Saturday, October 4, 2008

SEI's One Month Blogiversary

It was one month ago today, while the Republican National Convention was happening, that JJ, Deni and I decided to garner our wandering political focus onto one spot. I'd say we've been pretty successful; each week the numbers manage to surpass the previous week's watermark; our method continues to be honed; and we seem to have gathered a growing number of folks who come in here regularly.

It was fulfilling to see that come to fruition during Thursday's Live Blog. Truly and really, thanks y'all for coming here.

Today also marks the one month mark before the election, and by several accounts it figures to be a brutal one: All that the McCain/Palin camp has to offer now is negative campaigning. That's just on the national level; there's plenty to be wary for on the local level...

It remains up to us, the general concerned public, to do a lot of the leg work in making sure the truth is spotlighted; spreading stories far and wide, putting links and starting conversations on our blogs and online journals.

Anyway, one month until November 4th, let's keep fighting. Please continue to engage us in the comments field and during the live blogs, give us links to anything we may have overlooked, and let's continue growing the movement toward change on the national level.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin v Biden: Rooting for Goliath


Post Script - Hey, all who participated, how was the experience? I had some problems in general, which may have led to the problems experienced by the others. Noticed that pal Wendigo dropped off about half way through, and a couple of other folks talked of getting booted. Anything else?

Also, going to go through over the next few days and find links for some of the items y'all mentioned. For example, I want to find the item Deni mentioned regarding the person we have inprisoned for spying on the US for Israel.

Anyway, good times, and thanks again for joining us. I think we're on for the next presidential debate.

Other Pre-Debate Reading

You've probably heard that McCain is pulling out of Michigan, meaning, in essence, that he's given up on that state and ceding it to Obama. What that means, looking at the electoral map, that the remaining purple states he's hoping to win are not only Ohio and Florida, but some combination of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Only time will tell how realistic those expectations are (they are purple for a reason). However, word is coming out of Florida that McCain is having trouble there as well; it seems Obama, according to current polls, is pulling away from the polling margin of error.

The pressure, as they say, is mounting...

Of all the possible spin the McCain camp could come up with, this has got to be the most degrading option for everyone involved, from those who are spewing it to the people it is intended to appeal to.

Salon's Mike Madden asks what should've been an obvious question all this time. Guess we're about to find out.

Pre-Debate Reading

I'm a big fan of Steve Chapman, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He took a lot of heat a couple of years ago for daring to suggest to the Republicans that, yes, in fact the war on terrorism is a crime-fighting endeavour despite all the derision of that suggestion by the Bush administration. He is one of the first mainstream news people I've read that came out to challenge the notion that we can't fight terrorism with the rule of law. And he's no hard-core lefty. (Can't find the article, Trib's archives are not free)

Anyway, he wrote a great column for today's Trib about Palin's small-town snobbery.

Go read the article. It starts like this:

Americans disdain snobbery in all its forms except the most popular one: reverse snobbery. Joe Biden would never get up in front of a crowd and suggest that the citizens of Manhattan are morally superior to the residents of Possum Gulch, Ark. But Sarah Palin was happy to tell the Republican National Convention that
the very best people come from the country.

It goes on to challenge the whole myth of life being better in rural America. He also points out that if it were so great there, why does 80% of our population live in metropolitan areas?

I was bitching about this during her speech and wondered why no one else was picking up on the fact that she was insulting the majority of Americans. I only wish more of the media would also point out that she's not really from small town America, she's from suburban America (Wasilla is even on Anchorage's water system). That's a big difference.

Anyway, I hope you'll all be here for our live blogging of the debate tonight. We might not suck at it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Live Blogging The VP Debate and Other News

So, yes, as that handy little widget over there on the right correctly advertises, we'll be live blogging the debate. Tip of the hat to SEI follower B.E. Earl for pointing us over to the Cover It Live site, in order to help us avoid the disaster that was the first attempt at live blogging.

