Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate Post Script

The debate format is essentially a new one (based on the West Wing live debate, meaning the debate committee is taking its cues from Aaron Sorkin. There will be snakes in the audience during the VP debate); one that is supposed to encourage the candidates to directly address each other over the points. Could be dramatic, could be cathartic, but you'd need two candidates able to a) look at each other, b) trust their knowledge of their talking points (as opposed to a script) and c) I don't know, not be someone volatile enough to lose it in front of a televised audience.

I like the idea behind the format, 4 minutes split between the candidates and 5 minutes of direct address; but enforcing it in reality tends to skew towards "who was the smoovest out there." Not exactly my cuppa.

Browsing through what the nattering nabob class is talking about, the results come back overwhelmingly pro-Obama, if a little too similar sounding. Check out the HuffPo for a decent sampling.

Except for one thing: Say what you will about us here at SEI, we are not Nora Ephron, at least.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Live-Blogging the Debate

Let's give a shot.

T-minus one minute. Where's my drink?

Oh, right, water. Woo! Friday night.



I'm here, though we've already paused the DVR because my wife has to run and pass off the on-call pager to a colleague.

I'm watching on MSNBC. Has anyone been watching Chris Matthews lately? He usually licks McCain's ass all the time, but he has been absolutely brutal towards him the last few days.



I'm watching on PBS.

Is it just me, or is Lehrer trying to start a catfight?

"Say it to him! Say it directly to him!"

He's a little hands-on early.



Yea, that was weird.

So far Obama sounds strong and direct. McCain seems to be rambling.




Very talking-point, sound-bite directed. Starts at one talking point, gets lost, finds another. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Agree Obama sounds good, getting to the specifics, and avoiding the quibbling Lehrer so seems to want.

Ooh, BO, nice move with the health care credit story. Walkin' the wha? McCain already getting folksy about his bad old days in Congress, bringing out the war stories.




Yes! He pointed out McCain's tax on health care.




Spending freeze? Did he even surprise himself when he said that?


I am so sick of rebubs selling nuclear power as "environmentally friendly"

Where's TBO




In a packed bar trying to find elbow room.

Did that sumbitch just bold-faced defend the war? Obama doing well in response - curious to see how this exchange plays out.



Obama's scoring points with the bar faithful.

Just got a cheer for pointing out that Ahdmenijad isn't the most powerful person in Iran, and the tea remark.


Bailout Thursday In Review

As you're likely aware by now, McCain has “lifted the [non-existent] suspension” of his campaign, and will actually show up at the debates this evening. In other not surprising news, his campaign used the debate announcement to blame the Democrats and Obama for standing in the way of progress.

The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was apparent during the White House meeting yesterday where Barack Obama's priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands. John McCain listened to all sides so he could help focus the debate on finding a bipartisan resolution that is in the interest of taxpayers and homeowners.

This message will definitely appeal to the party faithful, naturally. But for those who decide to pay attention to independent sources (or at least sources not directly in the pocket of the Right), that message contradicts a growing number of opposing narratives.

Nearly everything encapsulating yesterday’s events makes a point to mention that the deal being worked on yesterday morning was part of a bipartisan attempt to make the White House’s proposal more acceptable to both parties. The Swampland, Time Magazine’s blog, condenses the McCain/House Republicans’ actions at the White House meeting into three points:

1. The House Republicans blow up a rare, and necessary, moment of true bipartisanship to make it look like McCain, who has no expertise in this area, has come to the rescue.
2. McCain sits mute in the White House summit arranged for his benefit. He doesn't even ask Paulson what he thinks of the House Republican plan.
3. He refuses to take a stand, one way or another, on the Republican plan.

