Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin Burnout

I've reached it, I'm done. I feel like I've been force-fed nothing but this woman for two solid weeks now. I am now protesting that enough is enough. If the interviews with ABC (here are War Room's transcripts from tonight's part 2) aren't enough to dispel the charm that's been cast over the country, well, I don't know what it would take.

It's not like the bad revelations about her time as a politician in Alaska have let up. Today alone we have Troopergate's main investigator looking to send out subpoenas (one of those being served: Palin's husband Todd); confirmation that Palin had a direct hand in making sure sexual assault victims payed for the related medical exams; and, finally, Alaskan Democrats saying that all of this sort of thing is just the beginning of the Palin rollercoaster ride.

Is it any wonder that I got suckered into believing that Cheney admitted his hots for the woman?

That would be the cherry on top of the sundae, really.

Knowing that Palin has the Republican base enthralled, though, I'm pretty much guaranteed to seeing this political banshee on a constant basis for the next two months. I'm just hoping that the parade of Palin misdeeds keeps rolling along with it.

In the meantime, who's got some Tums?

The Crane Kick Stance

People have already beaten the Rocky metaphor to death; lots of hot air spewed over the underdog overcoming the odds and emerging…well, not exactly victorious, for that fight ended in a bloody draw, but at least proud and redeemed. That’s inspiration we could all tap into, and why it was applied to Hillary during her rough and tumble campaign.

The underdog-fighting-to-overcome-the-odds has been an oft-used trope in movies and politics before and since Rocky, though there is one movie moment that manages to further distill that moment of inspiration in a manner better fitting the current political atmosphere: Daniel-san getting up after being swept off of his injured leg and struggling to get into the Crane Kick Stance before delivering the final decisive blow.

The reason this moment works better than other tired-movie-cliché-comparisons (i.e. - Luke using the force to destroy the death star; Rocky remaining in the fight; the Bad News Bears playing together to beat the team made up of jocks) is because it has its hero tap into his own honor and individual strength in order to emerge the winner; what could be more American than that?

It’s a weird bully/wimp dynamic, and god knows why it should be so effective, but it’s likely because we’ve been primed to react to it by decades of movie reinforcement. Think about it, the Right has enjoyed its influence largely by whaling upon the Left with trumped up accusation and fabrication after trumped up accusation and fabrication. The Left sticks by its principles and refuses to engage in such dirty pool, to which the Right replies by tackling the left and giving them a wedgie followed by a swirly.

It’s the Charles Atlas ad writ large. It doesn’t matter that we, the general public, know that the Right is being a bully, the fact that we see the Left wobbling around and not doing anything to get back lowers the Left in our collective esteem. The Left is doing nothing to help itself.

This last is supported by McCain’s rising numbers in the weeks before the conventions and in the week after the conventions as well. This is why McCain did not hesitate in bringing out Sarah Palin after being directly challenged by Obama during Obama’s speech; he didn’t want to wait a weekend to let America’s confidence in Obama settle and raise.

To go back to our hackneyed analogy, Rove was in the background yelling “sweep the leg,” in essence.

This is why it’s not enough for Obama to maintain the high road during this election. He’d keep the respect of the majority of the left, but the group of those in the center, the ones who are chanting “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT” in the political schoolyard would remain laughing, sneering and cheering on the bully.

The way to win over the center is not by solely catering to them, but by showing that not only could he sustain the blows the Right is throwing, he could land some damaging blows of his own, and when and if the opportunity arises, put the Right away for good.

Obama has shown us he is capable of doing it (not just in the DNC convention speech, but also this week during Operation: Maybelline), his campaign is promising a more proactive agenda for the weeks ahead. The very idea could be revolutionary. Let’s see.

Look for the Right to become even more desperate.

The Road Ahead for McCain/Palin

Part of the problematic immediate future for these guys is that they can't just go from safe media haven to safe media haven between now and the election.

Occasionally, they'll have to cross over into unknown territory, else they'll be branded as the campaign too afraid to get cross-examined. Thus Palin's appearance on ABC (Sean Hannity is next, so that should be an easier time for her); and McCain's appearance on The View.

I'm sure he was hoping for a fluff session, but that isn't what he got. (From HuffPo.)

That's not change, that's more of the same

While it was exquisitely painful watching Biden try and fail to get that line into a call-and-response cadence at the DNC, I think it sums up a successful tactic for Obama. Both McCain and Pailn have been touting themselves as agents of change without batting an eyelash at the irony of belonging to the party that actually set the conditions people want changed. Obama needs to reassert control over that rhetorical stance.

And I think this first ad does pretty well. He may take some hits from commentators on the Right who will do their false indignation thing and call this a mean-spirited attack on McCain's age, but I think the combination of images and message resonates, particular when it arrives on the button with McCain riding shotgun in Bush's golf cart.

