexist political atmosphere that his own party created.

Jon Stewart says it in a much funnier manner:

HuffPo's Bob Cesca runs a Live Blog of the RNC.

Oh, and a Republican Congressman from Georgia calls Obama "uppity." Gotta love this party.

Holier Than Thou Hockey Moms

Good god, could there be any more white people at the Republican National Convention? This is the "big tent" party?

For those of you moderate Republicans out there who thought that having McCain as the nominee would sweep away the religious right with their "culture war" crap to focus on real issues instead of silly ones, boy were you wrong! The culture wars are front and center once again.

The VP nominee hates gay people, women who have abortions, family leave laws, equal pay for her own gender, gun control and comprehensive sex education. And they sure do like to walk the moral high ground. I'm supposed to live by their code of right and wrong, despite the fact that I don't belong to their silly little thing called Christianity.

I'd be more willing to listen to their nonsense if they actually believed what they preach. But they don't. Let's take just one Commandment, shall we? Here are some things we heard last night in speeches at the convention

Sarah Palin: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

The truth is basically the opposite of that. She supported the bridge and said many times it should be built by the feds and not by the state. When it became a big national issue, that's when she backed off. Palin also lobbied hard to Congress for earmarks for her town when she was mayor and as governor. Three of the projects that she asked for are even on McCain's list of "objectionable" pork spending.

She also claimed that Barack Obama never authored a single piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate or even the Illinois Senate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My favorite, though, has to be Mike Huckabee, he of the "amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards" proposition. Here's a couple of things Mikey said last night:

Huckabee (speaking about McCain): "He could have eased his own pain and even cut short his imprisonment by uttering a few simple words renouncing his country. But he loved his country and knew that to return with honor later was better than to return without it now."

Except that McCain, like most other soldiers tortured during Vietnam, did denounce his country after lengthy and brutal torture. He's human, there's nothing wrong with breaking.

And my favorite Huckabee line: He claimed that Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

That's a great one Mike. Would be a great line if it were even close to being true. Biden dropped out after the Iowa Caucus and still got over 76,000 votes in the primaries in states where he couldn't take his name off the ballot. That's more than ten times the number of people in Wasilla, Alaska. For the record, the number of votes she received in her two winning elections for mayor was 1,525. Combined.

So to all of those telling us that this is a Christian nation and that we need to change our laws or Constitution to fit that of the bible, what exactly is it that the bible says about lying? I forget.

And this doesn't at all even touch on the fact that the Republicans are out there cheering on Rudy Giuliani, a guy thrice married and shacked up with his current wife while still married to the previous one. They are nominating a guy for the highest office in the land who had a much younger mistress (the now-Cindy McCain) while still married to the mother of his oldest child.

Again, my memory is failing me, what does the bible say about adultery?

But hey, as long as we keep those gays from getting married we are protecting "traditional" marriage.


Chicago Tribune

L.A. Times

Time blog

Raison D'Etre

I have more political conversations with friends that feature the phrase "I didn't know that" or "I just stopped paying attention because there's too much" than I'd really care to recount.

In a sense, I get it. It's extremely easy to go into sensory overload where this stuff is concerned. That said, you shouldn't have to be a political junkie to know that the party that's calling Obama & Co. "elitist" also features a wife whose outfit for her speech at the RNC on Tuesday cost $300k. (Suddenly, two $400 haircuts seem like a drop in the bucket.)

And what does it say that a large number of my cohorts are more aware that pro-life/pro-abstinence-only-sex-education Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant, than they are of either Palin's firing of podunk Wasilla's Police Chief, attempt to fire Wasilla's Head Librarian (both for not being supportive enough of the only-days-into-her-mayoral-administration pitbull); attempt to ban books; or what has become known as Troopergate?

The media's not doing its job in full, sure, they're only highlighting whatever's going to get the majority of the populace riled up Springer-style. But it's not as if this information isn't out there, and on this front there are a number of reasons for the disconnect.

Apathy - The news has been so bad for so long, it's too "inconvenient and depressing" to try to keep up.

Lack of Awareness - You want to know, but don't know where to look.

Over-stimuli - There's just too much to know.

Which is where I hope we come in. I'd like to think of this place as a gateway drug to more hardcore sources for political news/thought; sharing specific links pointing to something worth reading/thinking about; as well as providing a decidedly left-leaning POV on the political talk du jour.

We're not pundits, it must be said, and I don't think anyone posting here has any pretentions to that pigeonhole.

Speaking for myself, I'm just a political junkie with a hopeful bent; though I tend to engage with right-leaning wonks who are essentially spouting whatever viral meme's been trotted out by the likes of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and Hannity, and I like being prepared with some actual firepower so I'm not caught off guard.

So that when the wonk goes into Katrina, to use an old example, all "Katrina was the result of faulty local government being caught unawares," I can retort, "yeah, well, the federal agencies are there to jump in whenever the local government is overwhelmed, and those agencies fielded a request from both the mayor and governor three days before the hurricane hit, and they still took a week to get anywhere close to NOLA. A week in which both Canada and Venezuela had forces on the ground before the US arrived. Let's not get started on the slip-shod job by the Corps of Engineers."

In short, I want to enable you to be able to reply to that conservative member of your family who insists on sending neocon emails to your inbox with something that'll just flummox them.

It's a two way street, though. If there's something you want to know about, let us know in the comment field.

More to come.


Welcome to The Savvy, The Extreme & The Idealist. Here is where a few of us (three at the moment, maybe more added later, maybe not) will write our observations, critiques and rants about the upcoming election and politics in general. We welcome and encourage all comments.

While all three of us that are planning to post on this blog would admit to being on the left side of the political spectrum, we do come from three different places in life. One of us is a married guy with a young child. Another is also married with his first, and only, child on the way, due about three weeks before the election. (Which, unfortunately, means my daughter will be born during the Bush administration) And the other is a swingin' single, but also the non-whitey of us.

That should give us some variation in the perspective around here.

Tell your friends to check us out.