It’s fascinating really. The number of evocative and infuriating scenes coming out of yesterday’s mayhem is pretty astonishing. The New York Times’ account is filled with these moments, the most affecting of these would have to be this exchange between the Henry Paulson and Nancy Pelosi:

...according to The A.P.Thursday, in the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

This same story also features a pretty damning quote from one of the Republican aides present during the meeting (emphasis mine):

The aide, Kevin Smith, said Republicans revolted, in part, because they were chafing at what they saw as an attempt by Democrats to jam through an agreement on the bailout early Thursday and deny Mr. McCain an opportunity to participate in the agreement.

One has to wonder why, if he was so keen to participate, during the time the meeting hammering out the agreement was taking place, McCain could be found talking with the House Minority Whip and campaign advisors. Was he waiting for an invite? If you’re talking about bipartisanship, why not behave in a manner that actually promotes bipartisanship?

Of course, that’s looking for reason from a man behaving erratically; and now he’s paying the price for that irrationality. For one thing, his increasingly displeased base is openly taking cracks at both him and his candidate; the latter evidenced by this OpEd piece from the starchly conservative National Review. Further, leaks are starting to spring that the VP candidate is underwhelming campaign operatives.

Also, White House staff are calling the whole 48 hour maneuver a PR failure, which, combined with Wamu’s collapse, could lead to the opposition’s backing away from any further ruckus. In fact, with White House officials and House Republicans now in open battle with each other, the party couldn’t look more disheveled if it tried.

Lastly, all of the frantic running around makes McCain look pathetic, divorced from reality and extremely desparate; making people afraid of the possibility of what a McCain/Palin administration could bring and leading people to the kind of judgment best expressed today on The New Republic’s blog, The Plank:

Whether because of age or overreaching ambition, McCain has become the kind of man he earlier railed against. He has become the Bush of 2000 against whom he campaigned or the Senate and House Republicans whom he despised. His defeat is now imperative.

With less than 40 days remaining in the race, and as more people finally start paying attention starting with tonight’s debates, it’s important that these events get openly discussed, instead of letting the Right go unchallenged in narrative spinning.

Live Blog Experiment

Currently checking in with the hamsters that power this blog and seeing if it would be possible to live-blog during the debate. Keep fingers crossed and check back in to see if we're actually succeeding...

Racism/Rhetoric Update

Glenn Greenwald points out other examples of veiled racism seeping into the Right's commentary over the economic collapse.

Poll Questions For Our Readers

So McCain has announced he will come to the debate, like anyone actually believed it was anything other than political grandstanding to begin with.

The order of topics in the three debates was decided about a week ago, or so. Both Obama and McCain preferred the first one be about foreign policy. Obama wants to prove his chops on something that many Americans for some reason believe him to be weak on, and McCain has delusions of grander about how awesome he is at it. Personally, I can't see how anyone could trust a guy who thought we should have done more bombing of civilians to win the Vietnam war over someone who thinks that maybe a war should be a last resort instead of a first option. But I guess that's just me.

Anyway, I'm curious what people think about the choice of topics tonight. So here are my questions:

Do you think, based on what is going on right now, that they should have moved up the economy debate to tonight, instead of saving it for the final debate?

Or, do you think it is the right decision not to go with that topic during a time when there is a lot of rhetoric and bombastic posturing from politicians in both parties?

Comments please. What do you think and why?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Now It's Personal

OK, maybe it's not really that big of an impact on me. But it is kind of eerie to be watching TV and see someone announce breaking news that the bank where I have my checking account and a credit card has collapsed and been seized by the federal regulators.

I imagine, with so many Seattle people reading (and writing) this blog, and that Wamu was the biggest bank in the country, I'm not the only one here who finds this a little unsettling.

I do tend to believe that right now my money and credit are safe, the creation of the FDIC after the Great Depression (thank god for one regulation not being struck down by Phil Gramm) is exactly for this things like this. And JP Morgan Chase has snatched the assets right up, they are saying that there won't even be a service disruption and branches will be open as normal tomorrow.

But still, is it possible that we may actually see something like a run on the banks, something that our whole lives has lived in the realm of our grandparents stories?

The ramifications of the current situation are becoming mind-boggling.