Still, it is an attack ad, which I could do without from either side (but notice how I'm not holding my breath). I like this second ad even more - simple, straightforward, and a vision-builder. It had better be just one small piece of a strategy to come - I'll be disappointed if this is the last time I see an Obama ad with him looking into the camera and just telling us who he is. It plays to his strength.

Thanks to HuffPo for pointing both of these out this morning. I'm planning on a lot more ad analysis in coming days, finally putting my (and this is no lie) BS in Advertising degree (I arrived at college with math and science credits that pushed me into the Bachelor of Sciences category) to work.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Covered In Make Up

Just three items that came out on September 10th that were ignored during Operation: Maybelline.

Obama stoutly defends the Constitution.

Wasilla rape victims made to pay for DNA gathering kits.

Speech writer referenced known anti-Semite in Palin's RNC speech.

While all that was going on, the MSM and the noise machine played ping pong over a Rove-tactic that started like this:

"I have a fourth-grader and two second-graders at home," she said. "I would not teach them that this is sort of a high-minded debate on policy issues when they are calling people rotten old fish or a pig. In fact, it sounds a lot like some of the least intelligent debates on the playground sound like at our elementary school."

A reporter then reminded Swift that in December, McCain was asked about criticisms coming his way from then-opponent Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and McCain replied, "Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."

Was McCain calling Romney a pig? a reporter asked Swift.

Of course not, Swift said.

On the positive side, Obama was able to deliver this condemnation of the tactics, which created the piggyback virus that led to the wave of backlash at the McCain camp maneuvers. Even Bill O'Reilly jumped on that bandwagon, though he still managed to make it feel oily.

You have to admire the timing of it all. It was a desperate and despicable ploy that took care of the 48 hours leading up to the truce on September 11th.

Reports say that Obama has something up his sleeve for Friday, and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't curious as to what it would be.

Big Jerk

I watched a good bit of the "national service" forum with McCain and Obama tonight. When McCain was asked about the negative swipes at community organizers at his convention from his campaign he decided to, instead of disavow such insulting remarks, he decided to blame Obama for it instead. From the AP story:
McCain said the negativity that has infused the presidential race - on hiatus for one day in honor of the Sept. 11 anniversary - could have been avoided had Obama accepted his proposal for them to tour the country together doing town-hall meetings, a format in which McCain shines best.

"I think the tone of this whole campaign would have been very different,'' the GOP nominee said.

So what he is basically saying is that if Obama had agreed to let McCain set the rules for the campaign, then McCain wouldn't be out there calling him a sexist and a pervert who wants to teach your kindergartner how to have sex, and generally lying about every other aspect of Obama's life and career.

What a miserable old man.

The Fool's Quick Hits on The Barracuda

Just a few quick thoughts on the Palin interview.

Um, we can't second-guess Israel? I heard that three times. In a row. So, they have carte blanche and we have to help out in any brawl they start? Man, that's gonna be a little hard to swallow if they propose a "final solution" to the Palestinian problem.

Wow, something so specific as Charlie's question on the Bush Doctrine stumped her*. Obfuscating, empty answer, clearly not understanding the question. And then Charlie educates her a little bit. After which he has to ask her how many times to get a real answer?

Watch for this talking point in coming days - "We must not blink." Came up in her "answer" to Charlie's Bush Doctrine question and earlier to his initial question as to whether she had any doubts on accepting the candidacy. That's no coincidence.

* - Ironically, her first response to his question was to blink.

Palin Interview Tonight on ABC News

Salon's War Room just posted excerpts from the anticipated interview on their site. They note that it doesn't seem like Charles Gibson will be playing tee-ball with her. Just based on the excerpts, I still reserve judgement.

I get the impression, however, that someone has been heavily coached here. I'm sure you know who I mean.

Brokaw/"Middle" Supplemented

While discussing a particular dangerously duplicitous bit of "news coverage" from FOX News (regarding the recent US action in Azizabad that ended up killing a large number of innocent civilians), Salon's Glenn Greenwald ends by buttressing JJ's earlier entry on the matter:

Most striking of all is that the "issues" of least significance, of zero import, are the ones which receive the most attention in the "political debates" conducted by our media -- pigs and lipstick and bowling scores and lapel pins and windsurfing tights -- while the ones of greatest significance are virtually ignored. And that is highly unlikely to change between now and November. To know why, just compare these two statements -- first, from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis ("This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates") and this one from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (media will talk about "[w]hatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about"). When Tom Brokaw expresses concern about any of that, then his profound concerns over undignified journalism can be taken seriously.

My New Favorite Political Button

My friend Barb emailed this to me...