Thursday, the SEI team will be represented by Deni and myself. Those who are wondering what has happened to JJ need worry not; he's been experiencing a rather hectic work schedule this week opening a kid friendly version of a zombie classic.

You could sign up ahead of time using the widget, or just drop by while the debate is going on. The Cover It Live interface allows for reader comments.

In the meantime:

- The bailout passed the Senate

- McCain's either talking to the gays and saying pretty much nothing or he's off in Iowa getting increasingly grumpy (to be fair, he does address one of Deni's criticisms against him re: healthcare)

- With the exception of Roe v. Wade, Palin can't think of any landmark Supreme Court cases

- People are giving Biden advice on how to handle the debate (in essence, make her talk lots)

- Tom Brokaw is making me miss the late and great Peter Jennings

- Obama? Well, Obama's just a bad mutha--shut my mouf, even though I was just talking about O.

Palin's Debate: Let's Raise The Expectations

For starters, the McCain campaign made sure to alter the format of the debate, in order to ensure it will play to Palin's debating strengths. Meaning less give and take between the candidates, plus a chance to rely on more scripted replies (definitely a plus for the former sportscaster).

Besides, considering her performance as a candidate thus far, could expectations be any lower?

Well, in order to make this argument a bit more convincing, take a look at this sampling of past Palin debate performances.

(via HuffPo, natch.)

Maybe This Could Really Happen

I have been the most cynical of all my friends about the possibility of Obama getting elected. Most people I hang with have been convinced for a long time that he will do this. I tend to have a lot less faith in the American people, the same people who put our current idiot in office the last two elections (OK, so the Supreme Court put him in the first time and voter suppression in Ohio put him in the second time, but it shouldn't have even been close enough to be able to steal).

With the McCain camp's smear machine making up malicious accusations out of whole cloth about Obama and the racist core that our country has still not shaken off, I have been convinced that they would find a way to beat the "uppity nigger" and prove me right. Not that I want to be right on this. If there is one thing I would love to be wrong about, other than thinking the Cubs will find a way to blow it, this would be it.

There appears to be signs of hope. Quinnipiac University put out their newest swing state poll today and they have Obama up in the three big states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, and by significant amounts in all three. You can read Quinnipiac's summary here, but here is the important part:

"Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate.

Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday."

I think the most encouraging part is the big jump he took in Pennsylvania after the debate. A state that John Kerry had no problem winning, Obama has been treated with a lot of suspicion by the white working-class voters there and has been having a hard time pulling ahead of McCain there. Maybe people really are hearing the truth through the muck that McCain has thrown out to distort and distract from the issues.

Could it be that I can allow myself to hope?

I'm not exactly sure how to deal with that emotion....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Return of Darth Gingrich

I was in the middle of drafting an entry talking about the slow news day when I ran upon this item at The HuffPo.

In short, the article relates efforts taken by Newt "I may be human, but I still come off reptilian" Gingrich to make sure the bailout vote failed before then stepping in front of the cameras to offer feeble support for the bill. The HuffPo calls it backstabbing; Joe Scarboro says Gingrich "undercut one of his own."

But, why, Newt? Why be so brazen in your naked political manipulation? MSNBC's Mike Barnicle has a theory:

Mike Barnicle: "...I was told last night by two or they members of Congress that this was the opening salvo of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign four years hence."

Holy fuck. Now that's balls.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Palin's New Yorker cover

Our copy of The New Yorker came in the mail yesterday. I love the cover.

All's Quiet On The Palin Front

First, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz slips this sentence into an article mostly discussing the media's political coverage:

And the worst may be yet to come for Palin; sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing.

Needless to say, this led to speculation in some corners, wondering exactly what could be more damning than the CBS footage already released. It turned out that the comments weren't in relation to last week's interview with Katie Couric; that the responses being discussed came during the Vice Presidential Questions segment CBS will be airing in the build up to Thursday's VP Debate.

The Politico's Jonathan Martin was able to discern what one of these gaffes were:

...[A Palin aide] revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

On the other hand, have you heard that she's a quick study, and has a nice butt to boot?