Thursday's You Tube-ery

These clips come courtesy of 1 Boring Old Man.

First up, Rep. Marcy Kaptur compares the bailout to a game show and explains the rules involved.

Next, just in case you haven't seen it already, here are some excerpts from last night's David Letterman. Sadly, this is only a small sampling of what was on display, as Dave went on a tear regarding the cancellation. I'm particularly fond of how Dave made frequent stand in guest Keith Olbermann laugh like Ed McMahon for a second there.

A Question For JJ

So, what happens after a week of thinking they weigh 175 pounds, your theoretical person gets back on the scale and finds that it reads 190 pounds?

I ask because the same National Enquirer team that exposed Rush Limbaugh's painkiller addiction along with John Edwards' affair are now officially alleging that Sarah Palin had an affair with husband Todd's former business partner.

With a number of sources and a sworn affidavit, it isn't exactly a frivolous allegation either.

Economic Bailout Bill Updates

[This entry will be updated regularly as items come in.--TBO]

Here's McCain speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative:

"I cannot carry on a campaign as though this dangerous situation had not occurred, or as though a solution were at hand, which it clearly is not..."

And here's what happened earlier today:

A McCain spokesman tells Salon the Republican nominee was in Washington before the deal was announced, and that he attended meetings on the bailout. But it appears that McCain wasn't in on the meeting that mattered, the closed-door session that ended with an agreement. Instead, McCain was in House Minority Leader John Boehner's office with Sens. Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman.

Sounds like the negotiators were able to do all of this without Johnny Mac's fingers in the pie; as the Politico's Jonathan Martin points out, "it's increasingly implausible to think that what [McCain is] doing is anything different than [what] he'd be doing on the campaign trail, except he's in person now instead of on his cell phone."

12:47p PDT - Spoke too soon.

Seems like the Republicans in the House of Representatives are still "not on board." Rep. John Boehner, who was speaking with McCain at the time the earlier agreement had been reached, comes out saying that he hadn't agreed to anything yet.

Too early to tell just how much gamesmanship is happening here, but if a deal isn't struck by the end of today, or if all McCain does is get his party to support W's outlandish proposal but not the Democrats' conditions, just what exactly is his ploy proving?

1:00p PDT - The big bipartisan meeting gets underway at 1:15p PDT, and there's been some brouhaha over who gets to be in attendance.

1:13p PDT - Two items:

- For those who are interested, here are the details of the agreement reached earlier today.

- Regardless of the outcome of today's finagling, tomorrow, come debate time there will be "a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate." Obama is prepared to turn the failed debate into an informal town hall session with Mississippi voters and televised on national TV.

Something tells me Rep. Barney Frank's having a good time needling the Republicans.

House Financial Services chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the agreement should calm the markets, and noted, "Some of us have been invited to the White House to try and break a deadlock, and I'm glad that well be able to go and tell them that there isn't that much of a deadlock to break." He paused and added, "But I'm always glad to get to go to the White House."


Reportedly, McCain showed up with alternative proposals for the bailout, apparently trying to start the negotiating process all over again instead of tweaking a proposal that Senate Democrats and Republicans said they had reached an agreement over this morning.

Boy, I'm sure glad McCain decided to suspend* his campaign in order to take care of this economic mess, aren't you? Salon War Room correspondent Mike Madden has more, but the link-averse shouldn't be denied this little editorial fillip:

Now Republicans seem to be getting ready to blame Democrats -- and by extension, Obama -- if they don't go along with the new scheme. Which would be a pretty nifty flip, given that the White House and Senate Republicans were ready to go along with changes pushed by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, until this afternoon; instead of being the problem, the House GOP will try to set itself up as the solution.

*And by "suspend" I mean "not suspend at all." --TBO

Twenty four hours after the alleged "suspension" began, one is left with the following question: How does appearing on all of the major networks' news programs not count as campaigning?

At day's end, it is perhaps best that you just simply read this account of the day's proceedings. And maybe this one, or this one.