Wipe that lipstick off, mister!

Good for you, CBS and Katie Couric. McCain's "Pig in Lipstick" campaign ad - you know, the one that created a bullshitstorm of false indignation with the specious claim that Obama was calling Palin a pig when he used a common colloqialism - has been pulled from YouTube because of a copyright claim from CBS.

The Couric clip was an especially difficult-to-swallow part of that ad, as it implied in juxtaposition that Couric was criticizing Obama for his treatment of Palin, when the clip is from months ago during the Democratic primary.

And while the countdown clock to the first issues-oriented, substantive McCain ad continues to roll, the calling of bullshit must continue. At some point, I want to see McCain publicly called out, asked a direct question, about his campaign's advertising strategy.

MediaBistro - TV Newser: McCain Ad Featuring Katie Couric Removed From YouTube

The Most Annoying Day Of The Year

Another September 11th, another day when New York City gets overrun by a bunch of jingoistic ass holes.

I went down to the "ground zero" site two years ago for the fifth anniversary, about a month-and-a-half after my wife and I moved here. It was the most disgusting and offensive thing I have ever witnessed.

I wrote about it (part 1 & part 2) in my regular blog.

The whole area gets taken over by a bunch of people pushing their stupid reactionary political agenda. These are people that try to own the day for themselves, even though the majority of them are people who have no personal connection to the event. They lost no family or friends in the World Trade Center because they never knew anyone living in New York.

They are people that are here to push their xenophobic agenda.

These are people who claim to have an affinity to New York, because it was attacked by Arabs. The truth is, they are individuals who hate everything that this city stands for - from multiculturalism to gay rights - and would never have entered this Sodom & Gomorrah had the towers not been destroyed.

What should be a day of reminding ourselves to help one another has instead become a day of jingoism and trinket-selling.

And vehicles that looked like they got pooped on by an American flag and the NRA:

And people screaming at each other. The 9-11 conspiracy crowd likes to show up. Yet another group that gets misidentified by the media, who claim that they are extreme left-wingers. All you have to do is spend a few minutes talking to them and you find out they are right-wing religious nut jobs or libertarian types. The main leader of the movement is a Texan named Alex Jones who refers to Bush as a Trotskyite and even accuses neocon William Kristol of being a Communist. I talked to many of the conspiracy theory crowd that day and they all spoke like this.

So, sorry conservatives, but those nut jobs belong to you, not us.

I haven't gone down there on the anniversary since that one, it is just too annoying, seeing my city get co-opted like that.

Like I said, we have only lived here for a couple of years, but my love affair with this city started in 1991 when I came here for the first time during college. I fell in love with New York from the moment I first laid my eyes on it. For what it is, not what it symbolizes.

But I don't pretend that the events of September 11, 2001 had anything to do with me. None of my friends who were living here at the time got hurt or killed. I lost no one that day.

Neither did most of the people who have kidnapped 9/11 for their agenda.

The two candidates appeared together today in a show of unity and political ads were taken off the air.

Tomorrow, McCain's campaign will go right back to suggesting Obama is not patriotic and saying that he is a sexist elitist who wants to kill babies and teach our five-year-olds how to have sex.

National unity. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Open Discourse: How To Combat The Noise

Gonna open this up to my cohorts, and to anyone else out there who wants to throw their two cents in.

"I just got a call from a Californian that Oregon is in danger of swinging over to McCain/Pailin ticket (a scary thought)," writes one friend. "There is a point where people are just rationalizing what they want to believe. In those cases the facts rarely matter to them," explains another. B.E. Earl comments, "[u]nfortunately, [their] crap works..."

How things got to this point is pretty obvious; the Right has spent the last 20 years training their legion of pitbulls very well.

What do we do to combat it?

Personally, I subscribe to the "rattle the cage" stratagem. I am fond of replying to articles with articles, and occasionally being as specious as they are when making their arguments.

This is not discourse. Nor is it a winning formula for winning minds over. It simply brings me a small measure of satisfaction that in my own way, I've fought against the nonsense.

The thing is, this can't be applied to everybody. Let's face it, we live in a society that likes to avoid conflict, and either tunes out or ignores any sort of serious talk and talkers. What is done with the pent up aggravation? It is generally bottled and ignored, an action that lends itself to feelings of helplessness, doom and gloom, and not fighting back the nonsense.

So, okay, I'll open it up there for Deni and JJ and the rest of you: What do you do? What's your advice to others? What are your ideas?


I think overall Obama's response to the BS "lipstick on a pig" controversy was right one. Call it the silly game it is and say "enough!" And I think you always have to follow that with, "What I'm going to talk about instead is my policy on..."