McCain's Crapping Out

Lost amid all of the bailout noise, but likely to come up at some point in the near future (for reasons to be explained momentarily), is the NYT column about McCain's ties to the Native American Casino world. The article details a number of dealings in which Johnny "I Hate Lobbyists" Mac, two time head of the Indian Affairs Committee, directly stepped in and affected policy decisions concerning Indian gaming.

The article begins with a description of a night, not too long after losing the 2000 presidential bid, during which McCain could be seen tossing around $100 chips around the craps table. As a fan of the dice myself, I think it's fair to say that such behavior only comes about from someone with an extremely hot hand, or a high roller who treats chips as if it were play money; usually both. Regardless, one would have to be accustomed to tossing that kind of money around, and be safe in the presumption that doing so will not have repercussions down the line.

From there, the article moves on to distinct instances where McCain seemingly used his influence to help out one casino or another. In more than a couple of these instances, a personal tie to that tribe's lobbyist isn't far behind; and along the way, earns himself a reputation as the "founding father of Indian Gaming." (Salon's War Room correspondent Thomas Schaller has another take on all of this.)

This is where Huffington Post columnist Gerald Posner and Ross Perot come into play.

Perot, if you recall, is a diminutive, big-eared, paranoid crank as well as a failed third party presidential candidate, was also known for using private investigators to dig up facts on people he regularly dealt with. He often never used this information, claiming it was more about a desire to know people.

Well, for various reasons detailed in the HuffPo piece, Perot dug up a particularly relevant incident in McCain's life:

Perot told me that McCain had a gambling problem and he had uncovered details that McCain was bailed out in the late 1980s from a big gambling debt by his wife, Cindy.

There are, of course, a ton of caveats to this implication. As it stands, it's merely hearsay, needs to be verified by Perot (who would probably relish the opportunity to stick it to an old enemy), and he would also need to provide the evidence. Also, though the NYT piece is full of damning insinuation (lobbyists hired by interests solely for their connection to McCain, a McCain strategist being paid six figures to be a tribe's consultant), there's been nothing that directly ties McCain to any wrong doing.


Bailout Follies: The Never Ending Saga

Reading Salon, and come across the next line while reading How The World Works:

The bill failed 228 to 204, with 140 Democrats voting for and 95 against, and 65 Republicans voting for and 133 against.

My mind ruminates over those 95 House Majority votes and how that came to be and what it is they are holding out for; the desire to actually have a leader who could build consensus instead of having an administration that bullies into consensus (notice how the current one can't build a consensus when the time calls for a nuanced approach across the aisle and within its own party); but, ultimately, I can't help but remember how close to a deal they were not that long ago when someone decided that grandstanding would be a better way to go.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Upon Digestion

So, Maureen Dowd thinks that Obama had the ball hanging over the middle of the plate, a set hovering one-ball over the net, a flanker on a deep route with the safety stumbled on his ass, and he didn't capitalize.

I'll admit I was surprised a bit by her reaction. There was a flavor of buying the Right's talking points on Obama, as though they should dictate his responses more than his vision. And there was a thirst for baiting partisanism, thinking, I believe, that "we" had the upper hand.

None of that do I support. I think he played his game well, especially considering that this was supposed to be McCain's strong suit debate. That, at worst, Obama played McCain to a standstill should be a victory.


Did you notice McCain was speaking, at times, a different language? Maybe you read it as confusion or circular logic. But, no. He was speaking a patois AM radio listeners recognize. It is a cadence meant not to communicate in the moment, but to plant phrases in consciousness. Naivete. Fundamental. Experience. The language he speaks parses out differently than, y'know, human speech. It serves a different function, and I believed it served him well.

I'm guessing that is, subliminally, what Dowd was reacting to. She could feel that McCain was somehow scoring points, and wanted her man to do the same.

I still think Obama "won," for what it's worth.

But to really understand what we are up against, check out the comments in response to the proliferation of Palin's pageant video. Chilling, if you dig.