Racism in the rhetoric?

I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here, making commentary on a radio segment I heard yesterday, but for which I can find no audio clip or transcript. I usually like to have alll of my ducks in a row, don't want to give someone on the other side of the political divide the opportunity to call bullshit.

And, given that my lilywhite ass is going to be talking about perceived racism, I'm walking shaky ground.

The segment in question aired yesterday on NPR's Day to Day and discussed the proposed financial bailout. One of the guests was Minnesota Rep Michele Bachmann (R).

The portion of her comments that pricked up my ears was about help for struggling homeowners - if we're bailing out the companies that marketed bad loans, why aren't we also helping those individuals stuck under the same bad loans?

Bachmann, and I'm paraphrasing as fairly as I can here without a transcript, responded that she wanted not one bit of public money to enrich a private individual. She said that we shouldn't be bailing out people who borrowed beyond their means, who want to keep their home but have no intention of honoring their debts. She blamed the crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, saying that we had a hundred years of stable lending practices undone by what she called, and on this phrase, used more than once, I am absolutely clear, "social engineering."

Now, given the timing of the end of what she called stable lending practices (not terrible long after the Civil Rights movement), given her throwing around of the phrase "social engineering," given that the CRA was designed to ensure available credit (not the predatory lending we have seen) to underserved (and therefore, especially given its timing, disproportionately minority) communities, am I really the only one that reads Bachmann's rhetoric as "everything was fine until we started giving those lazy, greedy darkies home loans"?

It was some damned charged rhetoric she was throwing around, and she isn't the only one. To my mind, the subtext is pretty clear. I was disappointed that she wasn't pressed more on this. The MSM too often lets slide this kind of blatantly institutionalized racist talk because it is safely couched in terms the speaker can defend as innocuous.

I'm curious to see how much more of this kind of talk will be slung around, and whether anyone will stand up to it. Unfortunately, my hopes and my predictions in this case are not aligned.


EDIT: Forgive the mistake, but the NPR show in question was actually To the Point. I will edit further with audio links or transcripts soon.
First of all, and to quote David Letterman, the set up stinks.

After spending a couple of weeks going from "the fundamentals are strong" to "the economy is in the worst shape it's ever been"; from "we have to deregulate more" to "we should put some regulations in there"; from "the bailout is the only way to save the economy" to "I haven't even read the 3-page summary of the bailout"; from "no one in my campaign has had any dealings recently with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae" to "The New York Times is a pro-Obama, liberal-biased rag hiding behind journalism for finding out that Freddie Mac was paying a lobbying firm created by Rick Davis, my campaign manager, $15k/mo for seemingly no work in return, and then printing about it." It should be noted that, as of Thursday, Davis remained as both campaign manager AND as an officer at the lobbying firm.

Despite loud protestations regarding his ability to handle an economic crisis, no one was buying, his numbers were slipping and the situation on Wall Street worsened.

Wednesday morning, the Obama campaign reaches out to McCain's, offering a chance to jointly come out with a statement laying out the conditions to which they'd both agree to a bill that would address the economic breakdown. It would be a show of bipartisanship from the two candidates a little under 72 hours from their first debate.

Radio silence from McCain.

Then he drops the suspension-of-campaign bomb, then publicly asking Obama to do the same without even mentioning it to Obama as an option first. He cancels campaign appearances, even a high-profile softball guest spot on Letterman last night. The crisis was too important, you see, no time for such frivolities. McCain is later spotted taping an interview with Katie Couric at the CBS News HQ in New York, right around the time he'd've been on Letterman.

In the midst of all this he's saying he's not showing up for the debates, and to top that off, maybe they should cancel postpone the Veep debates too.

Meanwhile, down in DC, where they have people capable of both addressing the current meltdown AND get input/feedback from the presidential candidates from afar, the majority party of both arms of the Legislature have hammered out an agreement of what they think should be on the $700 billion bailout bill, and are ready to present it to the Republicans Thursday morning.