When it is one-on-one, I tend to undercut and debunk, try not to let negative emotions in, and smirk just enough while doing it to rile them up. First on to ad hominim attacks loses, and I call them on that, too.

Oddly, I find Republican men are especially sensitive to being called "women."

- JJ

I'm not sure I know how to answer the question, or at least have a good answer. I do what I can to spread the truth about the BS that is being said, using links to sites like, Media Matters, Snopes, etc.

But most of the people in my world are going to be like-minded anyway and those that aren't, I call them family, are so set in their ideology that even when you prove something to them they still refuse to believe it.

My right-wing born-again brother is a perfect example. I'm sure he's a serious Palin-head, even though I haven't talked to him about it, because she is for things like pipelines, no taxes, creationism, guns and is anti-choice.

No matter how much you point out her lies and corruption, people like him won't believe it. People who can actually say with a straight face that the bible is the literal word of god are generally that way.

I'm willing to bet he has had no problem believing that Obama is a Muslim who attended a madrasa, though.

We really have to hope that there are less sheep out there than I think there are.

- Deni

You can't convert the sheep, neither from the stump nor in personal interaction. That's why I suggest having fun with them by baffling them with reason and then laughing and pointing at them when they get emotional and irrational.

But, you can energize your own sheep, and the Right is damn good at that. Helps that they take a simplistic moralistic rhetorical stance and actually discourage getting too deep in the issue - turns out their platform is very sheep-friendly.

That's why Obama has to deflect the nonsense and talk policy and vision to those who will actually waver. Kinda like baseball - the best teams lose 60 games, and the worst win 60, leaving 62 games to actually decide a season.

- JJ

"the worst win 60..." Not the M's this year.

Watched Letterman last night because Obama was on. The pundits and media are gonna talk about the softball questions and saying that O wasn't loose enough (I'll bet you $5), what I saw was Dave trying his best to sound serious, keeping things on point and Obama running, yes, but also shooting the shit.

Afterwards, I watched the first half hour of Ferguson, who'd decided to get his frustrations with the state of politics, the coverage and the voters off of his chest. Some great stuff.

He played it carefully, not going into full on rant mode, hitting targets on both sides of the race; but speaking honestly and trying to connect with people. The second segment he plugged registering to vote by filling out his form (Ferguson is a recently naturalized citizen).

I went to bed thinking that we've gotten so wound up in proving the other wrong, that we've allowed others to get discourse to that point, we've forgotten that the best way to circumvent it is to connect with others who aren't crazy, whether we agree on the issues or not.


GET (the fuck) OUT (of) THE VOTE!

Once again, already, we've got word of Republican efforts to suppress the vote. This from The Michigan Messenger (Michigan Messenger is an independently-produced political news daily featuring original and investigative reporting, which is part of the Center for Independent Media.):

"The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day."

Now, while I fully believe it is the job of Obama to start saying what the Democratic vision, what his vision, is, as opposed to what it is not, while I believe he has to focus on building his campaign's identity (because the quote below scares me with its 2004 Election resonance) over attacking the Republicans, it is absolutely our job, and his campaign underlings' job, to name the Republicans as they are, as they prove themselves to be through their actions, as opposed to what they claim to be.

It is anti-democracy to actively seek to disenfranchise anybody. Period. Our country was founded on principles of representation, African-Americans and women fought, literally, for their voting rights in struggles that shaped our history.

This is nothing new. The Republicans used this tactic in the last election, and they've already tried it elsewhere in this election. And it is, frankly, fucking bullshit. It isn't "Country First," it is Party Interests First. It is un-American. And no matter how many flag lapel pins you wear, no matter how many flags you paste on your SUV, it makes you a fucking traitor to the ideals of America.

You could see it in the Omega House frat party atmosphere of the RNC that the Republicans play politics like a nasty game, and rationalize tactics like this one, sure to most negatively impact sub-prime mortgage holders (read: the poor, or barely-middle class, and disproportionately of color), as gamesmanship, as excusable despite its nastiness as stealing a rival high school's mascot. Call bullshit, call it what it is: treason.

The Michigan Messenger: Lose your house, lose your vote


Scary Quote of the Day (so far):

I don't always agree with Thomas Friedman, but I respect his mind, and thus this observation, as I mention above, scare the shit out of me:

"Because, while the pollsters tell us it is still really close, my own totally unscientific, seat of the pants poll tells me this: When you say Obama’s name today and ask people for their first impression — a quick, flash, gut, first impression — no single word or phrase or policy comes to mind. His opponents will fill that vacuum if he doesn’t. They already are."