Surely the Republicans have people with the ken it takes to negotiate from there...What exactly does McCain intend to add to the proceedings?

"All of sudden, now that we are on the verge of making a deal, John McCain here drops himself in to help us make a deal," [Rep. Barney] Frank (D-Mass) said.

He expressed fear that McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona who has spent much of the year away from the Capitol campaigning, could end up slowing down work on the bill.

Frank is not alone in that fear; Senator Harry Reid agrees. Sure, both Frank and Reid are Democrats, and could be playing partisan games, you still have to wonder if they don't have a point.

No, sorry, just like "lipstick = Palin," this won't wash. Sorry, Senator McCain.

May I suggest a nap before you go back to your debate preparations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain's New Smoke Grenade (For Once It's Not "I Was A POW")

I'm watching cable news right now and it just came in as "breaking news" that McCain has announced he's suspending his campaign tomorrow morning to go to Washington to "deal with" the financial crisis.

He made some sort of mamby-pamby remark about how after 9/11 that politicians all came together with no politics to deal with the emergency. He says we should be doing that during this emergency. I'm pretty sure he used the word patriotism at least once.

That they did that 7 years ago is complete bullshit, the GOP made 9/11 political from the very first second, and this is just a political ploy by McCain as he knows he needs to look like he knows something about dealing with the economy, because nobody believes he does.

He's also calling for postponing the first debate on Friday.

The Republicans sure do love to suspend democracy in times of crises. As for suspending politics? Do you believe for a minute that the McCain surrogates stop slamming Obama during this "suspension?"

Does anyone else think that this is more about John McCain's debate prep not going very well?

TBO's Update: Naturally, Obama's not taking the bait, and uses the opportunity to raise the stakes:

"Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time," he said, "it is not necessary for us to think we can do only one thing and suspend everything else."

Why fact-checking Palin doesn't work

Let's say that you've been dieting, working out, trying to drop a few pounds. Perhaps 175lbs is your target weight. You step on the scale one morning and it reads 175lbs. Great! You step off the scale and go about your day.

But, what if the scale had read 177lbs? What does the average person do then? What would you likely do? Step off the scale, let it reset, and then step back on, weighing again. And, as you do get some variance from the everyday bathroom scale, it might very well now read 175lbs, in which case you go about your day happy, or it might read something else, in which case, step up again.

This is an aspect of attributional bias - a cognitive bias that affects the way we see causality and judge effects. We tend to stop questioning once we arrive at the answer for which we were looking.

And this is why fact-checking Palin won't, for a vast majority of her supporters, make any difference. Yes, even as egregious as her bumbling, dissembling public comments are.

Because the genius of the Palin pick for the McCain campaign wasn't her experience, because she has none, but how comfortably she fit into a narrative niche that the Right had ready and waiting. They were ready for a tough, maverick social conservative who also looks great in a skirt, lives up to her womanly duties and won't talk down to them.

There are those who can be swayed. My mother was in town recently, declaring herself a former McCain supporter but now undecided, and this shift was due mainly to discoveries about Palin's beliefs, particularly her stand against abortion in every situation, even incest, rape or the health of the mother (she supports abortion in the latter only in the case of imminent danger to the mother's life).

But the rest? Those still, today, supporting her despite the revelations since her nomination probably can't be moved. Their logic, their narrative is hard-wired. They will find a way around every Palin-trocity sent their way, they will keep stepping on that scale until they see the weight they want.

There was an example I used to use with my composition students, taken, as was my wont, from a book more pop-culture than lit. In Jurassic Park, the mathematician Ian Malcolm repeatedly stresses to the dino-keepers that, despite their best efforts, life will find a way to push forward. They respond that their computer monitoring system, which counts the dinosaurs every day, prevents this; they check on their dinosaurs every day. But, as Macolm points out, the system stops counting when it reached the expected number of dinosaurs. Malcolm asks them to take that restriction off, to allow the system to count beyond the expected number. And, lo and behold, many, many more dinosaurs than expected show up. They've got a big problem.