New York Times Op-Ed: From the Gut

Brokaw and the "Middle" Myth

So, apparently Tom Brokaw sees himself as heir to the Tim Russert legacy. In the aftermath of the Olbermann-Matthews demotions, while he denied being overly-involved (an MSNBC source claimed he had advocated hard against Olbermann and Matthews because he felt the objectivity of the network was at stake), he admitted how he felt. “I think Keith has gone too far,” said Mr. Brokaw. “I think Chris has gone too far.”

And certainly the tongue-wagging at MSNBC that led to the demotions wasn’t confined to Brokaw. An MSNBC source cited by the New York Observer said, “Every day-side anchor, every producer, everybody was told the word on high is that no more edge... Be especially careful not to inject any sort of opinion or ridicule or anything like that. Play it straight down the middle.”

There are two problem with this reasoning. The first is simple: why worry, when FoxNews would never bother with such dithering despite their obvious Right-bias. They would instead make the argument that their reporting is necessary in the face of the liberalness of the rest of the media (which ties directly into current Republican campaign rhetoric about the Liberal Elite Media).

And this segues into the other problem: one’s perception of the middle is a function of where one positions himself/herself and where he/she positions the opposition. It isn’t an objective line, across which the Right and Left are equidistant. As I pointed out in the anecdote that started this post, two people can judge the same media left or right of center depending less upon the media itself than where they sit.

Brokaw himself provides a perfect example of the flaws in the reasoning, an example of someone who positions himself as centrist and objective, and yet falls into the thrall of the Right.

FAIR issued an action alert after Brokaw said several times during the DNC that the Democrats had to “be careful” about attacking McCain’s service record. This after both Clintons had praised McCain’s service and sacrifice. FAIR asked an important question: “Nothing in Hillary or Bill Clinton's speeches suggested any criticism of McCain as a Vietnam veteran--in fact, they both praised his service to his country--so Brokaw presumably isn't referring to Swift Boat-style attacks on his military record, but to criticism of McCain in general. Exactly how “careful” does Brokaw believe Democrats must be in challenging their political opponent in a presidential election?”

Brokaw’s response was infuriating: “My comments came before Senator Clinton and President Clinton's speeches—and, in fact, they did finesse the issue. It is disappointing to see you try to make a piñata out of me to promote your website. Any fair reading of my remarks would support that conclusion.” First, it is just wrong given that one of the comments FAIR initially cited was in response to a question following Bill Clinton’s speech. But, further, he actually gets snippy and defensive (piñata? please.) when challenged on his own objectivity and centrism, when it is fairly argued that his comments set him to the right of someone else’s perceived center.

It’s about time we all challenge the notions of an objective center, the Right’s repeated calls for (false) parity and the mass media’s cowering aspect in the face of Republican challenges. The Right has no illusions about what they are doing – throwing a tow rope and hook on “center” and dragging it right. And it is time we demand that media stop trying to walk some imaginary centrist line and remember that democracy operates best, and the center becomes a real(er) place, when an aggregate of disparate voices is heard.

Kicking the perceived-leftists from anchor spots merely allows Right-leaning media, which accepts no mandate to maintain the center, to dictate the terms of the discourse. And when we are talking about corporate-owned media, that is the discourse of moneyed-interests and status quo.

And have you taken a look at our quo the last eight years? Because that is the menu, re-packaged as “change,” that the now-even-better-protected Republican ticket is serving up.

New York Observer: Hard Fall: What Happened to NBC?

FAIR: Brokaw Warns Dems to Lay Off McCain

FAIR: Brokaw responds to FAIR

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ad Work: "Education"

Let's start simply. Here's the latest batch of bullshit from the McCain campaign (being steered by Rove and his minions):

Needless to say, the Obama camp came out with a refutation tout d'suite.

Here's an ad that says nothing substantive, and is clearly designed to make you say "OMFG, sex ed for kindergartners?!?! Why that incorrigible liberal negro!"

Full of lies? Check; Obama's record has many achievements on the education front.

Misleading? Check; that "sex ed" business was actually an attempt to educate children to stay away from child predators.

In effect, McCain is now saying that we shouldn't teach children to protect themselves from those who seek to molest them. Aces. This bit of logic will be left alone by the staunchly liberal, sharp-eyed and tough journalists in our midst.

Okay, but get this, those quotes from the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and Education Week? All but one actually condemns McCain more harshly on the matter of education. No, really. Look! What's more, they even attribute a quote to the wrong paper.

After the dust settles, though, what message are we left with?

McCain/Palin: Endorsed by NAMBLA

Down Cycle

Ahhh, the slow news cycle…Generally a time where everyone is looking for someone to make a big mistake, and people like me simply hope it’s not the candidate we’re backing going into the election.

However, until the debates get here (first one is happening September 26th), there’s not a whole lot going on on the surface. The really interesting stuff takes place underneath.

For example, take the latest article from Glenn Greenwald. With two regular Salon readers on the writing team, you’re likely going to see his name a lot, and with ample reason: As a lawyer-specializing-in-civil-liberties-turned-advocacy-journalist, he’s one of the rare voices in the media jungle who has no problem pointing out discrepancies, legal and otherwise, in governmental actions and the media.

His criticisms are unerringly on point. The article linked above deals specifically with the role of journalists; what it should be, and what it has become during the Bush/Cheney administration. Greenwald contends that White House correspondence during the last eight years wasn’t critical, or questioning enough. That, in order to curry favor, and gain access to the political elite, they’ve just taken whatever was dished out by the Cheney/Rove press room, and disseminated it without question.

Naturally, the people painted by this accusation take umbrage with being called out. These journalists still believe that they are doing a public service, and even though they have repeatedly dropped the ball (starting with Clinton's pre-impeachment talking points, then the Swift-Boating of McCain and the smearing of Al Gore, through WMDs and Nigerian yellow cake and beyond), feel as if they’ve done their job as professionally as possible.

Personally, I’m grateful Greenwald is there lighting a fire under their asses. It isn’t enough for our fifth column to merely be competent at best. These people are supposed to be doing a public service, and that service isn’t served by people willing to bleat the party line handed to them.
Speaking of which, what in the world happened over at the Associated Press that portions of their coverage read like sample FOX News copy?
Down cycles also leave ample time to ponder inanities like “what would be a better catch-phrase to describe the Republicans than ‘More Of The Same?’”

Obama had “He Just Doesn’t Get It” during his convention speech, in describing John McCain, though, personally I find that to be lacking in oomph.

I think a cue should be taken from the Biden speech that’s posted below: McCain/Palin – Saying Nothing New
Not that there aren’t frivolities to be found on the surface. I mean, you could always review political ads.

Take for instance, Obama’s latest foray:

Not bad. Firm debunking of the spin the right’s coming out with, and, timing-wise, pretty fast on the heels of the original McCain/Palin ad claiming they were mavericks.

No teeth, though. I’m not saying I want foaming at the mouth rhetoric; just something more than this.

It may be that the Obama campaign is waiting for another mistake from the Reps, and goodness knows the likelihood is high of that very thing happening, but, that’s a reactionary game. Another possibility is that they’re waiting to put on the afterburners after the debates are over and there’s that month-long lull in the action before Election Night.

That sort of thing would be nice, if it is in the game plan. However, there’s nothing wrong with keeping the engine humming until that time, and keeping the Reps on their toes only increases the odds of their making an “I don’t know how many houses I own” type of mistake.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ignoring The Elephant In The Room

Watching the old cable television news tonight, I heard Rachel Maddow (finally a female host on cable news that's not a dumb bimbo) pose a question to a woman reporter from the L.A. Times. It was basically, why is this election so close if the polls are so much against Bush, the GOP and indicate that something like 85% of the people say this country is headed in the wrong direction?

The woman from the Times, whose name I have forgotten, gave a fairly long and nuanced answer, mostly about how divided this country is right now. At no point did she say the thing that is so damn obvious, and that no other member of the press wants to say either.


Look, I know that Obama's campaign can't say it, they would be accused of "playing the race card" and the Republicans would be able demonize him just like they've been doing it to black people for years with their "southern strategy" (that works in more places than just the south).

(Though this does not stop the McCain-Palin campaign from screaming sexism where none exists)

But come on, why does the mainstream media insist on pretending like it is not there? Who are they afraid of pissing off?

I firmly believe, and I could be wrong but there is no way of proving it either way, that if you put Barack Obama in the body of a white man (like the old Eddie Murphy "Mr. White" sketch) and keep every single thing abut him the same (well, turn his wife and kids white too) he would be polling about twenty points ahead of McCain and could probably win 45 states.*

We will never move forward in this country on the issue of racism by refusing to acknowledge its existence.**

*Maybe not prove, but one strong piece of evidence is how McCain had been getting his butt kicked in the polls all summer by "generic Democrat."

**This is the real issue, not the wrongly-used "issue of race" or "race problem" phrases that get tossed around. Race is not the problem, racism is. Replacing the word racism with the word race is just as ignorant and wrong as saying "terror" instead of "terrorism."



I swore to myself that I'd only speak to Sarah Palin's record and possible policy ideals whenever I had something to say about her; instead of going superficial and going after her family or whatever.

Kind of hard to do, however, when all I am being given by them is...well...her family. The same family they complain that everyone is too busy focusing on.

So, would it be superficial of me to comment on the cover to the latest US Weekly? If I were to posit that the possible caption to said picture is either "Lookit What I Did!!!" or "Special Child or Turkey: My Smile Remains The Same", in an attempt to sarcastically point out that she's exploiting that kid for political gain?