I used to tell my students after this story, "Keep asking questions, or your going to leave a bunch of dinosaurs running around." But, as satisfying as I find wrangling Palin's rampaging dinos, her supporters don't care. They are done asking questions. They've reached their precise number of dinosaurs and weigh 175lbs on the button.

Frankly, they wouldn't recognize a T-rex if it bit them on the ass.

Salon: The fungible candidate

And, just for fun: The Sarah Palin Digest

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


What does it say about a campaign when they're willing to invent a portion of their own grassroots movement out of whole cloth?

This is the first I've ever heard of such a thing, but I'm not willing to rule out the possibility that this is common practice in the political realm. As it stands, however, this looks deplorable, unseemly and entirely cynical.

Tuesday In The Tank With Hank

Bruno and The Professor's Matski was probably goofing when he announced the caption contest for this picture:

I say take him up on it: Go here to submit your entry.

The Hottentots Arrive For McCain/Palin

To be perfectly honest, since the economy started dominating the political talk, the Right’s attempts at addressing it have been more than absolutely ludicrous, barely worth mentioning; except, of course, as a means of showing just how outrageous and duplicitous their stance is. Tom Tomorrow’s weekly comic This Modern World nails the particulars, as usual; and BATP's Matski should be lauded for pointing that neoconservative W has now found himself introducing fiscal socialism to the realm of how government deals with the private sector. Amazing.

What has been interesting about all of this folderol, is how the Right has used this fiasco as a means of distancing themselves from their various stances, most notably the notion they’ve actively scorched the earth in supporting: The unlimited/unchecked power of the Executive Branch above the Legislative and Judicial branches of government. Glenn Greenwald does a stellar job of spelling it all out.

Meanwhile, Senator McCain continues to exhibit just how deaf an ear he has for the majority of domestic issues, which Obama has done a great job of hammering away at. Take this ad, for example:

Being pro-deregulation not enough of an indictment? Okay, what about McCain’s statement in Detroit that he’s been buying American automobiles for the entirety of his life? Guess what? Another lie. Maybe McCain is inadvertently proving that he has no idea what the internet is all about, otherwise why would he lie so blatantly about something that will be fact-checked and distributed nationally within a matter of seconds?

Again Obama has not hesitated in taking a jab when the opening presented itself. Considering how impossibly close the race is right now, it is important that Obama’s campaign take up these matters themselves, instead of letting the media do all of the work. If they don’t, then the media will ignore it instead of actually doing their job of doggedly reporting the facts to the people. (More on the media in a separate entry.)

Where is La Palin, other than being interviewed by Right wing shills? Being protected from any outside intrusion, almost to the point of detriment. The campaign seems perfectly willing to let her be painted however the media wants, and the picture isn’t pretty. From David Talbot’s borderline series of slam after slam (today’s piece, which thankfully uses no anonymous sources, merely describes her as a political Mean Girl who parasitically climbs up the career ladder by exploiting the “old boys’ network” and then usurping the carcass of whoever she’s latched onto), to the Politico’s revelation that out of the 578 days (19 months, or 397 workdays) Ms. Palin served as Alaska’s governor, she was actually present for 85 of those days...Palin will soon only appeal to the Republican base and that’s it.

All of this still doesn’t really address the state of full-on higgledy-piggledy that marks the McCain/Palin campaign heading into the first Presidential debate, not that heartland voters are noticing. Maybe they will be taking notice soon: Traditional and respected conservative voice George Will came out with an editorial comparing McCain to Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts. When you’ve been abandoned or harshly criticized by your own party this many times, one probably starts to get twitchy.

This twitchiness can only be amplified when his foreign policy credentials come into question this week during the debate. Here’s something else Obama should be hammering away on: The neocon strategy of focusing on the Middle East to the exclusion of everything else, along with McCain's own hard-line posturing over Georgia, has led to Russia's becoming a player once again in the Latin American theater.