Yeah. Yeah, it probably would.

What to do, what to do?

Oh, I know! How about Joe Biden spinning that narrative JJ and I have been clamoring for?

(hat tip to the boys at BTAP; a favorite site of mine for some time.)

Here We Go Again...

There is a little piece of news that is still not getting the coverage it deserves. There is an attempt to suppress voting among college students going on in in Virginia.

The county registrar in the part of the state where Virginia Tech is located sent out a couple of releases with completely false information in an attempt to scare college students from registering in the county, or to cancel a recent registration. This is after a voter registration drive by the Obama campaign signed up thousands of VT students.

This is such a blatant attempt to suppress the vote of a demographic that is polling heavily in Barack Obama's favor in a state that he is going to be very competitive in.

Among the outright lies the county registrar put in this release:

If students register under their college address their parents could lose the right to claim them as dependents on their taxes.

They might be kicked off their parents health or car insurance.

They could lose scholarships.

Just as in 2000 and 2004, the GOP will lie, cheat and steal to win this election.

What's really sad is that this should be front page news in every newspaper in America, as any effort to disenfranchise voters should be, but in the supposedly "liberal" New York Times it was only on page A14.

The press should be ashamed of themselves for not making this bigger news.

Blood Pressure Rising

I wrapped my weekend round-up entry with the following:

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 said this partially as a reminder to myself not to get so caught up in the bullshit spin cycle that I start to lose hope, as it were.

I bring it up again because when the first thing you see on a Monday morning is that not only was McCain's bounce pretty big, but that: is interesting to note the enthusiasm the choice of Sarah Palin has brought to the Republican ticket...the poll also shows that Palin's speech in St. Paul, Minn., overshadowed McCain's. Forty-two percent of respondents rated Palin's address as "excellent...", one starts to get a little deflated.

Can you blame me for being a little paranoid about the US populace when it seems to get excited about voting in another science-ignoring, power-abusing, half-ass-planning, reform-promise-failing Republican into the White House?

No, I don't think you can.

That said, it's still too early to say that these numbers are meaningful...I'm just not gonna relax, is all.

Giving further proof to the lie about the MSM having a liberal bias, Glenn Greenwald reports that MSNBC is caving in to Right wing demands/whingeing by removing Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann from the anchor spot during their news.

Nevermind that the Right has an entire channel dedicated to spewing their vileness; nevermind that they have an operative in every news organization in existence; nevermind that a news organization shouldn't be kowtowing to anyone. Apparently, Olbermann pointing out that graphic footage of 9/11/01 being aired just before the Reps roll out McCain might be just a teensy bit exploitative is too tough for the extremely sensitive skinned little mama's boys on the Right. Oh, and Rachel Maddow is also too mean. (My fantasies take Maddow over Palin in a heartbeat, for the record.)

I don't know about you, but I'm writing a letter. I don't care if MSNBC has hidden the email address to the head cheese over there, I'm fuggin' blowing my top and sending it to:

Dear god, people.

Finally, I'm seeing a lot of rational discourse on these issues, but no narrative-spinning from the top. Let's get to it, folks.

Botched Idea

I was going to start my next entry with an analogy to inspire the left to start rallying 'round. I was planning on comparing the Democratic campaign to the opening sequence of The Warriors, where the charismatic and widely respected gang leader (Obama, natch) speaks to all the gangs in NYC (the Left, in this instance) and points out that separately, they run their turf and that's it; but if they forgot about territory and joined together, they would outnumber the cops (the Right) and run NYC (the government).

Then I remembered that a)the dude is a drug lord, and b)he gets assassinated, and yeah, that's not what I want to be associating with Obama.

Would it kill him to say "Can you dig it?" every once in a while, though?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I... I just can't talk right now

During the last presidential election, a family member I'd rather not call out was helping me out by babysitting the kidlet for a couple hours. It was the wife's first work trip since I took over childcare, and my first multi-day swing flying solo, so my nerves were understandably thin.

When I came back home after a few glorious hours of freedom, the babysitter informed me she had turned away a Kerry canvasser earlier, indicating no interest in funding his ads.

I tried to find a middle ground to send the babysitter away gracefully, muttering something about "Yeah, I wish they'd all just stop with negative ads, especially third parties like these Swift Boat wackos."

(Y'see, I was naive enough to believe a Republican could clearly SEE the hypocrisy of supporting Bush, who AT BEST was a barely adequate Guardsman, by attacking Kerry's ACTUAL REAL SERVICE record.)

But the babysitter expressed support and interest in what the Swift Boaters had to say, to which I expressed outrage (thin nerves, recall), as they had been pretty seriously undercut pretty much everywhere.

"Oh, yeah, well, where?" the babysitter asked.

"Everywhere!" I (I'll be honest here) squawked. "CNN, MSNBC, the networks...!"

"Well," the babysitter said, "those are all pretty liberal."

I stopped dead, dumbstruck, like I had just been solidly smacked across the snout with a rolled-up newspaper. Because, here I was a progressive that saw these media outlets all, everyone on that short list and so many more, in the pocket of corporate interests and cowed by the administration.

Um, did I say cowed? Those droopy-eyed mutts lapped up whatever bullshit line they were fed and fell on their backs asking for belly rubs. Ooh, nickname me next, Mr. President!

And yet here was the babysitter, proclaiming them liberal shills not to be trusted.

The Right has spun this narrative of the "liberal media" for years. And it's fucking nonsense. Conglomerate-run corporate mass media? Liberal? Please. Doesn't Rupert fucking Murdoch own half of it?

Does such a thing as progressive media exist? Yes. Of course. You can easily find the people that work for such outlets by following the smell of mace. But this monster of the "liberal media" is a myth cut from whole cloth, in which the Right casts all dissent as coming from fey intellectuals with a grudge against business and The God-Blessed America TM. (It's just one small part of the way the Right has so sufficiently shat upon the word "liberal" that even I don't want it attached to me, usually choosing "progressive" and feeling a bit shamed for being pushed to it.)

And now they're dragging it out again to justify keeping Palin away from reporters, at least for a "few more days."

So we get this vintage bullshit from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis:

"Why would we want to throw Sarah Palin into a cycle of piranhas called the news media that have nothing better to ask questions about than her personal life and her children?" he asked.

"So until at which point in time we feel like the news media is going to treat her with some level of respect and deference, I think it would be foolhardy to put her out into that kind of environment."

Are you kidding me? A "cycle of piranhas" would have been asking the administration every single fucking day for the last six years, "So, any WMD yet? Any proof of that al Qaeda-Iraq connection? Anything? Any good reason yet for American blood and tax dollars disappearing into the desert? Anything? Beuhler?"

Pirahnas? Wait, isn't she a barracuda? That's not a fair fight?

How about this? For however long you won't let reporters talk to Palin, don't say shit about Biden. Nothing. Forget his name.

Either that, or let her talk. Because the truth is, she took the gloves off in her speech. If nothing else, the big "fuck you" she gave community organizing, which far beyond being just crucial to the survival of democracy was in fact that within which the democracy in which we currently live was born (the Tea Party wasn't an Executive Order), was a call to bring it.

Hey, Palin! May I call you Sarah? No? Ms. Madame Governor Pitbull it is. Listen, you got the chance to take your shots, you got the big hurrahs, but was that all just WWE bullshit, or are you going to come out and take some questions without whining about the big, mean, liberal pirahnas?

Oh, and listen, just parent-to-parent? You don't want questions about your family? Stop identifying yourself so centrally as a MOM! I mention that I'm a dad to anybody, the dumbass at the bus stop or the cute barista I'm trying to stop flirting with, I expect them to ask about my kid. That's the way it works. Hell, identifying yourself as anything is a social request to be asked about that thing. That's why spies never say, "I'm a hockey spy!"

Don't let them get away with this fairy tale about the liberal media anymore. Somebody wants to be in a position of power like this? Find a way to talk to the people. Your asking to work for us. Sit down for the interview.

And enough with all the short skirts and coy winking, you minx. That ain't gonna fly with this daddy. Hey, can I tell you all about my kid?

Reuters: Palin to meet media in a "few days" says McCain

Die Harry & Louise! Die!

So Harry and Louise are back. You remember them, right? They were the 40ish middle class couple in the ads made by the insurance industry that bashed the Clinton health care plan, scaring every dumb American they could with their lies about government health care plans run by bureaucratic bogeymen high costs and no choice.

Though not really a married couple, Harry and Louise are the actors' real names.

Now they are in their 60s and making a new set of commercials that started airing during the conventions. In the new ones, they sit around their kitchen table yet again, but now they are bemoaning the lack of affordable health care in America. By the end of the commercial they are saying that the government needs to do something about it.

Well screw you Harry and Louise. You were a part of the propaganda campaign that ruined any chance we had at a national health care plan in this country (imperfect as it was, but it was an attempt) for the last 15 years.

The idea that these two actors have the stones to appear in the new ads saying that now our government needs to do something about health insurance is sickening. What tools.

And if you watch the making of video, you can see them talk about themselves as a couple of humanitarians who are trying to make a difference, instead of the actor-whores they are.

No actors have ever been more deserving of being beaten with a stick. Except for Ashton Kutcher.