Lies from/of the Liberal Press

The whole Liberal Media nonsense? It's purely a gut thing. It ties into and co-justifies the other narratives that people who use that label believe. It is true because it feels true to them, and, as with all cases of faith, they aren't going to let rational analysis get in the way.

Let's just imagine it's true, that the media is made up of nothing but Card-Carrying, Bleeding-Heart, Secular-Humanist Liberal Elite. Would not Obama be their man? Would they not take every chance to cast him in the best possible light? Perhaps even to the point of distorting truths in his favor?

And yet, the Liberal Media insist on complicity in distorting Obama's tax plan. Again. Already. Huh? Liberal? Really?

(Ahh, cognitive dissonance. I think the Right rides it like a daily caffeine buzz.)

CBS failed in an almost pardonable way in setting up their coverage of the Obama and McCain tax plans. In classic "lies, damn lies, and statistics" style, they posed as representative three income levels that were actually skewed high. Quibbling, maybe, but clearly the way an analysis like this is framed, through the choice of example, will affect the outcome.

But this right here slays me:

"The network asked an accountant identified as Matt Yuskewich of Columbus --who, CBS didn't inform its viewers, is also the treasurer of the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee--to “[run] the numbers” for these families' tax bills..." (emphasis mine)

So, let's again imagine, in our fairytale land of rainbows and bubblegum, that the Liberal Media is not a myth. Wouldn't the Liberal Media have to be some motherfucking hapless dupes to choose a Republican campaign worker to "run the numbers."

Now, again, this is where we have to stand up and be the ombudsmen that proud media outlets once had, and have since sent out to pasture. When a major network again tries to drag the middle to the Right, call them out, make sure that the watchdog groups like FAIR and Media Matters for America have too many echoing voices to be labeled as lunatic fringe.

And the next time taxes come up in a conversation with anyone but one of the top 5% of richest Americans, tell them, clearly and in short, declarative sentences, to get their facts straight. Don't allow the empty narrative that "Obama will raise taxes!" to pass unchallenged.

FAIR: CBS Cheats on Tax Coverage

Time To Foment Change

Pretty even-handed piece in Monday's Salon, about what's going on in the mind of the average small-town resident. I wanted to pull out this paragraph for what it says about identity politics.

Charles Kempf, 65, a retired maintainence worker, and Judy Kempf, 61, a retired office manager, are both lifelong Democrats from Mesquite, Nev. They said Palin's "eloquent, intelligent and down-to-earth" way of speaking reminded them of Bill Clinton. Former Hillary Clinton supporters, they strongly dislike Obama and said they were resigned to not voting at all this year. But now they might vote Republican for the first time: "[Palin] kinda relates to us commonfolk ... she's got a family, she's got problems," as opposed to Obama, who "just talks above and is nothing but a script reader." They don't like Palin's strong pro-life stance, Charles Kempf said, but "you're not going to agree with everything, so you've got to overlook a few things."

Here are a couple of lifelong Democrats who are thinking about switching their party this year because they identify with the person who they believe closely resembles who they are. Nevermind that on top of being a repetitive liar, Palin is more of a script reader than Obama is; to them Palin is an eloquent lady that relates to commonfolk like themselves, and though they acknowledge that their stance on abortion rights is diametrically opposed to hers, they're willing to overlook a few things.

How do we reach these people? And why should we, considering that they're not likely to listen?

To put it crudely, in this election season, we have to divert a number of the lemmings away from the cliff before they end up pulling the rest of us along with them.

Which is not to say that all of these citizens are mindless, instinctual beings who go along with other similar beings despite of where it may lead them, just that enough of them, with raised awareness, may be willing to step away from the throng.

Call me a crazy optimist, but I'm willing to bet the Kempfs may think for a few seconds after learning that under Palin's Wasilla, AK, rape victims were forced to pay for the evidence gathering kits.

Would that be enough for them change their minds? Who knows, but it got them thinking about it. It is through using truth combined with a gentle strength that minds can be enlightened and changed.

No need to argue, or get into internecine flame wars with the belligerent; some of these "commonfolk" are rational thinking people, they're not all mindless zombies. All you need is to get them to think "maybe they don't reflect me, after all," and, hopefully, handful by handful, we can change enough minds to make a difference this year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Media Hate

I don't plan to make a habit of posting the same thing to both my blogs, but I thought this one was appropriate. I have a regular feature I started a couple of months ago on my main blog where every Monday I rant about the the things I'm hating at the moment. It can be anything from dog poop on the sidewalks to the mole on my neck and range from just one thing to a long list of a half-dozen or more. Sometimes I want it to be tongue-in-cheek, other times I'm really pissed. It has for obvious reasons been political at times, especially with the election season really going now.

Anyway, this is my Monday Hate post today. Which I titled Monday Newsman Hate.


I've got just one thing I'm hating today, besides my mother. (Don't even get me started. I found out she believed and forwarded that awful email going around lying about what was in Michelle Obama's Princeton thesis, basically accusing Mrs. Obama of being a "black power" racist. It is one of the most disgusting things I've seen in all of the awful slander being thrown at that family. It looks like something written by the KKK)

But bitching about my mother will do none of us any good at this point, so I'll just stick with one item for today's hate list, which I'll also post over at my political co-blog.

Here's who I'm really annoyed with today:

Scott Pelley. The hiring of Pelley as a correspondent for 60 Minutes marked a low point for the news magazine, at least until they tragically let the fluffy Katie Couric sit at the adults' table.

Pelley's interview last night with John McCain was infuriating. He doesn't lob softball questions, he gently arcs badminton shuttlecocks at perfect spiking level.

As to be expected, McCain made sure to take every opportunity, no matter what the question was, to: a) Bring up his five years in a prison camp in Hanoi and: b) make false accusations about Barack Obama's record and his own record.

And what does Pelley do, especially when McCain tells lies about Barack Obama? He moves on to the next topic.

It's not like McCain said anything new that Pelley wasn't able to check on right away. McCain came out with all the same stupid talking points he's been saying for weeks now, stuff that Pelley could have easily had follow-up questions to challenge McCain on his claims.

McCain claims that Obama has never reached across the aisle to to work with the other party, despite there being a mountain of evidence to the contrary for both his time in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. Pelley says nothing.

McCain says Obama is the most liberal Senator based on "his voting record." It should have been pointed out that Obama was called that by a right-wing magazine attack machine, the same one that called Kerry the most liberal in 2004 (gee, what a coincidence), and that their survey has been easily discredited due to the fact that they just pick and choose which votes to count in the survey.

Hell, you wouldn't even have to go through all of that. Just mention that the U.S. Senate still includes both Bernie Sanders, a self-described Socialist, and Ted Kennedy to make the point that it is kind of a silly accusation.

But did Pelley do either?

Even in his own record McCain tells really big lies and Pelley can't bring himself to challenge the Senator. He asked McCain how his administration would be different from Bush's and two of the things he mentioned were torture and the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

Did Pelley then ask him why, if that were true, he has either voted "no" or not even voted every time the 9/11 Commission recommendations came before the Senate and that he also voted against the bill banning torture?

Do I have to answer that question for you?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Interview"

In case you missed the hard-hitting interview of Sarah Palin by that champion of journalistic integrity, Sean Hannity, I have written a summary of the interview to save you some time. For you types that liked to just read the Cliff's Notes in high school to get straight to the point, here is the whole interview, in a nutshell:

Hannity: Governor, you are just so cool aren't you?

Palin: Yes Sean, I rock.

Hannity: That tax-loving, Muslim, Arugula-eating, elitist Barack Hussein Obama just sucks doesn't he?

Palin: He sure does, Sean.

Hannity: Thanks for coming and answering all my tough questions, Governor.